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Instructions are necessary to produce order (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Instructions are necessary to produce order (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CF001.3:

Increasing order is possible, locally and temporarily, only if there is a program to direct growth and a power converter.


CreationWiki response:

This is another example of trying to explain a scientific principle to non scientists. While this concept is related to the 2nd law, it extends beyond the basic concept of the second law. It comes from a statistical analysis of how the kind energy applied to a system affects entropy. The fact that how energy is applied is critical to an increase or decrease in entropy is evident from the difference between construction work and a bomb.

Consider a pile of wood. If a group of people work to organize the pile of wood, a building can be built that has less entropy than the pile of would. If however a bomb of equal energy is applied to the pile of wood, the result is that the pile is scattered with more entropy than the pile of wood.

Now any time energy is applied to a system there is some degree of randomness to how it is applied. The result is that randomness of the system is moved towards that of applied energy.


Wsa.gif = The number of equivalent equally probable states of the system.

Wwa.gif = The number of equivalent equally probable states of the application of energy.

Now the statistical formula for entropy is:

S = k ln w

This results in:




The result is that:



Ds2.gif (1)


Ss1.gif = Entropy of system.

Sw1.gif = Entropy of energy application.

Dsm.gif = Maximum change in entropy.

The result is that if energy is applied to a system in a manner more random than the system, then it becomes more random. If the same amount of energy is applied to a system in a manner less random than the system, then it becomes less random. This explains why organized work can build buildings, but a bomb will bring it down. The more organized application of energy would be an organizing force.

(Talk Origins quotes in blue)

1. That claim is pure fantasy. The second law of thermodynamics says absolutely nothing about programs to direct growth, and the only "power converter" it deals with is change in entropy.

While this concept is related to the 2nd law, it not technically part of the 2nd law. It is clear that Talk Origins does not understand what is meant by a program. In this case a program need not be a complex set of instructions, but they can be as simple as opposing forces.

  • You can see growth and order arising without a program in many places.

Actually, they do have a "program" in one form or another. The organizing force need not be a complex set of instructions, but they can be as simple as opposing forces.

  • Clouds form complex orderly patterns.

This is difficult to respond to, due to the vagueness of the statement. This vagueness makes pinning down the organizing force difficult. However the Earth's atmosphere is not totally chaotic. However there are currents, pressure and temperature fluctuations that could serve as organizing forces for clouds.

A bomb applied to a pile of wood would produce an unordered but complex pile much the same as clouds. The patterns in a cloud are less complex than the shape of a pile of rubble.

  • Streams sort the size of the stones in their bed along their length.

This is just an example of hydrological sorting. The organizing force or program is in the form of the competing forces of gravity and buoyancy.

  • Cooling basalt forms a hexagonal pattern of cracks.

The hexagonal cracks in cooling basalt have an organizing force in the form of the basalt contracting, while it is adhering to the underlying material.

  • All of these show an increase in organization and a local decrease in entropy, and none involve any program.

They all have organizing forces, if one takes the time to actually look for them. All three do indeed have organizing forces or programs.

2. Increasing order is not a violation of the second law of thermodynamics, even temporarily. A violation would be an increase in entropy without a greater decrease in entropy to go with it.

No disagreement here, because no such claim is being made. The claim deals with the practical end of reducing entropy, while the 2nd law itself does not.

  • Neither growth nor evolution violate the second law of thermodynamics because both take advantage of local differences in entropy to get work done.

There is no dispute that growth does not violate the 2nd law, but there is a legitimate questions as to whether or not the theory of evolution or an evolutionary origin for life would violate it. Both would require significant reductions in entropy, and both use random events to decrease entropy, with no clear way as to how environmental entropy would increase to compensate for the decrease. It seem that evolutionists are just assuming that it will compensate for it.

3. Evolution has a program; it is called the environment. Natural selection serves to communicate information from the environment to the populations of organisms [Adami et al. 2000].

There is are serious problems with this response.

The first is its vagueness. It give no details on how the process works.

The fact is that natural selection communicates nothing. All it is, is a quality control mechanism. Natural selection can only select from what already exists. In and of itself natural selection causes no changes in DNA. The real source of genetic change for evolution is random changes in DNA called mutations.

Now DNA is very organized, while mutations are very random. This results in the following:






Plugging this in to formula 1:


This results in:


This means that random mutations can only increase the entropy of DNA. Furthermore since:




This means that mutations will increase the randomness of DNA. As a result the best that Natural selection can do is to remove the most randomized DNA. So Natural selection cannot communicate anything, therefore Evolution has no organizing force and no program.

4. An increase in organized complexity is not the same as a decrease in entropy. The second law applies only to entropy; it says nothing at all about organized complexity as such.

When entropy is examined statistically it can be considered a measure of randomness. Now the more random a system is the more disordered it is. The formula for statistical entropy is:

S = k ln w

S is entropy.

k is the Boltzmann Constant = 1.380 6504(24) X 10-23 J K-1

w is the number of equivalent equally probable configurations. This is a direct measurement of disorder.

Random or disordered systems have such a significantly higher number of equivalent equally probable configurations, that they can basically be considered inevitable. Now it is true that entropy is not the same as disorder, but entropy is logarithmically related to disorder. Entropy can be considered a measurement of disorder in the way that the Richter Scale is a measurement of earthquakes or decibels are a measurement of sound. The result is that it is accurate to call entropy a measure of disorder. This means a reduction in entropy does result from an increase in organized complexity.

Reference 1: [ J Philip Bromberg, Physical Chemistry, 1984, pg. 690]

Note: This is a standard college textbook, to the best of my knowledge the author is not a creationist.

Reference 2: wikipedia

Tim Wallace: On TrueOrigin, Tim has produced a response to a FAQ, during which he addresses a number of the claims made above by the author, here, with a rebuttal to Wayne Duck's response here.