Laws of Thermodynamics and Their Relation to Evolution

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One of the readers of our page, Mr. Erdem Ertaş, asked us a question:


I don't know much about thermodynamics (surely, neither the users of the argument). As far as I know, thermodynamics is a deep subject, and that is why it would be good if you can inform us enough to defend against the arguments of creationists, as they often use the second law as a backup plan in discussions. They claim this: "According to the second law, systems are tend to get more inordered in time, and because of that complex cells couldn't have formed from simple chemicals by themselves. So, evolution is a lie."


As the Tree of Evolution we would like to answer him in this way:


Dear Erdem Ertaş,


Thank you for the good question. Let's try to be help as much as we can:


Thermodynamics, as you said, is certainly a deep subject, and a scientific branch on its own. For this reason, we don't think the proposers of the argument against evolution have a slightest idea about it, let alone actually knowing something. And this can easily be revealed so. We will come there.


Thermodynamics basically has four main laws: the zeroth law, the first law, the second law, and the third law. If we take a glance at them:


Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics simply states that: If the objects A and B are thermally balanced (no heat transfer between them), and when we make them contact with a C object with unknown temprature, if there is no heat tranfer with either of these, it means that the objects A, B and C are thermally equal (at equal temperatures). The reason why this law is called the "zeroth" is that it was proposed lastly, and since it is a base for the others, they decided to put this to the beginning of the others, without changing the others' names.


First Law of Thermodynamics states this: Internal energy of a system equals to the difference between the heat that goes in and out of the system. This is basically similar to the matter conservation principle, but it includes the energy as well as the matter (mass).


Second Law of Thermodynamics states this: Energy never spontaneously flows from a location with higher energy to a location with lower energy. In other words, without an exterior effect, heat always moves from a hotter to a colder place. This law also can be explained by systems' tendency to lower their energy. To illustrate, a glass can fall from a table, but never can fly back to the table and gain potential energy by itself. Another application of the second law is about entropy (disorder or chaos). Systems are likely to amplify their entropy. Our glass may broke, and raise it's entropy after the fall, but it never reconstructs itself. According to this law; total disorder of the universe always increases but in local entropy level may decrease (ex: entropy of a single galaxy or planet in the universe).


Third Law of Thermodynamics states this: As a system's heat approaches absolute zero (-273 degrees celsius) all process in the system slows down and entropy decreases to minimum.


To understand thermodynamics accordingly, the following two main approaches must be known well. Otherwise, it all would be meaningless because the laws work differently in these two: open systems and isolated systems.


In isolated systems, there should be no heat or mass entrance or exit to the system observed. For example, gas in a sealed container, if the temprature stays constant, represents a isolated system, and it has a different way of analysis than an open container.


Open systems, on the other hand, are exposed to exterior effects. For instance, since there are massive amounts of energy and matter come from Sun and space constantly, Earth is an open system, and thus, entropy increases incredibly. For this reason, Theory of Evolution doesn't contradict with the second law. Stability that is claimed to be

increased with evolution is balanced, and even exceeded by this input. In conclusion, entropy of Earth constantly continues to rise.


To make the long story short, this claim of creationists sets a good example of how scientific knowledge can be distorted, and how can a complete ignorant of the subject can talk as if he was a Heat Transfer Professor.


As it was said in a video, if somebody starts to use the second law as an argument against Evolution, ask him the other laws of Thermodynamics. Most probably, he would know nothing about them. This will indicate how these brainwashed people are utterly blind to science, and only repeating like a parrot what they have memorized from some one-sided and non-scientific sources.


We hope it would have been helpful.


With all our respects.


Writer: ÇMB (Tree of Evolution)

Translator: Ekim Taylan (Tree of Evolution)

Turkish Version (Original):

Why are organisms symmetrical? Are there any asymmetrical organisms? How is symmetry provided?

Have Cockroaches "Never" Evolved for More Than 250 Million Years? On the Evolution of Cockroaches...


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Evrim Ağacı'nın kurucusu ve idari sorumlusudur. Popüler bilim yazarı ve anlatıcısıdır. Doktorasını Texas Tech Üniversitesi'nden almıştır. Araştırma konuları evrimsel robotik, yapay zeka ve teorik/matematiksel evrimdir.

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