Order from Chaos: The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

One of the most well established scientific laws in the universe is the Second Law of Thermodynamics.  This law was originally postulated in 1850 by Rudolf Clausius, a German scientist, and mathematician.  The law has been a key component of creationist arguments over the years. In this article, we will break down what the law is, how it works, and why it is central to the origins argument.

The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics comes to us from the realm of physical science, specifically physics. My college physics textbook defines the law quite well.  “The entropy of the universe increases in all natural processes.” It defines entropy several pages later as: “Isolated systems tend towards greater disorder and entropy is a measure of that disorder.” Essentially this means that any system, which is a closed system, will always move away from order and towards disorder.  A closed system is a system into which no new energy is being introduced. These systems trend towards energy equilibrium, where energy is equal in every location throughout the system. Since the universe is a closed system, the entropy of the universe will only increase.  The fact that energy is not equal in every location in the universe is due to life. Life, rather obviously, requires more energy than non-life.  Organization of non-life also requires more energy than disorganization.  However, energy is not lost. That is the 1st Law of Thermodynamics. Matter and energy, once they exist, are neither created nor destroyed, they simply switch forms.  For the fire pictured above, the matter of the wood is transferred into heat by the chemical reaction of burning.

That is all great in theory but how does it work in practice?  Picture for a moment the Roman Coliseum in its original state. Imagine how awe-inspiring the massive structure would have been when gladiatorial games were held inside, or when it was flooded and mock naval combats were held inside.  Then look at the photograph below.


The Coliseum is still an impressive structure even today, but as you can see, it is a shadow of its former self. How did this happen? Most people think of it as a simple age and wear and tear. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics tells us that it was a significant increase in entropy.  The amount of disorder in the Coliseum increased over time. In fact, if it had not been for the diligent work of cleaning crews removing the debris over the centuries, the Coliseum would look much worse than it does now.  This example shows exactly how the entire universe works. Everything is breaking down towards an eventual state where there will be nothing left to break down and the energy of the earth will be at a steady equilibrium state.

The implications of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics are massive. Because everything is tending to break down, a beginning where everything was orderly is absolutely required.  This also requires an outside force of some kind to set everything in order since the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics only functions once everything exists, it cannot create anything.  Furthermore, it dictates that, once something exists, it can only get worse, without the influence of an outside force.  We will consider the implications of each of these statements in their own paragraph below.

The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics demands that there was an ordered beginning point, at which the entropy of the universe was zero. Because everything is breaking down per the 2nd Law, entropy is increasing. If entropy is increasing, then at some point there had to be zero entropy, zero disorder.  This point, by extension, has to be the moment the universe formed because it is the entire universe which is increasing in entropy.  Note that evolution states that the universe formed in a massive explosion known as the Big Bang. Any soldier or video gamer will tell you that an explosion does not organize a thing. It hurls shrapnel and debris in every direction imaginable and destroys anything around it. Even supposing the Big Bang actually did organize the universe and lead to a zero entropy situation, another problem is in play here. Evolution claims that life evolved from primordial soup. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamic precludes this.  To create DNA, essential for life, from a noxious chemical soup, requires the organization of those chemicals.  This requires that the chemicals decrease entropy to become organized into chemical bonds needed to form DNA. Under the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, this is impossible. Entropy has never been observed to decrease in a closed system without the input of an outside power.

Since everything tends to disorder, a beginning is required. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is not a creative law. It merely acts on pre-existing matter and energy. This being the case, evolutionists still have to account for the origin of matter. The Big Bang theory is a weak explanation for the origin of the universe, but it too requires pre-existing matter.  So some outside force had to create matter.  Evolutionists have no such outside force available to them. They depend entirely on natural processes and random chance. These cannot make matter, as they both act only on pre-existing material.  Evolutionists must find an answer for the origin of matter.

Evolution has a third problem with the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. The law requires that, minus the influence of an outside force, an existing material will only decay, not improve. For example, the stone of the Coliseum did not fall into place and create the Coliseum. Human builders expended countless Kilojoules of energy on its construction. The builders were the outside force needed to organize the stone into the magnificent architectural wonder of the Coliseum. Evolutionists demand no outside force for the evolution of life. While there is pre-existing material upon which natural processes can work, evolution claims that life has increased in complexity, has, in effect, decreased in entropy and increased in order.  This violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. By evolving upward, to increase complexity, organisms would have to decrease the disorder in the world. This would not be an individual problem. No single individual evolving upward would decrease entropy. However, having a constant chain of upward evolution increases the order of the world and therefore decreases entropy.

Evolution has a huge issue with the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. They attempt to circumvent the Law by claiming that the universe is actually an open system, and thus energy is continually being added.  This has never been observed, but even if it is the case, there is still an issue. Adding energy does not magically organize anything.  During WWII the Allies bombed German cities and manufacturing areas relentlessly, adding billions of Kilojoules of energy. If the bombing raids had been organizing those places, the Germans would not have bothered to put up anti-air guns to shoot the bombers down.  Adding energy creates disorder, not order.

The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics has been a central point of those striving against evolutionary dogma and, as we have seen above, with good reason.  Until evolutionists have answers to the issues raised above, their theory has no validity. It is merely science fiction for scientists, an attempt to avoid the obvious need for a universal Designer.

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