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Creation 3(2):9–11, May 1980

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Evolution, creation, & thermodynamics — Part 2



The Second Law of Thermodynamics states simply that an isolated system will become more disordered with time. In the first part of this article, we established that the naturalistic self-transformation of the universe from simple to complex required by evolution is in direct contradiction to the second law. Known “rules” of thermodynamics render the evolutionary origin of stars and planets from condensing clouds of gas implausible. Many evolutionists claim however, that the earth is an open system and local increases in order are possible, e.g. the observation that ordered crystals form spontaneously from less ordered solutions means that evolution from simple to complex can occur. This article will investigate these claims.

We have seen that in a number of open systems, order would apparently increase by itself. Let's take three examples:

  1. A seed growing into a plant.
  2. Workmen building a car.
  3. Saltwater cooling down to form salt crystals.

The Second Law is not violated in any of these, since the total disorder in the universe increases as follows:

Disorder Decreases
Disorder Increases


(“Isolated system”)
Disorder Increases

The decrease in disorder of the open system’s more than balanced by the increase in disorder in the surroundings, so that the disorder in the whole universe always increases, e.g. when the saltwater cools, it heats up the air around it, which gives an increase in disorder in the air molecules. Therefore, says the evolutionist, you can have a local decrease in disorder (e.g., on the earth) balanced by an increase in disorder elsewhere, without violating the Second Law. So far, he is right, (if we ignore the fact that the chaos to cosmos notion is invalid when we consider the whole universe) except that even a local increase in order will not happen unless we have special conditions. Order, complexity and information will never arise spontaneously without a mechanism or motor.

Take Example No. 1. The raw energy pouring from the sun onto the seed will produce disorder, not order, unless the seed has the highly complex photosynthetic mechanism and the direction of the genetic code. A seed growing into a plant is not analogous to the presumed evolutionary process in any case, since it involves an ‘unfolding’ of information which is already there in the genetic ‘blueprint’. Evolution requires information and complexity to arise and keep increasing over millions of years.

In Example No. 2 we also have an open system and available energy, but again we have an energy conversion mechanism, and coded information giving direction to the process. We see that it takes machines to make machines—it takes ordered systems to produce ordered systems. In living things, the information necessary to overcome the effects of the Second Law is passed on from generation to generation. This information ‘rides on’ the chemistry of the cell, just as the information in this article ‘rides on’ the ink and paper, but transcends it. The information in the DNA code and this page both depend on the sequence, or specific order of the constituents. The Second Law tells us that this can be copied many times, e.g., in a photocopier, but information will never spontaneously be added to it—rather it will tend to be lost. The original information on this page had to be imposed upon it from the outside and had its origin in mind—just as the information in the genes of living creatures had its ultimate origin in the mind of God and was imposed upon the matter in Creation Week.

On the “primitive earth” there could have been no machines or ordered systems—the first “primitive cell” could not arise without these special conditions, as we have seen.

Example No. 3 (crystals) is often cited, but has no relevance to the problem. This is because biological growth processes involve complexity, whereas crystal growth involves regularity. If you break up a large salt crystal, you get a lot of smaller salt crystals. If you break up a molecule of a biological protein, e.g. insulin, into smaller pieces, it is no longer insulin since the information it carries in its specific sequence of components is lost. A crystal of ice, for example, carries no more information than a single water molecule. The formation of a crystal involves molecules assuming a rigidly predetermined pattern—there is no growth in information or complexity, and again there is a pre-existing “code”.

For the sake of further discussion, let’s allow the first cell to somehow form in violation of these facts. Obviously, until you have something living and reproducing, mutation and selection are not involved. Could mutation and selection act as the necessary mechanism/code to locally overcome the effects of the Second Law? Mutation is a random change in a pre-existing code. It is not, therefore, a code or a mechanism as such. Selection is merely a commonsense occurrence—the elimination of the unfit. It cannot be either a code or an ordering mechanism in itself. What about both together? The evolutionist still has one counter-argument left, providing we ignore the impossibility of getting to the primitive earth and the first cell. The minute random fluctuations in order represented by genetic mutation are “fixed” and given a certain direction by natural selection, he claims. Thus, the two acting in concert act as a mechanism; the analogy is occasionally given of a jack, where the handle moves up and down, and natural selection is represented by the ratchet, “locking in” those motions which are in the right direction. Dr Harold Armstrong, a physicist and editor of the Creation Research Society Quarterly, correctly points out that this superficially attractive analogy is not appropriate, since the handle movements are not truly random, but directional—i.e., up and down. A closer analogy, he claims, would be as in the circuit diagram shown.


The random motion of electrons in the resistor A at a particular room temperature would cause some to flow in the direction of the arrow. The rectifier B would only allow those in one direction to pass, and thus a current could flow, driving electric motor C which could perform useful work. It sounds good, but it won’t work. This machine would be continually extracting heat from the environment to perform work, and one of the consequences of the Second Law is that this can’t happen. This example deserves further consideration by creationists—a detailed analysis, considering e.g. fluctuations in order in the rectifier itself and applying these to the biological situation may be fruitful.

A further point is that this classic “small fluctuations” argument of micromutation is in serious trouble on other grounds (the absence of transitional forms, the difficulty accounting for the “usefulness” of proposed transitional stages, and the small amount of genetic “load” in living things) which are forcing a number of leaders in evolutionary thought back to “macromutations” (sudden leaps or “saltations”—e.g. a non-flying creature becomes a flying one in one single mutation). Yet to get out of one set of difficulties, they must propose that a random change has given rise to a significant increase in order and information—the Second Law says that this will not happen without a mechanism which in this case is certainly lacking.

In conclusion

  1. The Second Law applied to the whole universe is the death-knell for any proposed evolutionary scheme. (see part 1)
  2. No biological order can arise without pre-existing coded mechanisms—the formation of the first cell from naturalistic processes is a thermodynamic impossibility.
  3. After the first cell, mutation/selection do not appear to be adequate candidates for the ordered mechanism required to locally overcome the effects of the Second Law in an open system. Information and order, form, body, arrangement and complexity do not arise spontaneously, but are spontaneously and naturally lost.

Centuries before these scientific principles were formulated, God revealed in the Bible that He created the universe as a functioning whole (i.e. with its order and complexity built-in) and that it is now running down. (Hebrews 1:10–12, quoting Psalm 102, Isaiah 51:6, Romans 8:19–22) This basic Law of matter/energy is in perfect harmony with Scripture, but contradicts the total concept of evolution.