Sunday, January 8, 2012

On the laws of thermodynamics and evolution and life.

I have yet to meet the person who has ever put forth the argument you describe. My guess is that you haven't either. It's a strawman- an argument nobody is actually positing, stated merely so that the person stating it can claim superior knowledge.

Some people do make that fallacy. They say things like because everything has a cause the universe has a cause. That actually fails due to composition.
Thanks for stating the obvious. It doesn't change the fact that the entire rest of the known universe follows basic fundamental laws that render Life impossible.

That the vast majority of the universe is inhospitable to life and that there's 70 sextillion stars in trillions of galaxies, with even more planets and moons around that, most of which are undoubtedly dead and the whole thing some ~14 billion years old is exactly what we should expect if there is no God. Without a God the only way to make life is by getting really lucky, and you might well need 70 sextillion stars to get lucky enough to mix up the chemicals enough times in enough places and do so over and over and over again in a really old universe. If God existed, you'd need one star and one planet. And even that arrangement might well overly complex.

Actually, we can't. Not even close.

We can and do. In fact, that's pretty much just how climate science works. Heat in vs. heat out.

There's not even close to enough matter in the observable universe to explain the energy that it generates. That's why the aforementioned "Dark Matter" theory exists.

Gravity isn't energy it's a force. You can't take a magnet and make power out of it. You need magnetic flux. The change in gravity is energy. Gravity is just a force there making anything with mass stick together and tugging at spacetime to do it.

This isn't a topic that's open for debate. It's a settled scientific fact.
The fact that you're wrong is certainly worth addressing. Dark Matter is a theory because galaxies spin too fast without flinging apart. So the presumption is there's more gravity there than we suspect. That's not bonus energy, it's additional gravity. And it's concerning galaxies not Earth. And it doesn't have any known implications on "energy in, energy out" on Earth.

For the Universe to be expanding at the rate it's expanding, there simply isn't enough matter in existence.

That's dark energy. If there were only matter things would actually collapse as we originally suspected. The universe however is accelerating in it's expansion. But this is nothing to do with the matter but rather that spacetime is expanding.

But in terms of evolution, it means that natural systems never move from simple states to complex states. It's not how the universe works. Look at any other planet in the solar system. Are they "evolving"? No. They're cooling. They're moving from a state of high energy to a state of low energy.

That's why we have metabolism. It's basically the one of the defining bits of life. They salvage energy and store it. That's what plants do. It's not that they are basking in the sun but rather that they are banking some of the suns energy because that a massive ball of negative entropic energy we orbit around, is constantly bombarding us with it. The entire raison d' etra of life is that it captures energy originally from the sun and uses it to do better at getting more of it. And the better organisms are at this the more of them exist, because we also bank those tricks in hereditary molecules. We end up hitting an energy ceiling whereby most of the potential new critters can't exist. So it ends up, sorting out those banks of tricks, and if anybody happened to have accidentally copied it down wrong and tweaked it for the better, that critter will be more likely to do better, have more copies, and more copies of that helpful trick.

So just some duplicating gunk trying edging each other out for a fraction of that incoming energy to duplicate a but more is entirely possible within the confines of thermodynamics. And that's also basically the definition of life.

Your objection is basically that we don't know of anything else that has a metabolism that isn't alive. And we only know about life on this planet. And you're using this objection to attempt to say that life on this planet isn't possible.

He instead used the term "Natural Selection", which only means "If you kill all the redheads, only blondes and brunettes will be left to reproduce".

He wanted to try to stick to the science and arguments. People had knee jerk reactions to claims about transmutation at the time, as Darwin so acutely learned from Vestiges (book). Also, redheadedness is a recessive gene. You could certainly select against it with murder. But that's artificial selection, not natural selection. Natural selection is when you allow nature to do it because of the struggle for existence and rather than select for just something like non-redheadedness you select for *anything* that makes one do better and the difference has to be ever so slight and you get eons to do it in. Darwin's argument here was quite good. In a couple hundred years look what we did to pigeons and dogs, imagine what the selection of nature could do in eons!

It doesn't say, as so many Atheists seem to think, that the universe wakes up one morning and decides that people are a cooler idea than apes. That's a distinction that requires intelligence. Which the universe doesn't have.

That distinction requires people not intelligence. Humans are apes. Ape is a taxonomic group and humans are certainly a great ape. And evolution never made that decision. After all, there are still apes and there are still monkeys. It's not that one is cooler than the other but that each group has survived on it's own merits.

Me, I argue that evolution is inconsistent with the second law because the second law says that evolution can't happen.

It doesn't. It says things will tend to lose their energy and order. Your argument would suggest more directly that life itself cannot exist. That I cannot from eating sugars and breathing oxygen live from day to day without decaying in short order. And it's actually true if I were not alive. As soon as my metabolism shuts down and I'm not unbanking energy stored reserves of the negative entropy of the sun my body will break down. The problem here is that we're alive, and we store energy. We effectively have sugar-batteries. So even though we should stop working, we fight that breakdown and loss by adding even more energy into the system, constantly. We get that energy from the sun and banking it is called metabolism. And we tend to make copies of ourselves so if one copy stops working there are others, and if one copy happens to be an improvement then more copies of that copy are made and the future copies will be improved. And necessarily since worse copies won't copy they won't be around.

Far from thermodynamics making evolution impossible, thermodynamics are the reason why evolution works. You got to beat the decay and anything that doesn't is screwed. So the critters with the best methods of thriving giving such decay do the best, and thus there are more of them. Is it any wonder that some of the most successful organisms thrive on poop and death?

There's absolutely no way to explain why the universe, sans God, would suddenly decide that Elephants are "better" than snails.

People tend to decide such things like that. But, nature doesn't. You can tell by the existence of both elephants and snails. They both do a great job. Elephants exploit economy of size and run warm blooded, and snails conserve their energy and protect their bodies with a natural ceramic. Those are both really great strategies and they both do very well in their respective niches. And both of them beat out the decay.

But "better"? Nature doesn't really decide that. I suppose one could argue that lizards are better than trilobites because trilobites bit it, but that just surviving. Copies of lizards are still around, so by some measure they were better at avoiding the decay. But, that's a bit narrow of a definition.

So basically, if we just overlook that troublesome "How did Life come into being in the first place?" thing, then everything is hunky-dory. But we can't. That's the entire issue.

No it's not. All your objections were to how things cannot possibly beat out decay but metabolism and evolution certainly do solve that. You could build a little rover with a solar panel, battery and wheels, and that would suffice to solve those problems. Abiogenesis is actually a completely different issue. Where do these original copiers come from? And odds for that are pretty good that they just kicked up by chance.

1 comment:

AIGBusted said...


Cool blog you've got here. I have a blog that you may be interested in, as I also blog about science, evolution, and atheism:

In reason,