Electric Monk

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Lt. Col. Matt Morgan - The Second Law of Thermodynamics

It was now Sunday morning, the final day of official activities at The Amaz!ng Meeting. On the schedule was the presentation of three papers, beginning with Lt. Col. Matt Morgan, PhD, USAF, on the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Lt. Col. Matt Morgan
Lt. Col. Matt Morgan And The Second Law

Morgan described how he was first introduced to the creationist use of the Second Law when he went to what he believed to be a science seminar, held at a church. It turned out to be a fairly typical creationist lecture, featuring the (mis)use of the Second Law as a means of attacking evolution theory.

Creationists interpret the Second Law to mean that order cannot come from disorder, and since living things are considered by them to be highly ordered (or information-containing), they cannot be the product of natural processes.

All of this is based on a misunderstanding of the Second Law. A more accurate definition is that spontaneous interactions will only lead to an increase in the total entropy of a system plus its surroundings. In an isolated system, where no matter or energy can be exchanged between the system and its surroundings, the entropy of the system must increase, but isolated systems are rare in nature, and neither the prebiotic oceans nor the current forms of life even come close. The enormous amount of entropy generated by the sun is more than enough to compensate for the local "orderliness" generated by the evolution of life. The Second Law is satisfied.

Morgan closed by noting that humans are entropy-generating machines, and that "for as much chaos as Mr. Randi generates, he should be around forever." Amen, Col. Morgan.

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