Browse Search Feedback Other Links Home Home The Talk.Origins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy

Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2004
Previous Claim: CE441   |   List of Claims   |   Next Claim: CF001.1

Claim CF001:

The second law of thermodynamics says that everything tends toward disorder, making evolutionary development impossible.


Morris, Henry M., 1974. Scientific Creationism, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, pp. 38-46.


  1. The second law of thermodynamics says no such thing. It says that heat will not spontaneously flow from a colder body to a warmer one or, equivalently, that total entropy (a measure of useful energy) in a closed system will not decrease. This does not prevent increasing order because

    In short, order from disorder happens on earth all the time.

  2. The only processes necessary for evolution to occur are reproduction, heritable variation, and selection. All of these are seen to happen all the time, so, obviously, no physical laws are preventing them. In fact, connections between evolution and entropy have been studied in depth, and never to the detriment of evolution (Demetrius 2000).

    Several scientists have proposed that evolution and the origin of life is driven by entropy (McShea 1998). Some see the information content of organisms subject to diversification according to the second law (Brooks and Wiley 1988), so organisms diversify to fill empty niches much as a gas expands to fill an empty container. Others propose that highly ordered complex systems emerge and evolve to dissipate energy (and increase overall entropy) more efficiently (Schneider and Kay 1994).

  3. Creationists themselves admit that increasing order is possible. They introduce fictional exceptions to the law to account for it.

  4. Creationists themselves make claims that directly contradict their claims about the second law of thermodynamics, such as hydrological sorting of fossils during the Flood.


  1. Aranda-Espinoza, H., Y. Chen, N. Dan, T. C. Lubensky, P. Nelson, L. Ramos and D. A. Weitz, 1999. Electrostatic repulsion of positively charged vesicles and negatively charged objects. Science 285: 394-397.
  2. Brooks, D. R. and E. O. Wiley, 1988. Evolution As Entropy, University of Chicago Press.
  3. Kestenbaum, David, 1998. Gentle force of entropy bridges disciplines. Science 279: 1849.
  4. Han, J. and H. G. Craighead, 2000. Separation of long DNA molecules in a microfabricated entropic trap array. Science 288: 1026-1029.
  5. Demetrius, Lloyd, 2000. Theromodynamics and evolution. Journal of Theoretical Biology 206(1): 1-16.
  6. McShea, Daniel W., 1998. Possible largest-scale trends in organismal evolution: eight live hypotheses. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 29: 293-318.
  7. Schneider, Eric D. and James J. Kay, 1994. Life as a manifestation of the second law of thermodynamics. Mathematical and Computer Modelling 19(6-8): 25-48.

Further Reading:

Atkins, P. W. 1984. The Second Law. New York: Scientific American Books.

Kauffman, Stuart A. 1993. The Origins of Order. New York: Oxford. (technical)

Lambert, Frank L. 1999. The second law of thermodynamics.

See for Yourself:

You can see order come and go in nature in many different ways. A few examples are snowflakes and other frost crystals, cloud formations, dust devils, ripples in sand dunes, and eddies and whirlpools in streams. See how many other examples you can find.
Previous Claim: CE441   |   List of Claims   |   Next Claim: CF001.1

created 2001-2-18, modified 2004-6-26