…is the title of Granville Sewell’s manuscript that almost got published in Applied Mathematics Letters last year. It was withdrawn at the last minute by the editor, but you can still download the manuscript from Sewell’s web page. The purpose of this thread is to discuss the technical merits of Sewell’s arguments.
In a nutshell, creationists have long argued that biological evolution is associated with increase of information. Because information in Shannon’s sense is, quite literally, the opposite of entropy, the reduction of entropy by evolution appears to contradict the second law of thermodynamics. There is a loophole in this argument: entropy can decrease if a system exchanges heat with the outside world and there is a compensating increase in entropy elsewhere. Back-of-the-envelope estimates show that the increase of information associated with biological evolution is tiny compared to the overall entropy budget of the Earth.
Sewell’s comeback boils down to two points:
- The compensation argument makes no sense. An extremely improbable event is not made less improbable because of “compensating” events occurring elsewhere.
- Informational entropy and thermal entropy are unrelated quantities, so adding them makes no sense. The 2nd law must be applied to each of them separately.
Thus biological evolution contradicts the 2nd law of thermodynamics.
Sewell made these points and supporting examples both in this manuscript and elsewhere. This thread is intended for a discussion of the technical merits of Sewell’s arguments. Philosophical and metaphysical meanderings will be swiftly removed to the sandbox.