Challenge for Those Who Assert a Contradiction Exists
Between Evolutionary Processes and Thermodynamics
Thermodynamics and Evolutionary Mechanism Theory Challenge
Created 19961229 by Wesley R. Elsberry. Last updated 20040225.
Anti-evolutionists often complain that evolutionary theory runs
counter to the second law of thermodynamics, information
theory, or sometimes just "thermodynamics".
Thermodynamics addresses processes which may involve changes
in energy distribution or availability. Because
anti-evolutionists challenge evolutionary mechanism theories
on the basis of thermodynamics, it follows that some
particular process or processes must have been identified as
being objectionable by those anti-evolutionists.
This challenge is designed to test the rigor of the
anti-evolutionist's claim regarding thermodynamics. Because
the anti-evolutionist has made the claim that one or more
evolutionary processes are thermodynamically invalid or
unviable, the following three questions must be answered if
there is any competence of the anti-evolutionary claim at all:
1. Specifically, which process or processes are
identified as being thermodynamically invalid? [Identify the
process such that it can be researched.]
2. Specifically, which evolutionary mechanism theory
postulates the process or processes identified in (1) as being
necessary to evolutionary change? [Identify the theory such
that the claim can be researched.]
3. Defend the claim that the process identified in (1)
and referenced in (2) has not been observed in extant
populations. [Processes which are observed to happen in
extant populations are highly unlikely to be thermodynamically
invalid. Indicate sources that tend to confirm the claim that
the process is not observed to happen.]
In my reading and research on evolutionary mechanism theories,
I have found no reliance upon any process that has not been
observed in extant populations. This leads me to treat claims
of thermodynamic inviability for these theories with great
A word on the types of responses to this challenge:
There are two main ways in which respondents can deal with the
Thermodynamics and Evolutionary Mechanism Theory Challenge.
The intellectually honest and appropriate way is with
discussion of the processes and theories as described and
discussed in the primary literature. This is by far the least
common approach taken by those who have been given the TEMTC.
The other category of approach is to ignore, so far as
possible, any mention or discussion of actual thermodynamic
processes and evolutionary mechanism theories.
These varied strategies are what I term "non-evidentiary"
responses, since they are completely independent of empirical
data. There are many routes to achieving this end. The
simplest is non-response. The challenged person may decide
that not saying anything further is the best option, sometimes
in the hope that there will be no long-term penalty for this
behavior, and that eventually few, if any, persons will
remember the abandonment of the original claim. Another
common non-evidentiary response is digression. Bringing up a
different topic as if it held some relevance to the TEMTC
allows someone to give a semblance of a reply, even though few
will be fooled by it. Acting as though the issue has already
been addressed when no such detail as the TEMTC calls for
exists in previous messages is another. Calling upon some
supposed "expert" who makes the claim is popular, even though
the "expert" likewise fails to provide the requisite detail
to show that the claim has merit.
The following is a short form for response to the TEMTC, if
a challenged person wishes to ignore the evidence and simply
adopt one of the non-evidentiary tactics for their own. Simply
indicate which one or more of the following Non-Evidentiary
Response Items (NERI) fits what would otherwise involve a bunch
of redundant typing.
Non-Evidentiary Response Items:
A. You have your faith; I have mine.
B. *You* prove evolution *doesn't* violate thermodynamics.
C. My previous posts provide plenty of detail.
D. Other people have noticed this.
E. "Expert" X says so.
F. I didn't mean "thermodynamic" entropy.
G. ??? (I'm sure there will be more. - WRE)
Roster of the challenged:
Date Name Forum/Source Response
19961229 DJ (firstname.lastname@example.org) talk.origins None
19970101 Bill Morgan k12.ed.science None
19970224 Joe Sinisi talk.origins "I am planning to get back to
you by this upcoming weekend." (19970225) Further email
revealed that Joe could not get a professor to stand by the
assertion that the 2LOT and evolution were contradictory.
"I'm beginning to think that the 2nd law of THD doesn't
exactly negate evolution afterall." (19970517)
19970303 Neil Aitchison talk.origins (19980130: Give me
substantiated facts to back your claims and I will see it
that I can make a substantiated response.)
19970304 Jim Frank alt.sci.physics.new-theories None
19970330 Bill Shirley talk.origins None
19970817 Andrew Irwin talk.origins None
19980110 Larry N. Lake talk.origins None
19980831 "Operator X" talk.origins None
19981107 Richard "pooua" Alexander sci.physics "I intend to
reply, eventually. Of course, there have been many posts to
which I have wished to reply, but never have." (19981110,
"I've already posted plenty of specifics that answer your
so-called "challenge." Your post is meant as nothing other
than harassment and deception. If you cared about the truth,
you would have bought a book that addresses the issue."
(19981111, Message-ID: <email@example.com>)
19990105 Highwind talk.origins None
19990106 Teno Groppi http://www.vbe.com/~tdg/creation/cedebate.html
" The production of NEW information (read Spetner or
Behe). Even apparentl y beneficial mutations are a LOSS of
genetic information, not a gain. [...] Go waste your time with
somebody who has been educated out of their brai n" (19990108)
19990315 Geoff Casey talk.origins
Pointed to books by Gish and Thaxton et al., but did not provide any
of the requested items (19990416)
19990511 David Ford talk.origins Says he didn't mean
_thermodynamic_ entropy; refused to specify what sort of
"entropy" he might have meant. (19990514)
20040225 Jason Gastrich talk.origins Original statement:
"They also believe that chaos turned into order (defying the
2nd Law of Thermodynamics),[...]" (Message-ID:
Newly challenged persons have the "Response" field listed as
"Pending". "Pending" automatically changes to "None" if no response
is sent to me at firstname.lastname@example.org within one month. A
later substantive response will replace a "None" entry after receipt.
Irrevocable grant of right to publish responses in whole or in part
is given with any private correspondence concerning this challenge.
I can't have the possibility of unquotable responses.