Here’s the Eighth Day of Creation, or rather, the eighth episode in the PBS/It’s Okay to be Smart series on “The Twelve Days of Evolution.” In effect, the episodes each aim to debunk one creationist misconception (or lie). In this case it’s the old claim that evolution violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Let’s review that law, as limned by Wikipedia:
The second law of thermodynamics states that in every real process the sum of the entropies of all participating bodies is increased. In the idealized limiting case of a reversible process, this sum remains unchanged. The increase in entropy accounts for the irreversibility of natural processes, and the asymmetry between future and past.
This supposedly makes evolution impossible, as evolution is the production of order from disorder: a reduction in the entropy of life, and an increase in order, if you begin the process molecules floating in water. The solution, as the video shows (and all of us know) is that the reduced entropy produced by evolution is paid for by a greater increase in entropy in the cosmos as a whole. That’s because the Earth is not a closed system, and Sun’s increasing entropy is necessary to fuel Earth’s evolution 93 million miles away. Here’s the short video:
My sole beef with this episode is that I think the cookie example, in which baked cookies are supposed to be analogs of the products of evolution, is weak. In fact, I’d need a physicist to convince me that the transformation of cookie dough to edible cookies requires a loss of entropy, even though I understand that the stove’s heat is an increase in entropy. So it goes; perhaps readers can clarify.