Thermodynamics is the branch of physics. It defines the concept of temperature by looking at the response of closed systems (often of gases) to heating or to applying pressure. The laws of thermodynamics were historically derived empirically, and relate to macroscopic, averaged properties of the systems under investigation. Thermodynamic laws can be derived from the properties of the constituents of the systems (atoms and molecules) using methods of statistical mechanics.
The laws of thermodynamics are
- Zeroth law (thermodynamical equilibrium)
- When two systems (I) and (II) are in equilibrium with each other, and when one of these (e.g. (I)) is in equilibrium with a third (III), then (II) and (III) are also in equilibrium.
- First law (conservation of energy)
- Energy added to a system is equal to the change in internal system energy and the energy done by the system to its environment.
- Second law (entropy never decreases)
- For a system with constant volume which does not exchange matter or energy with other systems, the entropy cannot decrease. This is a statistical statement and only valid for systems consisting of many components.
- Third law (at T=0 entropy is fixed)
- When the temperature approaches zero, the system stops fluctuating, and enters a fixed state that does not change any more.
Strictly speaking, there is no more connection between thermodynamics and evolution than there is between thermodynamics and any other life science, but Creationists can and do insist that evolution violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics. However, note that no Creationist yet has managed to identify exactly which specific aspect of evolution they regard as thermodynamically impossible or give any plausible reason why it should be.
Recent advances in thermodynamic theory show now how the old view of the second law as a law of disorder has been turned completely on its head. The production of order and the development of complexity is now the expected consequent of natural law. This has undermined the Creationist's old argument completely (see Thermodynamics and Evolution; and New York Acad of Sci - Entropy and Evolution
2nd Law of Thermodynamics and Information Theory
- 2nd law of thermodynamics prohibits evolution
- Complexity doesn't come from simplicity
- How could information, such as in DNA, assemble itself?
- 2nd law of thermodynamics applies to information theory
- Cybernetic simulations show Darwinian processes don't produce order
- Evolutionary algorithms smuggle in design in the fitness function
- Gluons don't exist since no one has seen them, so it must be God who holds the nucleus together
- Natural Selection is a natural example of Maxwell's Demon