In a previous UD post I commented on an article by mathematician Granville Sewell, Ã¢â‚¬Å“A MathematicianÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s View of Evolution.Ã¢â‚¬Â Since then Granville and I have corresponded and he forwarded a follow-up piece entitled, “Can Anything Happen in an Open System?”
The essence of the thesis is as follows:
If an increase in order is extremely improbable when a system is closed, it is still extremely improbable when the system is open, unless something is entering which makes it NOT extremely improbable.
Here are some excerpts:
Critics of my Opinion piece, Ã¢â‚¬Å“A MathematicianÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s View of Evolution,Ã¢â‚¬Â have focused primarily on my first point, which deals with the question of whether or not major evolutionary improvements can be built up through many minor improvements. It is clear to me that they cannot, but this question is the traditional front on which most battles over Darwinism have been fought since 1859, and I did not imagine that my arguments would constitute the last word on this topic. I consider that the main point in my article was the second one.
…which is that the increase in order observed on Earth (and here alone, as far as we know) violates the laws of probability and the second law of thermodynamics in a spectacular fashion.
Evolutionists have always dismissed this argument by saying that the second law of thermodynamics only dictates that order cannot increase in an isolated (closed) system, and the Earth is not a closed system–in particular, it receives energy from the Sun. The second law allows order to increase locally, provided the local increase is offset by an equal or greater decrease in the rest of the universe. This always seems to be the end of the argument: order can increase (entropy can decrease) in an open system, therefore, ANYTHING can happen in an open system, even the rearrangement of atoms into computers, without violating the second law.
It requires only a modicum of common sense to see that it is extremely improbable that atoms should rearrange themselves into mammalian brains, computers, cars, and airplanes, even if the Earth does receive energy from the Sun. We will see that the idea that anything can happen in an open system is based on a misunderstanding of the second law; that order can increase in an open system, not because the laws of probability are suspended when the door is open, but simply because order may walk in through the door.
See also his article, Ã¢â‚¬Å“A Second Look at the Second Law.Ã¢â‚¬Â