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Entropy and Evolution: Bob Enyart & Johnny... - December 5th, 2008, 10:56 AM

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Discussion Thread: If you'd like to comment on this TOL One on One.
Dan Styer on TOL: Prof. Styer himself disputes the claim that his 2008 AJP paper furthered the confusion between information and heat entropy.

Johnny and I have agreed to "take it outside," i.e., move a discussion on evolution from the BEL Forum to TheologyOnline's Coliseum right here. So we'll each copy our first posts in that existing discussion, and then continue. So here's the Opening Post (thanks Johnny, I hope this worthwhile and instructive):

In his thread: End of 2nd Law Cannard [sic] (emphasis added):
Quote:
Originally Posted by laughsoutloud View Post
An interesting paper that calculates the trade-off between entropy and evolution...
Along comes a very good article by Dan Styer, published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Physics. Titled "Entropy and Evolution"[1], he tackled very much the same issue.

Abstract: Quantitative estimates of the entropy involved in biological evolution demonstrate that there is no conflict between evolution and the second law of thermodynamics. …
And another comment [BE: by PZ Myers (see him in Ben Stein's Expelled)]:
there's about a trillion times more entropy flux available than is required for evolution. The degree by which earth's entropy is reduced by the action of evolutionary processes is miniscule relative to the amount that the entropy of the cosmic microwave background is increased.
The difficulty with creationism arguments is that they employ specious reasoning, supported by distortions of fact.

Evolution happened - deal with it!
Okay, LsOL, deal the cards (or should I say: the canards).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny View Post
I'm willing to bet a large sum of made up numbers that you [Stripe] haven't even read the paper.
Johnny & LsOL, Stipe can read that paper for 19 bucks; it's at the American Journal of Physics: [Daniel] Styer DF (2008) Entropy and evolution, 76(11):1031-1033 here.

But the paper repeats an error that Henry Morris made fifty years ago, and yes that error rippled through the Creation movement, but after all these years, evolutionists, physicists and creationists should stop making the error.

Entropy is NOT a manifestation of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

It is not.

The reverse is true.

The 2nd law is a manifestation of entropy.

Heat transfer entropy and information entropy are two very different phenomenas.

From Timothy R. Stout, B.S. in physics from UCLA, patent holder with 30 years of design engineering experience:
So, how do evolutionists… get around the problem of information entropy? … They treat entropy as an independent entity which can be transferred between its different forms. Thus a decrease in entropy associated with a fuel source is equated to the organization present in an information-driven system such as a [living] cell. In other words, thermodynamic entropy is assumed to be convertible into information entropy. … Entropy related to heat engines has nothing to do with entropy related to a Mozart symphony or to an information sequence.
A friend of mine, Dr. Ed Holroyd of Arvada Colorado, B.S in astrophysics and Ph.D. in atmospheric science who has specialized in remote sensing research for the U.S. government for 30 years, wrote a chapter in a 2001 book, in six days, stating (p. 279), "we know about how often there are supernovae, such as about every 25 years in a galaxy like our own. … We can calculate that we should be able to detect those nebulae for millions of years before they diffuse… [However] there are only enough for about 7,000, not millions of, years of explosions. Here is an important discrepancy that has been known for decades."

What do millions of years of missing supernovae have to do with this information entropy and thermodynamic entropy differentiation? Nothing. But I included it as a rib (as in Adam's) to naturalists and as a transition to a quote from that book that is relevant. Dr. Jeremy L. Walter, head of Engineering Analysis and Design at Penn State's Applied Research Lab in their Energy Science and Power Systems Division has a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. all in mechanical engineering, received an NSF grant to be used at an institution of his choice, and has led undersea propulsion development projects for the U.S. Navy researching thermal power systems.

Walter wrote (p. 15-16), "…without a heat engine, no efficient useful work is produced by the flow of heat. … many evolutionists believe the solution to the threat of the second law is to be found in statistical thermodynamics." This is the argument in the paper LsOL referred to, that evolution on earth can appear to violate the 2nd Law locally because a decrease in [information] entropy as a squid evolves in the sea is offset by a fluctuation of [heat] entropy in a galaxy far, far away. Okaay.

Sorry. Actually, the paper didn't even make the distinction between information entropy and heat entropy that I just did. So, to realize what Styer's paper actually claimed, just delete the two bracketed words above:
that evolution on earth can appear to violate the 2nd Law locally because a decrease in entropy as a squid evolves in the sea is offset by a fluctuation of entropy in a galaxy far, far away.
After summarizing the attempt by James Clerk Maxwell in 1891 to find a way around the thermodynamic entropy issue, and the offsetting 1929 paper by Szilard demonstrating the ruthlessness of the 2nd law, Dr. Walter then stated (p. 17):
In naturalistic evolution, life is believed to have originated as high fluxes of energy passed through a chemical soup of fortuitous composition. The problem here is much more difficult than that faced by the Maxwell demon, because life requires structures of incredible complexity, not just high energy levels. … The presumed high-energy fluxes do not provide structure or intelligence…
But as a creationist indebted to Henry Morris, the Copernicus of the Young Earth Creation movement, let me first level two criticisms at Morris:
Morris Error 1: Henry Morris wrongly stated that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics resulted from the Fall (Morris, Biblical Basis for Modern Science 1984, pp. 195-197; copied by countless others), as though a cup of hot cocoa would not have cooled down if left to sit in the Garden; and as though an oven could have continue to burn its fuel forever; etc. (For Bible students: "the Tree of Life" had the same purpose in the initial creation as it does in the New Creation; God put it in Eden, and later transferred the Tree of Life to heaven, to deal with the effects of entropy on the human body, so that "the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Rev. 22:2; Gen. 2:9, 16; 3:22).

Morris Error 2: Henry Morris (even though he began his work in the early decades after Bell Laboratories' discovery of information entropy, and it's parallel to thermodynamic entropy, still) should not have used the term Entropy as a synonym for the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.
The equation for Entropy is engraved on the tombstone of the 19th century Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann who famously quantified entropy in heat engines. Wikipedia quotes physicist Max Plank, "The logarithmic connection between entropy and probability was first stated by L. Boltzmann in his kinetic theory of gases." LsOL and Johnny, this should interest you because decades later, at Bell Laboratories, as described by Stout (CM, Sept/Oct 2008, Vol 13, Num. 5, p. 1):
During the late 1940's Claude E. Shannon, considered the father of "information theory," was a scientist working for Bell Labs. He had the responsibility to determine the maximum data rate at which digital information could be sent reliably across telephone lines… In performing statistical analyses on the corruption of digital information, he ended up with certain formulas that were very similar to Boltzmann's.
(Elsewhere I'll tell of my interacting with Bell engineers as a teenager in NJ.) Yikes! What's going on with Shannon's information degradation formulas being similar to Boltzmann's thermodynamic formulas? Heat entropy was NOT the significant factor in that degradation of transferred information. This was ANOTHER manifestation of entropy, other than thermodynamic entropy, this was "information entropy."

Stout continues (p. 2):
"Shannon also called this trait entropy… More technically, though, it is information entropy and not thermodynamic entropy.

Aesthetic entropy

Works of art are organized…. Thus, a random blast on a trumpet during… a Mozart symphony will… detract from the performance."
Entropy has to do with the move from order to disorder in any organized system, whether it is organized by energy states, ergonomics (arrangement of utensils in your kitchen, etc), aesthetic values, information content, etc.

Stout also wrote:
the more organized a system is, the harder or more unlikely it is for a random change [mutation] to increase its order. … Evolutionists claim that [biological] organization is the result of cumulative progress made through… random changes… However… mutations to the DNA of a cell, should destroy order, not increase it.
So I'll conclude this criticism of the American Journal of Physics 2008 article titled Entropy and Evolution repeating Stout's observation that evolutionists thing information entropy can be converted to thermodynamic entropy; and far more significant, his reminder that Entropy is NOT a manifestation of thermodynamics, but vice versa.
So, how do evolutionists… get around the problem of information entropy? … They treat entropy as an independent entity which can be transferred between its different forms. Thus a decrease in entropy associated with a fuel source is equated to the organization present in an information-driven system such as a [living] cell. In other words, thermodynamic entropy is assumed to be convertible into information entropy. … Entropy related to heat engines has nothing to do with entropy related to… an information sequence.
And so laughsoutloud and Johnny, please remember: Entropy is NOT a manifestation of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

It is not.

The reverse is true.

The 2nd law is a manifestation of entropy.

-Bob Enyart
KGOV.com





The Bob Enyart Live talk show airs at KGOV.com weekdays at 5 pm E.T. Also, same time, same station, check out Theology Thursday (.com) and on Fridays, Real Science Radio (.com) a.k.a. rsr.org. All shows are available 24/7 and you can call us at at 1-800-8Enyart.

Last edited by Bob Enyart; December 19th, 2008 at 09:36 AM.. Reason: Edited the HELPFUL LINKS at the top...
   
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Exclamation December 5th, 2008, 12:16 PM

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December 5th, 2008, 02:57 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
But the paper repeats an error that Henry Morris made fifty years ago, and yes that error rippled through the Creation movement, but after all these years, evolutionists, physicists and creationists should stop making the error.

Entropy is NOT a manifestation of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

It is not.

The reverse is true.

The 2nd law is a manifestation of entropy.
I don't think many people would disagree (though I'm struggling to understand just what you mean here). No physical phenomena is a manifestation of the human constructs we use to understand them -- our theories and laws are simply formalized ways of describing how the universe behaves.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
Heat transfer entropy and information entropy are two very different phenomenas.
Certainly. Confusion on this point is exactly why creationists such as our dear Stripe and the esteemed Dr. Henry Morris, B.S. in civil engineering from Rice, Ph.D. in hydraulic engineering from University of Minnesota erroneously claim that the 2nd law prohibits evolution from occurring. The shared use of the word entropy in both information theory and in thermodynamics is likely partially responsible for this confusion, but even a cursory understanding of the thermodynamic concept of entropy should be sufficient to make a distinction. Either Dr. Henry Morris, B.S., Ph.D. didn't possess this basic understanding, or he deliberately exploited the education level of his target audience.As you understand, the second law of thermodynamics does not actually govern information content of a system; but instead describes how the energy transformations behave (more precisely it describes the number of available energy states in a system). Nonetheless, it's clear that you, at least, rightly divide the concepts. I am glad to see you join in criticism of Dr. Morris in his misapplication of the 2nd law to the theory of evolution. I must confess though, it would have been much sweeter had you had the intestinal fortitude to also include those creationists here who have and continue to misapply the 2nd law.

That being said, you didn't understand Styer's paper (did you read it?) You write,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
This is the argument in the paper LsOL referred to, that evolution on earth can appear to violate the 2nd Law locally because a decrease in [information] entropy as a squid evolves in the sea is offset by a fluctuation of [heat] entropy in a galaxy far, far away. Okaay.

Sorry. Actually, the paper didn't even make the distinction between information entropy and heat entropy that I just did.
Styer's paper doesn't confuse the two. In fact, in the appendix he writes,
"A creationist confronted with the estimates in this article might respond by saying “an open system and an adequate outside source of energy are necessary but not sufficient conditions for the complexity, structure, and organization of a system to increase”...The second law of thermodynamics permits but does not require evolution...This article establishes that evolution is consistent with the second law of thermodynamics. Whether or not biological evolution actually happens is a different question, which has been investigated thoroughly."
His paper is intended as a direct rebuttal to the misapplication of the 2nd Law by creationists such as Henry Morris. He begins by criticizing the popular creationist understanding of entropy as "disorder" (ala Morris does), and then he continues on to actually apply the Boltzmann expression of entropy (i.e. thermodynamic entropy) to evolution. He shows that there is actually no conflict between evolution and the actual real-deal 2nd law as it applies to energy states.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
So, to realize what Styer's paper actually claimed, just delete the two bracketed words above:
that evolution on earth can appear to violate the 2nd Law locally because a decrease in entropy as a squid evolves in the sea is offset by a fluctuation of entropy in a galaxy far, far away.
Styer's paper claims no such thing. He doesn't even say that evolution appears to violate the 2nd law. In fact, he actually goes out of his way to state that the view that evolution even appears to violate the second law is based on a misunderstanding of what entropy actually is! Where are you getting that Styer says that "evolution...can appear to violate the 2nd law"? Do you have a citation? I have the paper open right in front of me. Maybe you can point me to the right paragraph.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
Johnny & LsOL, Stipe can read that paper for 19 bucks; it's at the American Journal of Physics: [Daniel] Styer DF (2008) Entropy and evolution, 76(11):1031-1033 here.
He could read it free by heading down to the local university library.





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Johnny, just clarifying that you agreed; more to follow... - December 6th, 2008, 07:46 PM

Johnny, again, thanks for participating in this TOL One on One. I'll use two posts to reply to what you've written, pausing briefly between them to give you a chance to clarify if you'd like to.

You quoted the following and implied that you agreed! (You agree, that is, unless you are not one of the "many" to whom you refer.) It's clear though that you were NOT agreeing with the point I will continue to assert: that the Nov. 2008 American Journal of Physics article by Daniel F. Styer, Entropy and evolution, committed the same error as Henry Morris in equating information entropy with heat entropy, as the latter is described by the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Rather it seems that you were agreeing (though of course with the obligatory qualification ) to the latter part of what you excerpted, that Entropy is not exclusively a manifestation of the 2nd law of thermodynamics, but the reverse is true, that the 2nd law describes one kind of entropy.

Your opening quote from me is:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart View Post
But the paper repeats an error that Henry Morris made fifty years ago, and yes that error rippled through the Creation movement, but after all these years, evolutionists, physicists and creationists should stop making the error.
Entropy is NOT a manifestation of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.
It is not.
The reverse is true.
The 2nd law is a manifestation of entropy
.
And to that you replied (emphasis added, here as with future quotes):

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny View Post
I don't think many people would disagree (though I'm struggling to understand just what you mean here). No physical phenomena is a manifestation of the human constructs we use to understand them -- our theories and laws are simply formalized ways of describing how the universe behaves.
So Johnny, you appear to agree that the 2nd law describes a form of entropy.

(As far as our wording is concerned, hopefully we can understand one another. When you quote Styer saying, "The second law of thermodynamics permits," I'm sure we all realize that no one is implying that the words of the law produce physical phenomena but that the words of the law describe an attribute of the physical universe which produces phenomena.)

That's it. Now, I'm writing a post to respond to your substantive disagreement. I won't necessarily wait for you to post to clarify, but please do so if you need to. It appears that what you agreed to when you wrote, "I don't think many people would disagree," is the distinction in your opening excerpt that entropy is a more broad phenomenon than exclusively the heat entropy which is described by the 2nd law.

-Bob Enyart
KGOV.com





The Bob Enyart Live talk show airs at KGOV.com weekdays at 5 pm E.T. Also, same time, same station, check out Theology Thursday (.com) and on Fridays, Real Science Radio (.com) a.k.a. rsr.org. All shows are available 24/7 and you can call us at at 1-800-8Enyart.
   
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Quick comment on "confusion" over the word... - December 6th, 2008, 09:46 PM

Regarding confusion over the failure to distinguish between information entropy and thermodynamic entropy, Johnny you agreed with my criticism of Morris and added this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny View Post
The shared use of the word entropy in both information theory and in thermodynamics is likely partially responsible for this confusion…
Yes. Agreed. But this confusion, like Ptolemy's eight-minute error in Mar's orbit, is fortuitous. Understanding and resolving this confusion, which arises from the similarities and differences between thermal and information entropy (informally, the tendency toward reduced usefulness) can provide a better understanding of reality.

Better perception can arise from focusing on details that don't quite fit. According to Pearcey and Thaxton in one of my favorite books, their Soul of Science, Johann Kepler’s study of the orbit of Mars showed it to appear eight minutes of arc away from where it should have appeared if orbits were circular. Forcing the issue (of the discrepancy of calculations between Tycho Brahe and Ptolemy), Kepler eventually comprehended elliptical orbits and later referred to those eight minutes as a “gift from God.”

Johnny, here too, I suggest we can learn more by focusing on that which confuses even "experts" like Morris and Styer. Natural forces degrade both information, and the availability of energy, in similar and yet different ways. Remember that the "shared use of the word entropy" exists because Bell Labs information theorist Claude Shannon, while performing statistical analyses on the corruption of information, ended up with certain formulas that were very similar to Ludwig Boltzmann's formulas on heat entropy, and that according to Stout (B.S. in physics from UCLA) it was the similarity between information degradation and available energy states that led Shannon, father of information theory, to use the term that had become common in physics, entropy.

So this particular confusion over a word may be more than mere confusion. The confusion may be a POINTER, like Kepler's eight minutes, to some attribute of reality that applies to systems as diverse as energy, aesthetics, ergonomics, and information.

Now I think I can get to the substance of our disagreement...

-Bob Enyart
KGOV.com





The Bob Enyart Live talk show airs at KGOV.com weekdays at 5 pm E.T. Also, same time, same station, check out Theology Thursday (.com) and on Fridays, Real Science Radio (.com) a.k.a. rsr.org. All shows are available 24/7 and you can call us at at 1-800-8Enyart.
   
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December 6th, 2008, 10:00 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart View Post
Johnny, again, thanks for participating in this TOL One on One. I'll use two posts to reply to what you've written, pausing briefly between them to give you a chance to clarify if you'd like to.
I appreciate you taking the time to discuss this -- I realize you are busy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
Rather it seems that you were agreeing (though of course with the obligatory qualification ) to the latter part of what you excerpted, that Entropy is not exclusively a manifestation of the 2nd law of thermodynamics, but the reverse is true, that the 2nd law describes one kind of entropy...

...So Johnny, you appear to agree that the 2nd law describes a form of entropy.
I do agree that the second law describes one kind of entropy (specifically thermodynamic entropy).





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Styer: cosmic microwave background entropy increases to compensate for evolution - December 8th, 2008, 11:00 AM

Johnny you quote me saying:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
So, to realize what Styer's paper actually claimed, just delete the two bracketed words above:
that evolution on earth can appear to violate the 2nd Law locally because a decrease in entropy as a squid evolves in the sea is offset by a fluctuation of entropy in a galaxy far, far away.
And you reply:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny View Post
Styer's paper claims no such thing. He doesn't even say that evolution appears to violate the 2nd law.
These two Styer quotes show his ambiguous use of "entropy," not distinguishing between heat and information, and corroborate my summary:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Styer
"If entropy here on Earth is decreasing due to evolution, where is the other piece of the universe where the entropy is increasing?"
So he said: "If entropy here on Earth [locally] is decreasing [i.e., appears to violate the 2nd law] due to evolution, where is the other piece of the universe [a galaxy far, far away] where the entropy is increasing?"

And ten paragraphs later, Styer concludes his brief paper and answers his own question, having used "the Boltzmann constant" for heat entropy in a few calculations, stating:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Styer
"…the decrease in entropy required for evolution is so small… [and from the previous sentence] "the entropy of the cosmic microwave background is increasing by an even greater amount to compensate for that decrease."
Styer achieved more than mere ambiguity, as we'll see, and has added to the confusion by furthering the unstated, unproved and unwise assumption that heat and information are interchangeable.

One significant difference between information entropy and thermodynamic entropy is that while a local decrease in heat entropy requires an overly compensating increase in entropy elsewhere, the same has never been shown true regarding information entropy.

An increase in information, say by writing 100 books, does not require an offsetting decrease elsewhere, say by burning 101. (Nor does teaching a hundred students how to divide, require an offsetting decrease in information elsewhere, say from a hundred and one students forgetting how to subtract.)

I've clearly stated the guilt of creationists in using entropy and the 2nd law as synonyms, and Johnny you should be able to acknowledge the problem that many evolutionists obfuscate and do not sufficiently distinguish between information and heat entropy, and thereby make unsupported claims presenting such non sequiturs as conclusive.

Styer confuses the matter further (heat vs. information) in his Appendix by dealing with the information content of E. coli bacteria's 4.6 million rungs of its DNA ladder. Unfortunately he never uses the term that would have helped clarify matters: "information." And he never alerts his readers to distinguish between information theory and physics. As a result many people (even biologists) are assuming that his analysis has mathematically answered the entire entropy challenge against evolution.

Dan Styer's published 2008 American Journal of Physics paper, Entropy and evolution, is also somewhat poorly written. He begins saying he will list "two misconceptions" of creationists regarding entropy. But instead he presents two bullets referring to his own quotes and other evolutionists statements about entropy (from these bullets the reader is to infer the misconceptions). First, referencing a paper he previously published, he states that, "Disorder is a metaphor for entropy, not a definition," which would have been a perfect place for Styer to differentiate between information and heat entropy. His second bullet from which we must infer a creationist misconception is that, "the entropy of any part of the universe can decrease with time, so long as that decrease is compensated by an even larger increase in some other part of the universe."

Styer then concludes his Introduction claiming:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Styer
here we explicitly and quantitatively answer questions such as… "If entropy here on Earth is decreasing due to evolution, where is the other piece of the universe where the entropy is increasing?"
He gives an answer in his remaining two sections:

"II. Entropy Flux Through The Earth The Sun heats the Earth… the Earth heats outer space."

"III. Entropy Required For Evolution What is the change in the entropy of living things on Earth due to evolution?"

Johnny, yes, Styer perpetuates the confusion through ambiguity and worse. You quote me also saying:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
This is the argument in the paper LsOL referred to, that evolution on earth can appear to violate the 2nd Law locally because a decrease in [information] entropy as a squid evolves in the sea is offset by a fluctuation of [heat] entropy in a galaxy far, far away. Okaay.

... Actually, the paper didn't even make the distinction between information entropy and heat entropy that I just did.
And you claim:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny View Post
Styer's paper doesn't confuse the two.
Yikes! How are you going to defend that claim? Styer does confuse the two. His paragraph you cite, Appendix 4, does not illuminate the unsubstantiated interchangeability assumption between information theory and physics. In his Appendix 3. The probability of life, Styer calculates the permutations of amino acids in an E coli DNA strand (10 to the 2,790,000th combinations), and then admits this is a large probability ratio "but minute compared to" his heat flux ratios. His comparison suggests he is unaware of the distinction between energy states and information.

Johnny, here are questions you could answer if you'd like, but I guess it's not necessary, because the answer to every one of these is: No.

Does the 2008 American Journal of Physics article by Daniel F. Styer, Entropy and evolution:

* ever distinguish between information and energy?
* ever mention "information entropy"?
* ever mention information theory?
* ever mention "information"?
* ever mention that there are various kinds of entropy?
* ever state that its claims about heat entropy do not apply to information entropy?

No.

Because the title of the article is not "Heat entropy and evolution" but "Entropy and evolution" and because the paper never mentions other forms of entropy (not even in the appendix), and because the online abstract begins, "Quantitative estimates of the entropy involved in biological evolution," this has led readers to draw the conclusion, as have those in laughsoutloud's original post, as though this American Journal of Physics paper has quantitatively proved that evolution has no entropy challenge.

Here are some evolutionists from laughsoutloud's post who are spreading this false notion based upon this AJP article:
- Zapperz at Physicsandphysicists blog (claiming 125,000 visits)
- laughsoutloud himself, quoting AJP calculating "the trade-off between entropy and evolution" and LsOL quotes PZ Myers discussing heat entropy as though it were interchangeable with information entropy, and concludes therefore that: "creationism arguments [on entropy]… employ specious reasoning, supported by distortions"
- PZ Myers writes in his own article titled Entropy and evolution:
Quote:
Originally Posted by PZ Myers
...we [evolutionists] do not ignore entropy… it's obvious that the second law does not state that nothing can ever increase in order, but only that an [sic] decrease in one part must be accompanied by a greater increase in entropy in another... [an] embryo is pumping heat out into its environment and increasing the entropy of the surrounding bit of the world. ... A "gigantic increase in order and complexity" … How much of an increase? Can we get some numbers for that?

Daniel Styer has published an eminently useful article on "Entropy and Evolution" that does exactly that — he makes some quantitative estimates of how much entropy might be decreased by the process of evolution. I knew we kept physicists around for something; they are so useful for filling in the tricky details. The article nicely summarizes the general problems with the creationist claim. They confuse the metaphor of 'disorder' for the actual phenomenon of entropy... [BE: Of course, here this famous evolutionist who appears in Ben Stein's Expelled, PZ Myers himself is not clarifying for his readers that the AJP paper dealt with heat entropy and not information entropy. And PZ Myers goes on to further this misconception.] ... they seem to have an absolutist notion that the second law prohibits all decreases in entropy; and they generally lack any quantitative notion of how entropy actually works. The cool part of this particular article, though, is that he makes an estimate of exactly how much entropy is decreased by the process of evolution... [And Styer's] final result is a number that tells us the total change in entropy of the planet caused by evolution… What does that number mean? We need a context. Styer also estimates the Earth's total entropy throughput per second, that is, the total flux involved from absorption of the sun's energy and re-radiation of heat out into space. It's a slightly bigger number"
Johnny, this is all a direct confusion of information entropy and heat entropy, assuming the two are interchangeable, committed by a leading evolutionary biologist.

I'll conclude comparing my description of Styer's misleading paper, with PZ Myers' own conclusion:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart View Post
This is the argument in the paper LsOL referred to, that evolution on earth can appear to violate the 2nd Law locally because a decrease in [information] entropy as a squid evolves in the sea is offset by a fluctuation of [heat] entropy in a galaxy far, far away. Okaay.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PZ Myers
To spell it out, there's about a trillion times more entropy flux available than is required for evolution. The degree by which earth's entropy is reduced by the action of evolutionary processes is miniscule relative to the amount that the entropy of the cosmic microwave background is increased.
Johnny, that is blatant assumed interchangeability between thermodynamics and information entropy.

That confusion is an opportunity to teach physicists, creationists and evolutionists that:

Entropy is NOT a manifestation of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

It is not.

The reverse is true.

The 2nd law describes a form of entropy.

Entropy describes an attribute of reality that applies to disciplines as diverse as physics and information theory, to energy, aesthetics, ergonomics, and information.

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December 9th, 2008, 05:22 PM

Bob,

Argument 1
You assert that Styer ambiguously used the word "entropy" and failed to distinguish between information entropy and thermodynamic entropy. You state,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
These two Styer quotes show his ambiguous use of "entropy," not distinguishing between heat and information, and corroborate my summary:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Styer
"If entropy here on Earth is decreasing due to evolution, where is the other piece of the universe where the entropy is increasing?"
Quote:
Originally Posted by Styer
"…the decrease in entropy required for evolution is so small… [and from the previous sentence] "the entropy of the cosmic microwave background is increasing by an even greater amount to compensate for that decrease."
You sure didn't waste any time quote-mining two quotes from the body of the text (c'mon Bob, using this disingenuous tactic, one can call any word with two meanings ambiguous.) Let us not forget that the opening sentence of Styer's paper reads, "Does the second law of thermodynamics prohibit biological evolution?" The 2nd law of thermodynamics rigidly defines which type of entropy Styer is referring to -- it can only be thermodynamic entropy. By opening his paper with that question, Styer immediately sets the stage for the rest of his paper. It is clear from the outset Styer intends to address the misconception that the behavior of thermodynamic entropy (i.e. the 2nd law of thermodynamics) somehow prohibits evolution from occurring. Thus, your criticism of Styer for not distinguishing between thermodynamic entropy and information entropy in the two quotes above relies on pulling those quotes out of the context of Styer's paper. The first sentence of the paper makes that clarification. Within the context of the second law, entropy has a specific scientific definition.
  • Does the second law of thermodynamics specifically refer to thermodynamic entropy?
  • By definition, then, do you agree that Styer's opening sentence (which states "Does the second law of thermodynamics prohibit biological evolution?") makes it clear that his paper is intended to address thermodynamic entropy and not any other type of entropy?
Those questions are, of course, rhetorical. Styer establishes his definitions from his opening sentence. There is absolutely no question as to which kind of entropy he is referring to.

Argument 2
Your second criticism of Styer's paper is that he has...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
...added to the confusion by furthering the unstated, unproved and unwise assumption that heat and information are interchangeable.
Your challenge, then, is to demonstrate exactly where Styer confuses the thermodynamic concept of entropy with the information concept of entropy. In supporting your position, you offer only a vague reference to Styer's E. coli calculations in his appendix. You write,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
Styer confuses the matter further (heat vs. information) in his Appendix by dealing with the information content of E. coli bacteria's 4.6 million rungs of its DNA ladder.
Styer isn't talking about the information content of E. coli's DNA, he's talking about the entropy of the sum of the biochemical interactions of the different configurations of DNA. He firsts suggests that students calculate the number of physical configurations possible of the four nucleotides given the entire 4.6 million base pair genome of E. coli -- the answer to which is 4^4639221 possible configurations. He then asks the reader to consider this huge number of E. coli genomic configurations in the context of his calculated Omega (i) / Omega (f) [10^(1.8 x 10^22)], which represents the ratio of the reducion in microstates if evolution were to increase Earth's entropy output by 1 part in a million. Again, this is referring specifically to the thermodynamic entropy of the biochemical interactions of the DNA bases. As you so aptly point out, at no point in this paper does Styer make any reference to information. Why, then, should anyone be confused as to what Styer is talking about?

Random Quibbles
You state,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
Dan Styer's published 2008 American Journal of Physics paper, Entropy and evolution, is also somewhat poorly written. He begins saying he will list "two misconceptions" of creationists regarding entropy. But instead he presents two bullets referring to his own quotes and other evolutionists statements about entropy (from these bullets the reader is to infer the misconceptions).
He doesn't say he will list two misconceptions. He recounts a popular creationist argument (as formulated by Dr Morris, which is cited in his paper in the sentence preceding this discussion), and then he says that argument relies on two misconceptions.

For those reading, here is Styer's exact statement:
The creationist argument is that advanced organisms are more orderly than primitive organisms, and hence as evolution proceeds living things become more ordered, that is less disordered, that is less entropic. Because the second law of thermodynamics prohibits a decrease in entropy, it therefore prohibits biological evolution.

This [i.e. the above] argument rests upon two misconceptions about entropy.
He then cites his own work to clarify why the assumptions made in Morris' argument are misconceptions. This is not poor writing or poor argumentation, as you make it out to be.

You continue,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
First, referencing a paper he previously published, he states that, "Disorder is a metaphor for entropy, not a definition," which would have been a perfect place for Styer to differentiate between information and heat entropy.
In what way does this relate at all to information entropy? The misconception that thermodynamic entropy is really about "order" and "disorder", especially disorder of macroscopic states, runs rampant. This ill-conceived metaphor for thermodynamic entropy has nothing to do with information entropy, and it has nothing to do with confusing thermodynamic entropy with information entropy. Indeed the previous paper of his which he references deals extensively with the pitfalls of various metaphors for thermodynamic entropy -- with the most attention paid to the "order" and "disorder" concepts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
Johnny, yes, Styer perpetuates the confusion through ambiguity and worse.
I wholeheartedly disagree (as stated in the 3 arguments above).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
Johnny, here are questions you could answer if you'd like, but I guess it's not necessary, because the answer to every one of these is: No.

Does the 2008 American Journal of Physics article by Daniel F. Styer, Entropy and evolution:

* ever distinguish between information and energy?
* ever mention "information entropy"?
* ever mention information theory?
* ever mention "information"?
* ever mention that there are various kinds of entropy?
* ever state that its claims about heat entropy do not apply to information entropy?

No.

Because the title of the article is not "Heat entropy and evolution" but "Entropy and evolution" and because the paper never mentions other forms of entropy (not even in the appendix), and because the online abstract begins, "Quantitative estimates of the entropy involved in biological evolution,"
I can see where there would be confusion had Styer not stated that he was addressing the 2nd law of thermodynamics -- i.e. thermodynamic entropy -- in the opening sentence of his paper. Information theory and information entropy is irrelevant from the very first sentence. This underscores the importance and utility of the strict scientific definitions (and the so-called jargon) which is so often criticized by the lay public. In my own field (medicine), ideas can be conveyed between physicians with exacting clarity without the need to resort to overly wordy and ambiguous common phrasing. The utilization and context of the words leave no question as to what is being discussed. Styer's paper does likewise.

It is therefore the reader's responsibility to ensure that he has a proper understanding of the terminology used. To the reader who understands the proper definition of the 2nd law of thermodynamics, there is no question as to what entropy is being discussed. When the opening sentence of Styer's paper references the 2nd law, I can hardly sympathize with the position that Styer is being too ambiguous as to just what kind of entropy he is discussing.

You continue,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
...this has led readers to draw the conclusion, as have those in laughsoutloud's original post, as though this American Journal of Physics paper has quantitatively proved that evolution has no entropy challenge.
Remember, the second law of thermodynamics is strictly defined. Any mistake as to what conclusions Styer reaches regarding other forms of entropy is the mistake of the reader. The paper explicitly states that the intent is to "demonstrate that there is no conflict between evolution and the second law of thermodynamics."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
Here are some evolutionists from laughsoutloud's post who are spreading this false notion based upon this AJP article:
Neither of the two authors you quote wrote anything that indicates they have confused information entropy and thermodynamic entropy. In fact, both of them reference the 2nd law of thermodynamics specifically. The 2nd law of thermodynamics governs a specific type of entropy.

You quote PZ Meyers as saying,
"To spell it out, there's about a trillion times more entropy flux available than is required for evolution. The degree by which earth's entropy is reduced by the action of evolutionary processes is miniscule relative to the amount that the entropy of the cosmic microwave background is increased."
to which you comment:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
Johnny, that is blatant assumed interchangeability between thermodynamics and information entropy.
What? Because he used the word entropy he's suddenly confusing the two concepts of entropy? The fact that he even uses the phrasing "entropy flux" clues us into the fact that he is referring to thermodynamic entropy.

Conclusion
What your argument boils down to, Bob, is simply plucking the word "entropy" out from all of these authors quotes and criticizing them for either not clarifying or confusing the terms "information entropy" and "heat entropy". But when the term entropy is used in the context of the 2nd law of thermodynamics, it has a very specific and rigidly defined meaning. All of the aforementioned writers have used the term entropy directly within the context of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Any misunderstanding as to what type of entropy is being discussed is simply the fault of the reader.

You conclude,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
Entropy describes an attribute of reality that applies to disciplines as diverse as physics and information theory, to energy, aesthetics, ergonomics, and information.
You're kidding yourself if you think I'm going to let you get away with that statement! Thermodynamic entropy is a rigidly defined scientific term which is completely distinct from other forms of entropy such as information entropy or social entropy, though they may share some similarities. There is not, as you suggest, one single "entropy" which is an attribute of reality under which all types of entropy fall. In each context, be it information or thermodynamic, there is a very specific definition of entropy which is not to be confused with other forms of entropy. Styer's paper clearly defines which type of entropy he is referring to in the opening question of his paper.





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1st of 3 Replies to Johnny's post (#8): 2 Non-Misconceptions - December 12th, 2008, 05:04 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny View Post
...Quibbles
Yes, Johnny, this is MINOR, and the least significant of my three replies to Post #8. I wish you had let this one go. But since you didn't, I will establish my accusation of Styer's poor writing:
* in hopes of demonstrating that your bias makes it hard for you to see even something as obvious as this. If you resist seeing this superficial error, perhaps your evolutionary bias prevents you from seeing Styer's serious error of furthering entropy confusion; and,
* to add a couple points, similar to entropy itself, about Styer always increasing in confusion .

This scan of the introduction of Styer's American Journal of Physics article is reduced in size to protect AJP's copyright but its included here to show that you are not objective about Styer's article. Again, this is minor and doesn't mean that I am correct overall. Readers can easily make out my notes on the right column (I'm not good at Photoshop, can you tell?):



Johnny, don't you think you should have let this go?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny View Post
He doesn't say he will list two misconceptions. He recounts a popular creationist argument (as formulated by Dr Morris, which is cited in his paper in the sentence preceding this discussion), and then he says that argument relies on two misconceptions.

...here is Styer's exact statement:
The creationist argument is that advanced organisms are more orderly...
This [i.e. the above] argument rests upon two misconceptions about entropy.


... This is not poor writing or poor argumentation, as you make it out to be.
What, because Styer didn't use the word "list?" I've only shortened Styer's two bullets:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Styer
This [above creationist] argument rests upon two misconceptions about entropy.
• Disorder is a metaphor for entropy…
• Although the entropy of the universe increases with time…
This creationist argument also rests upon [this third?] misconception that evolution acts always to produce more complex organisms… [which] will not be discussed in this article."
Yes, let's not quibble .

I will now take some latitude Johnny from your defense of Styer's superficial error by pressing the matter a bit to give an example of how Styer's article can mislead readers, intentionally or not, to assume his heat calculations have also answered evolutions information entropy challenge.

If you were right, and there was no poor writing in this AJP article, then Styer was intending for his reader to guess the two creationist misconceptions. No. He intended to list them. But then forgot to. And the editors missed it also.

[Note to the reader: if you are enjoying this One on One but it becomes a bit too technical to enjoy at times, you might want to skip the rest of this post. The above is the main point.]

So you and I Johnny had to infer the creationist misconceptions, and here they are:

First Inferred Misconception: some creationists presume that disorder is a definition of entropy rather than a metaphor.

Second Inferred Misconception: some creationists don't realize that entropy can decrease locally.

These criticisms of creationists are worthy of attention. I observe that the creation movement is working to correct these misconceptions. I hope evolutionists attempt the same, but evolutionists who are disingenuous might view clarification as counterproductive to their secular evangelism of the masses. One way of clarifying is by stressing the difference between physics and information, as in the Sept/Oct 2008 Creation Matters with contrasting article subheadings, "Thermodynamic entropy" and "Information entropy" on the cover, written by Timothy Stout, B.S. in physics from UCLA.

Regarding Styer's first inferred misconception, the term "disorder" comes closer to a definition, as compared to only a metaphor, regarding information as compared to thermodynamics. (I know, I know, Styer's paper regards only thermodynamics; but the title of his paper is Entropy and evolution. I've argued that when Styer considers only a bacteria's DNA permutations that correspond to life, he is confusing the matter of information and heat by not clarifying, and here his poor writing adds to that confusion by requiring the reader to presume what the creationist believes about entropy.)

Johnny, I'd like to adopt a new term for the final week of this One on One:
ientropy, information entropy as distinguishing from heat entropy, pronounced yen-truh-pee.

Regarding Styer's second inferred misconception, about local decreases in entropy, readers know, I'm not a physicist. And I step in ThePhy's domain with fear and trepidation. But didn't Styer slightly overstate the case when he said: "the entropy of any part of the universe can decrease with time, so long as that decrease is compensated by an even larger increase in some other part of the universe."

Two questions (and if ThyPhy answers these in the Discussion Thread I will not dispute his answers).

First, Styer wrote: "…the decrease in entropy required for evolution is so small" … "the entropy of the cosmic microwave background is increasing by an even greater amount to compensate for that decrease."

The form of this argument seems reasonable, but what if we test the form of the argument by replacing "evolution" with a pmm: "…the decrease in entropy required for a perpetual motion machine is so small" … "the entropy of the cosmic microwave background is increasing by an even greater amount to compensate for that decrease."

Would that prove wrong the arguments against a pmm on Earth? Johnny? ThePhy?

Second, did Styer overstate his case when he said: "the entropy of any part of the universe can decrease with time, so long as that decrease is compensated by an even larger increase in some other part of the universe."

For example, can an entropy increase in ANY Location 1 really compensate for an entropy increase in Location 2, as in:
Location 1: outer space to one parsec around Alpha Centauri
Location 2: equipment operating on the Phoenix Mars Lander (NASA's has finally lost its signal by the way).

The "parts" of the universe that have the offsetting entropies must be adjacent. No? For example, a discrete amount of decreased entropy in Denver Colorado, say from an air conditioner cooling Denver Bible Church, cannot be accounted for by a slightly greater increase in entropy on Planet FFTE, a planet orbiting a star in a galaxy furthest from the earth. I realize the entire physical universe is "connected" (CMB light, etc.). But isn't it true that the offsetting entropy must occur contiguous to the decreasing entropy, in that the distances separating these must be close enough to physically allow for the transfer of entropy? Thus I'm asking if it is slightly misleading (and I'm not making a federal case out of this Johnny, just asking) to a college student reading AJP to say, "the entropy of any part of the universe can decrease [if] compensated by an even larger increase in some other part of the universe."

That college student, or perhaps laughsoutloud (LsOL, don't yell, don't get , and please, don't have thoughts of ) then turns to a debate on TOL and argues that Styer's equations prove that the decreasing entropy from a squid evolving in the sea can be offset by a greater increase occurring on Orion's Belt (Hi Phy). Increases entropy confusion, no?

-Bob Enyart
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The Bob Enyart Live talk show airs at KGOV.com weekdays at 5 pm E.T. Also, same time, same station, check out Theology Thursday (.com) and on Fridays, Real Science Radio (.com) a.k.a. rsr.org. All shows are available 24/7 and you can call us at at 1-800-8Enyart.

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December 13th, 2008, 12:29 PM

General Observations

In your latest post you've clearly moved away from defending your previous arguments that Styer is guilty of both "ambiguous use of 'entropy'" and "furthering the unstated, unproved and unwise assumption that heat and information are interchangeable", instead choosing to focus on what you admit is the "MINOR, and the least significant of my three replies". The subject heading of your post indicates there is more to follow, and I eagerly await your response to my original arguments. As it stands, however, my argument as stated in the previous post is currently unrebutted. For those following along, this post is mostly just a response to the narrowed focus of Bob Enyart's last post. If you're not interested in the "Quibbles" section of my last post, you may want to skip down to "Two Questions Answered", as I suspect the questions asked by Bob may become relevant in his future postings.

Quibbles Continued

You write,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
Yes, Johnny, this is MINOR, and the least significant of my three replies to Post #8. I wish you had let this one go. But since you didn't, I will establish my accusation of Styer's poor writing:
* in hopes of demonstrating that your bias makes it hard for you to see even something as obvious as this. If you resist seeing this superficial error, perhaps your evolutionary bias prevents you from seeing Styer's serious error of furthering entropy confusion; and,
* to add a couple points, similar to entropy itself, about Styer always increasing in confusion .
I must admit that I am surprised you waited this long to attribute my disagreement with you to my "evolutionary bias". In the past I've found this seems to be one of your favorite instruments of debate. I especially like the argument structure in bullet one: "If you don't see it my way, you're biased, and that explains why you don't see my bigger point". However, I think we all can see the irony of a man who will throw out large chunks of modern science in order to preserve his literal interpretation of Genesis calling someone biased. Moving onward.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
This scan of the introduction of Styer's American Journal of Physics article is reduced in size to protect AJP's copyright but its included here to show that you are not objective about Styer's article. Again, this is minor and doesn't mean that I am correct overall. Readers can easily make out my notes on the right column (I'm not good at Photoshop, can you tell?)
I will quote the parts of the relevant text (minimizing the amount that must be quoted) under the fair use principle. I've already quoted 95% of this quote in my above post, but if Knight feels this is not appropriate he is free to remove it. The relevant quote is as follows
"Henry Morris, for example, finds it “obvious that the Second Law of Thermodynamics constitutes a serious problem to the evolution model” because “every system left to its own devices always tends to move from order to disorder.”

The creationist argument is that advanced organisms are more orderly than primitive organisms, and hence as evolution proceeds living things become more ordered, that is less disordered, that is less entropic. Because the second law of thermodynamics prohibits a decrease in entropy, it therefore prohibits biological evolution.

This argument rests upon two misconceptions about entropy.

* Disorder is a metaphor for entropy, not a definition for entropy...
* Although the entropy of the universe increases with time, the entropy of any part of the universe can decrease with time, so long as that decrease is compensated by an even larger increase in some other part of the universe..."
You respond,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
If you were right, and there was no poor writing in this AJP article, then Styer was intending for his reader to guess the two creationist misconceptions. No. He intended to list them. But then forgot to. And the editors missed it also.
Looking at those two bulleted quotes in context of the aforementioned Henry Morris quote and the summarized creationist argument, I don't think any of our readers will have any trouble inferring what the misconceptions are as they directly relate to the above quotes. Styer doesn't say "Let me list the misconceptions" -- he says "This argument relies upon two misconceptions", after which he proceeds to present two corrected ideas which are clearly connected to the ill-conceived creationist argument. You and I can go back and forth on this all day, and I think this is a ridiculous point to even have to argue.

I'd love to get some reader input on this in the discussion thread:
  • Is Styer unclear as to what the misconceptions are?
  • Do you think this was bad writing on Styer's behalf?
  • Should this argument be extended any longer?

Two Questions Answered
Moving on to the next section of your post, you write,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
Regarding Styer's second inferred misconception, about local decreases in entropy, readers know, I'm not a physicist. And I step in ThePhy's domain with fear and trepidation. But didn't Styer slightly overstate the case when he said: "the entropy of any part of the universe can decrease with time, so long as that decrease is compensated by an even larger increase in some other part of the universe."

Two questions (and if ThyPhy answers these in the Discussion Thread I will not dispute his answers).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
First, Styer wrote: "…the decrease in entropy required for evolution is so small" … "the entropy of the cosmic microwave background is increasing by an even greater amount to compensate for that decrease."

The form of this argument seems reasonable, but what if we test the form of the argument by replacing "evolution" with a pmm: "…the decrease in entropy required for a perpetual motion machine is so small" … "the entropy of the cosmic microwave background is increasing by an even greater amount to compensate for that decrease."

Would that prove wrong the arguments against a pmm on Earth? Johnny? ThePhy?
A perpetual motion machine, by definition, is a closed system which does not draw on or act on energy from an outside source. Therefore, it is not subject to receiving the 'benefit' of increased entropy elsewhere in the universe in order to account for the machine's decrease in entropy (hence the closed system stipulation of general formulations of the second law). Evolving life on Earth, however, is not a closed system and quite clearly draws in energy from the sun.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
Second, did Styer overstate his case when he said: "the entropy of any part of the universe can decrease with time, so long as that decrease is compensated by an even larger increase in some other part of the universe."

For example, can an entropy increase in ANY Location 1 really compensate for an entropy increase in Location 2, as in:
Location 1: outer space to one parsec around Alpha Centauri
Location 2: equipment operating on the Phoenix Mars Lander (NASA's has finally lost its signal by the way).

The "parts" of the universe that have the offsetting entropies must be adjacent. No? For example, a discrete amount of decreased entropy in Denver Colorado, say from an air conditioner cooling Denver Bible Church, cannot be accounted for by a slightly greater increase in entropy on Planet FFTE, a planet orbiting a star in a galaxy furthest from the earth. I realize the entire physical universe is "connected" (CMB light, etc.). But isn't it true that the offsetting entropy must occur contiguous to the decreasing entropy, in that the distances separating these must be close enough to physically allow for the transfer of entropy?
Consider the following quote from the essay Styer references in support of his statement,
"It turns out that energy and entropy, like Lavoisier's masses or weights, are 'inventoriable comodities' -- what thermodynamicists call extensive properties. That is, both are subject to being transferred from place to place in the universe. Moreover, transfers in these and other extensive commodities are going on all the time...Indeed, much of thermodynamic theory is little more than working out the proper accounting methods for all the 'inventory' transfers of heat and work exchanges that one may wish to consider." (John W. Patterson, “Thermodynamics and evolution,” in Scientists Confront Creationism, New York, 1983), pp. 99–116.)
As an illustration, consider the deposits and the withdraws from a bank. When you put $100 in the bank, they don't designate the specific 100 dollar bills that you desposite as being Bob Enyart's 100 dollar bills. They're simply dumped into a bank's assets, and your account is assigned a number that says you can withdraw 100 dollars. And when you go to withdraw 100 dollars, you don't get back the same bills you put in, you're just given 100 dollars worth of bills that were probably someone else's bills when they were dumped into the system. This system works because the checks and balances ensure that everyone is alotted the proper amount of money, even if it's not the same money you put in. Entropy can be thought of similarly. In theory, causal chains do exist in energy transformations (as in the bank, your money did physically go somewhere -- but it's inconsequential to the bank whose bills went where), such that a local decrease in entropy can actually be traced to an increase in entropy of another energy exchange -- but identifying such causal changes is not necessary or even possible. For example, the A/C you're running at your church is powered by electricity, which was generated by a small fraction of burning coal, which was created as the result of a long chain of geologic processes acting on a fraction of dead organisms, which once lived and ate other organisms and plants, which derived their energy from a miniscule fraction of the sun, which derived it's energy from a miniscule portion of the hydrogen gas cloud which formed our local star system, which was part of our galaxy, which was formed out of matter that was not always a part of our galaxy, which once interacted with matter that is now part of other galaxies, which may have gone on to form Planet FFTE. I think you see my point here. We can trace many of these energy exchanges on Earth, but much beyond that there is no way to know. All that matters is that at some point an increase in entropy occured which offset the local decrease in entropy, and that point doesn't have to be on Earth. So no, Styer did not overstate his case when he said that "the entropy of any part of the universe can decrease with time, so long as that decrease is compensated by an even larger increase in some other part of the universe."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
Thus I'm asking if it is slightly misleading (and I'm not making a federal case out of this Johnny, just asking) to a college student reading AJP to say, "the entropy of any part of the universe can decrease [if] compensated by an even larger increase in some other part of the universe."
It's not misleading at all in light of the above discussion.





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2nd of 3 Replies to Johnny's post (#8): Would You Concede If… - December 14th, 2008, 09:20 AM

Johnny, thanks again for discussing this. This is my second of three posts (replying to post #8). While I finish the third (and reply to your subsequent post as well), I wondered if you would consider answering these numbered Entropy and Evolution One on One questions. I try in debates to answer such questions, even ones designed to make me look unreasonable, with a straightforward yes or no, and then clarify if necessary…

Questions: Regarding Confusion That May Actually Result from Styer's Article

EE1on1-BE-Q1: If degreed and leading evolutionists openly use Styer's article to dismiss information entropy challenges, would you concede and say that is an indication that Styer should have clarified for them the differences to avoid furthering their confusion?

EE1on1-BE-Q2: If eventually evolutionists widely use Styer's article to dismiss even information entropy challenges, would you concede and say that he should have titled his paper "Thermodynamic Entropy and Evolution," and should have explicitly stated that his calculations do not apply to the creationist argument regarding information entropy?

EE1on1-BE-Q3: This TOL One on One debate has already led some studied creationists to admit to me that they had never before clearly distinguished information and heat entropy. Of a thousand evolutionists who discuss creation, do you think a significant percentage might confuse heat and information entropy?

EE1on1-BE-Q4: Regarding evolutionists who have never distinguished between heat and information entropy who read LSoL's opening post on Styer's article, or PZ Myer's column, or Styer's paper itself for that matter, none of which make the info/heat distinction, do you think a significant number might easily assume that Styer has completely refuted evolution's entropy challenge?

EE1on1-BE-Q5: Even though you maintain that Styer did not add to the confusion that blurs heat and information with his Entropy and Evolution paper that is sure to be widely referenced in the ongoing creation debate, do you agree that his article did nothing to help clarify entropy confusion?

EE1on1-BE-Q6: If I can show that Styer included information increase in his article, would my criticism that he furthered the confusion between heat and information entropy be more tenable?

Questions: To Investigate Bias

In your latest post you disapprove of my reference to your bias. So to help me and the reader confirm whether or not you (or other evolutionists) have a bias that prevents you from criticizing evolutionists who further the confusion regarding information and heat entropy, I'd like to ask you about a topic we've clashed on before:

EE1on1-BE-Q7: Considering that an organism is defined biologically by its genetic content, would you agree that a primary aspect of "single-cell to man" evolution would be "an increase in information?"

EE1on1-BE-Q8: Would you agree that a primary aspect of Darwinian origin of species would be "an increase in information?"

EE1on1-BE-Q9: Would you agree that two years ago when you posted on TOL that "Evolution is not about 'an increase in information,'" and you were then pressed to retract that statement," and instead you dug in, "Quote me if you like. I stand 100% by my statement,” and Fred Williams and I discussed your comment on a Real Science Friday radio program, do you agree that as you draw your own conclusions, you have to guard against a heavy evolutionary bias that downplays information's role in biology?

EE1on1-BE-Q10: Johnny, as I wonder about our disagreement, I realize that if you do not think there is an extraordinary gulf between the nature of information and the nature of energy, you might be disinclined to charge a fellow evolutionist with blurring the distinction. So to verify your understanding, do you agree that there is an extraordinary gulf between the nature of information and the nature of matter?

EE1on1-BE-Q11: Even in YOUR OWN defense of Styer's supposed listing of two creationist misconceptions, EVEN YOU did not list the two claimed misconceptions! I'm beginning to see this as an intellectual temper tantrum. Johnny, since Styer never listed two creationist misconceptions, neither in the argument he described previously nor in the two bullets following, and since YOU DID NOT EITHER in your latest post (#10), can you now admit that he simply forgot to include them in his paper and that the American Journal of Physics peer review process did not prevent that minor instance of poor writing from being published?

Thanks again, and I do hope you'll grant me and the readers the benefit of direct answers where possible, and if you can, please re-print my questions so that the reader doesn't have to flip back and forth between posts.


Bob Enyart
KGOV.com

p.s. Regarding that extraordinary "gulf" between matter and information, as I previously posted on TOL in A Christian Answer to Euthyphro's Dilemma:
…while matter can be arranged to represent data, data itself is not material. In 1936 Einstein famously wrote, "the most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible," and in 1944, remarking about Russell, he described the ability to get from matter to ideas as a "gulf–logically unbridgeable," which some scientists and linguists refer to as Einstein's Gulf…"





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3rd of 3 Replies to Johnny's post (#8): with help from ThePhy - December 16th, 2008, 10:29 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny View Post
Your challenge, then, is to demonstrate exactly where Styer confuses the thermodynamic concept of entropy with the information concept of entropy.
Yes. That is my challenge.

And my challenge is to show, as I asserted, that Styer's paper leads his degreed, evolutionary readers to confuse the two.

The evolution community is referencing Styer's paper as a rebuttal to Henry Morris' entropy claims. I've acknowledged two great errors that Morris made that rippled through decades of creationist outreach, and I speak as someone who loves him and appreciates his extraordinary life's work. 1) Morris erred claiming the "2nd law" came into existence at the Fall; 2) Morris erred by using the 2nd law as a synonym for entropy confusing heat entropy with information entropy, a confusion that I claim permeates creation and evolution camps.

For Styer to write a paper to rebut Morris without clarifying that he is not addressing the decades-long confusion of heat and information entropy was a mistake in judgment and is already furthering the confusion.

**************************************************
EDIT - RETRACTED COMMENT: To avoid misrepresenting TOL's
ThePhy (physicist), the reader should know that this section is
in error and I later retracted this accusation and apologized to
ThePhy.

Here is evidence from the very Discussion Thread for this TOL One on One:
Post #79:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stripe View Post
The challenge to evolution is that there is no known means by which sunlight, or any energy, can be turned into information without intelligent guidance.
Post #80, 22 minutes later, from ThePhy, and this is his entire reply:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThePhy View Post
Outside what the Styer paper addresses.
Phy indicated that: there are no known unintelligent means by which energy can be turned into information other than the means addressed by Styer.

Of course, Styer did not address ANY means of turning energy into information. Stripe was attempting clarifying the difference bewteen the two issues, Phy wrongly conflated them.

Johnny, that's an example of the misuse, blurring, and confusion between information and thermodynamics among evolutionists, and flowing from Styer's paper, that I'm trying to expose. And this example comes in the context of this very debate, where every evolutionist should be on his guard not to confuse the two.

END OF RETRACTED COMMENT
**************************************************

Johnny's 2nd Law Question: "Does the second law of thermodynamics specifically refer to thermodynamic entropy?" Yes.

Johnny's Context Question: "By definition, then, do you agree that Styer's opening sentence (which states "Does the second law of thermodynamics prohibit biological evolution?") makes it clear that his paper is intended to address thermodynamic entropy and not any other type of entropy?

Yes, the opening sentence does provide that thermodynamics context. Yes. But because he writes of "Entropy and evolution" after decades of both sides of the debate confusing heat and information, he should have clarified. And because he deals with information-laden concepts, and because he hasn't clarified, therefore, less astute physicists and biologists (like PZ MYERS) will presume Styer resolved evolution's entropy challenge, because his introduction speaks of "advanced organisms" and that " as evolution proceeds living things become… less entropic" and Johnny you yourself indicated that, "The shared use of the word entropy in both information theory and in thermodynamics is likely partially responsible for this confusion…"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny View Post
(…one can call any word with two meanings ambiguous.) Let us not forget that the opening sentence of Styer's paper reads, "Does the second law of thermodynamics prohibit biological evolution?" The 2nd law of thermodynamics rigidly defines which type of entropy Styer is referring to -- it can only be thermodynamic entropy.
I agree with your "ambiguous" comment.
I agree with our "opening sentence" comment.
To address your third point here, I'll continue. You do acknowledge, "at no point in this paper does Styer make any reference to information," and conclude therefore:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny View Post
I can see where there would be confusion had Styer not stated that he was addressing the 2nd law of thermodynamics -- i.e. thermodynamic entropy -- in the opening sentence of his paper. Information theory and information entropy is irrelevant from the very first sentence.
Is it? Is information entropy irrelevant in Styer's paper? I think you have implicitly admitted what I've tried to make more explicit by asking you question number EE1on1-BE-Q6, that my position is established if I can show that Styer included information increase in his article. To that end:

Is information irrelevant, and only heat relevant, when considering Styer's probability of life appendix, when he talks about the configurations that may correspond to living things? Styer: "Some of these configurations correspond to living bacteria, but most do not." Information and information theory is inextricably relevant to this correspondence, and that is why without clarification, Styer furthers the confusion in the reader's mind.

As TOL's Stripe put it, is Styer's paper "hiding an information component?" It is, in plain sight.

ThePhy's helpful tutorial on classical and statistical thermodynamics about the historical development of the empirical traditional thermo and statistical, atomic thermodynamics is consistent with this evolutionist's post on the Pandasthumb forum in a thread about Styer's paper that ThePhy has linked to:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Henry J.
Not to mention that entropy refers to the possible states of the quantum particles making up the system, which has nothing to do with the number of possible arrangement[s] of codons in a polymer.
Johnny, in biology, the subjects of physics and information are so intrinsically linked, that poor writing that lacks clarification will certainly confuse the two wherever they overlap, and especially when discussing entropy because of the similar heat and information entropy formulas of Boltzmann and Shannon.

Challenge Met

If Styer were not referring to information content, he would not need to reference one configuration over another, because from a strictly quantum energy state perspective, the various configurations are irrelevant. It is from an information perspective that the need develops to reference various configurations. Had Styer clarified what Henry J did, that would have helped reduce his readers' confusion.

To this Johnny you argue:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny View Post
Styer isn't talking about the information content of E. coli's DNA, he's talking about the entropy of the sum of the biochemical interactions of the different configurations of DNA.
If that were true, Styer would not have considered only a smaller percentage of configurations. He wrote, "Some of these configurations correspond to living bacteria, but most do not." This shows that Styer was not disciplined to only focus on heat and not information. When he writes that "organisms diversified into remarkable variety" and that "the biosphere's entropy decreased due to evolution at the rate calculated" and then asks, "How much 'improved…' would each organism be," this references information. Stripe is right. Information is hiding in Styer's paper: in plain sight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny View Post
Your challenge, then, is to demonstrate exactly where Styer confuses the thermodynamic concept of entropy with the information concept...
I assert that I have hereby met your challenge.

So for Styer to indicate that the entropy challenge to the evolution of the E. coli DNA is answered by energy flux in the cosmic microwave background adds to the confusion.

Hey, even Phy stated that "Styer was perhaps a bit extreme in his example," and "isn’t it true that energy exchanges are always somewhat local? Yes, as far as we can tell right now." Remember my summary of Styer's paper: "Evolution on earth can appear to violate the 2nd Law locally because a decrease in entropy as a squid evolves in the sea is offset by a fluctuation of entropy in a galaxy far, far away."

Even a single sentence clarification from Styer could have averted some misuse by degreed evolutionists.

(BTW, I think you meant to say "decrease" rather than increase when you wrote, "if evolution were to increase Earth's entropy output…")

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny View Post
Why, then, should anyone be confused as to what Styer is talking about?
Because:
* the confusion is replete in creationist and evolutionist circles for decades
* his paper is titled "Entropy and evolution"
* he introduces his paper as an answer to creationists (who commonly confuse entropy)
* his paper never distinguishes between the two, and because
* Styer writes of "configurations [that] correspond" but "most do not," of "organisms [of] remarkable variety" and "much 'improved…,'" using such information-laden concepts that we can expect, without clarification from Styer, that a reader like PZ Myers would easily lose context and assume Styer resolved evolution's entire entropy challenge.

Johnny, I will falsify my own position. I asked you a series of concession questions that I hope you will answer Yes to. I will do likewise here. I would concede this debate to you, if no trained physicists and biologists present Styer's paper as the final word on evolution's entropy challenge, without ever clarifying that it only addresses heat and not information entropy. PZ Myer's column displays this very behavior.

Johnny, will you join me? I'm calling on creationists and evolutionists to make the distinction between heat and information wherever such are easily confused. Henry Morris is guilty of the ambiguity, and thereby set creationists and their opponents down a forty-year path of mixing the two. Styer's article set out to answer the creationist misuse of entropy, and even though in recent decades creationists have focused far more on information than heat entropy, especially with the renewed Intelligent Design push, yet Styer did nothing to resolve the confusion, and thereby, furthered it. So will you join me and call on creationists and evolutionists to stop confusing thermodynamics and information?

Johnny, I'd even offer to conclude this TOL One on One with a draw if you would reply stating: Yes, it would have helped reduce the widespread confusion over entropy if Styer had clarified that his paper did not deal with information entropy.

In the Discussion Thread, Chair asked:

Quote:
Originally Posted by chair View Post
Bob, John, Aren't there more substantive issues here?
Chair, I realize that trying to unwind decades of confusion can be tedious (though the benefits could be enormous). Yet you could review ThePhy's interesting answer to my question about: the required adjacency of entropy exchange, "nearby" as Styer's John Patterson put it, exposing a new expansion of the old confusion that Styer may be guilty of, suggesting to evolutionists by more poor writing that entropy decrease on Earth can be magically compensated for by an increase on Planet FFTE.

But Chair, perhaps the most substantive matter of everything covered may be Johnny's concluding assertion, replying to my statement that:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
Entropy describes an attribute of reality that applies to disciplines as diverse as physics and information theory, to energy, aesthetics, ergonomics, and information.
To which Johnny asserted:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny View Post
There is not, as you suggest, one single "entropy" which is an attribute of reality under which all types of entropy fall.
Johnny, that is quite an assertion. I have some empirical evidence for my claim. As in the Opening Post, "Claude E. Shannon, considered the father of "information theory," … performing statistical analyses on the corruption of digital information, he ended up with certain formulas that were very similar to Boltzmann's. … What's going on with Shannon's information degradation formulas being similar to Boltzmann's thermodynamic formulas? Heat entropy was NOT the significant factor in that degradation of transferred information. This was ANOTHER manifestation of entropy, other than thermodynamic entropy, this was 'information entropy.' … Entropy has to do with the move from order to disorder in any organized system, whether it is organized by energy states, ergonomics…, aesthetic values, information content, etc."

Two things can hardly be more different than information and energy (see the p.s. in my last post), yet they exhibit statistically similar patterns of tendency toward disorder. That is empirical evidence toward an observation, one way or the other, so substantive that it should satisfy even Chair for a decade or two.

-Bob Enyart
KGOV.com





The Bob Enyart Live talk show airs at KGOV.com weekdays at 5 pm E.T. Also, same time, same station, check out Theology Thursday (.com) and on Fridays, Real Science Radio (.com) a.k.a. rsr.org. All shows are available 24/7 and you can call us at at 1-800-8Enyart.

Last edited by Bob Enyart; December 19th, 2008 at 02:02 PM.. Reason: Alerted reader to false accusation against ThePhy
   
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December 16th, 2008, 02:50 PM

Hi Bob. Just wanted to let you know that I've seen your posts and will try my best to get my responses up by tomorrow evening. I had an unexpected residency interview that is taking up my evening tonight and all day tomorrow. Depending on how my evening goes I hope to be able to respond to at least your questions tonight.





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December 17th, 2008, 03:32 PM

Dan Styer himself has weighed in on Enyart's arguments here. He says,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Styer
Radio announcer Bob Enyart takes me to task for not distinguishing between "heat entropy" and "information entropy" in my American Journal of Physics article "Entropy and Evolution". Any knowledgeable person could just look at the equations in my paper and see that I mean "thermodynamic/statistical mechanical entropy".

The word "entropy", like most words, has many meanings, and the meaning in use is determined from context. If I say "Run away from danger", you don't think "A run is a small stream, so I must follow a small stream away from danger".

Here I want to present some of the other meanings of the word "entropy", to emphasize that it would have been silly to say that I'm not talking about each of them: information entropy

topological entropy

Kolmogorov entropy

Kolmogorov-Sinai entropy

metric entropy

Gibbs entropy

Boltzmann entropy

Tsallis entropy

von Neumann entropy

Shannon entropy

Rényi entropy

volume entropy

If I spend so much time talking about what I'm not going to be talking about, the paper would have been quite long indeed!
This has been my position all along.

Stripe notes,
Quote:
Originally Posted by stripe
It would seem (If Professor Styer, Johnny, Pastor Enyart are willing) that the current one-on-one would benefit from a replacement for one of the participants.
I agree. It makes no sense for me to argue over what someone else meant when that someone else is right here among us.





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Dan Styer thank you for clarifying! And Johnny, say it isn't so… - December 18th, 2008, 10:35 AM

Johnny, please, say it isn't so...

But first, I want to thank Dan Styer for commenting on this TOL One on One debate regarding his AJP paper. In future discussions if an evolutionist claims that the entire entropy challenge to Darwinism has been answered by the calculations in that Nov. 2008 paper, that can be corrected by a link to Prof. Styer's helpful posts acknowledging that his paper did not address information entropy.

Styer TOL Post 1 Dec 16: Regarding: "the difference between 'heat entropy' and 'information entropy'. It is quite clear from context that by entropy [in my 2008 AJP paper] I mean 'thermodynamic/statistical mechanical entropy.'" [That is, Prof. Styer's calculations do not rebut information entropy arguments against Darwinism].
Styer TOL Post 2 Dec. 16: Regarding "distinguishing between 'heat entropy' and 'information entropy' in my American Journal of Physics article 'Entropy and Evolution'. Any knowledgeable person could just look at the equations in my paper and see that I mean 'thermo…' The word 'entropy', like most words, has many meanings… Here I want to present some of the other meanings of the word 'entropy', to emphasize that it would have been silly to say that I'm not talking about each of them: information entropy, topological entropy, [etc.]"
Styer TOL Post 6 Dec. 17: "Bob Enyart criticizes my paper 'Entropy and evolution' because when I use the term 'entropy' I don't distinguish between thermodynamic entropy and information entropy. If this is indeed a defect, then Bob is guilty of it himself…"

These acknowledgments by Prof. Styer in and of themselves will hopefully lead some people on both sides of the creation debate to help unwind the widespread confusion between information and heat entropy.

Johnny, I think I've noticed a first! You, taking advice from a creationist! And from Stripe of all people? After quoting Stripe's suggesting that Dan Styer debate me himself, Johnny writes:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny View Post
I agree. [With Stripe? !]. It makes no sense for me to argue over what someone else meant when that someone else is right here among us.
Johnny, say it isn't so. I hope you are not quitting! OF COURSE Prof. Styer would defend himself (unless one day he agrees that he unintentionally furthered the entropy confusion). I am criticizing what Prof. Styer wrote. You agreed to answer the Yes/No questions presented to you a few posts back. You haven't done so. Please don't use Stripe's suggestion as an excuse to quit. If Dan Styer wants to debate me in a TOL One on One on evolution, on entropy, or on whether his paper furthers the confusion, I would be honored to enter such a debate. But please don't use that as an excuse to bail out. Please. TOL's resident atheist Zakath bailed from Battle Royale VII (I'm not accusing you of being an atheist, just an evolutionist ), and that was unfortunate, so please don't follow suit. Perhaps Dan himself will respond to my "2 Non-Misconceptions" post and acknowledge that while he intended to list two misconceptions, he did in fact forget to, leaving the reader to infer them . Johnny, you only have 36 hours to go. Please respond to my last two posts.

-Bob Enyart
KGOV.com

p.s. Johnny, if you're now willing to consider suggestions from creationists , let me make one. You might want to use what I see as the most substantive point that Prof. Styer has added to the debate so far, which comes while he's disputing one of my points, saying in the Discussion Thread Post 98: "The microwave background is not 'far, far away' ... it's right here. We're immersed in it."

p.s.s. Prof. Styer, I am very thankful that you've considered the argument in this debate, that your paper furthered the confusion between heat and information entropy. Even if you never end up agreeing with this concern, could you please consider joining those of us who are trying to clearly delineate between heat and information so that we don't leave others with the assumption that thermodynamic calculations somehow answer information entropy challenges to Darwinism. They do not. Regardless of even that, could you please consider replying to the examples in Post 12 which indicate specifically how I believe you furthered this widespread confusion?





The Bob Enyart Live talk show airs at KGOV.com weekdays at 5 pm E.T. Also, same time, same station, check out Theology Thursday (.com) and on Fridays, Real Science Radio (.com) a.k.a. rsr.org. All shows are available 24/7 and you can call us at at 1-800-8Enyart.

Last edited by Bob Enyart; December 18th, 2008 at 11:36 AM..
   
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