Thursday, March 16, 2006

Skeptic's circle up, as is Dembski's number

The latest Skeptic's Circle is up at Paige's Place.

This one's worth it just of Runolfr's post on how Dembski has endorsed thermodynamics arguments.

I still remember the day my mother, who has a Ph.D. in biochemistry, explained to me the difference between the actual Second Law of Thermodynamics and the imaginary creationist version. That was what convinced me forever that Creationism is a lie. Now, a leading light of the Intelligent Design movement, supposedly far more sophisticated than those creationists, has revealed himself to be either an ignoramus or a fraud.

I'm saving the screen shot:

Click for full version.

Oh, and listen to the audio. Here's the last sentence: "But one would think that at least this would be considered an open question, and those who argue that it really is extremely improbable, and thus contrary to the basic principle underlying the second law, would be given a measure of respect, and taken seriously by their colleagues, but we aren't."

I can't remember the last time I laughed that hard.


Zircon Z. said...

Now, while im operating on roughly 3 hours of sleep in the past 50 hours, I find all of this just as amusing as you do Chris, granted my knowledge of thermodynamics is still fairly limited and futhermore the quantity of entropy still needs to be further deciphered, i find that what Dembski-sewell argue a little more than a mere twisting of the definition of entropy to fit the claims against an anti-evolution theory.

Entropy is the measure of disorder in isolated systems (or measure of the amount of energy in a physical system that cannot be used to do work, The universe will tend towards a higher state of entropy until it reaches a maximum value of perfect disorder in which every process ceases. (since the amount of energy that cannot be used to do mechanical work is in essence infinite).

Now the question I have is where exactly does disorder lead to the definition of complexity. According to arguments by sewell, increase disorder is the same as decrease in complexity so in essence, evolution of more complex organisms is therefore a violation of the second law of thermodynamics.

Yet I have failed to find a direct link between disorder and complexity. While philosophically, it is entirely possilbe that an increase in disorde will decrease the complexity (as given by the inability of atomic particles to form more complex chains of molecules or compounds due to the disorder) it can also be said that the increase in disorder propogates complexity. How so? Consider a ordered system of one macrostate with a limited number of microstate. The disorde or the number of microstates in this given macrostate is small and therefore there is a small entropy, less disorder. However that dosent necessarily lead to higher complexity. Speaking in terms of poker. Such a macrostate would be a royal flush. Highly ordered, but a complexity that is strictly upon interpretation...morever on the interpretation of statistical and idealized means. Because of the statistical limit of getting a royal flush, it is sought to be on a higher level of complexity. Yet this is a strict interpretation view of complexity. The decrease of probability and the higher ranking of the cards themeselves(interpreted by the people who play the game) gives it a higher complexity but in essence at a cost of a very small disorder or entropy between the macrostate and microstate (only one way to get a royal flush).

Now, when one starts going into interpretations based upon idealized objects to describe complexity, such arguments become less objective.
The fact that entropy of an isolated system (2nd law of thermo) cannot decrease does not imply anything on complexity. Rather if broken down, an increase in disorder will continually to generate more and more microstates for the macrostate(universe), statistically, this allows more random or disordered events to come in contact with each other and gives lead to more variance in the possibilities of the "complexity" of something. Granted that what we view as more complex will decrease in their probable values.

The increase in "complexity" may very well be due to the increase in the disorder of the system, therefore refuting sewells argument that the evolution violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

btw, i am reviewing for my physics final by typing this.

t.f. said...

Sewell knows thermodynamics like Bo knows ballet.

As a side, why the F*#! are you using MSIE???? Say it with me now: Firefox, Firefox, Firefox...

Hallq said...

Yay final exams!