Second Law of Thermodynamics

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The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that heat can never flow from a cold body to a warmer one. An equivalent definition is that the entropy of an isolated system cannot decrease.[1]

Because there are no perfectly closed systems, the Second Law of Thermodynamics holds that everything becomes more disordered over time, in the absence of intelligent intervention.

According to this law, it is impossible to build a perpetual motion machine because increasingly entropy will inevitably derail the machine.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics does not disprove the atheistic Theory of Evolution as the earth is not a closed system.

Creation Ministries International on the second law of thermodynamics and evolution

See also: Creation Ministries International on the second law of thermodynamics and evolution

Creation Ministries International has a great wealth of information on why the second law of thermodynamics is incompatible with the evolutionary paradigm.

Some of their key resources on this matter are:

The three forms of the Second Law of Thermodynamics

There are three different types of systems that the Second Law of Thermodynamics can apply to:

  • Isolated system - Does not exchange matter or energy with its surroundings
  • Closed system - Exchanges energy, but not matter, with its surroundings
  • Open system - Exchanges both matter and energy with its surroundings


A simplification caused by misinterpretation says: disorder will increase within a closed system.

Actually entropy is a little more abstract and the second law of thermodynamics means something like this: the universe will always become increasingly uniform, that is: heat will spread until the entire universe has the temperature and energy level (in a closed system heat will always spread from a place where there is a lot of heat to a place where there is less until balance is achieved), forces will continue to work until a universal balance has been achieved.

In this final state the universe is one uniform space where nothing happens and no work (moving something) can be done since there are no above average concentrations of energy left. This state is called maximum entropy and is said to be in perfect disorder (although intuitively its uniformity would seem to be a state of perfect order) because it has become impossible to determine what happened in the past. i.e. There are an infinite number of ways (histories of the universe) maximum entropy could have been reached.

Entropy and disorder

In this context "increasing disorder" means "that which happens if you let nature take its course". Imagine your old room at your parent's house. Remember how easy it was to let the room turn into a uniform mess (disorder) and remember how hard it was to clean it up until it fit a specific, non-uniform design (order). Not cleaning up would always result in an increase of entropy in your room!

Now, in nature there is no one to clean up the universe, only chances. The chance of something becoming orderly is a lot smaller than the chance of something becoming disorderly (since there are far more possible disorderly states to choose from).

Alternatively one could think of how difficult it is to construct a house of cards, while almost everything that happens in nature will result in its collapse.

On a universal scale a tidy room would be a universe which has pockets of above average concentrations of energy (remember that E=mc^2 so this includes matter as well.) A messy room would be a universe in which all energy is equally spread out.

The flow of energy (by heat exchange) to places with lower concentrations is called the "heat flow".

The often heard argument that this law disproves an eternal universe is true, since in that case maximum entropy would have been reached already. A counter-argument to this would be to suggest that the universe is still in the process of approaching maximum entropy.

Liberal abuse of the second law of thermodynamics

It has become common in recent years for environmentalists to claim that the second law of thermodynamics implies limits to economic growth. Their reasoning is that because free energy in resources such as oil decreases with time, then economic growth can only be finite. However, this simplistic liberal reasoning ignores the non-zero sum nature of free market economics, whereby improvements in technology deliver gains for all at no further cost. Indeed one of the most vital economic goods, knowledge, can be said to be free from thermodynamic limitations entirely.[2] Liberals also vastly exaggerate the limitations that natural resources impose on human economies. Some estimate that the Earth can harbor 100 billion people. God Himself gives His explicit assurance that the Earth will be generous as long as the human race exists in Genesis: "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." (Gen. 1:28, KJV)

Reversibility and Irreversibility

Reversibility is a theoretical concept related to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. A process is reversible if the net heat and work exchange between the system and the surroundings is zero for the process running forwards and in reverse. This means the process does not generate entropy. In reality, no process is completely reversible. Irreversibility is a quantity sometimes called "lost work" and is equal to the difference between a process' actual work and reversible work. Irreversibility is also equal to a process' entropy generation multiplied by a reference temperature.


  1. “Another way of stating the second law then is: ‘The universe is constantly getting more disorderly!’ Viewed that way, we can see the second law all about us. We have to work hard to straighten a room, but left to itself it becomes a mess again very quickly and very easily. Even if we never enter it, it becomes dusty and musty. How difficult to maintain houses, and machinery, and our bodies in perfect working order: how easy to let them deteriorate. In fact, all we have to do is nothing, and everything deteriorates, collapses, breaks down, wears out, all by itself -- and that is what the second law is all about.” Isaac Asimov, Smithsonian Institute Journal, June 1970, p. 6
  2. [1] Discover Institute cofounder and futurist George F. Gilder put it eloquently as follows: Gone is the view of a thermodynamic world economy, dominated by "natural resources" being turned to entropy and waste by human extraction and use. Once seen as a physical system tending toward exhaustion and decline, the world economy has clearly emerged as an intellectual system driven by knowledge.