Does Granville Sewell's argument make sense?
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In 2011, I made a short post on an argument in Evolution News and Views by the mathematician Granville Sewell, who has been arguing that the Second Law of Thermodynamics showed that “order” could not arise by natural evolutionary processes. I had previously posted here twice before (here and here), posts that basically made fun of Sewell’s argument. This time I called his argument “unanswerable” – but only because the Discovery Institute’s Evolution News and Views posts do not allow comments.
A creationist blogger, Mark Champneys, recently discovered that post and made a comment there, and I have replied. The discussion went back and forth a bit, but it is invisible to all readers of PT unless they receive notices of all new comments. So, with Champneys’s agreement, I am posting here, and both of us hope that the discussion can continue here.
Champneys’s and my comments will be found here. Further comments should be made on this thread, not that one.
Champneys argues that Sewell’s argument has not been refuted. He does agree that natural selection can favor more efficient genotypes, but he argues that this requires the existence of an Energy Transfer Mechanism (ETM), and to him, the violation of the Second Law lies in the origin of this mechanism, not in later changes of gene frequency. An example of an ETM would be the mechanism of photosynthesis.
As far as I can see, Champneys’s argument is really a version of Michael Behe’s Irreducible Complexity argument rather than Granville Sewell’s Second Law argument. I do not read Sewell as confining violations of the Second Law to the origin of life. Sewell argues that an increase of order later on, such as the increase of the ability of a biological system to capture and retain energy, violates the Second Law “if all we see entering is radiation and meteorite fragments, it seems clear that what is entering through the boundary cannot explain the increase in order observed here.” Sewell’s paper will be found here.
I cannot see that Sewell accepts the increase of efficiency of energy transfer by the change of gene frequencies to increase the frequencies of genotypes that have improved ability to process energy. Champneys does accept that. Sewell’s argument does not, as far as I can see.
I will moderate this thread and “pa-troll” it. We no longer have a Bathroom Wall to send trolls and troll-chasing to, so I will if necessary create a new thread called “The Bathroom Wall” and see if I can move offending comments there.