### Post by szaleniec on Jul 2, 2010 19:42:08 GMT -5

The topic came up in passing on another forum I visit, and I thought it was worth reposting here, of how creationists like to argue that complexity and entropy are negatively correlated. Because complex objects have a lesser entropy, the argument goes, they can't form from simpler objects.*

Now consider sodium chloride.

By any reasonable definition of complexity, this is one of the least complex structures in existence. It's a cube, made up from alternating Na

Which it quite self-evidently isn't.

(* Without an energy input, another factor they ignore.)

(** Statistical mechanical entropy, that is. As creationists seem to take the old "entropy = disorder" thing as gospel, and it originates as an oversimplification of the statistical mechanical concept of entropy****, it makes sense to use it here.)

(*** In layman's terms, the number of ways in which the components of a system can be arranged such that it has the same macroscopic properties, such as temperature and pressure.)

(**** Whoever thought it was a good idea to teach "entropy = disorder" to students with no statistical mechanical background has a lot to answer for.)

Now consider sodium chloride.

By any reasonable definition of complexity, this is one of the least complex structures in existence. It's a cube, made up from alternating Na

^{+}and Cl^{-}ions. So creationist logic would expect a salt crystal to have an extremely large entropy. Unfortunately for them, it doesn't. Quite the opposite, in fact, as with most solids. As entropy** is in proportion to the natural log of the number of accessible microstates***, and solids have a lot fewer of these than liquids or especially gases because the atoms don't move freely, our salt crystal has a very low entropy. So, by the creationists' argument, is a very complex system.Which it quite self-evidently isn't.

(* Without an energy input, another factor they ignore.)

(** Statistical mechanical entropy, that is. As creationists seem to take the old "entropy = disorder" thing as gospel, and it originates as an oversimplification of the statistical mechanical concept of entropy****, it makes sense to use it here.)

(*** In layman's terms, the number of ways in which the components of a system can be arranged such that it has the same macroscopic properties, such as temperature and pressure.)

(**** Whoever thought it was a good idea to teach "entropy = disorder" to students with no statistical mechanical background has a lot to answer for.)