Isn't entropy actually the cause of complexity?
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07-01-2015, 08:04 PM (This post was last modified: 07-01-2015 08:36 PM by cactus.)
Isn't entropy actually the cause of complexity?
Life exists because it's one of the many optimal results of all the complex interactions of matter. I don't mean "optimal" in the sense of it being beneficial to our ego. I mean optimal in the mathematical sense of something trending toward a convergent solution. Take for instance, the fusion reactions that occur inside a star. Stars do lots of crazy, complex things, all the while losing energy. Why would anyone say "Who caused that star to ignite on its own and do all that complex stuff? It must have been someone intelligent and all-powerful, because otherwise matter wouldn't spontaneously do so many interesting things."

Anything that increases entropy is "beneficial" to the universe. Complex lifeforms are just nature's way of falling into a more optimized state of speeding up the entropic process. Our "intended place in the universe" is to act as energy-killing machines; the inefficiencies in our bodies are actually aiding in the ultimate heat death of everything. It's kind of romantic if you think about it... or depressing, depending on your perspective.

If we came from dust, then why is there still dust?
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07-01-2015, 09:10 PM
RE: Isn't entropy actually the cause of complexity?
OK....

First, the word "complexity" is one that should be avoided. It's difficult to define precisely because it's dependent on the system that you're describing. Consequently, the Intelligent Design crowd have latched onto it because (1) it sounds legitimate (2) it's poorly understood by the general population (3) the wide variety of loose definitions that can be applied to the term allow plenty of wriggle room to sneak their gawd into. Since they've hijacked the term it's pretty much become a red flag in serious discussions of science.

Much of what you've suggested is correctish, though you've abused some innocent terms. Life is a a dissipative, self-organizing auto-catalytic reaction (Have fun with Google and Wikipedia on those. Hit up "complex systems" while you're at it.) that takes in high energy/low entropy nourishment (solar or chemical) and excretes lower energy/higher entropy material (CO2 and crap) in order to preserve a comparatively low degree of internal entropy despite a high degree of thermodynamic disequilibrium.

Put more simply, you eat food and shit garbage so that the big ball of impressively organized hydrocarbons that is your body doesn't get it on with all that oxygen and do what it normally would and react to produce energy, CO2, N2 and slightly salty water.

Entropy comes into the picture because, as per the second law of thermodynamix, Thou Shalt Not Decrease the Entropy of The Universe. So in order to decrease its own personal entropy, life increases the entropy of its surroundings. Entropy tends to decrease the order of a system, which is why the open system that is you needs to get rid of it.

So, cart before the horse here but otherwise pretty decent. "Complexity" results in increased entropy, not the other way about. Entropy tends to reduce "complexity".

---
Flesh and blood of a dead star, slain in the apocalypse of supernova, resurrected by four billion years of continuous autocatalytic reaction and crowned with the emergent property of sentience in the dream that the universe might one day understand itself.
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08-01-2015, 03:41 AM
RE: Isn't entropy actually the cause of complexity?
Although apparently it is arguable that life is not just any old process that increases entropy, but instead is a mechanism for efficiently dissipating energy and is as much a product of the second law as a participant in the law.

https://www.quantamagazine.org/20140122-...y-of-life/

Thoughts?

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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08-01-2015, 04:37 AM
RE: Isn't entropy actually the cause of complexity?
I remember arguing against some creationists by declaring "The second law of thermodynamics not only allows life but actually demands it." Which is to say England's theorizing is based upon some old shit.

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08-01-2015, 12:40 PM
RE: Isn't entropy actually the cause of complexity?
I would say that natural selection results in order and hence less entropy. However, for life to persist a great deal of external energy is required i.e. the Sun. The overall sum of the equation (when all factors are accounted for) is an increase in entropy.
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