Evolution: Education and Outreach

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 99–106

Evolution and the Second Law of Thermodynamics: Effectively Communicating to Non-technicians


  • Alexander Schreiber
    • Department of BiologySaint Lawrence University
    • Department of PhilosophyGettysburg College
Education Article

DOI: 10.1007/s12052-009-0195-3

Cite this article as:
Schreiber, A. & Gimbel, S. Evo Edu Outreach (2010) 3: 99. doi:10.1007/s12052-009-0195-3


Given the degree of disbelief in the theory of evolution by the wider public, scientists need to develop a collection of clear explanations and metaphors that demonstrate the working of the theory and the flaws in anti-evolutionist arguments. This paper presents tools of this sort for countering the anti-evolutionist claim that evolutionary mechanisms are inconsistent with the second law of thermodynamics. Images are provided to replace the traditional misunderstanding of the law, i.e., “everything always gets more disordered over time,” with a more clear sense of the way in which entropy tends to increase allowing a thermally isolated system access to a greater number of microstates. Accessible explanations are also provided for the ways in which individual organisms are able to minimize entropy and the advantages this conveys.



Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009