Why the Universe Can’t Make a Rose

Consider anything at all that obviously contains an intelligent pattern – say, a floral emblem such as may be found on decorated cloth. We are considering only the emblem – not the living flower that inspired it. The living flower is orders of magnitude more complex than the artistic pattern it inspired – but take the mere pattern – the artist’s impression — as the design to be created.

There is a myth in modern “science” — the universe of itself can produce life. Somehow, if you simply give enough materials enough time, they will assuredly and without fail come up with everything we see around us. Matter can produce life. A much safer god than many of those currently holding religious court in this overly superstitious world; but, for SCIENCE, a poor fellow-traveller.

A high-school text-book shows why.

Processes in physics have to do with enthalpy, the heat content of a substance per unit mass; and entropy, the heat energy lost to the system for the purposes of doing work. This lost available energy is only lost in the sense that it is transferred into internal motion of molecules. Enthalpy is based on thermometer-type measurements and is expressed in heat content per unit mass. Entropy is calculated by reversing the process to determine the additional energy required to restore the system to its original configuration, and is expressed in heat content per degree Kelvin. To suggest that the two are potentially confusing is to state the obvious. Some popular explanations of entropy can only be classed as science fiction. Misunderstanding of these matters has fathered some weird notions. For instance, it has been authoritatively stated by some populist academics that, since cooling reduces the internal motion of molecules, cooling therefore reduces entropy, and thereby increases the organizational powers of matter. Following this reasoning, if we could get the universe down to absolute zero, instead of becoming effectively dead, it would become extremely creative!

To measure entropy, you must in practice or in theory set up a machine to fully reverse the process and thereby measure the energy made unavailable through that process. The extra energy expended in returning to original conditions, over and above the useful energy produced by the system, tells you the energy lost to that system as work-available energy. The extra work done in restoration is the measure of the work the system itself can no longer perform. Roll the ball down the slope; boost it back up to equal height; allow temperature of the apparatus to equalize; you have original configuration. Obviously, in this simple system, the extra energy required to get the ball back to equal height equals the friction-heat transferred into internal molecular motion during the ball’s travel.

Apply this to the floral pattern.

To produce a guaranteed pattern requires the creation of an artist to draw it. All the universe’s supernovae combined cannot guarantee a single floral pattern. They may chance it, perhaps more than once: but they can neither guarantee it nor exactly replicate it. If you don’t believe this, try looking in a telescope. Only artists draw flowers.

To measure the entropy involved in guaranteed production of one floral pattern – a step that does not even begin to qualify as life-building – you need to build an artist and also a machine that will “counter-build” your artist in such a way as to measure the “organizational effort” or entropy involved. Since no machine in existence can build a human being from inanimate materials, your task is impossible. It is impossible to compute the entropy involved in the production of even one intelligence-generated floral pattern.