Ok, the OP said he/she was debating a creationist. So forget the math in that article, or even the correct definition of entropy. Look for logical fallacies. He says this:
the Earth is an open system, it receives energy from the sun, and entropy can decrease in an open system, as long as it is ‘‘compensated’’ somehow by a comparable or greater increase outside the system.
Of course the whole idea of compensation, whether by distant or nearby events, makes no sense logically: an extremely improbable event is not rendered less improbable simply by the occurrence of ‘‘compensating’’ events elsewhere. According to this reasoning, the second law does not prevent scrap metal from reorganizing itself into a computer in one room, as long as two computers in the next room are rusting into scrap metal—and the door is open.
Isn't that just an argument from personal incredulity? It "makes no sense logically" because the time spans and scales involved are so vastly larger than anything a human being can possibly have any sense of.
It has taken about 3 and a half billion years for computers to come into existence on Earth. A human lifetime is about one hundred years (for ease of the math). So it's taken 35 million
human lifetimes for computers to come into existence. My childhood was about a half a lifetime ago, and to me that seems like a long, long time ago. 35 million
lifetimes ago? There's just no way that any human can really and truly have any sensible grasp of that length of time or what can or cannot happen during it.
He quotes Asimov:
Remove the sun, and the human brain would not have developed . . . . And in the billions of years that it took for the human brain to develop, the increase in entropy that took place in the sun was far greater; far, far greater than the decrease that is represented by the evolution required to develop the human brain.
The Sun has 330,000 times the mass of the Earth. Three hundred thousand
! A very large -- relative to its mass -- decrease in the entropy on Earth could easily be accompanied by a very small -- relative to its
mass -- increase in the entropy of the Sun, no problem.
I'm not sure if this is strictly a logical fallacy (or if so which one), but he repeatedly refers to the creation of computers as "an extremely improbable event". An
event. The creation of computers is not an event; computers exist now because of a long series of "events" that happened over that 3.5 billion years.
Later, he says:
Thus the second law predicts that natural (unintelligent) causes will not do macroscopically describable things which are extremely improbable from the microscopic point of view.
Isn't that a false dichotomy, that natural causes can never do anything extremely improbable, so therefore anything extremely improbable must have been caused by intelligence? Don't extremely improbable events happen naturally all the time? What were the odds that comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 would have the exact path needed for it to impact Jupiter in 1994? Holy crap, the odds of that happening were so small, the comet must have been intelligently guided!
Of course, one can still argue that the spectacular increase in order seen on Earth does not violate the second law because what has happened here is not really extremely improbable. Not many people are willing to make this argument, however
First, there's that argument from personal incredulity again, "spectacular
increase in order". No, given the time span and relative sizes of the Earth and the Sun, it's really not very spectacular at all.
And don't a lot of people make that exact argument, that life arising in Earth really isn't particularly improbable, but almost inevitable given the conditions and (again) the time span? Seems like just more personal incredulity again.