This question on Skeptics.SE regarding evolution and thermodynamics got me thinking. I always assumed that creationists argued that the Big Bang, and not evolution violated the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Specifically, that singularities are a violation of this universal fundamental law.

Prior to the singularity, nothing existed, not space, time, matter, or energy - nothing. So where and in what did the singularity appear if not in space? We don't know. We don't know where it came from, why it's here, or even where it is. All we really know is that we are inside of it and at one time it didn't exist and neither did we.

Dr John Ross of Harvard University states:

...there are no known violations of the second law of thermodynamics. Ordinarily the second law is stated for isolated systems, but the second law applies equally well to open systems. … There is somehow associated with the field of far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics the notion that the second law of thermodynamics fails for such systems. It is important to make sure that this error does not perpetuate itself.

The source is: Chemical and Engineering News, 7 July 1980, p. 40;

Are singularities known violations of the 2nd law of thermodynamics?

Is the Big Bang Theory fundamentally flawed in this respect?

  • Is anyone actually claiming that the Big Bang violates the II law? Because it clearly doesn't (all matter/energy in one point has maximum order). We are not quite clear about black holes, however it's hard to provide anything more than (very informed) speculation on that.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Sep 1, 2012 at 21:08
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    @Sklivvz you'd be surprised at the blatant ignorance and stupidity that creationists regularly claim... Commented Sep 1, 2012 at 21:44
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    This is a physics question. Why is it asked here instead of on physics.SE? If it gets a good answer here it will only be because some skeptics happen to be well-versed in physics.
    – Rex Kerr
    Commented Sep 2, 2012 at 10:39
  • @RexKerr There are a lot of questions where background knowledge of the topic is useful for answering them. Physics is not really a special case.
    – Christian
    Commented Nov 18, 2012 at 17:11
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    @Christian - Physics is often a special case in that the knowledge required to answer definitively may be deep (i.e. hard to quickly acquire because of many prerequisites). When it comes to the mathematics of singularities and the second law of thermodynamics, much deeper knowledge is required than to know, say, whether jumping spiders can see in color.
    – Rex Kerr
    Commented Nov 18, 2012 at 17:32

1 Answer 1


No, it does not, and the theory is in no way "fundamentally flawed". Sadly, to adequately cover this, it would take a book. Fortunately there is a book out there that does cover this.

A Universe From Nothing by Lawrence Krauss.

Or you can check out this video.

The basic gist of it is basically because the universe is energy neutral. I guess the easiest way to think of it is to think of the universe as the start of digging a hole in the dirt. As you take dirt out to make the hole, you are placing that dirt in a pile next to you. In this way, there is nothing that is being specifically created without something else maintaining the balance. Again, in terms of the universe, this is a way over simplified analogy... Everything that we know about the universe, no laws are being violated.

As for your citation, keep in mind that this is an old citation. Furthermore, it seems to be confused about what overall entropy means, as opposed to local entropy. There is also a confusion as to what Dr. Ross means by an open system. If the universe is all that there is, how can it be anything other than a closed system? If you read Dr. Krauss's book, you should see there is no violation of any sort. Furthermore, I don't know anything about the quote, but I am suspicions of it being quote-mined since it starts in the middle of a sentence.

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    I think you missed the point. " Prior to the singularity, nothing existed, not space, time, matter, or energy - nothing. So where and in what did the singularity appear if not in space? We don't know" The singularity itself (and whatever came before it) is what is breaking the 2nd law. It breaks the fundamental laws. Call it God, a singularity, or a Flying Spaghetti Monster, the problem remains that the universe cannot have existed forever, so whatever came before it must not be of this universe and not subject to its natural laws (including the 2nd law)
    – user1873
    Commented Sep 1, 2012 at 21:35
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    @user1873 No, you misunderstand. "I don't know" does not mean that something that is unknown violated any specific laws. You are making an appeal to ignorance fallacy. And if there is no time, there is no "before", so you are envisioning it incorrectly... Commented Sep 1, 2012 at 21:43
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    @user1873 Again, you are quoting the law, but totally don't understand what it says and actually means. The universe is A system, ad it's energy total is zero. You keep saying "then" which is non-sensical. There was no such thing as time, therefore saying "then" makes no sense. Commented Sep 1, 2012 at 22:26
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    Note: there is absolutely no claim that the laws of thermodynamics should hold at the big bang. The first relies on the laws of physics being constant in time (which is not necessarily true at the big bang). The second law is a statistical argument which merely states that on average systems arrange from less likely configurations to more likely configurations. Nobody denies that the universe is the most unlikely configuration possible (under the current laws). In fact, quite the contrary.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Sep 2, 2012 at 0:35
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    Also, see my answer on physics
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Sep 2, 2012 at 8:53

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