QR5.6.5 The Law of Evolution

The second law, that disorder always increases, applies because the physical world is constantly changing. As Heraclitus put it, reality is a flux where “everything flows“. He pointed out that it isn’t possible to step twice into the same reality stream because from one moment to the next it is never the same. For things to always move to disorder they must first be always moving, so the Heraclitean flux underlies the second law of thermodynamics as a necessary condition. The view that reality is a constant flux matches the quantum realism statement that we live in a world of events not things, because every physical event is a quantum creation. Quantum realism also asserts the fundamental principle that quantum reality is unstoppable.

The formal statement of this position is the quantum law of all action, that whatever is physically possible actually happens at the quantum level, so quantum randomness ensures that whatever can happen eventually does. In quantum realism, the physical world always changes because quantum processing renews each cycle, so every moment is a new creation. Hence the quantum law of all action underlies the second law of thermodynamics.

The quantum law of all action behind the second law also has another effect, that unlikely events must sooner or later occur and will persist if they are stable. It is very unlikely that two light rays with extreme photons in every channel will meet exactly head-on, but by this law it must have happened and when it did the matter glitch hung the system in an endless reboot. It is equally unlikely that 82 protons, 125 neutrons and 82 electrons should combine into an atom but somehow they did, and so we have lead. Lead atoms with a half-life of many millions of years exist not because they are probable but because they are possible and stable.

This means that what underlies the second law also gives the evolutionary law that what can possibly survive will emerge to do so and influence what follows. By this “first” law, matter had to happen despite being based on improbable events. And while the second law decreases order, the law of evolution increases order, e.g. combining an electron and a proton in a hydrogen atom reduces the choices of both because while an electron and a proton on their own can go in any direction, in an atom they must move in the same direction. In general, when two or more entities combine to act as one, order increases. It follows that the law of evolution opposes the second law of thermodynamics by increasing order in the universe. Evolution is then a universal anti-entropy principle and always has been.

If evolution was limited to biology, the second law might be the supreme determinant of order in the universe, but it is not, as the rules for evolution were in place long before biological evolution began. Matter evolved just as life did, so evolution is a universal principle just as the second law is. And two laws operating explains what we actually see better than one.

The order of our universe involves two laws with opposite effects, both caused by the quantum law of all action, so on can’t have one without the other. Each works in a different way, as the second law focuses on what is probable while evolution focuses on what is possible. Consider a salt shaker that is constantly shaken upside-down. It is probable that every grain will fall out, leaving it empty, but it is also possible that an unlikely combination of grains will permanently block the hole giving a different end-state. If the universe is being constantly shaken by an unstoppable quantum reality, whether one sees it as probably emptying out or possibly generating new combinations is a matter of opinion. The Goldilocks effect suggests that our universe is also taking the latter path.

This view predicts that although the universe as a whole is devolving into disorder, it is also generating highly ordered combinations, such as:

1. Galaxies. In galaxies, nearly all stars orbit in the same direction. Any star orbiting the other way eventually hits other stars and either gets thrown out of the galaxy or is turned around. This common orbit direction is an order created by evolution.

2. Solar systems. The planets in a solar system eventually adopt orbits that don’t interact. Any exceptions again result in catastrophic events until the system stabilizes into an order created by evolution.

3. Atoms. Hydrogen atoms evolved because electrons and protons together are more stable than either alone and are also more ordered.

4. Elements. The elements of the periodic table evolved because their unlikely combinations of electrons, protons and neutrons are more stable. A lead atom is a highly ordered quantum combination engineered by evolution.

5. Molecules. Atoms combine into ordered molecules that evolve because they are more stable.

Evolution as the synthesis of order is all around for all to see, except for those blinkered by a mechanistic nineteenth ideology. All these evolutions require energy so by the second law they shouldn’t be common but they are. And the evolution of matter was just the beginning, as molecules combined into self-replicating proteins, primitive archaea and bacteria combined into modern cells (Lane, 2015), cells combined into plants, animals and us, and we combined into ordered societies. The common thread is the discovery of combinations that survive.

In quantum realism, the first light collided to form both electrons and the quarks that merged into protons and neutrons. A proton and an electron then merged into the first hydrogen atom, and hydrogen fused into higher elements as stars formed. The evolution of matter that is ongoing today then led to the biological evolution that created us. In this view, evolution as a universal law was built into the universe from the beginning. The universe that physics sees as only dying is also evolving and we are one of its products. The law of evolution explains what the second law cannot, that life evolved.