The Misconception About Open Systems Ilya Prigogine and the Myth of the "Self-Organization of Matter" The Difference Between Organized and Ordered Systems
Self Organization: A Materialist Dogma












 Ilya Prigogine and the Myth of the "Self-Organization of Matter"

Quite aware that the second law of thermodynamics renders evolution impossible, some evolutionist scientists have made speculative attempts to square the circle between the two, in order to be able to claim that evolution is possible.


Ilya Prigogine

One person distinguished by his efforts to marry thermodynamics and evolution is the Belgian scientist Ilya Prigogine.

Starting out from chaos theory, Prigogine proposed a number of hypotheses in which order develops from chaos (disorder). However, despite all his best efforts, he was unable to reconcile thermodynamics and evolution.

In his studies, he tried to link irreversible physical processes to the evolutionist scenario on the origin of life, but he was unsuccessful. His books, which are completely theoretical and include a large number of mathematical propositions which cannot be implemented in real life and which there is no possibility of observing, have been criticized by scientists, recognized as experts in the fields of physics, chemistry and thermodynamics, as having no practical and concrete value.

For instance, P. Hohenberg, a physicist regarded as an expert in the fields of statistical mechanics and pattern formation, and one of the authors of the book Review of Modern Physics, sets out his comments on Prigogine's studies in the May 1995 edition of Scientific American:

I don't know of a single phenomenon his theory has explained.370

And Cosma Shalizi, a theoretical physicist from Wisconsin University, has this to say about the fact that Prigogine's studies have reached no firm conclusion or explanation:

Öin the just under five hundred pages of his Self-Organization in Nonequilibrium Systems, there are just four graphs of real-world data, and no comparison of any of his models with experimental results. Nor are his ideas about irreversibility at all connected to self-organization, except for their both being topics in statistical physics.371

The studies in the physical field by the determinedly materialist Prigogine also had the intention of providing support for the theory of evolution, because, as we have seen in the preceding pages, the theory of evolution is in clear conflict with the entropy principle, i.e., the second law of thermodynamics. The law of entropy, as we know, definitively states that when any organized, and complex structure is left to natural conditions, then loss of organization, complexity and information will result. In opposition to this, the theory of evolution claims that unordered, scattered, and unconscious atoms and molecules came together and gave rise to living things with their organized systems.

Prigogine determined to try to invent formulae that would make processes of this kind feasible.

However, all these efforts resulted in nothing but a series of theoretical experiments.

The two most important theories that emerged as a result of that aim were the theory of "self-organization" and the theory of "dissipative structures." The first of these maintains that simple molecules can organize together to form complex living systems; the second claims that ordered, complex systems can emerge in unordered, high-entropy systems. But these have no other practical and scientific value than creating new, imaginary worlds for evolutionists.

The fact that these theories explain nothing, and have produced no results, is admitted by many scientists. The well-known physicist Joel Keizer writes: "His supposed criteria for predicting the stability of far-from-equilibrium dissipative structures fails-except for states very near equilibrium."372

The theoretical physicist Cosma Shalizi has this to say on the subject: "Second, he tried to push forward a rigorous and well-grounded study of pattern formation and self-organization almost before anyone else. He failed, but the attempt was inspiring."373

F. Eugene Yates, editor of Self-Organizing Systems: The Emergence of Order, sums up the criticisms directed at Prigogine by Daniel L. Stein and the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Phillip W. Anderson, in an essay in that same journal:

The authors [Anderson and Stein] compare symmetry-breaking in thermodynamic equilibrium systems (leading to phase change) and in systems far from equilibrium (leading to dissipative structures). Thus, the authors do not believe that speculation about dissipative structures and their broken symmetries can, at present, be relevant to questions of the origin and persistence of life.374

In short, Prigogine's theoretical studies are of no value in explaining the origin of life. The same authors make this comment about his theories:

Contrary to statements in a number of books and articles in this field, we believe that there is no such theory, and it even may be that there are no such structures as they are implied to exist by Prigogine, Haken, and their collaborators.375

In essence, experts in the subject state that none of the theses Prigogine put forward possess any truth or validity, and that structures of the kind he discusses (dissipative structures) may not even really exist.

Prigogine's claims are considered in great detail in Jean Bricmont's article "Science of Chaos or Chaos in Science?" which makes their invalidity clear.

Despite the fact that Prigogine did not manage to find a way to support evolution, the mere fact that he took initiatives of this sort was enough for the evolutionists to accord him the very greatest respect. A large number of evolutionists have welcomed Prigogine's concept of "self-organization" with great hope and a superficial bias. Prigogine's imaginary theories and concepts have nevertheless convinced many people who do not know much about the subject that evolution has resolved the dilemma of thermodynamics, whereas even Prigogine himself has accepted that the theories he has produced for the molecular level do not apply to living systems-for instance, a living cell:

The problem of biological order involves the transition from the molecular activity to the supermolecular order of the cell. This problem is far from being solved.376

These are the speculations that evolutionists have indulged in, encouraged by Prigogine's theories, which were meant to resolve the conflict between evolution and other physical laws.

370 "From Complexity to Perplexity," Scientific American, May 1995.
371 Cosma Shalizi, "Ilya Prigogine," October 10, 2001, www.santafe.edu/~shalizi/notebooks/prigogine.html. (emphasis added)
372 Joel Keizer, "Statistical Thermodynamics of Nonequilibrium Processes," Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1987, p. 360-1. (emphasis added)
373 Cosma Shalizi, "Ilya Prigogine," October 10, 2001, www.santafe.edu/~shalizi/notebooks/prigogine.html. (emphasis added)
374 F. Eugene Yates, Self-Organizing Systems: The Emergence of Order, "Broken Symmetry, Emergent Properties, Dissipative Structures, Life: Are They Related," Plenum Press, New York, 1987, pp. 445-457. (emphasis added)
375 F. Eugene Yates, Self-Organizing Systems: The Emergence of Order, "Broken Symmetry, Emergent Properties, Dissipative Structures, Life: Are They Related" (NY: Plenum Press, 1987), p. 447.
376 Ilya Prigogine, Isabelle Stengers, Order Out of Chaos, Bantam Books, New York, 1984, p. 175.