I passed by a bookshelf in my living room the other day and stared at the layer of dust on the picture frames. I just dusted not that long ago and now I have to do it again along with more vacuuming and picking up the clutter. Thanks to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, I get to clean and clean and clean again.
There are three consistently observable laws in nature that relate to heat and power (i.e. thermodynamics). The second law is sometimes called the Law of Increased Entropy. While the quantity of matter in the universe stays the same (according to the first law), the quality of the matter or energy deteriorates. When we use energy for productivity, growth, and repair, there is then less usable energy available. Entropy is simply a fancy word that means how much unusable energy exists in a closed system like our universe. As usable energy is lost, disorganization, randomness, and chaos increase.
So, what does this mean? On the one hand, if things are falling apart, I have to invest energy and money to maintain and repair them. Replacing the shingles on the roof, repainting the siding, mending holes in socks, buying new shoes, dusting the furniture, using wrinkle cream, going to the gym, and getting regular medical check-ups are all examples of our non-stop war against the inevitable decay we observe due to this law. (Contrary to what proponents of evolution would like us to believe, things are NOT getting more complicated or organized. In fact, evolution clearly violates the second law of thermodynamics.)
The backbone of this natural law is the transition of usable energy into unusable energy. If we logically followed the natural progression forward, there will come a time when all available energy has been used up. Therefore, the universe is not eternal. And if we followed the progression backward through time, there logically had to be a point of total organization or completely full energy … a.k.a. a specific beginning. If the universe is like a wound-up clock that is winding down, we can only wonder who set it all into motion.
Since we tend toward chaos when left to ourselves and are running out of energy, where’s the hope in the second law of thermodynamics? One, I believe it shows there is a Creator that started everything in the first place. Second, I believe the growing chaos highlights the futility of trying to do life by ourselves. Third, I believe that same Creator can inject His divine energy into situations to create order, heal, and rebuild hearts.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20 NIV)
Creation declares that we tend toward chaos when left to ourselves, but God still steps into our point of need when we ask.
What about you? How have you experienced the second law of thermodynamics? Have you observed increasing organization or chaotic tendencies in the world today?