In March 2021 the author will (DV) be/will have been ‘celebrating’ his birthday number ‘80’. Of course, things have changed quite a bit since 1941—we have changed quite a bit. Call it the ‘ravages of time’ or ‘wear and tear’ or just ‘life. That’s it: We are born—grow into maturity if we’re lucky and ‘naturally’ die. The lyrics of the sixties song ‘Things ain’t what they used To be’ summarises things nicely. A swift search in the Oxford Dictionary reveals the following: “Entropy – A measure of the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical works; in some contexts — a measure of disorder or randomness of a system.” Physicist and Theologian Robert John Russell [i] offers further detail when he describes entropy as, “…a measure of available energy. Energy conservation includes the transformation of mechanical energy into heat. For example, as we rub our hands together on a cold day, friction transforms mechanical energy into heat…In nature, such reversibility is an ideal and limiting case of actual processes which often involve abrupt, even catastrophic changes that drive the system far from equilibrium. Like surf breaking on the beach, the cracking of the iceberg, the diffusion of an aroma, the melting of snow, or the fermenting of sugar, they cannot be undone by somehow merely reversing the environmental factors. There will always be some other effect in the total system.” (P228). Should there be no means of sustaining the necessary equilibrium of material entities (biological or otherwise) then such entities, naturally or otherwise, shall fail to function effectively, dissipate and die.
With relation to sin and entropy, Clergyman and Chemistry PhD, Adrian Hough[ii] asks whether this universe is all there is and how our understanding of God impinges on these observations—in particular, we have to ask what doctrines of salvation and re-creation might have to say, not only about overcoming sin, but also about the conquest of entropy. ‘The entropy of the universe can only decrease if there is the input of order from beyond the universe.’ (P70). The question of ‘why’ there is not sufficient input—in order to bring a significant change to this, seemingly, the disordered universe is another question—a question that, in another place, we have attempted to answer. For Hough it is because of a flaw in the physical laws that govern physical outcomes, Haught describes it as ‘The Flaw in the Universe’—the problem of entropy. Contrary to Hough’s interesting view, we would prefer to affirm the omnipotence/omniscience—and, indeed, the sovereignty of God.
The Second Law taken in isolation leads us to predict a future which is one of disorder and ultimate decay—if this is the whole story then we know the way in which the world will end. On the other hand, the unfinished story of Sin and salvation suggests that we are dependent upon the grace of God and His response to a creation in which things can go wrong—the future here involves trust, and the end is both unknown and ultimately more hopeful.
‘The Flaw in The Universe’ PP143-144.
Jürgen Moltmann[iii] said that “What can be known by us is only ever partial; we need to restore a belief in heaven—’the side of creation that is open to God. It is the Kingdom of God’s ‘energeiai’.’”
Exerts from ‘Worlds Apart: Where on Earth is Heaven’