Entropy and Disorder in the Universe

Entropy and Disorder

The second law of thermodynamics can be stated in many ways. The usual physics statement is that heat cannot move from a lower-temperature reservoir to a higher-temperature reservoir. With any action involving matter, there is always a loss of energy to a state from which it can not be recovered. Actions involve a loss of energy, and we call that entropy.

Heat will move from a warmer area to an area with less heat until the two areas have equal temperatures. Molecules pass from a region of high concentration to a low concentration area until they are equal. A simple illustration is if you spray perfume from a bottle into the air, you will eventually smell it everywhere, but you can’t get it back into the bottle because it will have diffused into the atmosphere.

So, what is the big deal about the second law? Energy drives the cosmos. Stars, galaxies, planets, and objects in space all use energy and are thus subject to the second law of thermodynamics. The first law of thermodynamics says that energy cannot be created or destroyed. The second law tells us that energy is becoming disordered. That means the total amount of energy available for work in the cosmos is decreasing and will end up at zero. The cosmos will eventually experience complete entropy, which scientists call heat death.

The Bible makes it clear that there was a beginning to the creation. (See Genesis 1:1.) Atheists tried to maintain that the cosmos has always existed and oscillates throughout time. There is no evidence to support that. We now know that the expansion of the cosmos is accelerating, so oscillation is impossible. The second law implies that there had to be a beginning to the cosmos when there was perfect order, and no entropy existed. Skeptics continue to try to find a weakness in the biblical account of creation, but all the evidence indicates that there was a beginning.

Even the profound discoveries of quantum mechanics, a branch of physics that deals with the behavior of particles at the smallest scales, have not disproven the second law. In fact, they have revealed that time itself had a beginning, a concept that aligns with biblical passages like Proverbs 8, which refer to God’s wisdom and power. The creation, as it is, speaks of the fact that “we can know there is a God through the things He has made (Romans 1:20).

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: “Disorder Reigns” by Tom Siegfried in the June 15, 2024, issue of Science News. The article gives the history of the second law of thermodynamics” citing the work of great past scientists like Lord Kelvin, Rudolf Clausius, and Sadi Carnot.