Monday, 15 September 2014

God and entropy

Did God make entropy a law of the known universe, or is entropy prior to God and God constrained by entropy?

Could God have made a world without entropy, could He have made this world without entropy - a world that was not tending to corruption and chaos - and if so why didn't he?


For the medieval 'scholastic' theologians, the mortal sub-lunar world was the place of entropy - of decay, death and sin - and the Heavenly world was a place of eternal and perfect harmony. Entropy was therefore pretty much a product of Satan and his demons (all entropy is evil, but not all evil is entropy).

But it is hard to make such a world picture coherent, and hard to understand how two such different worlds can have any meaningful relationship (i.e. an always-corrupting and death-filled world of entropy, versus an eternal and changeless world of perfection).


Although entropy is destructive of life, we moderns find it hard to imagine life without entropy; in the sense that any active process would seem liable to accumulate damage.

Or, to put it the other way around, if something is static, eternal and perfect - and therefore invulnerable to entropy - we find it hard to suppose that it is actually alive.

So the medieval view of divinity and Heaven seems to secure invulnerability to entropy only at the cost of something that sounds very much like death!


I think that a Christian requires that a life, a specific life, must have a distinctive and personal essence which is eternal and indestructible - despite entropy.

Rather than zero-entropy stasis; what I think this implies is an eternal, active, energy using-and energy-generating process acting to purge entropy from each eternally-living entity.

In a nutshell, this is the process of making form, structure, organization - as a fundamental principle.


So, anything alive is alive because of the form-generating principle; and also tends to lose form and die due to entropy - the end-result depends on the relative strength of these processes of form versus entropy.

On this earth, it seems entropy is stronger than form (death is stronger than life) - so all living forms will sooner or later be overwhelmed by entropy, and will die.

Eternal life requires the opposite predominance - of form over entropy, life over death - so that although (presumably) entropy continues to occur, it is continually purged and structure continues... forever.

The possible implication is that we inhabit this high entropy world for a reason to do with the domination of the process and tendency of change - corruption, ageing and sin. But also that this mortal life is temporary and will necessarily end in death. The domination of entropy will end.

And that our habitation of this entropically-dominant kind of world is not an accident, but in some way a part of God's plan for us.