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June 10, 2012

I read something a few days ago that said that life was God’s answer to entropy.  This was so cool I couldn’t stop thinking about it and now I’m gonna tell you why it struck me as being so awesome.

You’ll see a lot of science-type definitions for entropy.  It’s change in heat divided by ambient temperature, it’s the measure  of energy that’s not available for doing work, it’s the total information that’s required to precisely describe a system, and a bunch of other stuff.  It’s useful for describing how things always tend toward disorder.  When energy that has been concentrated spreads out, that’s an increase in entropy.  And energy always spreads itself out, it never concentrates itself.  This may seem obvious, or otherwise not important, but it is.  It is such a constant that it’s necessary for our perception of the whole world and everything we see.  If you watched a clip where a building spontaneously built itself and fire from an explosion briefly appeared and then was sucked together, you’d instantly know you were watching it in reverse.  If you’ve got a cup of  room temp water and you watch it become part ice, part steam, you’d think you were going crazy.  When a system is left alone, disorder always increases (or stays the same), it never decreases.

Now think about life in such a context.  Regardless of your beliefs, I think we can all agree it was definitely a special case when some amino acids and nucleotides were squished together and somehow created life (science doesn’t really agree on how it happened).  A big string of things had to happen that were not at all favored or likely.  It definitely makes me think about our existence in a different way.

I mean, this is one of the rules of the universe that everything is built on.  And yet everything about us, about life, runs completely counter to it.  Life itself is an elegant, supremely complex organization of matter.  Not only that, but we use our intelligence to organize things.  The more intelligent a life form is, the better it is at planning and building and organizing. We collect energy, we extract it, we use it to move things, heat things, cool things, light things, we’ve figured out tons of uses for it.  And while the entropy of the whole system (i.e. the universe) is still increasing, we are, in some sense, the masters of our domain.  A building can’t build itself, but we alone among everything in the universe (that we know of) can build one.

The scientist in me and the lover in me are always looking for starting points, ways to make sense of everything.  The law of entropy and the other laws of thermodynamics are the most basic, inviolable rules of the universe.  They’re also the laws that seem to jive most with the idea of a creator.  I don’t think that is a coincidence.  Science and faith are in total agreement about the chaos of the universe and the miracle of life, however it came to be.  In the bible, the first thing God ever says to us is “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.  And we are endowed uniquely to do just that.

The bible says that man is the glory of God!  To anyone who is a skeptic, who doesn’t see the fingerprints of God in creation, I would ask him to consider the possibility of that fact first.  What if there is a God and he made us for his glory?  What if he made us unique among everything else?

I would like to think that we all have this in common–that from the smallest to the greatest, this resonates in our hearts.  Why do we have intelligence if not to use it?  Why do we have compassion if not to act on it?  Why are we moved to sing to him, why are we able to feel joy?  Why are our instincts and tendencies so much more complex and severe than that of other life?


When Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon, the first thing he did was say “This is the LM pilot, I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.”

Then he took communion.  And he read the verse “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Amazing.  What a joy it is to be alive.


“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.”

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