Monday, September 28, 2015

Reflections on a Dead Leaf

The morning drizzle had pushed a small maple leaf against my windshield. I sat staring at its lobed shape and deep yellow color, captivated by its melancholic beauty. Somehow it reminded me of my mother's hands, which had also shown veins and dark spots. I thought of where her body was now, and where this leaf was going to be.

Why should life be transient and death permanent? The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of a closed system always increases. Considering that the universe is a closed system and life does not exist in a state of high entropy, it follows that life is on an inexorable path towards being extinguished. But does it have to be that way?

Years ago I often pondered over this question. It occurred to me that there might be a correlation between entropy and morality, however alien that might sound. Think about this: all the actions that are considered bad involve destruction - destruction of life, of health, of harmony, and more. By nature destruction brings chaos into something orderly, moving it to a state of higher entropy. So here is the correlation: goodness favors reduction of entropy, while sin seeks to increase it.

From this point it is only one step further to see the second law of thermodynamics as a manifestation of the original sin. The original sin put the universe under the rule of the second law of thermodynamics, which dictates that its entropy will only increase and all life will eventually be snuffed out. This is at least partly what the Bible means by declaring that all have sinned and sin results in death.

So how do God and His promise of everlasting life come into this picture?

To defeat death and restore life, the entropy of a system must be reduced, requiring energy. The attributes of an infinite God naturally can blow up any finite mind in incomprehension, but in the context of this topic I would like to think of God as the ultimate source of energy. I would also imagine that His presence exists with zero entropy, sinless and timeless.

Connected to God, the universe would have its entropy pushed back and prevented from reaching a high level. Life would be freed from sin and death. The second law of thermodynamics would not apply anymore, for the universe would no longer be a closed system. And because of no entropy increase, time would be eliminated as well.

It makes sense to me and gives me hope.

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