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Creation’s Story (6)

R W Cargill, St Monans

Order and Chaos

In Genesis 1 we read how God in His wisdom and power brought order and beauty out of chaos. Emptiness and darkness were stage by stage replaced by what God would repeatedly call "good" and then "very good". Things would be separated from each other, an ordered, structured world would be created, ready for man to live in.

By Genesis 3, however, it is all changing - sin and chaos are spreading as they do to this day. Yet an almighty hand of grace and government controls everything. God’s purpose is to head up all things in Christ, and glorify His name forever, whilst Satan’s is to promote chaos, disorder, and disobedience to God. The increasing disorder and deterioration both in society and in the realm of creation show that everything at present is not what God designed it to be.

We have been noting recently just how different this earth has become. Creation’s story is moving through the darker chapters of "bondage and corruption". They include what men call natural disasters, or even "acts of God", and they say, "Why does God allow this?". God is blamed when things go wrong as they see it, but never acknowledged for His providence and provision every day, and seldom thanked for His grace and goodness. There is no denying that the present chapters are very dark and acutely difficult for many, but the last ones will be as bright and beautiful as the first, even more beautiful, when

Every trace of sin’s sad story,
All the curse has passed away.

(H Bonar)

The effects of redemption will spread beyond the church and the nation of Israel to include the whole of creation. Order and beauty will yet prevail.


The change and decay all around us can be examined using an important scientific principle called entropy. All natural processes are governed by changes in energy and entropy, and we shall look at a few examples next. We might be more familiar with energy than entropy, but basically entropy means chaos or disorder. It comes from the second law of thermodynamics which we noted earlier. We shall see that in fact it negates the main proposals of evolution.

In natural processes, energy is usually given out, as when a fire burns to give heat, or when water flowing downhill through a turbine produces electricity. The ashes and the combustion products, or the water at low level, contain much less energy than what was there at the beginning. In such processes, there is also more disorder at the end than at the beginning, e.g. the combustion products possess more entropy (more disorder) than the fuel and oxygen. In a different example, after salt has dissolved in water there is more entropy than before. The particles are more "mixed up" in the solution, and that is why the salt dissolves.

Even in daily life, certain things "just happen" because of an increase in entropy. Your room, your desk, your files become untidy, disorganised so easily - without any effort on your part! Or, more dramatically, a glass of water (or worse still, milk) falls off the table and the liquid plus fragments of glass "just happen" to go everywhere! (Remember 2 Sam 14.14.) There is a state of chaos, disorder, and even brokenness which "just happened".

The general principle is that if entropy increases, processes will occur naturally, they will "just happen" given the appropriate conditions. But they won’t "just happen" to go in the reverse direction. Cleaning up and organising doesn’t "just happen" no matter how long you leave it! Also water does not flow uphill, combustion products do not turn into fuel again, salt does not separate from water by itself. These reverse processes can be made to happen, e.g. water can be pumped to a higher level, tidying up can be done, but these all require a designed application of energy.

From the entropy principle, we can conclude (from experience, and all known science confirms it), that the things which "just happen" of their own accord are those which eventually and inevitably lead to more disorder, greater entropy. It is the increase in entropy which drives such processes forward.

Two Implications

There are at least two implications of this. The first is that the longer all the natural processes in the world or the universe take place, the more its disorder (entropy) increases. Just as time cannot be turned back, the entropy of the universe does not decrease. Because of this, entropy has been called "time’s arrow". We observe a groaning creation obeying the second law of thermodynamics, moving in the direction of increased entropy along with decreased available energy. The total entropy, the chaos, is now greater than ever it was.

The other implication of the inevitable entropy increase in all natural processes threatens the fundamental principle of evolution which says that more complex systems or creatures "just happened" to develop from simpler ones over a long period of time. But it is contrary to the second law of thermodynamics (and to all of our experience) for simpler, disordered systems by themselves to become more complex, more organised. Order and organisation do not "just happen" to come from chaos, no matter how long it is left. As we have seen, some external intelligence and a designed application of energy or power are required to make this happen.

Take a specific example. In all living cells, many very complex substances exist (proteins, lipids, nucleic acids etc) in a water-based fluid. Life is sustained by these very complicated molecules interacting with others equally as complicated, in matching, co-ordinated processes. Now, according to evolution, these organised molecules "just happened" to be formed from smaller and simpler ones. By coincidence, the other matching molecules also "just happened" to be synthesised from smaller ones at that time - then DNA would be formed and life could begin! Indeed, going further back, these smaller molecules themselves "just happened" to be formed from their component atoms, and those atoms from their component particles, and so on back to nothing!! Such processes are opposed by the entropy restrictions of thermodynamics, and common sense would agree (it actually says the same things in different words!). Synthesis and coincident, cumulative co-operation does not "just happen" unless "someone" organises it!

It is of course true that biomolecules are constantly being made in living cells, as evolutionists will point out. But notice that this biosynthesis happens only within already living cells. Before life is present, life cannot be sustained. An intelligent system (e.g. an enzyme) is already in place - "Someone" has organised it - to utilise energy and drive the reaction in the difficult direction of lower entropy (as with the water pump referred to above).

Without this, what happens of its own accord is the degradation of complex molecules into simpler ones, as we actually observe in nature over long periods of time. Old, dead, vegetable or animal tissues left to themselves rot away, a natural process which "just happens", moving in the direction of higher entropy, the opposite direction to what evolution requires.

Reversing the changes

Sometimes you come across a ruined building. The ravages of time have made a pile of rubble from what was once a handsome structure, designed and made by someone long ago. Left to itself, any manmade structure moves in this direction of greater entropy, and that is what natural structures do also, as we have seen.

But that process can be reversed. If someone with a design plan (intelligence) and with resources (energy) works upon that pile of rubble, a beautiful structure can reappear. But it won’t happen on its own! The longer it is left, the worse it gets, the more it deteriorates. We are told that evolution required thousands of millions of years to bring about the world’s huge variety of life-forms, and, before that, more thousands of millions of years to provide an environment for life to begin. But, according to the second law of thermodynamics, these huge lengths of time would promote more deterioration, more entropy, not more organisation and improvement. Remember entropy is "time’s arrow". The longer it goes on, the more disorganised it becomes.

In the beginning God brought order and beauty out of chaos by His wisdom and power. When our Lord Jesus Christ renews this world and rules in perfection He will do this again. He will lift the curse from the earth. He will remove all the effects of sin. He will reduce the entropy. The run-down will be halted, the corruption ended, the groaning hushed to peace. Just now sin reigns, and entropy reigns too, in a world where man’s ideas lead to more and more chaos. Yet in our lives and in our assemblies, for example, godly order may be found (1 Cor 14.33,40) in the measure in which the wisdom and power of the Word of God is obeyed.

To be continued.


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