INFINITY #2: Purpose and Order in the Universe.
by Daniel H. Harris, Ph.D.
I. The Questions.
When you are long gone, will anyone care what you did on planet earth? In the distant future, when all the
stars have burned out and the galaxy is dark, and the human race has perished,
will anyone be remembered? Is there
ultimate significance in what we do? This
INFINITY answers these foundational questions.
II. Rule by Natural Law.
If our universe is ruled only by natural law, then many millions of years
in the future, the sun will expand until the Earth is vaporized; and after more
millions of years the sun will use up all its fuel and burn out, becoming a cold
dark cinder; and then after many more billions of years the entire universe will
die, either when all the stars are burned out or when the universe collapses,
becoming a giant black hole. Then, when there are no more humans, and the universe itself
is dead; all will be forgotten. That
is what natural law says.
If everything, including the universe ends in death, with no
consciousness thereafter; then the end of mankind is the same as the end of a
heard of cattle, or the end of a swarm of mosquitoes; then there is no
significance, and no ultimate purpose in anything.
If there is nothing outside of ordinary space and time, nothing
supernatural; then existence has no meaning, and there is no ultimate purpose to
anything. When the universe is long
dead, then both Shakespeare and Einstein will be forgotten; and all the
presidents, all the dictators, all the kings, all the rich and all the poor,
will be forgotten.
III. Rule by God.
But some have faith that there is a God who rules the universe, and that
God is a rewarder of them who diligently seek Him. Some know that there will be an
eternity, either with God, or far from God in outer darkness.
IV. Two Contrary Possibilities!
These two possibilities are totally contrary one to the other. Either natural law rules or it doesn't. Therefore, only one of these two
opposite possibilities can be true.
1) If natural law rules, then natural law says there is no ultimate
purpose in anything, and there is no eternity.
the other hand:
2) If God rules both within and beyond ordinary space time, then there
will be an eternity, and what we do does matter.
V. An Orderly Universe Running Down.
To discover which of these two contrary possibilities is true, to see
whether there is ultimate purpose and ultimate significance; this INFINITY is
focused on order in the universe.
1) The Universe is Full of
Order. For example:
a) There is order in the law of gravity and motion of the stars through
our galaxy, in the orbits of the planets, and in the orbits of planetary
satellites. Earth's Moon traces out
a path that can be followed to an accuracy of less than a foot, and predicted into the indefinite future;
b) There is order in the behavior of electricity, in magnetism, and in
light and other electromagnetic phenomena;
c) There is order in the chemical behavior of all substances;
d) Nuclear and atomic processes follow precise laws which hold the atoms
of all matter together, to make ordinary substances;
e) Fluids like air and water show order in their predictable motions;
f) Living things, in amazing variety, are all orderly, complex, and
apparently purposeful. Each living
cell is incredibly complex, and ordered, with numerous interdependent systems
all necessary for life;
g) And all the laws of nature, which make each of these various systems
work, are exactly what they should be in order for there to be life on planet
Earth. All these laws of nature act
harmoniously within the universe, like perfectly designed parts of a well oiled
So we see a universe filled with a staggering variety of complex, ordered
and evidently purposeful systems. But
we should note another important principle;
2): The Universe is Running Down.
is decreasing, disorder is increasing. For
a) Machines wear out, rust out, break down or fall apart; or they become
b) Houses and buildings rot away, burn down, or fall down;
c) Living things experience disease, starvation, or are eaten, or they
just grow old, and die;
d) Even knowledge and information become outdated, either being
overturned as wrong, or just replaced by the latest fad;
e) Geologic processes regularly destroy everything on the Earth's
surface, even mountains are worn away and carried to the sea, or subducted below
the Earth's crust;
f) Even the stars die when they exhaust their fuel supply;
g) And the universe as a whole is running down.
Everywhere we look in the universe we see order giving way to disorder. Order is always decreasing over all. So we see that:
Order in the universe is running down.
VI. Disordering is the Heart of the SECOND LAW of
DON'T PANIC, it's not that hard. Just
Scientists describe the increasing disorder in the universe as a general
law of nature known as the SECOND LAW of THERMODYNAMICS, where, thermo means heat, and dynamics
is the study of movement. So
thermodynamics is the study of heat movement.
This particular law was the second
law of heat movement recognized, therefore it is now called the SECOND LAW of
The SECOND LAW of THERMODYNAMICS Simply Explained.
A simple way of stating the SECOND LAW of THERMODYNAMICS (SLoT) says: Heat naturally goes from hot things
to cool things. We have all noted that heat naturally goes from hot things,
which cool down; into cool things, which warm up. For example, your cup of hot coffee, doesn't stay hot, it
looses heat into the surroundings. If
your holding it, your hands will warm up as the coffee cup cools down. That's the SLoT.
Consider a thermally insulated box containing two bodies, one hot body,
the other cold, separated by heat insulation.
To begin with, the two bodies can be recognized as different because they
have different temperatures; that's order.
But when we remove the insulation between them, and put the bodies in
thermal contact, then heat is transferred, and they soon reach the same
temperature; and then the bodies can no longer be distinguished by their
temperatures, that's disorder. The
SLoT says that heat naturally goes from hot things to cool things, never the
Examples of the SLoT.
Another way of saying this is to say that hot things have more
concentrated available heat energy, which is order. For example, an automobile engine, uses
concentrated heat energy in the form of gasoline.
The engine burns gasoline, making a hot gas, a form of concentrated
available heat energy. Some of this
heat energy goes into work moving the car.
But most of the heat energy goes away into the surroundings. When the gasoline is gone, and the car
has come to a stop; then all the gasoline has been converted into heat energy
which has gone into heating the car and its surroundings. This spread out heat energy is of no use
to the engine. Thus we see that
heat energy goes from being concentrated and available; to being spread out and
unavailable. When the energy is
available (hot and concentrated) that's order, when it's unavailable (cold and
spread out) that's disorder.
Consider another example. We
have a tank of high pressure gas and an empty tank, with a valve connecting
them. We open the valve and the gas
goes from the high pressure tank into the low pressure tank, until both
pressures are equal. The system was
more orderly when the gas was only in one tank at high pressure. After the gas has filled both tanks, the
system has reduced order.
Spontaneous Ordering is Never Seen.
We never see the reverse process. We
never see gas moving from the general volume of a tank toward a small hole,
organizing its motion and building its pressure to go back through a hole and
back through a valve to build the pressure in a high pressure tank. We never see gas, all by itself, going
from low pressure to high pressure. We
never see spontaneous ordering.
No one has ever observed heat energy spontaneously leaving a cold body to
go into a warmer body, to raise its temperature.
There are no reported examples of spread out low temperature heat coming
together and concentrating into a hot body to elevate its temperature. Such spontaneous ordering is never
seen. And the SLoT is a statement
that spontaneous ordering doesn't happen.
The SLoT is one of the most firmly established laws of science, it has
been repeatedly tested, and there are no recognized examples of it being
Using large telescopes it is now possible to see light coming from the
most distant galaxies, and see those galaxies taking concentrated heat energy
and radiating that energy away into cold space.
Even at the edge of the visible universe, the SLoT is visibly working.
VII. The SLoT Applied to the Whole Universe.
The SLoT Applies Only to Closed Systems.
The SLoT, strictly speaking, only applies to events and processes within
isolated-closed systems. A closed
system is a system where energy and/or order are not coming into or going out of
the system. If energy or order is
going into or out of the system, then the system is not closed, and the SLoT
doesn't apply. Refrigerators and
air conditioners are examples of systems that are not closed. These systems cool things by using
energy from an outside source, usually electricity.
The Universe As A Closed System.
Is the universe a closed system where the SLoT should apply?
If natural law is all there is, if there is nothing
transcendent, then the universe is all there is (that's all there is folks). In that case the SLoT should apply to
the whole universe, for in that case the universe is surely a closed system. So natural law says:
3): The Universe is a Closed System.
[Even if the accessible universe is only part of a much larger universe,
that larger universe according to natural law should be all there is. That larger universe is then the whole
universe and that universe is a closed system, with nothing beyond. And all the present argument applies to
that larger universe.]
VIII. Applying Three Critical Natural Law Principles.
if natural law rules the universe, then these three natural law principles
1) The universe is orderly;
2) The universe is moving from order toward disorder, using up its order,
using up its available (concentrated) energy; and
3) The universe as an isolated closed system.
Now let's see the inevitable consequences of these three natural law
A Leaking Water Bucket.
To simplify this, let's pretend that the order we see today in the
universe is like water in a bucket. The
bucket (universe) has a hole in its side near the bottom, the bucket (universe)
is loosing its water (order).
Now the bucket (universe) doesn't make water (order). Instead, the bucket (universe) keeps
loosing water (order). And although
the bucket (universe) is very large it does have a limited capacity (for order),
so the bucket (universe) has a limited supply of water (order).
[When the order level is high, then there are lots of places with
concentrated available heat energy. When
the order level is low, then the hot objects have mostly cooled off.]
When All the Order is Gone.
If we wait long enough, [a very long time] the water level (amount of
concentrated heat energy in the universe) will keep dropping, until the water
level (order level) reaches the level of the hole in the side of the bucket, the
water (order) will then reach a minimum. All
the water (order) will have poured out. At
that point all the available concentrated heat energy will be all used up,
spread out, and unavailable.
Continue to IX. The Universe Will Burn Out! The Universe Will Die!