Monday, January 4, 2010

Mirrors on the Past

A rear-view mirror on an automobile enables the driver to view objects which are behind him in terms of physical location. In another sense the mirror reminds him of past events--events which he experienced up close a few minutes before. Now those events are distant in both space and time. The rear view mirror helps the driver recapture information about the past.

One rear-view mirror is the Law of Entropy, or the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics--the observation that the universe is winding down from a high energy to a lower energy state. Another is the observed expansion of our cosmos. These mirrors do not measure time with great accuracy, but they do establish a forward-moving Arrow of Time proceeding from a very distant past. Many other scientific tests measure elapsed time with great accuracy.

The high-energy past was incredibly hot; we now observe a cooler and still cooling universe. Likewise, the incredibly high density of the past universe is indicated by our observation that the present expanded universe is still expanding, becoming progressively less dense. This helps describe the characteristics of the creation event.

Increasing entropy (disorder) is a characteristic of our physical existence and is described in scripture. Several Bible authors made observations about the grip of increasing entropy. For example, Romans 8:22 may be an observation of universal entropy: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” The writer, Paul, anticipates an eventual rescue, or redemption, from an adverse to a more desirable condition in the coming New Creation. II Corinthians 5 also uses the groaning imagery in connection with deteriorating physical bodies destined to be clothed with immortality.

It is doubtful the Apostle Paul was thinking in formal scientific terms about the Law of Entropy. His observations about the deteriorating creation and illness-prone physical bodies, however, were full of insight. The many Old Testament passages referencing the “stretching out of the heavens” were also prescient, having been written long before the advent of deep-sky observation technology.

God has given us a creation which allows man to discover many significant details of past cosmic history. By ancient light we are able to see events in the early universe, helping us to calculate its dimensions and age.