Everything moves in one direction. Chaos builds. Maximum entropy is what happens when there is no more potential energy in the universe. Put a hand full of marbles in a cup and shake the cup. The marbles will dance around for a while, but they eventually come to rest. This is an illustration of basic entropy.
Entropy in the universe is building in one direction that is impossible to reverse. This is why the oscillating universe theory is so attractive to non-theists. This theory proposes that the universe continually expands and contracts back into itself an infinite number of times. Imagine a continual stretch and squish of a balloon.
This theory gives a reason to believe that the universe could continue without extra-cosmological intervention. It includes both a big bang and a big crunch locked into a perpetual cycle. Albert Einstein considered this Cyclic Model for a time, until it was brought down by the second law of thermodynamics. Many more cyclic models have been proposed. However, there are great hurdles that have to be leaped to make these theories fit into what we already have observed of the universe.
The universe is like the string of a bow that is firing an arrow. The big bang was the moment the bow string was released. The moment the bow string becomes still will be the end of the universe. Our current point in history is somewhere between being plucked, and coming to rest. What is it called when the universe, like that bow string, finally comes to rest? It’s called Heat Death, which has been discussed at more length in another section in this book.
The universe is moving toward heat death. Let’s review the meaning of heat death? Imagine all the heat in the universe is represented by bouncing balls. As long as they are bouncing there is heat in the cosmos. When those balls all stand still, the universe has reached thermodynamic equilibrium also known as maximum entropy. At maximum entropy, there is no more potential energy. At that point the universe will experience a cosmic rest.
Life can’t exist in a universe that has reached it’s maximum entropy. If the universe is left to it’s own and not interfered with from an outside agent, then there are some conclusions that we can draw from this law of thermodynamics.
1. The Universe was at it’s most ordered state at its beginning.
2. The more time that passes the less ordered it becomes.
3. At some point the universe will end in total thermodynamic disorder.
This means that without external intervention, the greatest energy state differential must occur at the beginning of the Universe.
Therefore, if naturalism is true then the most likely place for high complexity to occur is at the big bang. Left to randomness, then, the most plausible place for life to happen to exist would be at the big bang. However, considering the conditions, that is a ridiculous claim. Life becomes less and less likely with every second that entropy increases. This is worth repeating. The most likely place for life to occur is at the beginning.
I’m not saying that the conditions of the big bang were conducive to biological life, but the point remains, statistically the occurrence of life decreases as time passes. It therefore was most likely at the beginning.
If you are thinking, “that’s ridiculous!” Good. That’s what I want you to think. If we are the products of a random universe then that universe has to be so naturally ordered that it is ridiculous.
It is then reasonable to conclude: if life / consciousness / intelligence was not produced in the moment of the big bang, it is then even more ridiculous to believe that life could arise later in the history of the cosmos without some kind of help.
The problem is, here we are in all our exquisite complexity; Humans. If we are a product of only our natural universe then that means, the cosmic structure that preceded us had to be that much more complex than we are. Building backwards, the moment of the big bang would have to contain such complexity and ordered structure… Well, like I said it just doesn’t make any sense if you have tied your self to that sinking ship of naturalism.
Let’s talk about biological life. The same rules that apply in physics apply to the bio-diversity of our planet. In basic terms life is: a set of extremely complex energy state differentials. Life is an innumerable array of chemical reactions waiting to happen, called potential energy. The dominant theory on the development of life is what we call evolution. Looking at the fossil record, and studying biological structures has pointed scientists of all stripes to ascribe to this idea.
So physics teaches us that the universe is moving from order to disorder. The fossil record, however, shows that life moves from disorder to order.
Evolution is a natural conclusion when you look only at the fossil record, but it’s not quite as natural when you consider the laws of physics. Entropy is the degrading of potential energy states and a move away from ordered systems. Life is an ordered system, that seems to have come from disorder. It’s ok if you’re scratching your head at this point. There is definitely something missing here. Maybe this will make you feel better.
When you die no matter what lead up to that moment, it’s entropy that kills you.
Entropy and Life are mortal enemies. Don’t misunderstand me: biological life wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for entropy, but it’s entropy that will eventually kill every living creature. Biological life has a love hate relationship with entropy.
At this point it is important to slice apart two ideas that usually come in a packaged deal. I would like us to consider evolution as distinct from biogenesis. There’s the cutting knife:
Evolution is: the process by which different kinds of living organisms are thought to have developed and diversified from earlier forms during the history of Earth.
Abiogenesis is: the original evolution of life or living organisms from inorganic or inanimate substances.
If you didn’t catch the distinction, go back and read those again. In basic terms, evolution is an attempt to answers the question, “How did life evolve from a single celled organism into a human?” Abiogenesis is an attempt to answers the question, “how did that first single celled organism come from non-living material.” Hopefully you see the line between these two. It’s a small distinction, but it makes a world of difference.
Study the subject for any length of time and you will quickly find out that abiogenesis is still as mystical as the dalai lama. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that abiogenesis is not actually part of evolutionary theory. To ask an evolutionist how abiogenesis occurred makes about as much sense as asking a marine biologist what the moon is made of. He may have a theory, but it’s a different discipline altogether. As far as abiogenesis, many scientists are still trying to figure that out.
Blind abiogenesis stands apposed to thermodynamics. I am not saying that life itself, or even the macro evolution of life stands opposed to the law of increasing entropy. Cells more than make up for natural entropy by displacing disorder to their surrounding environment. However, to account for abiogenesis, is another matter all together.
Naturalistic abiogenesis contradict the reasonable application of the laws of thermodynamics. The fact that all the building blocks for abiogenesis to occur are present on Earth, doesn’t mean that it is likely, or even statistically possible.
Some would argue this by saying, “an intelligent scientist can synthesize life in the lab.” All that proves is that it takes intelligence to produce life. Even if life can be artificially produced in a laboratory that doesn’t mean that life could spontaneously occur without intelligent influence. The fact that it would take a host of top Ph.D.s and a twenty million dollar lab to synthesize a single Eukaryote, just goes to prove that only intelligence can produce life. Science is still years away from synthesizing Eukaryotes in the lab, this is just an illustration.
The only way for abiogenesis to be anything more than mythology is for us to observe it happening spontaneously without any intervention. Any scientists intervention just goes to demonstrate the point that it can’t happen naturally.
I understand that it’s theoretically possible for all of the molecules to align in just the right way for life to begin. It’s also theoretically possible, if you were to dump out billions of scrabble letters that they would all align in just the right way to produce the collected works of the Library of Congress. That is roughly the amount of information that is stored in a single celled Eukaryote’s DNA strand. How many tries would you need to get it all lined up? It’s so statistically unlikely that it is ridiculous. The universe would reach it’s heat death long before the first bacteria arrived.1
Some type of intervention had to be at play. There had to be an extra-cosmological influence asserted on the universe for life to arisen when it did.
Looking at how entropy works, and comparing it against the notion of abiogenesis, I’m left with a simple conclusion- it’s statistically impossible through natural means. It’s impossible unless, there was an intelligent intentional interaction that happened. The idea that life could begin by way of unguided process defies the laws of nature, physics, and logic. I think this all fairly clearly points to the hand of an intelligent influence. This intelligent influence is the only reasonable explanation for original abiogenesis.
This hypothesis is not a full explanation of course, it’s only a piece of the puzzle. This hypothesis does nothing to explain how it works, but only that it simply wouldn’t work unless there are other more complex, intelligent interventions.
One might say, “God of the Gaps.” I’m willing to listen to a BETTER hypothesis, but I am interested in a Universal approach, where all the sciences are considered not just biology alone. Entropy and abiogenesis don’t play well together.
In this sense, abiogenesis is a fingerprint of God. The universe is so full of things that are not alive. However, we are so surrounded by life that we get the sense that it is the obvious outcome of nature. That is, however, absurd to anyone that tries to grasp the impossible odds that are stacked up against spontaneous abiogenesis.
This describes the abiogenesis of man. “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2.7)
This verse fills me with excitement. Soil has all the chemicals needed for life. So all the chemicals are present, but the hard part is getting all those particles arranged properly. The biblical account describes the moment of abiogenesis for humans, and it has all of the criteria in order to ensure that it did not violate the laws of physics. With the highly intelligent influence of God, mankind began.
It is not only a beautiful picture of the beginning of human life, but considering all that we’ve discussed, it’s the most reasonable explanation for abiogenesis. A theistic worldview is the best we can do on the subject of abiogenesis.
1 Here’s my calculation: 700 terabytes in the human genome. Eukaryote has a DNA strand one tenth the length. The Library of congress has about 74 terabytes worth of digitized data as of 2009