Defining Terms: Entropy, Heat Death, and the Cosmological Constant

October 15, 2011

Cleaning up a few loose ends with some terms that I used in my Cosmological argument post a few days ago.  Boring, I know, but there is a method to my madness.

Cosmological Constant – a constant term used for the rate of expansion of the universe.  It is based on several factors including the relativistic equations for gravity.

Entropy – Entropy has many different definitions depending on what science you are discussing from statistical mechanics, physical chemistry, or classical thermodynamics.  What I was referring to was associated with classical thermodynamics was  the relationship between heat and mechanical energy or work, and the conversion of one into the other.

Heat Death – after entropy has reached its maximum and zero energy is available,  according to the laws of thermodynamics the material universe is apparently winding down and approaching heat death.

A great example  of entropy and heat death is a cup of hot coffee.    After you load all the ingredients in the coffee maker and press the start button  You have the coffee that is kept hot by the heat element under the pot.  The coffee pot is made to keep the heat a constant by using energy from the plug.    If the coffee maker is unplugged or the coffee is poured into a cup entropy will have reached its maximum.  The coffee comes out of the pot hot, but if you leave the cup of coffee, it is no longer being keep at a constant temperature by energy used in the pot.  Without any usable energy the coffee if left alone with slowly lose heat and cool down to the same temperature of the room or environment that it is in.  The coffee has then reached heat death.

Starting at the Beginning

October 12, 2011

It’s time to start looking at the evidence and reasons for having a Christian worldview.  Before you can look at the Bible and Evidence that supports Christianity, we need to step back and look at the evidence  and reasons that point to the existence of a God or gods first.  After we show support for the existence of a God, then we will move toward the evidence for Christianity.    A good place to start would be at the beginning.

As Christians we know the universe and the world had a beginning.  The first verse in the Bible says “In [the] Beginning God created [the] heavens and [the] earth” – Genesis 1:1.  (I put accents around the word “the”  because in the Hebrew language,  in which it was written in there was not a definite article.  It is added to make it easier to read.)  So we believe according to the Bible that the universe had a beginning.  According to the law of non-contradiction, the universe either had a beginning or it did not, both cannot be correct.  So, is there any evidence or reasons that we can point to that support the claim in the Bible?  There are!

The first argument we will look at is called the Cosmological Argument or also know as the Argument for a Creator or The First Cause.  It is also called the Kalām Cosmological Argument, because it is related to Islamic theologians of the Kalām tradition in Medieval times.  The origins of the Cosmological argument go all the way back to Aristotle in which he called it The Prime Mover. I’m sure he wasn’t the first to think about the beginning though, just the earliest we can trace back in writings.  Thomas Aquinas who lived in the 3rd century wrote extensively about it in Summa Theologica, perhaps his greatest work.

The Cosmological Argument is a philosophical argument that is based on the Principal of Causality and states the following 4 premises and conclusions:

  1. Premise: Everything that has a beginning has a cause.
  2. Premise: The universe had  a beginning.
  3. Conclusion: The universe had a cause.
  4. Conclusion: The cause of the universe is a personal, uncaused, non-physical being, we call God.

Think about cause and effect that you learned about in school.  Every Effect that happens had a cause that made it come to be.  If you imagine a row of domino’s that are lined up one in front of the other.  You push the first domino down and it falls into the next domino in the row, which in turn causes the second domino to fall on the 3rd domino in the row, and so on and so on.   If you were to look at the reverse order of the domino’s you can trace back each effect to a cause before it.  For example, What caused the 10th domino to fall, it was pushed by the 9th Domino.   What caused the 9th Domino to fall?  It was pushed by the 8th Domino.  You can trace them all the way back to the first domino.  What caused the first domino to fall?  We can see it wasn’t another domino.  What or Who caused the first domino to fall?  In the example, the person did.  Whenever you are tracing back a line of cause and effect relationships and an effect cannot be explained by a “what” it must be a “who” that caused it.

Now if we look at our two premises from above and examine them we will see how solid the Cosmological argument is.  Premise 1: Everything that has a beginning has a cause.  We have never observed something that began that did not have a cause in the history of modern man.  Anyone would be crazy not to accept that premise.  The second premise is a little harder, but we do have scientific evidence for premise 2: The universe had a beginning.  Here are the details.

1. The universe is winding down.  The cosmological constant (the expansion rate of the universe) shows us that the universe is gradually getting bigger and spreading out further and further from itself.  It is slowing down to a point of entropy.  (where all energy will equalize and come to rest, think of coffee cooling off in a mug slowly over time or a coin that is tossed and eventually comes to rest.)  If you follow the motion of the stars and galaxies backward they lead to a point where they all come together at a starting point.  Common sense would tell you that in order for the universe to wind down, it must have been first wound up by something or someone.

2. Philosophically, if there were no beginning of the universe, then we would not be here in the present.  Imagine a number line and trying to count to 0 from a negative infinity.  You can’t do it.

3. The natural sciences have a problem when it comes to matter.  Where did matter come from?  No matter how you back up the tape of time and divide and section the physical material world, you always have the same problem as you did before, where did that matter come from, what caused the matter to ‘be’?  You can look at atomic and sub-atomic particles and still ask where they came from.

Even the Big Bang Singularity states that there was a beginning of the universe.  Darwinian evolutionists know this and they are frantically looking for a way around the scientific evidence that they have now.  Steven Hawking, in his latest book, The Grand Design, has come up with a theory where the universe has no beginning.  Unfortunately, it is all done on mathematical models and imaginary numbers, and doesn’t pan out in the real world.  It even involves alternate universes and mini-universes!    It really goes to show you that they would rather accept a theory of the absurd, one like Hawking’s, rather than to accepted the Divine “foot in the door” evidence of a creator.   They so desperately want the universe to not have a cause, because they know the evidence of a cause will shut the door on their atheistic view of the universe.  I will come back to Hawking’s theory and others in a future post.

The Cosmological Argument gives us 5 specific traits of the first cause of the universe.  Since the universe is physical, finite in space, has a beginning, and slowly running out of energy we can then say the cause had to be outside the physical, (i.e. non-physical) infinite, timeless, changeless, and powerful.  Sounds a little like the God the Bible describes.

My next post will discuss some objections about the Cosmological Argument.  In the next weeks we will look at other arguments that point to a theistic worldview.  As always, questions, comments, discussions welcome.