Peril, Paradise, or Divine Plan?
By: Jim Virkler
The universe God created may not be described as “paradise,” a perfect, ideal, idyllic place. Yet, In Genesis chapter 1, God pronounced His creation “good” or “very good” several times. Scriptural and historical records do not describe the existence of an early paradise on Earth long ago. From Scripture, however, we may infer the existence of an unimaginable paradise in the world to come.
In what respect is our present Earth environment “very good?” We could detail thousands of ways. In contrast, we could also describe many ways in which our God-created world is less than perfect. The “less than perfect” measure must be defined subjectively in many ways across a broad spectrum of standards. Sometimes the “less than perfect” description is used by those who doubt the reality or the ultimate goodness of God. Would God permit sin? illness? death? or would He permit “natural evil” such as floods, droughts, or hurricanes to occur? Those doubting God’s supernatural wisdom may say, “No, He would not.” In terms of a higher purpose, those who trust the infinite wisdom of the Creator claim “God knows what He is doing.”
Hundreds of commentators have weighed in on the condition of life on Planet Earth. Comment is roughly spaced along a faith spectrum—little or no faith in the reality of The Creator to a high degree of faith in an all-sufficient, omniscient, omni-benevolent, and loving Creator who cares deeply and provides for the human race, collectively and individually.
Scripture speaks of God initiating (creating) the heavens and the Earth—all that exists. This is a fascinating concept, especially in terms of Creation Ex Nihilo (CEN)—creation from nothing. Philosophers and scientists have discussed endlessly what CEN could mean. If no matter—nothing—existed before the Big Bang, neither would there be energy, space, or time. There would be, therefore, no 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, no energy levels to deteriorate, no space in which energy could exist, and no time during which any events could take place. If God created the universe In the Beginning, we may more easily grasp that He chose to impose the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics deliberately on His creation as part of a purposeful operating system. We link two past blog posts describing the essence and implications of the important 2nd Law:
Paradise does not describe past conditions on our planet. Scientists have long described a powerful physical “overlay” which governs how things work. We have often mentioned the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics by which energy levels deteriorate and the system’s energy becomes less useful. Of course, there are some conditions during which the 2nd Law may appear to be excepted. If energy from an outside source is applied during the deterioration process, it may appear that the 2nd Law process sometimes does not apply. Overall, however, there is a deterioration in the combined systems. Conditions of decay and entropy (disorder) still occur.
There are hundreds of manifestations of the perils of living in our 2nd Law (the Law of Decay) world. Here we discuss only one, a tragic condition relating to the existence of genetic diseases. Natural environmental radioactivity has been the source of genetic mutations for thousands of years of man’s Earth habitation. As wonderful as our human DNA molecular heritage is, genetic damage has occurred owing to decay of radioactive elements. Release of subatomic particles from several source elements in our environment damages our genes and restructure them causing mutations in our DNA. Germline mutations in reproductive cells persist from generation to generation. Many diverse somatic mutations in other cells result from various chemicals such as tobacco or from skin damage caused by ultraviolet radiation in sunlight. Sometimes damage results from a combination of poor health habits and inherited genetic predispositions.
Human death ultimately results from age-related wear and tear and deterioration of body cells and systems. Aging is related to multiple causes. Many physical systems begin to fail as aging progresses. The foregoing outcomes are the most sobering of all 2nd Law outcomes for humanity.
2nd Law phenomena are beneficial in many respects. Our interacting universal systems transfer energy from one form to another. For example, fuel in our automobiles is converted from chemical energy to thermal energy and finally to mechanical (kinetic) energy. Food consumed by living things travels through several desirable energy transformations gaining a measure of disorder along the way. Overall, the broad outworking of 2nd Law phenomena keeps our world functioning for the benefit of living things. There are unavoidable downsides blended with favorable upsides in the outworking of these energy transformations. Our universe has been divinely created to work that way.
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Jim Virkler, a retired New Jersey public school science educator, now devotes his time investigating the harmony of scientific discoveries and Christian faith. He and his wife, Eleanor, now reside in the mid-west near their children and grandchildren.