Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The opposite of entropy

I have several wonderful, very wise friends. One of them, who's particularly brilliant, posted this on Facebook in the small hours of Sunday morning;
How about the theory that entropy has an equivalent and opposite force?... what if that force was love. Love is God. God is order. Entropy is chaos.
Yes, ok, so there's lots to pick at that argument... But I'm intrigued by what people might say...
Essay question set... now class... Discuss!

This was my initial response;
I think there's plenty of room for love in chaos. Love is dangerous; even love for God puts us at a certain risk in this world and even faith is chaotic and subject always to several forces at once.

This is a poorly-formed thought I realise, but it's a gut reaction. May think more about that..

(Incidentally, not being a scientist, my understanding of entropy is based on social entropy, not thermodynamics.)

So I have indeed been giving it some more thought. And I have also been listening to Sex God, written and read by Rob Bell. Turns out Rob Bell is completely brilliant; I love the way he expresses his ideas. There is one chapter in which he talks about Animals and Angels and the way in which we as human beings sit between animals - he sees animals as all body and no soul - and angels - all soul and no body. We are neither, we are the result of neither reflecting the image of God correctly. So he then talks about how clearly it is expressed in the creation poem in Genesis 1 that we were made after the animals in in God's own image:
 24 And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
 26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
 27 So God created man in his own image,
       in the image of God he created him;
       male and female he created them.

Only humans were created in God's image - all genders created in the image of God. And there is a progression in the creation poem of Genesis 1, according to Rob Bell, from chaos into order. From God's spirit moving over the waters of chaos to the order and peace of Eden. The lines only become blurred, in this narrative, through human action. Through deliberate rejection of God. And, that being so, we begin to descend back into chaos.

So what do we call chaos? For that matter, what do we call love? Chaos is created through heirarchy, through viewing each other not just as distinct but as having different worths. To see oneself as greater or lesser than another contributes to chaos in the social order. I suppose, in some ways, it is an animal part of ourselves. The idea that there must always be an "Alpha", a dominant personality. Try as we might to suppress this with democracy and systems and order, perhaps we just enhance a chaos that is born out of the rejection of God that makes it so hard for us to truly love and respect one another. Don't get me wrong, I don't advocate anarchy, but in an ideal world there would be no need for the systems we find so necessary today.

And if that is the case because we do not know how to love one another then, yes, perhaps the opposite of entropy / chaos truly is love. For true love is perhaps the least chaotic thing that there is. It confuses our animal natures, because it is so deeply spiritual, and it confuses our angel natures because it is so physical, but that is not chaos. That is how we were created to be, as God is, existing between the physical and the spiritual. It is our nature, our now imperfect nature, that fails to realise what a great thing we have going on, that rejects it and calls the feelings that go with love 'chaotic'. In fact, they are perfect. They are what we, in God's image, were created for.


  1. Yes, this is fair point, but if say attraction is opposite to entropy this is less open to interpretation - we all know what attraction is, but who can really define love in a way the evryone else can agree with.
    Some say that entrophy is merely a measuring system, a measure of disparity, chaos, deterioration, and so cannot have an opposite. If we aggree to this then attraction can be said to be a measure of attractiveness, or gravily in the broader sense of the word.
    That would mean that attractive and entropy are two seperate tendencies that have opposite effects, but not polar opposites, as poles must always be directly linked. Hence, one may have high levels of attraction at the same time as we have high levels of entrophy, or other imaginable combination. If they were polar opposites then higher entrophy would invariably mean lower attraction and visa versa.

  2. Lovely and thought-provoking post. Personally, I'm a big fan of how your friend initially put it on your wall. This reflects my philosophy, which I was just considering as I was drafting a mission statement for a family business plan with my newly-pregnant fiancee (how's that for background info?). That philosophy is that Love (true, pure, unconditional, which we humans rarely experience fully) is our closest experience and understanding of God, and that God is the innate and extra-dimensional Intelligence or Consciousness which is the self-organizing principle of the universe.

    In a more pragmatic vein, perhaps it is information which is the opposite of entropy. Information allows for synergy, or the phenomenon of the whole being greater than its parts.

    Either way, good thoughts.