Anyone who has worked on an older house knows problems almost always prove worse than they first appeared. The door that doesn’t quite latch properly often requires major work on the door framing. A flaky light may necessitate rewiring the whole circuit. Deeper investigation reveals deeper issues. The same applies to investigating into the cosmos. Recent scientific research shows that the universe is also more rundown than previously thought.
Entropy measures how much energy in a system is unavailable for work. Lower levels of entropy mean more energy is available for work, while higher levels of entropy mean less energy is available. For example, a car with a full gas tank has an abundant supply of energy to power the car. As the car drives, the energy stored in the gasoline’s chemical bonds converts to other forms of energy—sound, heat, etc.—that do not contribute to making the car move. Thus, the car with a full tank of gas exists in a state of lower entropy than the car with an empty tank of gas and a bunch of exhaust fumes.1
Scientists can calculate the entropy of the universe also. In fact, recent work shows that the entropy of the universe is much higher than previous calculations found. The increase in calculated entropy results primarily from including supermassive black holes (SMBH). Observations show that most, if not all, galaxies have a SMBH in their center. The one at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy registers 4.1 million times the mass of the Sun whereas the largest SMBH detected weighs in at 18 billion solar masses. Previous work identifies black holes as maximum-entropy objects meaning that the maximum amount of entropy a region of space can exhibit is given by the largest black hole that region of space could contain. Thus, as black holes grow, the usable energy of the universe rapidly diminishes. And, unlike a car, no natural mechanism exists to refill the universe’s gas tank.
By accounting for SMBH entropy, two Australian cosmologists showed that previous research underestimated the universe’s entropy by an order of magnitude. In other words, they discovered that the universe has ten times less usable energy. From the standpoint of life on Earth, this revision makes little difference because the entropy of the Sun dominates for the solar system. However, it buttresses the idea that the universe is running down and will be incapable of supporting life (although that time is billions or trillions of years in the future). This idea also fits comfortably within a biblical creation model.
The last chapters of the Bible describe a new “universe” that God will create after this one has fulfilled its purpose. Other passages, such as Romans 8, tell of the decay, futility, and frustration this universe exhibits as its purposes are fulfilled. Thus, a biblical creation model requires two creations. This current creation has limited capacity to support life and will continue to rundown as time progresses. The new creation exists forever as a home to those who have heard and received Christ’s call to salvation.
1. To properly compare the entropy before and after the gas tank is used, one must include all the air used in combustion and expelled as exhaust, plus the segments of road and volumes of air that absorbed heat or sound from the car and other similar details to ensure that no energy was added or subtracted from the system.