Entropy vs. Life

One of the things I learned in science class is that the universe has a fundamental tendency towards entropy, or randomness and disorder. In other words, things tend to decay and breakdown into simple components rather than come together into complex forms. For instance, if you don’t take care of your garden, it will eventually be overgrown with weeds and start to look like hell. The opposite of entropy would be when order is created out of disorder, like when the liquid metal Terminator in “Terminator 2” transformed from a blob of molten metal into an advanced robot. Sounds cool, but it just doesn’t happen in quite that way.Entropy as Time's Arrow

But scientific observation ignores the existence and influence of intelligent beings, which are in great abundance on this planet and quite possibly throughout the universe. Intelligent creatures, and I’m not just talking about people, tend to act to counteract entropy. Humans tend towards the creation of complex social organizations and physical environments. Whether or not you believe climate change is at least a partially human-induced condition, I think we can all agree that we’re changing the planetary ecosystem in many ways, including the construction of cities and transportation networks and the cultivation and mining of land. Non-human creatures shape the environment in more modest ways. Think of beaver dams, giant anthills, and coral reefs and you will see that these things represent the creation of order out of disorder, not the other way around. Even maggots, which decompose organic material, transform that material into basic elements and use it to support their own life. Life itself breaks the theory that the universe tends towards entropy, because it somehow manages to turn elementary chemical compounds into complex organisms and structures in front of our eyes.

True, it may seem as though people mostly tend to engage in disorderly behavior and destructiveness. But in general, the history of humanity has been one of constant progression towards the construction of complex things out of elementary ingredients. So why don’t scientists count living creatures as a fundamental part of the universe? If the universe were filled to capacity with living creatures, would we still say that it tends towards randomness and disorder? Or would we all agree that there is a strong tendency towards the creation of life and order?

Regardless of how many natural disasters befall humanity, we continue to advance the cause of creating order out of chaos. So, I’m proposing a theory of the Anti-Entropic Universe, which hypothesizes that the universe tends towards life and order and a minimum amount of entropy. If every action has a corresponding reaction, then perhaps life is the reaction to entropy. This theory doesn’t rely upon humans to do all the work. Rather, it theorizes that life tends to arise out of randomness and disorder and replace it with order. And, of course, gravity is a critical component in pulling elementary particles together in the first place. Now, picture that liquid metal terminator again and think about it on a universal scale. Gravity pulls matter together and life somehow emerges. I challenge scientists to try and disprove this theory.

What does this have to do with god? Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. If an all-­powerful deity does exist, then the point may be moot, since he can obviously create order or disorder as he pleases and the universe may have no particular tendency. However, the very existence of a god should be seen more of a confirmation that the universe tends towards life and order. If gods do not exist, then it is clearly of great significance that life has arisen in such abundance and diversity on our planet. How many other planets amongst the trillions of other star systems currently support life is merely a factor of probability and time. Either way, I cannot believe the current theory of entropy.

Over the past 25 years, scientists have observed the presence of many organic molecules, including amino acids and other biological constituents, in outer space and on extraterrestrial objects. These molecules have been observed within our solar system and it is reasonable to assume that they are distributed throughout the galaxy. Scientists are also reproducing in labs the physical conditions of outer space (very low temperature, high vacuum, high radiation) and discovering that some of the main building blocks of life arise spontaneously in many parts of the universe as products of cosmic chemistry. Therefore, when conditions on some extraterrestrial planet permit, these elements may be available for the possible development of life.

So, it appears as though the readiness to develop life is a normal condition of the universe. Given a lot of time, an accumulation of the right ingredients, and a reasonable range of temperatures, the creation of life may be the inevitable reaction to the existence of entropy.

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6 thoughts on “Entropy vs. Life

  1. Pingback: Planetary Cancer | Earth People are Crazy

  2. Linuxgal

    “I’m proposing a theory of the Anti-Entropic Universe, which hypothesizes that the universe tends towards life and order and a minimum amount of entropy.”

    The flaw in that theory is that you create a false dichotomy between life and entropy. It’s like you’re just looking at the front of your refrigerator, and focus on how cold it keeps your beer, and ignore the back of the refrigerator which is basically a space heater for your kitchen. Life may demonstrate order locally, but to get that order, it makes the larger environment much more disorderly than it would be without life. This mostly takes the form of twenty infrared photons flying off in the night sky for every green photon that arrives by day.

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  3. EarthVisitor Post author

    I like your comment. I do agree that life does also create disorder, but it can also create a kind of orderliness that would not otherwise occur randomly. So, the question is, will life eventually become so abundant that it will take over the universe and bring order to disorder? Or is life too uncommon to have an effect? Or, when life gets too abundant, will it result in massive conflict that brings a return to disorder?

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    1. Linuxgal

      Only 3.6 percent of the “stuff” in the universe is visible matter, of which life is composed. The rest is dark matter, which interacts only gravitationally (it forms no chemical bonds) and dark energy, which is found at every point in the universe and is distributed evenly, already at maximum disorder if you will. So even if life somehow brought order to the universe, it would only be, at best, an orderly 3.6 percent of the universe.

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