Question: "What are the laws of thermodynamics and how do they provide evidence for creationism?"
Answer: The laws of thermodynamics are concerned with heat, mechanical energy, and the conversion between the two. All physical, biological, and chemical processes known to man are subject to these laws. Science often speaks of four laws of thermodynamics, but only two have a meaningful connection to Christian faith.
The first law of thermodynamics, also known as the conservation of energy, states, “Nothing is now coming into existence or going out of existence; matter and energy may be converted into one another, but there is no net increase in the combined total of what exists.” In other words, even if matter is converted to energy and vice versa, there will never be an increase or decrease in the total amount.
So the question is, if matter and energy are neither created nor destroyed, then where did all the matter and energy in the universe come from? Either (a) the universe somehow came into existence without God, even though science has proved that it is impossible for something to arise out of nothing, (b) everything always existed in the universe, an idea that science has also proved impossible, or (c) God created it. The most reasonable and plausible explanation is that God created the universe and everything in it.
The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of a closed system cannot decrease: “Every system, left to its own devices, always tends to move from order to disorder, its energy tending to be transformed into lower levels of availability (for work), ultimately becoming totally random and unavailable for work.” Author and scientist Isaac Asimov explained, “The universe is constantly getting more disorderly! . . . All we have to do is nothing, and everything deteriorates, collapses, breaks down, wears out, all by itself—and that is what the second law is all about.” In other words, over time, everything tends toward disorder, randomness, and disorganization.
Naturalistic evolution demands that every physical system, from the atomic level on up, is the result of a spontaneous and increasingly complex and well-ordered process of assembly. Darwin suggested that living organisms, for instance, came about via a long string of infinitely complex, yet random, evolutionary processes.
Were earth an entirely closed system, such progression would be in complete violation of the second law of thermodynamics. It’s important to note, however, that our planet is not “closed,” in terms of thermodynamics, mostly due to its receiving energy from the sun. Where concepts such as naturalistic evolution run afoul of the second law of thermodynamics is on a general, large-scale view.
The trend, according to these physical laws, is that entropy is increasing, and thus natural processes must be breaking down, not building up (or evolving into something more complicated).
Simple observation empirically confirms the truth of the second law of thermodynamics. Paint on a house chips and peels. Dust builds up. The house itself falls into disrepair if preventative steps are not taken. Living things that die rot and decompose. We can see the results of the second law of thermodynamics before our very eyes every day.
Naturalistic evolution, however, requires more than just a simple change in entropy. Such a process is not the same as water freezing or the formation of salt crystals or dust collecting into a solar system. To evolve from non-life, matter on Earth would have to constantly, consistently, and directly move against the force of entropy. This can happen in relatively simple ways and for relatively simple processes in an open system like Earth. Such events happening a minute, delicate, specific, and constant manner don’t square with how this law functions in all other circumstances.
The other two laws of thermodynamics are irrelevant when it comes to questions of creation. The third law indicates that entropy approaches zero as absolute temperature drops to zero. The fourth law is often called the “zeroth law” since it is so fundamental. This indicates that thermodynamic equilibrium is associative; if two systems are each in equilibrium with a third system, they are also in equilibrium with each other.
Clearly, the simplest, most reasonable explanation of the laws of physics is creation. The Bible affirms creation by the one true God in the book of Genesis. So why do some believe in naturalistic evolution rather than creationism? Psalm 14:1 sums it up: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”