Science in Christian Perspective
A Moral Analogy to the Second Law of Thermodynamics
2922 Summer St.
Eureka, California 95501
From: JASA 31
(March 1979): 60
Morality in many ways follows the second law of thermodynamics. To see this we must consider: the role of the sun and its relationship to chlorophyll and the physical world, the sun - Son (God) analogy, the hierarchy or moral energy gradient of human relations, the effect of allowing human relationships to run their own course, the Body of Christ-chlorophyll analogy, and the purpose of the Body of Christ.
We find on a physical basis that the spontaneous processes that are the actual events of the real world always lead to states that are less ordered, more probable and represent less information than the states in which they began. This is one statement of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. We see that if it were not for the fact that the sun expends such tremendous amounts of energy and that the chlorophyll in green plants along with some B.C. algal "capture" this energy, life on this planet could not maintain its present complexity. This high order of organization is possible only as long as energy is provided which drives the chemical reactions up the energy gradient and against the natural tendency.
In our analogy Christ (God) is the moral equivalent to the sun. Just as the sun provides energy needed to drive reactions against the natural tendency, Christ (God) provides not only the moral energy to drive human interactions against their natural tendency, but He also provides the knowledge of what the hierarchy of human relationships is (i.e. which type of relationships require the most moral energy and which type of interactions will result from natural human tendencies left unchecked). This energy He provides is the love of Christ who first loved us and the energy gradient reference is his righteousness. What then is this moral energy gradient? At the top of the scale (high moral energy end) we see such verses as Matt. 22:36-40, Luke 6:27,28 and Phil. 2:3,4. The idea here is that we should treat our fellow man in as respectable a way as possible, giving each other as much dignity and worth as can be afforded one who is human. In other words, uplifting that part of us which we have in common with God, our image (i.e. ability to love and have dialogue, etc.). This has the effect of bridging the separation which resulted as a consequence of the fall. Therefore with this bridge of Christ's love expressed by us we see that dialogue follows bringing a sense of meaning with it to the individuals involved.
At the bottom end of the moral energy scale we see dehumanizing phenomenon. There is no dialogue and people are looked upon as things to be used or manipulated. There is an ego-centeredness, lust of the flesh, and a "thingizing" of people. When a society maintains this level of moral energy for long it will eventually destroy itself. On an individual level we see this as a basic mistrust of others, an insecurity about the actions of others towards oneself.
We see that the high moral end of the scale is difficult to maintain because the natural tendency is to degrade to the bottom end. This is, or course, due to the fallenness of man. The effects of this rejection of righteousness are evident in our society today. The ego-centeredness of man has lessened human dialogue, thus widening the gap between individuals, and has increased the sense of meaningless so evident today.
How then does the role of the Body of Christ fit into our situation? Just as the chlorophyll captures the electromagnetic radiation from the sun, the Body of Christ should capture the righteousness of God. It should have as its task the maintaining of right relationships between God and man and therefore between man and man. Just as chlorophyll is held together with bonds (and thereby maintains its effectiveness) the Body of Christ is held together by a bond. This bond is the love of Christ expressed by the members for one another. It is therefore evident that any weakening of this bond has the same effect as rejecting the righteousness of God (i.e. moral degraduation). As far as the role of chlorophyll in the physical world goes, it is evident that it is useful only to the extent that it participates at the base of the food chain in some primary producers. So it is with the Body of Christ. Its ability to provide moral energy is related to the extent to which it participates at the base level of human interactions. One unfortunate difference between the actions of the chlorophyll and the Body of Christ is that chlorophyll is at the ground level of all of the living physical world whereas the Body of Christ has too often been limited to only one aspect of human living, theology. In other words we need to see the righteousness and love of God at the ground level of every discipline. We also need to see more inter- disciplinary dialogue. The center of this for the Christian is the Body of Christ whose members see the Body as the starting point for discussion.