Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Entropy, Law and Theosis

The Second Law of thermodynamics states that entropy increases in time. Essentially, the longer things go on, the more disordered they become. The state of matter in the universe is, by and large, in an increasing transition from organised objects to random states. Ice melts, water evaporates, each state losing structure with time. Only at Absolute Zero can we guarantee no change.

Everything that we claim to have or possess rots or decays in some way. This goes for everyday things such as food reaching its “Best Before” date, or the wearing out of our shoes, to our lives as our bodies themselves follow the second law and age and wither. “For all flesh is as grass and all the glories of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth and the flower thereof falleth away.”

The information age is not immune to this increasing disorder. In the teaching profession, it is now the case where micromanagement designed to make things simpler is having the opposite effect. Many of my colleagues are required to hold so much information, yet more and more is being given to them. Many professions now suffer from information overload and the concomitant stresses. Yet the information they need to know may very well be important. Forgetting is both inevitable and damaging. It shouldn’t happen, but human frailty guarantees that it will happen.

Modern life is slowly getting more complicated by what it takes to live our lives. Sometimes the way we live life can actually get in the way of our living of life. Institutional Entropy is creeping into every aspect. Notice that more and more legislation is required to keep things from falling apart. Why legislation? Because the human will is corrupted: people find loopholes to make life easy for themselves and end up subverting the system to the detriment of others. In the United Kingdom, we can see this clearly at work in the Benefits system in which it has been possible for some to earn a living by not actually working for it, whereas those whom the system is supposed to help find themselves excluded! Likewise, the demands that Society recognise sex changes have major implications on the privacy and protection of the interests of those who were born female. Feminism and Transgenderism are about to come into direct conflict, and the result is not likely to be very pretty. Issues in family planning arise because of the dissonance between the sanctity of human life and the needs of women to be protected from sexual exploitation.

Many folk, particularly modernists, fail to appreciate the majesty of the Mosaic Law because they look at it with the reductionist eye of a micromanager. There seems to be a point of view that all the “Thou shalt”s and “Thou shalt not”s are arbitrary and without any compassion. This is not true. The Law of Moses was designed by God from His goodness to show the Hebrews that they were God’s people, to separate them out from cultures that were not of God and to help them to see the character of God and what He intends for them. The book of Deuteronomy is full of blessings that God’s law promises.

As St Paul reminds us, it is also that Law that reminds us that we are fallen and very far from the righteousness of God. God shows us what it takes, and also that our fallen will cannot match up to it. This is why Pelagius was so very, very wrong. Our free-will cannot save us – only the reconciling sacrifice of Christ can redeem us and the grace of God to keep His divine call going throughout our lives can draw us to working out our salvation in fear and trembling before Him. It is the perversity of mankind that complicates legal systems. We may all have the right intentions, but they simply are not enough to keep us in the Law of God. The Law shows us what is God and what is not-God. The destiny of mankind is theosis – to become like God, as St John tells us very clearly: to be like God we need God and we need His constant grace in order to choose the right path for ourselves.

We need our will to be plugged in and subordinated to God for it to work out that salvation. As the Deuteronomical curses show, we can still pull the plug out through our sins which is why the activity of repentance is so necessary. Sin increases the turbulence of our lives and tears us away from the divine likeness. However, we need to know that we have sinned in order to repent. That is where the Law comes in, and it is the sacrifice of Christ that ensures that we can still plug ourselves into Him. He keeps His wounds open for us, so that we may always find our way back to Life, our way back to seeing Him as He really is, and our way to becoming like Him.

Mankind cannot transgress the second law of thermodynamics, but for God all things are possible. We are not saved by our good works, that much is true, but if we are justified by faith as St Paul tells us, then that faith can only ever be an active faith and never passive as St James tells us. All good works have their source from God: all evil works have their source in the Nothing. The more good there is in the world, the more people will benefit, and the more order there will be. Remember that the Law becomes irrelevant if people naturally keep it of their own free will. There will be no need to legislate against theft because people won’t want to steal. Thus the Law of God becomes a law like physical laws such as Ohm’s Law, Hook’s Law and even The Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Physical Laws are merely descriptors of how things work; they do not dictate that this is how things must work. The Law of God in a perfect society will be just the same – a descriptor of how things are. Thus the more good that each human being does, the more order does that one bring into the world and the more closely is the Law of God seen to be fulfilled. We remember that Christ Himself has fulfilled the Law on our behalf, and it is our journey to becoming like Him that we too will be freed from the Law. The more good that a person does brings that one into a better likeness of Christ because doing that good comes from a will affected by God’s goodness.

Of course, we do worry about the laws being passed in the world today, such as the laws that will kill a person for not being a Moslem as practised in Syria to the laws of Nigeria which will criminalise homosexuality. The only way that we can truly oppose such laws is by prayer and fidelity to the laws of God Who is the only One who can say from His own nature what is truly good.

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