Why is there so much chaos in our world? Our bodies fail us, weeds overtake the garden, and when left alone, so much of our world tends toward disorder. Why does God allow entropy? He must have a plan.
Chaos in the Garden
Well into Spring, it’s the time of year where the the excitement of a newly planted garden is fading, and the weeds are coming in. In our yard, we get this bindweed that spreads so fast and has roots so deep that it is difficult to stop without extreme measures.
Whenever I am pulling weeds, I can’t help but wonder, “Why do these even exist?!” They seem evil.
It amazes me that a tree cut to a stump will die and rot; however, any fragment of these weeds that remain will spread and grow right back!
It seems backwards. The good takes so much work to grow, while the bad takes constant attention to prevent!
This reminds me of the concept of entropy. Entropy is the tendency of the world, when left alone, to be disordered, chaotic, or random.
Entropy is seen easily in the garden where neat rows turn to a random mess and tangle of weeds. But this is happening all around us as energy dissipates and spreads out.
Why does God allow entropy? Is it part of His plan? Was there entropy in the garden of Eden?
Why Does God Allow Entropy?
Entropy is a law of thermodynamics, built into the way the world is; therefore, I’d imagine that it always existed. Some claim that it is a product of the fall, because in Eden man and woman were meant to live forever. They did not toil and labor as they were commanded to later.
I like to think that entropy was there all along, but God was actively holding off the chaos by constantly ordering the world for the original man. After all, evil did exist prior to Eden with the fallen angels who rebelled. Hence, we have the serpent.
“Cursed is the ground because of you!
In toil you shall eat its yield
all the days of your life.Thorns and thistles it shall bear for you,
and you shall eat the grass of the field.By the sweat of your brow
you shall eat bread,
Until you return to the ground,
from which you were taken;
For you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
Once Adam and Eve fell in original sin, God allowed this chaos to creep in a little more. We are left to toil, and we fight daily against concupiscence. But why?
3 Reasons God Allows Entropy
It seems like God allows more chaos after the fall as just consequence, but there is also good that comes from this. Here are my three ideas for why God allows entropy.
1. To Show us His Goodness
If we were only ever surrounded by order, would we notice it? How about chaos?
The opposite being present is what makes us notice something, like black ink on white paper.
I believe that God allows chaos and disorder to make his goodness and love stand out.
I like to picture stone walls in the woods of New England. Through piles of windblown leaves and a forest of trees, when you come across an old rock wall, it stands out. You know immediately that it was created by someone. There is no way that all of the stones in an entire field randomly found themselves stacked to mark a perfectly straight edge of an old property.
Similarly, when we see order in this world, it should remind us that someone must have put it in that order: a newborn baby’s perfect features, the sun on the horizon, the moon and stars, or number of natural beauty.
This also makes the fact of salvation history, Jesus fulfilling the hundreds of Old Testament prophesies, all the more amazing and impossible to ignore!
While we recognize God’s order in history and nature, we can also partake in His work of ordering it through our labor.
As stated in Genesis, we have to toil now, but that does not mean that order is impossible.
Entropy prevents us from sitting back and doing nothing. It is an excellent motivation.
If we stop, we are actually moving backwards. This is true of the weeds in the garden, dust and clutter in the house, or any aspect of our physical life.
Being made in God’s image and likeness, we are able to participate in his ordering of the world, to create! We make beautiful works of art. Cathedrals, paintings, sculptures, and even stories written on the page take on even more meaning because we ordered them in contrast to the chaos.
G. K. Chesterton points out that this artistic ability is what sets us apart from animals as made in God’s image. Birds build nests, but not little statues of birds outside of their nests.
Against entropy, we are motivated to create art, and also to work to maintain those creations.
In the midst of our fight against entropy in the world around us, we are given hope that the toil will end.
We can see that weren’t created for this world, but for a new Heaven and a new Earth. The Catechism reminds us that “the universe itself will be renewed” (CCC 1042), and St. Paul tells the Romans “that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21).
God Allows Entropy for Beauty
In an article on entropy, author James Clear says the following:
Entropy offers a good explanation for why art and beauty are so aesthetically pleasing. Artists create a form of order and symmetry that, odds are, the universe would never generate on its own. It is so rare in the grand scheme of possibilities. The number of beautiful combinations is far less than the number of total combinations…
Beauty is rare and unlikely in a universe of disorder. And this gives us good reason to protect art. We should guard it and treat it as something sacred.
This sums it up nicely. If something is ordered, it is undoubtedly a miracle.
Even if something is logically created by a human, within the realms of physics, it is still miraculous – because that something points to someone.
It might be man who made the rock wall. But it is God who ordered the brain so that the neurons would fire and tell the body to place the stones in their location. It is art and beauty.