Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge & Truth
|Mirza Tahir Ahmad|
Entropy and the Finite Universe
T HAS BEEN clearly demonstrated that the entire universe would be drawn back into a black hole, which later on would explode into another Big Bang releasing its entrapped mass once again. From this the reader may be misled to believe that the universe, thus appearing and disappearing periodically, will live on and on forever. What follows will eliminate any such misconception of a never-ending universe.
It can be mathematically proved that this universe which we occupy can never be eternal in relation to its past, nor can it be eternal in relation to its future. To elaborate this point further we need to explain the scientific definition of the term ‘entropy’. Entropy simply means that the material universe, in whatever form it exists, continuously loses an infinitesimal part of its mass in the form of escaped energy which can never be retrieved again.
All things that exist interact with each other under certain conditions. For hydrogen and oxygen to produce water is one of the simplest examples of elemental interaction. When a molecule of water is created by mixing hydrogen and oxygen, it releases part of the energy which had gone into its making.
If hydrogen is made to burn in a jar full of oxygen by blowing a jet of burning hydrogen into it, it will burn only till the time that the oxygen is exhausted. What is left into the bargain is water. While this chemical reaction takes place, it releases energy. To convert water again into hydrogen and oxygen can only be possible if the amount of energy which was released during the synthesis of water is re-supplied to separate the constituents of water, i.e. oxygen and hydrogen, once again.
In all these cases there is no permanent loss of energy. This is not what is referred to as the loss of energy through entropy. The long and short of this is that every chemical reaction either releases energy or absorbs it, and all such exchanges of energy do not produce any permanent waste. But there is some loss of energy which is constant and irreversible. It has nothing to do with normal chemical reactions. Instead of going into the scientific complexities of how this happens, the reader is advised to visualize a hot body gradually cooling off. If it cools to the level of the ambient temperature of the atmosphere, a state of equilibrium will be reached. The flow of heat from the hot body to the cool atmosphere cannot reverse itself. It is always heat which flows in the direction of cold. When at last the entire heat of the universe would have thus exhausted itself reaching a state of equilibrium, no further exchange of heat would remain possible and no chemical reaction could be visualized. It is this to which scientists refer as the ‘heat death’ of the universe.
The quantum of the consumed energy of the universe continues to rise and the quantum of the consumable energy of the entire universe continues to fall. Hence a time may come, however remote, when the entire universe will ultimately sink into an inert state which could never be revitalized into its previous form of material existence. No action would ever take place, no reaction would ever be possible. This is another name for absolute death or nothingness.
To have an idea of how infinitesimal this loss of energy is, the reader should remember that even scientists have to estimate it with the help of complex mathematics. For them the universe remains practically the same in weight and mass as it was twenty billion years ago. The escaped energy can be measured with reference to the ambient temperature of the universe, which is a mere 4°K up to this point in time. This means that there is no space in the knowable universe which has a temperature lower that 4°K. So energy that would flow in the direction of this lowest temperature, would become a part of it and could never be lifted up again to higher degree of existence. Whether one is able to understand this mathematical jargon or not, of this one must be certain that the universe is constantly losing something which can never be recycled. It can never be added back to the mass of the universe again.
AVING EXPLAINED entropy enough for the purpose of this book, we now draw the attention of the reader to its inevitable conclusion. Prior to the full comprehension of entropy, the majority of scientists had believed that there was no need for a Creator because all forms of existence continued to exist eternally. Now a better understanding of entropy has revolutionized this view of at least some of the members of the scientific community. The rest somehow avoid confronting the problem. Eternity can be examined in its relation to the past as well as to that of its future. The scientists who believe matter to be eternal, believe it to be eternal with reference to both its past and its future. This means that when we look back, no point can be conceived as the beginning of anything that exists. Eternity has no beginning nor has it an end.
Thus the scientific myth of the eternity of matter has been exploded out of existence by the discovery of the principle of entropy. Even if this universe were somehow conceived to be eternal, it would continue to lose its mass incessantly under the effect of entropy. Logically this can only mean that it should become non-existent at a time eternally remote from us. Looking back at the past from any point in time, eternity will appear as endless as it would appear when viewed from another point in time. In other words, eternity can never be chased to any moment in time beyond which it does not exist. Anyone can imagine himself chasing eternity backwards in time. Even if he travels in the direction of the past for trillions times trillions times trillions of years, sitting on the shoulders of light, he could never find its other end. If he did he should rest assured he was barking up the wrong tree—it was not eternity he was chasing!
Now imagine him once again, travelling backwards in search of a universe. If he ever finds one, eternity would snatch it away from his hand and shove it back onto the path of endlessness yet again. A difficult idea to conceive but in reality it is quite simple and easy to understand. If such a hypothetical traveller in time finds any trace of the universe, he should inquire from himself as to why this universe had not dwindled out of existence long before he had caught up with it. The traveller could easily work out that beyond that point in time, entropy had enough time left to swallow an endless number of such universes.
Imagine a colossal figure big enough to accommodate a myriad of gigantic time steps and try to fill eternity with them. The figure will, most certainly, come to an end but not eternity. Even if entropy required a trillion raised to the power of a trillion years to bring about the ‘heat death’ of the universe, it would still be inevitable. Now return from this hypothetical pursuit into the past to the present and enquire from yourself why does this universe around you exist at this point in time? Should it not have been completely destroyed by entropy so that it could not have continued to escape detection during its flight into the endless past?
Yet there is another point to be borne in mind. Entropy or no entropy, the theoretical scientists who once believed that protons were ageless, have reached a consensus of opinion that protons too have a definite span of age which they cannot transcend. Whether their age is 1032 or 1034 years is immaterial; even if it were estimated to be one hundred thousand raised to the power of one hundred thousand, if they were ever created, they would still come to an end at last. If they were never created however—and existed eternally—then the hand of entropy should have annihilated them an endless number of years before.
Wastefulness and eternity cannot go hand in hand. Everything wasteful must come to an end. But lo! We are here, both the writer of these words and the reader at this moment in time. The universe which gave birth to us has no right to occupy this point in time along with all the inanimate forms of existence, if it were eternal.
Some may find it perplexing but it is a simple question of a mathematical equation. A wasteful body cannot be eternal. If it is eternal, it cannot be wasteful. The only option left to us is to believe in an Eternal Creator Who is beyond and above the reach of entropy and wastefulness. Surprisingly, this is the same inescapable conclusion which was drawn by Aristotle two thousand and four hundred years before us. It remains as valid today as it was during his time.
For the sake of further elucidation, we return to the scenario of the Big Bang perpetually giving birth to a new universe after it has swallowed the previous one. The point to be emphasized is simply this: every time a gigantic black hole pulls back the universe into its abysmal depths, it cannot pull back that quantum of energy which has been thrown out of circulation by entropy prior to this event. Nor can it feed back to the universe at the time of its explosion the same amount of mass it had swallowed. The unbelievably large forces at work beyond the event horizon accelerate the rate of loss by entropy by the same proportion. So the emerging mass from the event horizon on a new day of the creation of the universe would be certainly less in mass than that which had sunk into it. That portion of it having been devoured by entropy is forever lost. Hence, at every new eruption of the universe from a new black hole, the universe thus created has to be smaller than the preceding one. Evidently this phenomenon cannot go on repeating itself endlessly. It will be reduced to a size, at long last, which may not have sufficient mass left for it to collapse into another black hole.
Will that tiny leftover continue to exist eternally? Certainly not, is the answer. All that is left of anything would be finally finished off by entropy. It would happen thus because if there is no Creator, no beginning of the universe can ever be visualized. If no beginning for it can be visualized, then it has to have existed eternally. But the factors mentioned above would have completely annihilated it forever before this moment in time. Every finite thing has an end and should have disappeared into the bottomless pit of eternal nothingness. If so, there is no justification for the existence of anything today. How could we have survived the all-smiting hand of entropy which spares naught? If annihilated once, how would we materialize yet again from the limitless void of nothingness? It is the Eternal Creator alone Whom the hand of entropy can never touch. His form of existence has to be completely different from that of everything else which He has created or will ever create. The moment He is conceived to have created any substance like unto Him, His substantial existence cannot be proclaimed as eternal. Hence when we talk of black holes or entropy, we talk only of the creation and not of the Creator. Whatever is created cannot make the Creator. He has to be the Prime Cause of every finite creation.
The event of the ultimate black hole exploding asunder into yet another universe requires the scenario of a ‘shut’ universe. According to this, the universe continues to expand not limitlessly, but up to a point in time when the centrifugal force which is throwing the universe apart is ultimately offset by the mightier centripetal gravitational pull.
Scientists who reject this ‘shut’ scenario of the universe believe in the ‘open’ universe, which means that the mass of the universe will continue to expand until it scatters out far too thinly to be attracted back by any central gravitational force. This will sap the concentration of energy per space unit to a degree that the creation of a new black hole would become impossible. Even if this ‘open’ image of the universe is accepted, entropy cannot be done away with. However scattered the universe may become and whatever unimaginably long period it may take, entropy would ultimately catch up with it, because wherever matter exists it still remains subjected to the influence of entropy. Hence, whatever the mode of the universe, ‘open’ or ‘shut’, it cannot be eternal. Thus the Quranic statement:
He is the Prime Cause of creation, Who created the heavens and the earth…1
Everything which began from Him must come to an end but not He.
All that exists upon this earth is to perish,
Except for the countenance of thy Lord, the Possessor of Glory, the Possessor of Honour.2
The dilemma of entropy as against the existence of the universe, can only be resolved by the solution that the Quran offered fourteen hundred years ago. It is not just a repeating universe that is being created from what is left of the previous universe. Each time it is created anew by the same Creator, Who brings it to an end after it has served the purpose for which it was designed. Amazingly the Holy Quran made this pronouncement during an age of utter ignorance. It is statements like these which illustrate how the realm of the unknown is being constantly transformed to that of the known. Though unnoticed and unappreciated for more than a thousand years, they suddenly seem to have come to life in our modern age of exploration and discovery, as if it was here that they had always belonged.
Another interesting point to note is that despite the great advancement of science in the last few hundred years, even by the turn of this century, scientists continued to believe in the indestructibility of the atom. This remained so until the current century advanced and scientists were able to split the atom. With the consequent nuclear holocausts the myth of the indestructibility of the atom was exploded once and for all. But even after that, the destructibility of protons began to emerge merely as a mathematical probability. Some meagre evidence has just started to trickle through the highly costly deep subterranean experimental tunnels.
Huge, extremely expensive experiments are being carried out to observe the possible decay of protons and it is considered only a matter of time before scientists are able to finally demonstrate their destructibility and estimate their age. In what form they decay and whether that decayed matter will be recyclable or not, are issues for the future generations of scientists to decide. Hence protons are not as immortal, after all, as they were once thought to be.
As for the Quran, this issue was categorically settled fourteen hundred years ago. Everything which is created must have an age and must come to an end. It is God alone Who creates from nothing and returns to nothing whatever He creates, if and when He so desires.
It is one of the fascinating styles of the Quran that it employs terminology and expressions far ahead of the time that they were coined by humans. In the modern world, everyone is familiar with the scientific practice of showing the date of expiry of many things which are manufactured, built or prepared. For instance, when bridges are built, even before their inauguration, their age is predetermined by the engineers who built them and often etched upon their pillars. This also is the case for automobiles, railway engines, tracks and the paraphernalia that goes with them. In fact, everything that man wears or consumes has an age which can be scientifically predetermined. Nowadays, even food sold in cans, cartons or bottles, shows the date of its expiry.
No wonder therefore that the Creator of the universe should know the intricacies of His creation. The style and terminology of the Quran seems so fresh and contemporary. In short, the inviolable principle of the finiteness of the universe is proclaimed that whatever begins must come to an end. Whatever is created must decay into nothingness at last. The beginning and the end of everything is already recorded in the Book of the grand plan of creation.
Remember the day when We shall roll up the heavens like the rolling up of written scrolls by a scribe. As We began the first creation, so shall We repeat it—a promise binding upon Us; We shall certainly perform it.3
OW we quote some eminent scientists in support of what we have claimed in the foregoing passages. Paul Davies, Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Adelaide, and winner of the prestigious Templeton Prize states:
‘These problems began to force themselves on scientists during the mid-nineteenth century. Until then the physicists had dealt with laws that are symmetric in time, displaying no favoritism between past and future. Then the investigation of the thermodynamic processes changed that for good. At the heart of thermodynamics lies the second law, which forbids heat to flow spontaneously from cold to hot bodies, while allowing it to flow from hot to cold. This law is therefore not reversible: it imprints upon the universe an arrow of time, pointing the way of unidirectional change. Scientists were quick to draw the conclusion that the universe is engaged in a one-way slide toward a state of thermodynamic equilibrium. This tendency toward uniformity, wherein temperatures even out and the universe settles into a stable state, became known as the “heat death.” It represents a state of maximum molecular disorder, or entropy. The fact that the universe has not yet so died—that is, it is still in a state of less-than-maximum entropy—implies that it cannot have endured for all eternity.’4
Also in the book God and the New Physics, he writes:
‘Physicists have invented a mathematical quantity called entropy to quantify disorder, and many careful experiments verify that the total entropy in a system never decreases.’5
‘If the universe has a finite stock of order, and is changing irreversibly towards disorder—ultimately to thermodynamic equilibrium—two very deep inferences follow immediately. The first is that the universe will eventually die, wallowing, as it were, in its own entropy. This is known among physicists as the “heat death” of the universe. The second is that the universe cannot have existed for ever, otherwise it would have reached its equilibrium end state an infinite time ago. Conclusion: the universe did not always exist.’6
Professor Edward Kessel, Chairman of the University of San Francisco writes:
‘… life is still going on, and chemical and physical processes are still in progress, it is evident that our universe could not have existed from eternity, else it would have long since run out of useful energy and ground to a halt. Therefore, quite un-intentionally, science proves that our universe had a beginning. And in so doing it proves the reality of God, for whatever had a beginning did not begin of itself but demands a Prime Mover, a Creator, a God.’7
From the above-quoted excerpt it becomes quite clear that on the issue of the existence of God, there is sound scientific evidence to support belief in Him. This contention is securely based on the very information the so-called non-committed scientists have revealed after thorough investigation. It is up to them to willfully shut their eyes to the only conclusion which can be drawn from it:
There has to be a Creator of this universe or nothing including ourselves can exist at any point in time.
- Translation of 2:118 by the author.
- Translation of 55:27–28 by the author.
- Translation of 21:105 by Maulawi Sher Ali.
- DAVIES, P. (1992) The Mind of God: Science and The Search for the Ultimate Meaning. Penguin Books Ltd., England, p.47
- DAVIES, P. (1990) God and the New Physics. Penguin Books Ltd., England, p.10
- DAVIES, P. (1990) God and the New Physics. Penguin Books Ltd., England, p.11
- KESSEL, E.L. (1968) Lets Look at Facts, without Bent or Bias. In: The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe by Monsma, J.C. Thomas Samuel Publishers, India, p.51