RE: [asa] Thermodynamics & Eternal Universe - A Question

From: George Cooper <>
Date: Wed Oct 01 2008 - 14:38:09 EDT

My understanding of what physicists favor is that the 2nd law is very limited in its application to the universe since the universe is not demonstrably a closed system. The conservation laws are local laws addressed from single reference frames.

Yet, the application of the 2nd law is certainly not all non-sense because it seems clear that the net entropy of the universe only increases with age (even during a collapsing scenario, I assume), which puts no small burden on someone to show how this irreversibility gets reversed. :)

Given that the universe is accelerating in its expansion, the implication does not favor an oscillating universe view. Of course, if Dark Engery poops-out in the future, then there may still be a chance of collapse though the critical density is very close to a flat universe now.


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Christine Smith
Sent: Wednesday, October 01, 2008 12:38 PM
Subject: [asa] Thermodynamics & Eternal Universe - A Question

Hi all,

A quick question to all the physicists out there...I was reading one of the articles on the ASA faith-science new blog, and came across the following:

"Materialistic explanations of the universe have to rely on one of two explanations for where the universe came from. The first is that the universe is eternal. This idea runs into problems almost immediately because of the second law of thermodynamics. This law states that the useable energy in a closed system is constantly decreasing, which means that an eternally old universe would have run out of useful energy by now. To solve this problem, some physicists argue that the universe can reset itself periodically by collapsing and re-forming in what is known as an oscillating universe. While there are logical problems with this idea (see William Lane Craig’s The Kalam Cosmological Argument), it still leaves us with our current universe having a starting point."

My question is...if the universe is argued to be eternal, does the 2nd law of thermodynamics even make sense to begin with? I'm having a hard time conceptualizing the argument without a reference to time, as in "why should we assume the energy would have run out by now?...what if we're close to the beginning of eternity?"

Thanks ahead of time for your responses :)
In Christ,
Christine (ASA member, who's definitely not a physicist)

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Received on Wed Oct 1 14:38:33 2008

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