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  • Kari G.

Progress

I'm about to get into some science real quick, so bear with me. I am not a physicist, but what I am about to start with (to bring to light a larger point...hopefully) is one of the most UN-argued and evidence-driven laws scientists have been able to identify. A dear friend of mine who home-schools her kids was going through the curriculum and was struck by this as I was: It is the second law of thermodynamics. So real quick: thermodynamics is the branch of physical science that deals with the relations between heat and other forms of energy (such as mechanical, electrical, or chemical energy), and, by extension, it deals with the relationships between all forms of energy. So basically: everything we do, ways we move, act, speak, etc. here while we are in the universe.

"The second law of thermodynamics says that when energy changes from one form to another form, or matter moves freely, entropy (disorder) in a closed system increases". (source here)

Entropy is disorder. And this is saying that our universe - as we continue to live and breathe and energy is transferred - is moving away from order to disorder. Many athiest and "chance evolution" philosophers (and group in others who like to philosophize about our existence) like to ponder perhaps the universe is eternal and has no purposeful force behind it, but this law has a very clear implication that there has to be a beginning where there was order. Maybe we actually did not come from a place of chaos and are becoming more orderly...physically speaking and morally speaking (I'll get there). In variant ways we are becoming less orderly and farther away from our origin...

I found this articulation that brings this revelation to light:

"The second law of thermodynamics does not just contradict evolutionary theory—it also reinforces the creationist explanation of origins. First, the second law suggests that the universe had a beginning. “If the entire universe,” says Brown, “is an isolated system, then, according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the energy in the universe that is available for useful work has always been decreasing. However, as one goes back in time, the amount of energy available for useful work would eventually exceed the total energy in the universe that, according to the First Law of Thermodynamics, remains constant. This is an impossible condition. Therefore, it implies that the universe had a beginning.” Second, the second law of thermodynamics suggests that the universe began as a highly ordered system. Wilder-Smith says, “The second law of thermodynamics seems thus to describe the whole situation of our present material world perfectly and the Bible very clearly confirms this description. For example, Romans 8:22–23 teaches us that the whole creation is subjected to ‘vanity’ or to destruction. Everything tends to go downhill to chaos and destruction as things stand today.” (source here)"

So physically speaking, we had a beginning. It was order. We are moving away from that into disorder. I'd like to argue the same is true for our moral progress.

C.S. Lewis throws this truth bomb: "We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest in the most progressive" (Mere Christianity).

Y'all: progress starts with turning back. Back to order, back to the beginning. Back to the way it was intended. We think we are in progress, but the farther we are from the origin - from a physical and moral point of view - we find chaos, disorder, personal distress, strife. Not only did our universe START with perfect order and is continually spiraling out, it is happening in each of us: starting with the fall when sin entered and the enemy started to occupy this world and our hearts. Now, with the enemy continuing to blind and speak lies to us, well we look at the world and think we are making progress; left to our own devices we will eat the apple, deny and reject God. However, the only way to find order and true meaning is to look back at the beginning, the Creator and the heart as to why we were created. Progress is only as good as the path we are on. Turns out that progress is actually harder than we would like it to be, and so we often switch paths, or walk askew to the right one.

That is why we are asked to repent - continually turn back to the Lord and away from our ways. Because we are letting sin, a desire to be God, drive us onto our own path. This path is chaos and calamity - it is self-destructing. Even if we see material gain or momentary gladness while we are here, it is wedging us farther and farther from a real satisfaction, and most importantly an eternal place in the Kingdom of God.

And we have to be reminded OVER and OVER again to return to the Lord. Our hearts are so wicked and deceitful, that it's hard to remember the direction we need to go:

Deuteronomy 4:30

When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice.

Job 22:23

If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored.

Isaiah 31:6

Return to Him from whom you have deeply defected, O sons of Israel.

Hosea 14:1

Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity.

Luke 13:3

No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

And our heart wants to hear these "rationals" for deterring from the Lord. Sin in our heart causes us to wander and we will grasp onto anything that aligns with our flesh:
Proverbs 14:12

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

Isaiah 53:6

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way.

2 Timothy 4:3-4

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

So...true progress is growing in the right direction; becoming more the way we were created to be, more like our Creator...more Christ-like. Funnily enough, the Lord has already called us to this progress through sanctification. He calls us to be like HIM. So we find, it's only progress if it's movement toward Him. Even though it took us centuries to discover that the world is moving toward disorder through science, the truth has been communicated to us from the very beginning. That is what is fascinating about the Word of God. His Word isn't being looked back on as relevant because we want to prove a point, it isn't being given a new meaning in light of what we do or don't like...it is so deeply true in every respect and it always has been - the very One who breathed out the Bible knew what was going on then, what is going on today and what is to come. And while externally it may seem like a lot has changed for the better (technology, medicine, civilization, transportation), our hardened hearts haven't. When I see that truth ring so evidently in light of my walk on this earth, it creates conviction to live according to that undeniable truth.

BUT walking against the current is hard. Not just to hold firm, but it is so hard to watch others "progress" in this backwards way that correlates with my good ol' law of thermodynamics: farther away from the origin and into chaos. It's hard to know that Christ at the forefront, turning to the right path, is the answer. It's hard to see it; it's hard to live alongside it; it's hard to truly love others who are running away from the Lord - even outwardly against the Lord - and we so badly want to turn them back. I have to constantly remind myself though:
The strong current does not have the Holy Spirit in them, and not everyone will receive Him. These individuals do not live with the convictions that I do. They are blind. The enemy works hard to keep them that way. It is up to the Lord to quicken their hearts and open their eyes. I was once blind (and rebellious), too. So I empathize.
I need to first and foremost be gentle with them. Have patience and show grace sharing in that I, too, used to cling to darkness. I pray that I first lead with grace - lead with love, showing them Christ's power in my life - THEN share truth. Don't get me wrong: I also pray that I not shy away from boldly showing the power of Christ in my life and sharing truth. I don't intend for this to mean I hide my faith - rather let it be less of me and more of Him through me; and He is gracious, patient and merciful as much as He is the truth.
And lastly, repentance is a daily intention: I am still a sinner in need of my Savior. Every day is a day to turn back. Every moment is a moment needed to repent from walking away from the Lord. I am not done turning back. I am no better than the one who hasn't yet turned back for the first time. I have nothing apart from the Holy Spirit. If it weren't for Him, there would be no progress at all in any of us.
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