Religious Contexts of Thermodynamics and Cosmology
Helge S. Kragh, University of Aarhus, DenmarkSeries : Science, Technology and Culture, 1700–1945
Entropic Creation is the first English-language book to consider the cultural and religious responses to the second law of thermodynamics, from around 1860 to 1920. According to the second law of thermodynamics, as formulated by the German physicist Rudolf Clausius, the entropy of any closed system will inevitably increase in time, meaning that the system will decay and eventually end in a dead state of equilibrium. Application of the law to the entire universe, first proposed in the 1850s, led to the prediction of a future ‘heat death’, where all life has ceased and all organization dissolved. In the late 1860s it was pointed out that, as a consequence of the heat death scenario, the universe can have existed only for a finite period of time. According to the ‘entropic creation argument’, thermodynamics warrants the conclusion that the world once begun or was created. It is these two scenarios, allegedly consequences of the science of thermodynamics, which form the core of this book.