The First Law of Thermodynamics tells us that “all energy in the system is conserved”. Aka, since the propagation of the Universe from the “Big Bang”, as scientists would call it, or “Creation”, as religious folk might call it, the energy in the Universe has remained equivalent. And I’m referencing a scientific and religious context here because that time point, time point zero, is difficult to look into from a science perspective and thus does not have conclusive evidence to validate (that’s why it’s a theory) but from a religious perspective it can be explained (not logically, but on faith) as an origin point where the ‘divine’ became the ‘material’. Anywho, this is the most basic premise in all of our shared reality. The complex system we are all apart of, the Universe, had a definable amount of energy from time point zero, to the moment just after time point zero, to now. Thus far, nothing we have observed refutes this fundamental Law of Nature. And, likely, nothing will. But, if the energy available in the system is always infinitely available, why then do things change?
The Second Law of Thermodynamics tells us that “energy of a higher order will always move towards a state of lower order”. Scientists use the term ‘entropy’ to describe this, which makes the terminology confusing if you were never trained in this way of thinking. They’ll say that the “entropy of a system is always increasing”, and what that really means is that “the energy of a system is moving towards a lower order” from the reference point of where it started. There are important reasons why scientists use this terminology, but for simplicity we are just going to talk in reference to energy exchange. Let’s look at the time point zero as our reference point, though we can’t accurately describe it. If the First Law is to be true, then time point zero held all the energy of the Universe. If the Second Law is to be true, then the moment following time point zero saw the release of all of that energy outward, into the Vacuum, or maybe you’d like me to call it the Void.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light”: and there was light.
And God saw the light, and it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.
Lingxian, Zhang Heng
Before the Great Plainness came to be, there was dark limpidity and mysterious quiescence, dim and dark. No image of it can be formed. Its midst was void; its exterior was non-existence. Things remained thus for long ages; this is called obscurity. It was the root of the Dao… When the stem of the Dao had been grown, creatures came into being and shapes were formed. At this stage, the original qi split and divided, hard and soft first divided, pure and turbid took up different positions. Heaven formed on the outside, and Earth became fixed within. Heaven took its body from the Yang, so it was round and in motion; Earth took its body from the Yin, so it was flat and quiescent. Through motion there was action and giving forth; through quiescence there was conjoining and transformation. Through binding together there was fertilization, and in time all the kinds of things were brought to growth. This is called the Great Origin. It was the fruition of the Dao.
The Birds, Arisophanes
At the beginning there was only Chaos, Night, dark Erebus, and deep Tartarus. Earth, the air and heaven had no existence. Firstly, blackwinged Night laid a germless egg in the bosom of the infinite deeps of Erebus, and from this, after the revolution of long ages, sprang the graceful Eros with his glittering golden wings, swift as the whirlwinds of the tempest. He mated in deep Tartarus with dark Chaos, winged like himself, and thus hatched forth our race, which was the first to see the light. That of the Immortals did not exist until Eros had brought together all the ingredients of the world, and from their marriage Heaven, Ocean, Earth and the imperishable race of blessed gods sprang into being. Thus our origin is very much older than that of the dwellers in Olympus. We are the offspring of Eros; there are a thousand proofs to show it. We have wings and we lend assistance to lovers. How many handsome youths, who had sworn to remain insensible, have opened their thighs because of our power and have yielded themselves to their lovers when almost at the end of their youth, being led away by the gift of a quail, a waterfowl, a goose, or a cock.
Either name, you choose how you want to see this in your head, it really doesn’t matter. This space around time point zero was of an infinitely lower energy order. Thus, energy of a higher order from time point zero moves outward into the lower energy order in various forms, electromagnetic (visible light being an electromagnetic reference point for us humans, but this would have been orders of magnitude higher in energy and would not have been perceived by our eyes in any way, think ‘microwaves’ cooking your leftovers, but like, way more intense), down to, at some point, fundamental building blocks of matter. This expansion and exchanges of energy outward continued to move from higher energy order to lower energy order, but never at the same degree of higher energy order as was present at time point zero. Over time, the system was of low enough energy order for those fundamental building blocks of matter to coalesce and form what we know of as atoms. As atoms formed, gravitational forces began to play a role. Clouds of atoms began to form into stars, stars being a dense collection of atomic energy exchange which yielded lower energy state atoms and the release of various lower energy forms of electromagnetic radiation (yes, visible light! And others, of course). As the stars continued to use up all this higher atomic energy into denser lower atomic energy, the star grew more and more heavy until it becomes unstable. Instability in the star yields a final energy state explosion, a supernova (and I should state, this is not always the case, but for furthering the picture we will move forward with this) which scatters all of the atoms of lower energy, dense state back out into the Vacuum/Void where they will then coalesce and form new stars, and maybe even planets! A constant yin and yang exchange of energy, but on lower and lower energy levels.
I say all of this to highlight that science and religion can coexist, harmoniously. But they both need to release themselves of their dogmas. The Universe is a beautiful place for us to be apart of and experience, but science, with its coldness in its quest for truth, lacks the emotional connections to make humans feel at home here. And religion, with its inability to adapt to sciences newfound discoveries, has failed to make that emotional connection with its communities and bend its early thoughts. In the end, if the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics are correct, our Universe will meet its demise in the form of a heat death, aka all energy has moved from the highest order to the lowest, Absolute Zero. This is fundamentally equilibrium. And the states of both religion and science exist in states of unchanging, dogmatic equilibrium, a state of cultural stasis, Cultural Absolute Zero. Humanity is an emotional being and we need a purpose to fill our Void. If science and religion can harmonize adequately, then we can create emotional fervor and excitement for the understanding of science such that humans can respond emotionally. And with emotion comes a sense of purpose and community. When we have purpose and community, we indebt ourselves to the Whole and we can achieve greater and greater things. Lets write our own Cosmogonic Myth, for our times, for our community. And lets know, fundamentally, that all things in the Universe, are part of the same Whole and that there are mysteries all around us!
Let Us Bathe in Light
We, the Collection, gathered up our might;
To break apart our Whole, worthy of our sight.
Swirling in the Void of unrelenting Night;
We cast ourselves out, in a never ending Light.
The seascape We have painted, will ever be our plight;
But duty will bind Us, to once again unite.