BYU

Time, Entropy and Faith Connected

Science does not contradict religious doctrines like the creation and the fall of man—in fact, it can be used to explain them, a prominent astronomy philanthropist said at Brigham Young University’s annual Summerhays Lecture.

In the words of the late Mormon scientist Dr. Henry Eyring, “science is in pursuit of truth, and religion, or the gospel, encompasses truth,” David Derrick told an audience on Thursday, Oct. 7, in the Royden G. Derrick Planetarium.

Two scientific principles in particular—time and entropy—can be give some possible insights into religious beliefs like the fall of man and the nature of mortal existence, he said.

Time, unlike other physical parameters, can only move in one direction. No one knows the reason for this, but scientists do have a prime suspect, Derrick said. That suspect is entropy, or the tendency for everything to move from a state of order to one of disorder, dispersion and decay.

“Everything succumbs to entropy,” Derrick said. “If there was no entropy, what would the universe be like? Matter would eternally be organized, time would flow multidirectionally, one could see the beginning and the end and time would continually be before us.”

That description, Derrick said, fits the state God lives in—and could also describe the state of the earth before the fall of man.

“Could it be that entropy is synonymous to mortality?” Derrick asked.

Perhaps when Adam and Eve fell, entropy was introduced, he said. “Once it entered, mortality came. … That caused us to be finite beings that understand time but not infinity.” That understanding, Derrick said, could return through resurrection.

One BYU student who attended said he enjoyed hearing a unique perspective on science and the way it ties in with religious doctrines.

“That’s not stuff we hear every day,” said Benjin Facer, a student from Nashville, Tenn. “Seeing how he thinks is the coolest thing to me.”

Derrick said while the relationship between time, entropy and religion is speculative, he enjoys pondering it.

“Is any of it true?” he asked. “I don’t know, but it’s fun to think about.”

Listen to the podcast here.

By Justin Ritter Posted on