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Entropic Creation Religious Contexts of Thermodynamics and Cosmology Helge S Kragh

Entropic Creation Religious Contexts of Thermodynamics and Cosmology Helge S Kragh

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Science,TechnologyandCulture,
1700-1945
SeriesEditors
DavidM.Knight
University
of
Durhamand
TrevorLevere
University
of
Toronto
Science,Technology
and
Culture,1700-1945
focusesonthesocial,cultural,industrialandeconomiccontexts
of
scienceandtechnologyfromthe'scientificrevolution'uptotheSecondWorld
War.
itexplorestheagriculturalandindustrialrevolutions
of
theeighteenthcentury,thecoffee-houseculture
of
theEnlightenment,thespread
of
museums,botanicgardensandexpositionsinthenineteenthcentury,totheFranco-PrussianWar
of
1870,seenasavictoryforGermanscience.italsoaddressesthedependence
of
societyonscienceandtechnologyinthetwentiethcentury.
Science,Technology
and
Culture,1700-1945
addressesissues
of
theinteraction
of
science,technologyandcultureintheperiodfrom1700to1945,atthesametimeasincludingnewresearchwithinthefield
of
thehistory
of
science.Alsointheseries
WilliamCrookes
(1832-1919)
and
theCommercialization
of
Science
WilliamH.Brock
Science,Politics
and
Business
in
theWork
of
SirJohnLubbockAMan
of
UniversalMind
MarkPatton
MakingScientificInstruments
in
theIndustrialRevolution
A.D.Morrison-Low
Entropic
Creation
ReligiousContexts
of
ThermodynamicsandCosmology
HELGE
S.
KRAGH
University
of
Aarhus,Denmark
ASHGATE
 
ISBN978-0-7546-6414-7
©
Helge
S.
Kragh2008Thisvolumehasbeenprintedonacid-freepaper
Contents
Introduction2SomeEarlyIdeasonDecayandCreation93ThermodynamicsandtheHeatDeath234TheEntropicCreationArgument475Concepts
of
theUniverse1036Post-1920Developments1937ShadowsfromthePast221
Bibliography
235
Index'
265
AshgatePublishingCompanySuite420
101
CherryStreetBurlington,VT05401-4405USAPublishedbyAshgatePublishing
Li
....
I
'"
\1>'
Gower
House.:::I
CroftRoad
?:.'j
Aldershot
'2;.
Hampshire
GUll
3
*.
_,
.;,
:cJ
EnglandHelge
S.
KraghhasassertedhismoralrightundertheCopyright,DesignsandPatentsAct,1988,tobeidentifiedastheauthor
of
thiswork.
Libraryof
CongressCataloging-in-PublicationData
Kragh,Helge,1944-EntropicCreation:ReligiousContexts
of
ThermodynamicsandCosmology
I
Helge
S.
Kragh.
p.
em.-(Science,TechnologyandCulture,1700-1945)Includesbibliographicalreferencesandindex.
1.
Cosmology-Religiousaspects-History.2.Cosmology-Philosophy-History.
3.
Cosmology-History-19thcentury.
4.
Cosmology-History-20thcentury.
5.
Entropy-Religiousaspects.
6.
Entropy-Philosophy.
7.
Secondlawofthermo-dynamics.
8.
Creationism.
9.
Religionandscience.
I.
Title.QB981.K7322007261.7'65-dc222007038440Allrightsreserved.Nopart
ofthis
publicationmaybereproduced,storedinaretrievalsystemortransmittedinanyformorbyanymeans,electronic,mechanical,photocopying,recordingorotherwisewithoutthepriorpermission
of
thepublisher.
British
Library
CataloguinginPublicationData
Kragh,Helge,
1944-
EntropicCreation:ReligiousContexts
of
ThermodynamicsandCosmology.-(Science,TechnologyandCulture,1700-1945)
1.
Cosmology-History.2.Cosmology-Philosophy-History.
3.
Cosmology-History-
19th,
century.
4.
Cosmology-History-20thcentury.
5.
Entropy.
6.
Entropy-
Philosophy.
1.
Title.261.5'5
I
Ashgatewebsite:http://www.ashgate.com
I
PrintedandboundinGreatBritainbyMPGBooksLtd,Bodmin,Cornwall
..
 
Chapter1
Introduction
Thepresentwork
is
acontribution
to
twodifferentbutrelatedareas
of
intellectualhistory.First,itbelongstothehistory
of
scienceinsofarthatitoffersanovelperspectiveonthehistory
of
cosmologicalthought,focusingontheperiod1850-1920andwithanemphasisonreligious,philosophicalandideologicalaspects.Second,itbelongstothehistory
of
ideasin
so
farthatit
is
acasestudyontherelationshipbetweenscienceandreligionfromtheperspective
of
earlyphysicalcosmology.Thework
is
essentiallyabouttheinteractionsbetweencosmology,physics,religionandideologyinthelatterhalf
of
thenineteenthcenturyandthefirstyearsofthetwentiethcentury.ThekeyconceptunderconsiderationistheentropyfunctionintroducedbyRudolfClausiusin1865,thebasis
of
oneformulation(out
of
several)
of
thesecondlaw
of
thermodynamics.Muchhasbeenwrittenonthehistory
of
thisfundamentallaw-whetherexpressedinterms
of
entropyornot-butsurprisinglyfewauthorshavedealtseriouslywiththecosmological,culturalandreligiousimplications
of
thelaw
as
perceivedbythehistoricalactors.Thebestknown
of
theseimplications
is
thesQ-calledheatdeath,thegloomypredictionthattheworldwilleventuallyandinevitably'meltaway',cometoafinalendwhereallenergy
is
transformedintotheform
of
mechanicallyuselessheat.
l
AlthoughIdealinsomedetailwiththeinfamoushypothesis
of
thethermalend
of
theworld,andprovidesomenewinformationonthesubject,mystudy
is
mainlyfocusedonwhatwasheld,insomequarters,tobeacorollary
of
theheatdeathhypothesis,namelythattheuniversemusthavehadabeginningintime.
To
putitbriefly,giventhatwe
do
notliveinahigh-entropicworld,andassumingthattheentropylaw
is
validfortheuniverseatlarge,entropycanonlyhaveincreasedforafiniteperiod
of
time.
If
this
is
thecase,theuniversemusthavehadabeginning
of
asort-and
if
ithadabeginningitpresumablyoriginatedinacreativeact.This
is
theessence
of
the'entropiccreationargument',which
is
thecentraltheme
of
myinvestigation.Thus,thermodynamicsleadstopredictionsconcerningnotonlytheend
of
theworld,butalsoitsbeginning,andforthisreasonitentersdomainsthattraditionallybelongtoreligion.Nowonder,then,thatthesecondlaw
of
thermodynamicsbecameamajorbattlefieldintheheatedideologicaldiscussions
of
thelatenineteenthcentury.Inthechaptersthatfollow,Iexamineindetailthisdiscussionandtheviewsontheheatdeathandtheentropicargumentthatwere
Theheatdeathandotherculturalandideologicalaspects
of
nineteenth-centurythermodynamics
is
amongthesubjects
of
StephenBrush'sfascinating
TheTemperature
of
History
(Brush1978)and
is
alsocoveredinBrush1967.OtherworkswhichdealwiththetopicincludeHiebert1966,Jaki1974,Myers1986,Clarke
2001
andNeswald2006.Othersagainarementionedinthenotes
to
thetext.

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