David Gelernter contrasts the second law of thermodynamics with religion:

[L]ook at halakha [or religious law], a system that is large and wide-ranging and alive. From outside it seems shapeless, but it has a recurring theme: separation, in space and time. Keeping kosher means separating meat from dairy, kosher from unkosher food. Keeping the Sabbath means separating the day of rest from the forward-tumbling chaos of ordinary time. Keeping the Jewish community alive means maintaining its integrity by keeping it separate, in certain well-defined ways, from the rest of mankind above all when a Jew marries, casting (in that very act) a sharp beam forward into the foggy future. ... For the rabbis, sanctity means separation; means untangling nature, taking the trouble to set things apart. The Second Law helps us see the deeper meaning of Judaism’s obsession with separateness and sanctity. Jews defy nature by defying its most fundamental impulse, the deadly onrush of chaos. Above all, they defy death.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.