8:19 creature. “Creature” in Romans 8:19-21 is the same word as “creation” in Romans 8:22. This important passage (Romans 8:19-23) is the main New Testament exposition of God’s primeval curse on His creation because of sin (Genesis 3:14-19), and its promised future deliverance. The latter awaits the unveiling to the world of all those who have been brought into God’s spiritual family.
8:20 vanity. “Vanity” is equivalent to “futility.” Because of sin, the creation was made to operate under a law which specifies a universal process of decay and death. This law of morpholysis is recognized by science as a basic principle pervading the whole universe. It is also called the law of increasing entropy (meaning turning inward) or the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Every system in the physical and biological worlds has a tendency to turn inward and “feed” on itself to maintain its structure and activity, but this simply causes it to run down, disintegrate and die, unless it somehow becomes opened to outside sources of energy, information, food, etc. Even if it does remain an open system, this internal tendency continues to act in opposition to the incoming energy. Since even the latter will eventually be exhausted, the whole creation is thus in bondage to this principle of futility, or “in-vainness.” But since this law has been imposed by God, He also can remove it, and so there still is “hope.”
8:21 corruption. “Corruption” is equivalent to “decay,” and this is yet another way of stating the entropy principle. Everything tends to decay, running down from a created state of organized complexity to one of randomness and disorganized chaos. This law is thus called a “bondage;” the universe is enslaved by it, and there is no natural principle available to supersede it. Such a law is clearly the exact converse of the notion of evolution, which views the universe as gradually organizing itself over long ages by natural processes into its present state of high complexity and activity. The entropy law, which is supported without exception by all observation and scientific study, thus seems to stipulate that evolution on any significant scale is impossible. It also explains the fact that it has never been observed to occur in the present and the fact that there is no evidence it ever occurred in the past!
8:22 whole creation. The reference to “the whole creation” indicates that the divine curse extends through the entire created cosmos, not just to the earth. Scientific observation has apparently confirmed this. That is, the law of entropy operates throughout the cosmos. Since it was man’s sin that brought God’s curse on the ground—that is, the very elements of the created earth, the “dust of the ground” (Genesis 2:7) out of which all things were made by God—it may be that his sin had universal repercussions. On the other hand, it may be that Satan’s sin, which took place in the angels’ domain in the heavens, brought on the curse there.
8:22 groaneth and travaileth. The creation is now travailing like a woman about to deliver children. Its delivery into the glorious new age to come is thus associated with the manifestation of the children of God.