The first law of thermodynamics is commonly known as the law of conservation of energy.  This means that in any process, no matter how big, small, long or short, the amount of energy of the system will always remain the same throughout time, it is a constant.  So if you run an engine, build a bridge, turn a turbine, boil a liquid or do anything else for that matter, the total energy before and after this (and all processes) will be the same.  You can only convert energy from one form to another, it cannot be created or destroyed, only changed in form.  A common example might be the potential energy in the gasoline molecules of your car being converted into the kinetic energy of the car by burning the gas.

The second law of thermodynamics is similar to the first in that it states whenever you convert one form of energy into another, some energy will be lost such as through wasted heat.  The technical jargon calls this entropy but in simple terms it is just as easily described as disorder.  How this works is like taking sugar or salt crystals and placing them into a glass of hot water.  Prior to dissolving the crystals in the water, the system was in a state of higher order, once the crystal dissolved, the mixing is a state of less order where the location of molecules gets spread out and effectively smeared throughout the volume of the liquid.  So when the materials are separated, there is higher order, when they are mixed, there is higher disorder.

This process is seen throughout nature.  Just as iron rusts, food rots and we all get old and eventually decompose, so in all of these the natural state of increasing corruption and decay of the past state of higher order continually goes forth.  This means that the universe began in a state of higher order and it continually evolves to have ever more disorder.  The process might be described by some to give the appearance of futility, that nature as we currently know it literally demands (and receives) ever increasing disorder.

The laws of thermodynamics do allow local decreases in disorder and entropy through work.  This does require still that the global disorder must increase overall for work to be done.  As an example, when refining ore to make a pure metal, the metal atoms are placed in a state of less disorder when they are separated from the dirt.  When they are no longer being mixed in the minerals and dirt but now separated, their order has increased. 

By making a set of atoms or molecules separated from the rest in this way, we are decreasing disorder or increasing order in the local system.  The process of smelting the ore requires an enormous amount of heat which can come from burning fossil fuels or similar means.  The process of burning fossil fuels to generate that heat greatly increases global disorder by taking the previously separated oil or coal and converting this to carbon dioxide and water to be mixed with the atmosphere smearing it out from it previously separated state.  The increase in disorder from creating the heat greatly outweighs the small decrease from the metal separation.

The second law of thermodynamics basically states that when converting the potential energy in the molecules of the fossil fuels into heat energy, the disorder of the system globally will increase.  Similarly, the resultant heat that is used to separate the metals from the raw ores in a furnace will locally reduce entropy in the metal atoms by separating them out.  However, the heat lost in this process will result in a larger entropy increase overall than the small reduction from the refining process. 

I like to think of it this way, "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?" (Romans 8:20-24).