Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Fate of the Universe

PBS has a wonderful interactive timeline on the natural fate of the universe. How does it all end?
Astronomers assume that the universe will gradually wither away, provided it keeps on expanding and does not recollapse under the pull of its own gravity... Most of the mass that we can currently see in the universe [will be] locked up in degenerate stars, those that have blown up and collapsed into black holes... Only the waste products from these processes [will] remain: mostly photons of colossal wavelength, neutrinos, electrons, and positrons. For all intents and purposes, the universe as we know it has dissipated.
Entropy, as I learned it, is the tendency for the universe to go to its lowest state of energy. For any energy added to a system, the natural tendency is to expel the energy and return to its lowest state. This is true with all high-energy systems in the universe, like suns and galaxies, which are constantly burning off gases and traveling apart from each other. For smaller energy systems, like the creation of national landmarks, men work to erect them, and weather and gravity work at their deconstruction. 

Inferring from these facts, I assert that all structure is inherently "unnatural" since energy has been transferred to where it does not want to be. Since nature wants to go towards ruin (the degradation of matter and energy to an ultimate state of inert uniformity), then, logically speaking, there is no reason for anything of complexity to exist in the first place. Yet, a contradiction exists...

How can the universe be going to chaos and be building life at the same time? If life comes from dust (lower energy), then nature should not be trying to create life (higher energy). Dust should remain as dust for good according to the rule of entropy. On the contrary, since life exists, and life has structure, and structure is in contention with entropy, then there must be a force acting on the universe that opposes entropy and gives life. I call this force God.

The Bible has a wonderful timeline on the supernatural fate of the universe. How does it all end?
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them... Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." (Rev 20-21).
Quite the different fate! I like the second much better.