Saturday, May 17, 2008

Weeping over the heat death of the universe.

"Imagine the entire universe being reduced to a Bose–Einstein condensate."
-- Dr. Pamela Gay

I listened to this astronomy podcast, "The End of the Universe, Part 2". It told a depressing tale of the eventual heat death of the universe. First the earth will lose its oceans and atmosphere. The sun will turn into a dwarf star, then slowly cool. The universe outside our galaxy will even fade from view due to the expansion of the universe, Everything will cool and die, becoming a Bose–Einstein condensate within 100 trillion years from now.

What are the philosophical implications of such? One host on the show repeatedly spoke of how depressing this turn of events was. Indeed, there is zero hope for eternal life for our seed. Our descendants won't survive on earth for more than a few billion years, maybe half a billion. The rest of the universe just gets less and less hospitable. Even after a while, it may be impossible to even know about the universe outside our galaxy-- no photons will be coming from the outer galaxies. To the materialist or secular worldview, I guess that this could be a cause for despair.

Ironically, I've sometimes thought about how a Christian vision of God taking us away from all this, of making a new heavens and earth, somehow seemed premature or wasteful, or unnecessary. But after listening to that show, I thought, whoo-hoo! God has a plan by which the survival and purpose of humanity isn't limited to this decaying universe we see around us.

Here's an alternative link to an MP3 for Astronomy Cast episode 87.

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