Universe Is Doomed
Astronomers have decided the universe will expand forever, growing colder and darker, till it ends in a heat death. According to the BBC News, a study of gravitational lensing by a huge galactic cluster named Abell 1689 determined that dark energy will push galaxies apart till they burn out. One researcher remarked that the study proves “exactly what the fate of the Universe will be” – which the article described, “Eventually it will become a cold, dead wasteland with a temperature approaching what scientists term ‘absolute zero’.”
This is not news, but a reaffirmation of what 19th century physicists inferred from the second law of thermodynamics. It doesn’t matter whether the universe is expanding or not (a factor 19th century astronomers did not consider). No process can prevent the increase of entropy and the unavailability of usable energy in the universe. When everything becomes a uniform temperature, approaching the asymptotic limit of absolute zero, that is the end.
This is a blow to all positivistic conceptions of human progress. Even in the movie Contact, there was meager comfort for the intelligences of the universe to have nothing more to offer than biding time till the inevitable fate awaited everything. In our day, cosmic acceleration speeds up the gloom. Sure it is far off (far beyond our individual lifetimes), but what hope is there for any activity that ends in a cold, black nothingness? There is no point in ultimate pointlessness, no purpose in ultimate purposelessness, no initiative to energize mental activity in dread of the ultimate disappearance of mind, reason and communication. The same despair holds, for anyone who ponders it, in the cyclic worldviews that teach a universe vanishing into a cosmic sea only to emerge again with no memory of what it had been.
Lord Kelvin, one of the most eminent in the field of 19th century thermodynamics, understood that there is no hope in a world view that omits God. Kelvin noticed the second law clearly stated in Scripture thousands of years before his generation had discovered it (Psalm 102:26-27). Not leaving his Creator’s universe decaying away in vain, he affirmed the revealed promises of God, the only eternal hope that can energize our yearnings: “We have the sober scientific certainty that the heavens and earth shall ‘wax old as doth a garment,’” he said. “….Dark indeed would be the prospects for the human race if unilluminated by that light which reveals ‘new heavens and a new earth’” (Revelation 21-22).