Reflections in Cosmology 21: Eschatology and the Death of the Universe

What is the fate of our Universe?

In comparison with its beginning, the end of the Universe has proven to be a much more challenging prospect for the task of reconciling science and theology. Science paints a very bleak picture of our universe – either it will cease to expand and collapse into another singularity (highly unlikely now, with the discovery of an accelerated expansion), or it will expand forever (the favoured hypothesis) to become cold, dark and empty. The verdict is still out though, and much will depend on the nature of this so called dark energy. Will the expansion of the universe continue to accelerate? Is its acceleration a constant value or will it change with time? Will the expansion slow down again? We don’t know.

Will there be new heavens and a new earth?

Now where does this leave the Christian theological concept of the new Heavens and new Earth? What hope can they give in light of current scientific hypotheses for the fate of our universe? These questions are invariably linked to the question of divine action. How does God act in the world? How will God act within Nature to bring about this new creation? How much continuity will there be between the old and new creation? If the Genesis creation narratives are not to be taken literally as a scientific commentary, how then should we interpret eschatological passages in the Bible?

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9 thoughts on “Reflections in Cosmology 21: Eschatology and the Death of the Universe

  1. In my simple view, the universe did not have a beginning, as such. What you see is what has recycled itself continuously and is and always has been eternal, with no boundary that light cannot enter. This is creation.

    From subatomic particle to nebula collection – to solar birth and distribution – to galactic formation and around it goes in all directions – here – there – beyond and back again.

    There is no particle that does not belong – there is no determined destination of a light-beam. And if a meteorite lands on your front lawn, fine. don’t worry about it ’cause it didn’t hit an airliner instead that was bringing your precious daughter home from a holiday in some far off land; and in her suitcase there’s a tiny little stone with a beautiful prehistoric fossil in it, so you can both sit down and discuss the origin of life and everything. What treasure – isn’t life wonderful?

    Big Bang and Big Crunch – How absolutely absurd. If God was supposed to have done it – OK – He’s always been doing it – Creation Continuum, it could be called and he never had a day of rest; particularly if he created popes, archbishops and cosmologists.

    Treasure and protect what we have now because that is the treasure chest of the future.

    David

  2. Hi David,

    the idea of a Universe without a beginning is being thrown around in scientific circles as well, and is a hypothesis that is seriously being considered by many scientists – not least of all by those working on string theory and brane worlds. Stephen Hawking himself proposed such an idea – along with the proposition of time having an imaginary component.

    I’ve looked at your website, and your ideas really are outside the mainstream of science -I’ll probably need to think about it further to see if it really stands up to scientific scrutiny – not that i’m much of an expert anyway! But it is a rather interesting hypothesis you have there.

    Whether there was a Big bang or not, we still have to contend with the ‘cosmic microwave background’ that we measure.

    Most of all, thank you for the reminder to treasure and protect what we have… we all need that once in a while! And yes, life is indeed wonderful!

  3. September 23rd, 2008
    Scientists Detect “Dark Flow:” Matter From Beyond the Visible Universe

    My view is that background radiation comes from background radiators. yeah – hahahaha.

    As the discovery shows; there is stuff coming into the visible universe from outside.

    No, I’m not a scientist – just a farmer’s boy, thinker. Well, you have to be if you’re ever going to be a farmer.

    It would also be logical to expect that there will be stuff going from inside to outside, and those two thinks make Big Bang and a contained universe look very unlikely.

    On the assumption that stars shine globally and if the light from some of them has taken 13 billion years to reach us, there is also light shining out the other side of those same stars beaming off 13 billion lightyears through the assumed boundary and beyond.

    Yeah, time to get the cows in for milking – and I hope some of them haven’t got through into the neighbour’s bull paddock No, you can’t rely on boundaries.

    David

  4. As you mentioned, I agree that our universe could be much larger than the observable universe – the argument is that light from outside the observable universe hasn’t had time to reach us yet, considering that our universe has a finite age (which, of course, you disagree). If the universe has an infinite age and has remained at a steady state for that long, the question then is also why it is impossible for us to look at objects that are further than 13 billion light-years away.

    This ‘dark flow’ thing is still very controversial. And it has to do with stuff in the observable universe being affected gravitationally by something outside the observable universe. Will be interesting to see where this research leads to.

    Well, I do know a lot of non-scientists, farmers included, who are much more intelligent than I am. 🙂

  5. No my friend, I think that you are just as intelligent as I am. We all use our brains differently.

    If the visible universe is all that there is and an enormous bladder or wall surrounds us —– Ye Gods that sounds stupid…… Stop, stop, stop..

    Our sun is said to be 6 billion years old so it’s light hasn’t got half way over to the bladder yet.

    Let’s say there’s a star just over the border 13 point 9 billion light years away from us and yes, it’s invisible to us. Although it’s light, in my view, is visible to other beings in our part of the universe proportional to its age. Maybe?

    Perhaps there’s a link between gravity and a light-beam. Ouch – just dropped the torch on my big toe.

    The question is – Does light turn into something else after having travelled for 13 point 7 billion years? After all, it can’t have very much red left.

    Thar’s it! It can’t have any left.

    Cheers
    David

  6. Why Big Bang is Nonsense.
    A boundary between the containment of the universe and no space, suggests that nothing exists beyond that boundary. Galaxies thirteen billion light years away are said to be the oldest in the universe and their light has taken thirteen billion years to reach us.
    However, one important factor is left out.
    [1] Stars shine globally. Look upon every star as the hub of a huge ball of light of its own making, and some of those balls will be twenty six billion light years in diameter.
    In the case of stars thirteen billion light years away not only do their light rays strike the earth as if shone from a torch, but potentially everything else that is in line of contact within a thirteen billion light year radius of them. – and that’s beyond the perceived boundary.
    That one revelation must surely show that there is nothing to prevent energy and matter moving away beyond that man made boundary from within our visible cosmic containment and likewise, energy and matter moving from beyond into the space occupied by this assumed containment. Of course I could be wrong, but only if Science can prove that there is a wall or some such barrier to keep our stuff in and any outside stuff out.
    There did not have to be a beginning, and there cannot be an end. There will be continuous evolution which is collectively the physical pathway of creation and re-creation of everything within a boundless playground of infinite energy and wonder. Enjoy…..

  7. Hi David,

    been extremely busy in the past few days organizing a student seminar. 🙂 So haven’t had time to reply.

    First of all… the observable universe is not really a physical ‘boundary’ or ‘wall’ of any sort, but rather a limit on the distance out to which objects can interact with one another and information can be passed from one object to another since the Big Bang. So yes, there probably are galaxies and stars beyond the observable universe. The universe is believed to have expanded faster than the speed of light during inflation, so that portions of the universe now lie beyond the observable universe today. And if that’s the case, energy is leaving and entering the observable universe all the time – but this would have absolutely no consequence on the Big Bang itself. 🙂

    The universe can be a closed system without having any boundaries – imagine the surface of a sphere on which an ant is crawling – it will never run into a wall or fall off an edge. 🙂 Our universe could be the same – though observations seem to show that the observable universe is very flat, we still have no idea if it is an open or a closed system.

  8. Yes; To suggest that energy/matter is moving away beyond the observable universe and other matter from beyond moving into the observable universe could well mean that background radiation is explained as a part of that activity. And if it is, what is the point of a Big Bang scenario? Conservation too, looks a bit dodgy as well.

    The structure of Big Bang has been changed over the years of it’s initiation, and as many eminant scientists, such as Halton Arp, and others have refered to so many add-ons as fudge. That is fudge in a BB context.Yes discoveries have constantly been made over the years and have been slotted into Big Bang theory as if they have to belong and support that theory, whereas, they well could support other ‘No bang’ theories just as well.

    I look upon this situation as being like a religion. Do we get any closer to the reality of God if we are Catholic or a Muslim, or a Seventh Day Adventist? Do we get any closer to understanding the existence of the universe by by being very unscientific and presenting Big Bang as fact? The point is no one knows. Nobody was there to see it happen. To swear to it being created as claimed would have to be equal to universal deceit.

    Cheers
    David

  9. No matter how the Big Bang scenario is explained we are left with expansion and stuff going somewhere as a result. And then of course, there has to be the Big Crunch, when the reverse situation occurs.

    Why Cosmic Containment is Nonsense.

    A limiting boundary between the containment of the universe and no space, suggests that nothing exists beyond that boundary. Galaxies thirteen billion light years away are said to be the oldest in the universe and their light has taken thirteen billion years to reach us.
    However, one important factor is left out.
    [1] Stars shine globally. Look upon every star as the hub of a huge ball of light and particles of its own making, and some of those balls will be twenty six billion light years in diameter, no matter what space they occupy in the observable universe or beyond.
    In the case of stars thirteen billion light years away not only do their light rays strike the earth as if shone from a torch, but potentially everything else that is in line of contact within a thirteen billion light year radius; and that takes a large proportion of their light energy well and truly beyond the observable boundary.
    That one revelation must surely show that there is nothing to prevent energy and matter travelling from within our visible cosmic containment and likewise, energy and matter travelling from beyond it into the space occupied by this observable and supposed containment
    [2] Continuity
    In light of this revelation there did not have to be a beginning, and there cannot be an end. There will be continuous evolution which is collectively the physical pathway of creation and re-creation of everything within a boundless playground of infinite space capacity, energy and wonder.
    David Calder Hardy

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