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.
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?