Why I Think the Universe is Eternal.

Most religious believers hold to a concept of a god that has existed for eternity, without a thought as to what created that god, or what created that which created god, ad infinitum. Why cannot those same believers conceive of an eternally existing Universe instead.

The first law of Thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but can change into different forms. This implies that what we have in the Universe has always been here, and always will be, in some form or another: an eternal Universe,  existing in one form or another, be it matter, or energy. Something cannot be created out of nothing.

To accept the results of Science and reason the results must be accepted also. Whereas the first law implies that the Universe is eternal, the second law implies that such immortality is useless, as the universe approaches ever increasing entropy. Entropy is the averaging out of energy over the vastness of the Universe. Eventually the Universe will have uniform energy and will eventually assume a cold and dark state. Presently, mankind benefits from “pockets” of low entropy, wherein energy is available for all the processes necessary for life and activity.

Ever-increasing entropy occurs in closed systems. Overall, the Universe is a closed system. The Earth however, represents an open system, fed by a star which represents one of the “pockets” of energy presently experiencing low entropy. As the sun, which is a closed system, races to assume a state of increased entropy, it will no longer be able to provide the energy Earth requires to support life. The Earth will then assume an increased entropy state as well, and life will cease to exist.

If mankind is still around in the very distant future, billions of years from now, perhaps prolonged survival may involve “mining” the pockets of low entropy which may still exist. This will of course not be possible if we remain chained solely to this world. I advocate increased funding for space exploration, including searching for more habitable worlds. Otherwise, mankind will simply become one more casualty in the long list of extinctions. Presently all it would take is one collision with some big bag of rocks hurtling through space to end our existence.

(Much of what is contained in this blog was presented originally in Isaac Asimov’s book “A Choice of Catastrophes”)


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