Details of a recent scientific discovery from the Canberra Times.
The universe is running out of usable energy and the end is nearer than expected, according to Australian National University astronomers.
[…]PhD student Chas Egan and his supervisor Charley Lineweaver from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics calculated how run-down the universe was and found it was 30 times more dilapidated than previously thought.
In doing so they measured the universe’s entropy a gauge of how ”disorderly” the cosmos is and how close it is to its cold, lifeless end.
[…]Mr Egan said all the processes that occurred in the universe increased its entropy.
”When you leave any isolated system it gets more and more disorderly,” he said.
[…]Scientists believe that end will take the form of a ”heat death”.
”All the matter currently in stars and planets will be spread out homogenously through space and it will be cold and dark and nothing will be able to live and no processes will go on.
More details of the discovery from the Australian newspaper The Age.
The findings, to be published in the Astrophysical Journal, have implications not just for Earthlings but for any extraterrestrial life as well.
”We’re not just talking about our solar system or our galaxy, we’re talking about our universe,” he said.
”These constraints apply to all life forms that might be in the universe.”
What implications does this discovery have on the question of meaning and purpose in life? If nothing that we do now will survive the end of the universe, then what reason do we have to do anything?
Atheist and Christian responses to the end of the universe
We can get BOTH SIDES of the question from this clip of a formal debate featuring Christian scholar William Lane Craig and atheist writer Christopher Hitchens.
The question being debated is: “Is there objective meaning and purpose in life without God?”. Hitchens and Craig agree that without God, the universe will cool down and all life will die. And they both agree that if there is no God, then there is no objective meaning and purpose in life.
Hitchens says that he can arbitrarily choose a purpose for his life that makes him happy and fulfilled. But notice that this purpose is an arbitrary personal preference. Someone who chooses mass murder or slavery, and has the power to carry it out with impunity, has as much right to choose that purpose as Hitchens does to choose his.
What can we conclude from the atheist view of purpose and meaning?
What does it say about atheism that there is no way to distinguish between William Wilberforce and Josef Stalin? They were both just doing what made them happy, and there is no way either of them ought to have acted, and no objective moral standard by which to praise or condemn them. Some people admire Wilberforce. Some people admire Stalin. No one is right or wrong, because the choice of life purpose is arbitrary, on atheism. So long as you are happy, and the majority of people in your time and place applaud you, anything is permissible.
What would you think of a person whose every action is designed to maximize their pleasurable feelings in this life? What would you make of a person who believed that other people were just bags of atoms, with no human rights and no free will? What would you make of a person who thought that other people were just objects to be used (or dispersed) in whatever way made them feel happiest? What does a selfish attitude do to enterprises like marriage and parenting?
Is it any surprise that we have killed 50 million unborn babies as a result of our own irresponsible search for pleasure? Sex is fun, but taking responsibility for the decision to have sex is not fun. So we kill innocent people who are weaker than us in order to maximize our pleasure in this life. And why not? On atheism, there is no objective meaning in life, no objective purpose to life, and no objective moral standard of right and wrong.