Universal Entropy vs. Evolutionary Optimism

A while back I read an article in the Scientific American entitled “The End of Cosmology?” It was a depressing article, describing how scientists are saying that over the course of millions, billions and trillions of years the universe will spread out farther and farther. There will come a point at which no other galaxies will be visible from earth, and even further down the road when the entire universe will go black. The article suggests that the only illumination as this time draws near will come from artificial lighting civilizations may have rigged up.

There are evolutionary optimists out there who, looking at how they believe life has advanced from simple to more complex organisms, believe that biological life is getting better. Of course, there are the serious scientists who realize that evolution is a matter of adaptation to environments rather than a sort of progress up a ladder. Some people have tried, though, to blend evolutionary thought and religious concepts to come up with a belief that progress is taking place and heading towards some sort of climax. Famously, there was the French philosopher and Jesuit priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who argued that all life and the universe itself was heading toward an Omega Point. On a smaller and less famous scale, it is a common theme seen in Star Trek movies and TV shows that life forms move from simple to complex to god-like.

The perspective of evolutionary optimists resolves nothing for those who have been crushed beneath the machinery of “natural selection” in the form of atrocities, genocides and natural disasters. It portrays a glorious future, to be sure, but one built on the bones and suffering of the past. A further problem for such optimism is the apparent reality of entropy. If the universe is indeed winding down and cooling off, then de Chardin was mistaken and it doesn’t matter how “advanced” any form of life eventually becomes anyway.

By contrast, the Christian perspective, derived from Scripture, affirms that God will not leave the universe alone. He did not wound it up like a watch and is now simply letting it run down, uninterrupted, on a desk. It’s not even that we are still awaiting a point to arrive for God to begin acting. He has already intervened through the death and resurrection of Jesus, and now is acting through many means, including His church, bringing the universe into subjection through Christ.

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘All things are put in subjection,’ it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:20-28 NRSV).

It is as if the universe itself is being prepared to be a vessel to receive the full, unlimited and unconcealed presence of God. The division between heaven (think of it as God’s throne room) and earth will be obliterated, and God will fill the renewed and transformed creation.

“Every force, every authority in the whole cosmos, will be subjected to the Messiah, and finally death itself will give up its power. In other words, that which we are tempted to regard as the permanent state of the cosmos–entropy, threatening chaos, and dissolution–will be transformed by the Messiah acting as the agent of the creator God. If evolutionary optimism is squelched by, among other things, the sober estimates of the scientists that the universe as we know it today is running out of steam and cannot last forever, the gospel of Jesus Christ announces that what God did for Jesus at Easter he will do not only for all those who are "in Christ” but also for the entire cosmos. It will be an act of new creation, parallel to and derived from the act of new creation when God raised Jesus from the dead.“ – N.T. Wright in Surprised by Hope.

Thinking about this, I can’t feel depressed about scientific estimates of when and how the universe will run down, and I am not tempted to put my hope in evolutionary progress. The fresh work of new creation has begun in Jesus and will continue be brought to fulfillment through him in due time.

See Also:
Grim Foundations

Switch to Portuguese

If there has been less and less personal reflection and reports on my life here on this blog lately, it is because I’m keeping that sort of blogging on my MySpace blog. Since we set up broadband in my house I’ve been able to use MySpace more and have begun blogging a little there. My simple little blog over on MySpace is entitled From the Bottom of the Ink Bottle. Settings on the blog currently permit visitors to comment, even without joining MySpace. I am also on Beliefnet, where I keep an occasional journal focused more on spiritual matters. Click here to check out my Beliefnet profile.

That said, I need to inform readers that starting May 1 it is my intention to blog primarily in Brazilian Portuguese here on Igneous Quill. For a few years I served as a missionary in Brazil, I currently assist a Brazilian church in Newark, NJ and I hope to one day return to Brazil to engage in full-time mission work. Though this blog has had a small and committed readership, the things I have to say don’t really seem to me to contribute that much to the online conversation among Christians. At least, my writing doesn’t appear to accomplish much in English.

Please don’t misunderstand. There will still be posts here in English (I have a lot of completed drafts in the queue!) but it is my intention to make the majority in Portuguese, at least for one month. If I see positive results in the form of hits from search engines and comments on posts that lead me to believe Portuguese is a good option, the switch will become permanent.

Thank you for your continued friendship and readership, and please do visit me on MySpace or Beliefnet as well as here.

Rumored 3G iPhone

The rumor (here and here) is that the 3G iPhone will be available by late May. This isn’t official, but it will be good news for people wanting the faster UMTS connection.

When the original 2G version went on sale last year I heard people in news reports saying this would be their last cell phone. They meant, of course, that this was the best device and that they wouldn’t need anything else afterwards. Three thoughts came to mind in response.

First, the novelty will wear off.

Second, devices can and do break, and they eventually wear out anyway.

Third, something shinier will eventually come along.

I wonder how many of those 2G iPhone owners will rush to switch to 3G this summer?