Monday, May 5, 2014

Entropy, Expansion, and the Beginning of the Work Week

A week ago, I'd have been driving home with the mysteries of the universe continuing to amaze me.  My view of Jupiter through the telescope was wonderful, but the Bible study, which was really more of a 2 day lecture on modern astronomy with a bit of physics, was really fabulous.

The first day was easy:  exploring the glories of creation revealed in the vastness of the cosmos.  We saw amazing photographs taken by our Bible study leader who is both an amateur astronomer and a seminary professor.  We learned fun facts, like there are more stars in the universe than there are individual grains of sand on every beach at every ocean on Earth.

We were inspired by the knowledge that our atoms are made of recycled stars.  The universe is inside each of us, and we carry with us the history of the stars and the universe.

We learned interesting analogies:  if the history of the universe is a book where every page represents 10 million years, then at this point, we've got 3 volumes of 450 pages each; the first multicell animals on Earth show up on page 100 of volume 3, while humans come along on the last line of the last page.

So, what do we do with the recently acquired knowledge that the universe is expanding?

Like me, you might wonder why this is a big deal.  You might even think that expansion is a good thing.

However, unstopped expansion is a disaster when it comes to the universe.  Science tells us that the universe will expand and expand and expand and eventually, through this process of expansion, which involves stars using up all available hydrogen, the universe becomes a cold, dark nothingness.

At least, that's what the old science would teach us.  We talked a bit about the new science of quantum physics.  We talked about science and resurrection.  Old science tells us that dead bodies can't come back to life.  New science tells us that everything we thought we knew might not be true:  particles can be in more than one place at a time, for example.  The old physics model would have insisted that statement could not be possible.

Both new physics and the Church insist that entropy doesn't win.  We don't necessarily have the knowledge and the language yet to explain it in a way that rational brains would accept, but that's what we insist.

It's good to remember that 2 day lecture.  It's good to have the mysteries of the universe enthralling me as I head to work.  It's good to have the promises of resurrection ringing in my ears.

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