Updated: 2 days ago
Perspective on Eternity.
Cosmology is a fascinating field. By no means do I consider myself an expert in it, but I find it fun to read about it and ponder on it for many reasons. It certainly points to the awesomeness and splendor of God’s creative artistry and power. A lot of fascinating legitimate science is done in this field; hypothesizing, testing, gathering data and publishing. As with other sciences such as biology, however, a great deal of postulating is done using atheistic/agnostic a-priori [assumptions made by faith] principles as starting points, for explanations of things such as the origin and the fate of the universe.
Most of us are familiar with the big bang hypothesis, which has changed drastically, multiple times, over the past few decades, which begs the question of why it was ever postulated in the first place, or at least as to why it is still being held on to so tightly. The purpose of this post is not to discuss that, however; it is more related to the postulated fate of the universe and its implications. Most secular cosmologists will put the universe at a current age of about 13.6 billion (13.6x10^9) years old. This is of course an unimaginable amount of time, yet is more like an atom in comparison to the rest of the matter in the universe (actually less) in comparison to the time proposed for the universe to reach its ultimate doom. This topic is highly speculative, at least in secular terms, as there of course would be no one there to confirm the hypothesis even if it were true. There are also a host of unknowns (more than the “knowns”) in terms of the physics involved. Nonetheless, the amounts of time proposed in these hypotheses are absolutely staggering, ultimately involving numbers of years that are far too big to be written out other than in a multi-level exponential form known as tetration.
According to the currently accepted secular cosmological timeline, the first million years or so after the supposed big bang is known as the primordial era, where great expansion took place (it is called inflation and cannot be explained with the known laws of physics), and the matter that we know today, and are made up of, took its form and such. We also had large clumps of matter grouping together. This would have then been followed by the stelliferous (star forming) era, in which we currently reside, where there is ample material for alleged star formation, which occurs regularly (in terms of secular based cosmological time frames). We have galaxies, galaxy clusters and such as well. The universe is very well lit, and we have planets orbiting stars seemingly everywhere. It is a beautiful and orderly place that supports life. It is also quite vast, spanning over 90 billion light-years in diameter; about 45 billion light-years in any direction from us, and it is still believed to be expanding at the speed of light or at an even greater speed, and perhaps even speeding up; no one really knows for sure. Also, remember, it is only supposedly 13.6 billion years old…a problem for E=mc^2, I also find it interesting that we “just so happen” to be right in the middle of everything. Again, much more unknown than known. This stelliferous era will supposedly continue for about 100 trillion (10^14) years; many times more time than has supposedly passed since the alleged big bang. In short, after said roughly 100 trillion years have elapsed, it is proposed that there will be no more material remaining to form new stars and that all of the existing stars will have died out, leaving nothing but “stellar corpses,” such as white dwarfs, neutron stars, black holes, etc. Planets that haven’t been destroyed by their home stars going supernova will be ejected into the void of the ever-expanding space, more black holes will form, perhaps some stellar corpses will collide and produce stars with considerable luminosity from time to time as well. This time has been labeled as the degenerate era, and is proposed to last for about 10 duodecillion (10^40) years; a mere 100 sextillion times as long as the proposed 100 trillion year-long stelliferous era. Some postulate the degenerate era will last for 10^45 years; hey, what’s another 5 orders of magnitude, especially with numbers like these?! 😊
Following this mere tick of the cosmological clock, is the proposed black hole era, where the ever-expanding universe (can you even imagine how far it would have expanded by this point, considering the proposed current rate of expansion?) will be filled with nothing but some photons and such, as well as massive and supermassive blackholes (that have the mass of a galaxy, or maybe even more), that may occasionally collide and produce some rather supposedly spectacular sights…that no one will be around to see. These black holes will supposedly “evaporate” over great periods of time via a process known as Hawking radiation. The evaporation of the last supermassive blackhole will supposedly occur roughly a mere 10^106 years from now; that’s 10 billion trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion years away. I say mere, because the proposed numbers get staggeringly bigger.
Estimates vary from 10^1600 to 10^3200 years (hey, what’s a mere 1600 orders of magnitude?! 😊) for the time remaining that all remaining matter will have gone through the processes of cold fusion and quantum tunneling (I’m not going to even touch that here) to allegedly form iron stars; stars made completely of iron. Iron is the most stable element known to exist. These “stars” will emit no radiation and only be able to be detected (no one would be there to detect them) by their gravity. They will supposedly last for about 10^10^76 years. That is 10 to the power of a 1 with 76 zeros after it (or 10 Quattuorvigintillion zeros), not 10 with 760 zeros (a common mistake associated with tetration), which is of course a very big number, but miniscule in comparison to the actual number we are considering here. This is a number inconceivably too large to even consider writing out. After existing for this inconceivable amount of time, the iron stars would then become black holes. These black holes would then take the mere 10^106 years; the time of our original blackhole era, to evaporate; an extremely small amount of time compared to the other numbers presented in this paragraph.
Even this timeframe that I have outlined above is miniscule compared to the time proposed after the end of the alleged iron star era. I have seen estimates for it between 10^10^10^56 to 10^10^10^76 years (hey, what’s a mere 20 orders, of orders of orders, of orders of magnitude?! 😊), where nothing but photons and leptons (such as electrons and positrons, etc.) move aimlessly about in an inconceivably expanded universe for an even more inconceivable amount of time, that even makes the staggeringly incomprehensible amount of time of the era of iron stars seem like a twinkle of an eye in comparison. This is 10 to the power of the number that is 1 with 10 Quattuorvigintillion zeros following it. Supposedly after this inconceivable amount of time there could perhaps somehow be another big bang. This number is of course inconceivably far beyond the already inconceivable number discussed in the previous paragraph. Even if we were just to going to attempt to simply count the zeros in this number; counting a quadrillion zeros per second, and we had started at the supposed beginning of time; the time of the big bang, we wouldn’t have had enough time to have made any even remotely significant progress in completing the task during the alleged 13.6 billion years that would have passed from then until now.
I elaborate on this because it is easy for Christians, and even non-Christians to casually, and often overconfidently throw around the concept of eternity and infinity…and even God Himself. Speaking for myself, I find it more mind boggling; perhaps even somewhat more frustrating, to try to wrap my mind around numbers like the one expressed above, than around my painfully lacking, and often casual concept of God and eternity. Being as inconceivably enormous as it is, this number is not eternal, and it is indeed not infinite. Given enough time; a very large but finite amount of time, one could count out each integer of that number in consecutive order, and would eventually reach end of that number, just as one would do when counting the integers from 1 to 4, when reaching the number 4. This huge number is representing a hypothetical number of years, and as vast as this proposed time span is, if God allows time as we know it to continue this long, this hypothetical number of years will elapse, and said time span will have passed; it will have reached its end; it will have reached its limit; its finality, and will go no further, and it will be no more. This huge number; amount of time, is nothing more than a quantity; incomprehensibly enormous for us mere mortals, but nonetheless finite. Of its self it has no power, it has no thought process, no drive, no intention, no purpose, little to no dimension, no control over circumstances etc., yet we are well aware that we cannot even begin to wrap our minds around it.
God however has no end and no limits; He is eternal; infinite. He has unlimited power, He is very driven, He has very specific and good intentions, there is purpose to everything He does, He has unlimited dimension, and He is in control. I think that it is good for us to ponder Him, yet we need to do so with a very real sense of humility and awe. We cannot wrap our mind around the mere finite quantity that I discussed above, yet somehow people (often self included) seem to think they can wrap their minds around the mind of God and understand all of His motives, the way He does things, His insights, etc., and even judge them against their own clearly limited and otherwise highly flawed standards.
If one holds to the illogical atheistic view, which requires far more faith than does the Christian view (please click the button directly below this paragraph for more on this), then each of us are far less than insignificant; we are ultimately nothing more than elaborate products of random chance, who lack free will, with each of us having nothing more than a few decades to live until we vanish into oblivion against the backdrop of these inconceivably vast amounts of time, which will lead to the relatively soon extinction of all life and light, and plunge our universe into virtual eternal cold, and ever increasing disorder and darkness. These ponderings wind up being very disturbing to some folks, even to the point of making some suicidal. There are also some that will assert that because we are so insignificant, we should just do whatever we want with the time we have left until vanishing into oblivion. Others will somehow find a way to philosophize and pontificate about the importance of “making a difference” in some convoluted, resigning, and stoic [arrogant] way, with our minuscule amount of time here on earth, that will still be very soon forever forgotten, especially in secular cosmological terms.
The good news is that this is indeed science fiction. The Bible (the truth) talks much about how the future will play out, and that eternity will be nothing like these “scientific” speculations, at least for the believer. There will be no end to light and life. The universe (the heavens) as we know it will not even be lasting even millions of years before it is rolled up like a scroll and replaced with a new universe (new heaven) that will be truly eternal. Earth will be getting replaced as well, as opposed to being engulfed by the sun in a few billion years, or thrown out of its orbit in a quadrillion years or so, etc. (2 Peter 3, Hebrews 1:10-12, Revelation 21:1). The mere decades that we have here on earth are by no means the end for us; we don’t have to fade into oblivion, as there is no oblivion. The universe is not a mere cosmic accident with only a comparatively infinitesimally brief glory period (stelliferous, or star forming era) that we are currently residing in, followed by eternal cold, disorder and darkness. It is indeed in a fallen state, obeying the second law of thermodynamics quite well (see Genesis 3), but all will be made anew in God’s timing (Revelation 21:5).
Of course, if one chooses to reject the Gospel (please click the button below entitled "The Unforgivable Sin" for more on this) their fate is even worse than it would be with the secularly alleged fate of the universe (Revelation 20:11-15, etc.). If you have believed the Gospel; trusted Christ as Savior, praise God; you have everlasting life and you couldn’t go to the Lake of Fire even if you wanted to. However, if you have not trusted Christ as Savior, you already stand condemned (John 3:18, etc.), but you most certainly need not stay standing there. The gift of everlasting life is free for the taking (John 3:16, and many more). With it comes eternal peace and happiness, being united with the truly infinite and limitless God (John 17, etc.), who far overshadows the realm of the numbers and timelines discussed above; who is anything but a ceaseless oblivion, who will reveal wonders to you throughout the ages to come (Ephesians 2:5-7), and loves you beyond comprehension. (Click the button below entitled "Heaven Will Be Great" for more on this. ) In the temporary things of this life that we are living right now, the fun fiction often is better than the painful facts, however when it comes to eternal things; things that really matter, the wonderful facts, which are truly yours for the taking, are infinitely far better than the painful fiction that all would do very well to abandon. I would say that it ends well, but I can do better than that; it doesn't end at all, ever. God bless.
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