Tuesday 8 March 2011

A little light Doom in the morning

It's taken me all night. And I won't pretend I'm not a little fuzzy this morning. Not least because of the invention of the "Brian Cox Drinking Game". Which is not advised. And a death trap when you're Photo-shopping the Good Professor's silhouette out of all your holiday snaps.

But now, as I watch the doomed Sun rising over the doomed landscape, and reflecting off the doomed, balding head of Drayton Parslow as he repents on the lawn, I have the opportunity to reflect on what I saw Sunday night on "Wonders of the Universe".

It seems to me that, if you were going to start a series on the Wonders of the Universe, you wouldn't naturally start with the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. This - Time's Arrow - the Law that describes the work of Entropy. The thing that drives the entire evolution of the universe - and that ultimately produces its end. As the level of entropy increases in a closed system (like our Universe, unless there are others that leak in and out) all things will flourish, and then die. Great Civilisations will fall. The Earth will, if it is lucky, one day be a scorched rock orbiting an exploding star. The universe itself will run down and weaken like a Coalition policy until, through the evaporating effect of Hawking Radiation, one day even the black holes will dry out. The universe will be freezing cold soup of photons, of total chaos, where nothing will ever happen - forever. Which sounds to me worrying like a Thursday night out in Milton Keynes.

And some might feel that's all a bit doomy - why should I tune in next week? But I say - superb. That's the way a universe should end - with a whimper. And some say where does it leave God? And I say - just where God always was, wherever that is. But sure, it's bad news for some philosophies. Where's your Omega Point now, Mr de Chardin? Just a soup of photons. Where's creationism? Shown up for the lack of imagination it always was. This isn't some cheap-skate universe with a tin roof, knocked up in a garage in 6 days and insufficiently fire-proofed so it's due to go up in flames next Wednesday. This is a 24-carat giant universe that speaks of logic and beauty and rational mathematics - and ends in chaos. As Max Quordlepleen put it, this gives you hope for the future of All Life Kind - except we know that it hasn't got one. This is the Universe that chimes in with Valhalla and Armageddon and a God of rationality and grace getting senselessly and apparently unimportantly getting nailed to a cross. This is a universe where your Gaddafis and your Mubaraks and your Charlemagnes and your Stalins and your Maos and your Hitlers have their day before being consigned to the dustbin of photonic soup.

So gather your rosebuds while ye may - which will probably be July, the way this spring is progressing. And do a short-term deed of kindness. It's worth as much as building an empire, and will last approximately as long, on a universal scale.  Laugh, rejoice, make love and peace in this short-lived human existence in this universal doom-factory. Vanity, all is vanity, says the Philosopher - and he's right. And if you're hoping for a Resurrection - bear in mind that it's gonna be a big one.

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