envision an end
-- a Ragnarok
or a Rapture
, an Armageddon
, a Doomsday
. Where such ends are forecast, they are often depicted as elaborate plays of supernatural
characters -- gods and monsters -- fulfilling predetermined courses of action as part of the ending festivities. And, moreover, the 'end' so contemplated is really one which occurs in an indeterminate 'middle'
-- at a point where there is no natural reason bound in physics
or other good governing dynamics which would require our Universe to end at such a point. With no scientific rhyme or reason in science for such belief, speculation necessarily runs constantly to the effect that the end is nigh, or the end is coming on some known, set date. And indeed, there have been hundreds upon hundreds of dates
upon which preachers and prophets
of every ilk have announced an immanent end to man's days, a practice stretching back thousands of years. But, well, here we are despite all of that.
So, given that the theistic faiths universally present a flawless record of being laughably wrong on this point, it is fair to ask: what has Pandeism
to offer as to this question, the 'end of the world'?
An Ending to Mirror Our Beginning?
Perhaps ideas regarding endings ought to mirror
those for beginnings. Theistic faiths tend to imagine arbitrary just-so story
beginnings -- one day, after an eternity of.... something, a deity decides to set forth a Universe. It does so with essentially a fully-formed distribution of things. Here are the mountains, made brand new to look as if they had ancient roots. Here are the rivers and every species of animal and plant, all created with a false appearance of common descent from a universal common ancestor
, all part of some master plan
. And these arbitrary and deceptive beginnings conjure up the same ideas as to how things will end, such ending established to be within the eyeblink of a few thousand years after Creation.
The pandeistic model on the other hand supposes, firstly, that our Creator had a rationally non-arbitrary reason for creating -- a gap in its knowledge
which could only be filled through the experience of existing as a Universe of the sort which it thusly set forth. As it happens, what was set forth is our sort of possibly-life-generating Universe. Some scientists (like Paul Davies and Frank Tipler and Bernard Haisch) have concluded our Universe to be uncannily fortuitously aligned towards the generation of life. Anyone who has ever witnessed a weed sprouting forth from the face of an otherwise barren patch of pavement pays testament to the fact that "life finds a way." And, eventually, this yields intelligent beings like ourselves (or perhaps eventually to descendants much greater than ourselves
). We may conclude that such a tendency suggests that the existence of beings like us makes up an important part of our Creator's puzzle to be solved.
But let us suppose as a logical premise that our Creator has designed physics to yield a high probability of generating life. Even then, it does not appear that life is intended to exist infinitely onward. Science
suggests a number of models under which, eventually, our Universe will cease to be capable of supporting life. It may collapse upon itself, or become too spread out for even a pair of atoms to sustain the form of a molecule without being torn asunder by the divisive force of empty space. But if physics reveals such a destiny for our Universe, the response of the Pandeist is not to ignore science and imagine that some arbitrary earlier event will supplant such a destiny, but instead to acknowledge the scientific finding and ask, "what logic would motivate our Creator to plan it so?"
Well, suppose our Creator became our Universe to learn what it was like to experience existence as whatever sort of intelligent life comes up within a Universe attuned to the development of intelligent life. Our Creator need not remain conscious and aware throughout the existence of such Universe (especially given the billions of years of not much happening to reach that point). It is instead possibly even more plausible that our Creator remains unconscious
throughout the entirety of the existence of our Universe. And only when our Universe comes to its end (as it seems it will at some point, one way or another), then and only then will our Creator be restored to its original state, complete with the whole record within its knowledge
of everything which transpired within it while it existed as a Universe. Our Creator, then, would only uncover its results with the experiment complete. Our Universe would return, then, to being a single unified mind -- though one now imbued with a great deal of experiential knowledge it would not have been able to acquire in any other way.
But when and how would this reunification
occur? If it indeed mirrors our beginning, it will occur slowly, and naturally, inevitably guided by the governing dynamics which have brought about every other eventuality in out Universe. Pandeism, with its embrace of science
, allows for numerous possible scenarios for the culmination of the efforts of our Creator in creating our Universe. Naturally, we begin with logic and reasoned deduction, but guided as well by science. Three prominent possibilities include Oscillation; The Big Crunch; and Heat Death.
Let us assume, for this moment, that by one of the above scenarios, our Creator will be restored to sentience. Might it find itself returning to being identically set upon anew by its initial enquiry, wondering what the experience of a different
Universe might be like, one with a slightly different starting state, or some other minor manipulation designed to yield different results? And suppose it had no such enquiry, what, then, would remain for it? What purpose, to continue in existence at all? For it could not, in its present incarnation, have any conscious inkling of awareness of itself--as--Creator. But if we imagine the whole of existence coalescing back into the native form of its Creator, its restored consciousness would be something different, something newly ‘complete.’
But were it destined to see such an end, there would be no point to the beginning. But an oscillating existence, a perpetual cycle of reunification and then self-immolation anew to gain the experience of yet another Universe, might seem like a logical course of existence to a Creator having returned to a state outside of time. And, verily, some physicists have proposed our Universe to be not only an oscillating thing, but one which eerily exactly repeats its course of existence, over and over, without end.
This idea is not foreign to theological discourse, with the Rig Veda and the Brahmanda Purana of Hinduism each providing an account of an eternally cyclical or oscillating Universe. But one scientific problem with the conceptual idea of an oscillating Universe is the potential for the loss of some fragment of its substance with each incarnation. We know, for example, that even the most powerful black hole does not succeed in drawing in every bit of material within the range of its grasp. To the contrary, black holes emit Hawkins Radiation, an extrusion of energy caused when material being sucked in at the edge of the black hole is squeezed so forcefully that some energy is forced out in all directions, including away from the black hole and into the vast emptiness of space itself. An oscillating Universe which depended upon some mechanism to bring together its body of materials could, with every such event, dissipate some of its substance due to radiation of this kind. After a sufficient number of oscillations -- trillions of trillions, perhaps -- the finite amount of material could be exhausted to the point where the next would end in a crunch too poor in substance to explode outward again.
Heath Death? Big Crunch?
There is something of an idea out there that the end of our Universe will come either with a bang or with a whimper. One such model is a Big Crunch
, wherein everything which exists comes crashing back down to a single point, only — unlike in the oscillation theory — not to explode outward again, but simply to be done being matter altogether. An equally dismal proposition is that our Universe will experience an eventual evaporation of all of its energy, with all matter ultimately crumbling to its constituent atoms and those atoms even losing their constituent subatomic particles, until the only thing left is a vast and empty field of space with a stray electron floating about once every few million miles. This model is pointed to by some as a sort of antithesis for any pandeistic proposition, on the theory that our Universe would then be in no position to ‘come together’ in any means permitting the reformation of the Creator from which it is supposed to have come.
But this assumption against expansion leading to reunification is tied in to our present three-dimensional thinking. For, if there are multiple unseen dimensions, things may seem far apart from our perspective, but be easily folded together from the perspective of one who is able to see along those additional dimensions. This may be illustrated by simply drawing two dots on a sheet of blank paper; the dots may be far apart along the surface of the paper, and yet the paper may be folded, so that the dots are touching, though their surface distance remains unchanged. Lines drawn on a piece of notebook paper might near opposite edges, but if the paper is rolled so that the edges touch, then the lines simply begin on the other side, and can intersect. Perhaps our Universe is like this, expanding across the dimensions with which we are familiar, but at some other-dimensional level beyond our senses and our comprehension, coalescing towards a point.
Counting on Intelligence Itself?
Perhaps, even, our Creator has set forth somewhere in the laws of physics a means for its restoration, a trigger of sorts which could be discovered and initiated by sufficiently advanced and intelligent life. This is one idea present in the Scott Adams
book, God's Debris
, where in mankind through our innate drive to develop communications technology like the Internet
will eventually develop a unification of our own minds and intellect. From there, who knows, perhaps we might solve such a problem. In Adams' speculation, we might then restore our Creator by essentially evolving in that direction until we become it. We might then learn to prevent whichever other fate was in store, Heat Death or a Big Crunch or an infinite series of oscillations coming from them.
Or, we (or whichever intelligent life evolves enough to make such a choice), decide to neither accelerate nor delay the course by which our Universe will end. We might, indeed, choose to ride it out to the end which our Creator has set it. Our own intelligence might lead us to understand -- or, at least, rely upon -- our Creator's intelligence. For we speak here of a Creator ingenious enough to set forth a Universe which, through the operations of the laws of physics over billions of years, produces us. Surely such a being would be brilliant enough to build into those same laws of physics exactly the right formula by which such Universe, after billions more years, becomes again what it was before. But while we are waiting for that to happen, our destiny is in the stars