Sunday, July 26, 2009

Doomsday

Recently, I've been reading a book called Parallel Worlds by Michio Kaku. Kaku is one of the world's leading theoretical physicists and is one of the founders of the string theory, which is the leading candidate for the Grand Unified theory.

This book is beyond interesting. I started reading a few pages and I couldn't put the book down for next hour and a half.
I read about a hundred pages. Kaku basically provides a relatively detailed account of how theories like the Big Bang theory were discovered. Till where i read, the book showed that back in the early 1900s, scientists knew that the universe was expanding exponentially. Many of the claims made by scientists got me thinking. I do not mean to oppose the claims of scientists, I only wish to communicate my view on their claims.

I wish to discuss one of the issues because, being a Buddhist, it means a lot in my life. The issue is about Doomsday. Since the discovery of the expansion of the universe and the Big Bang, there have been many theories about our world ending. For example the Big Crunch. This suggests that the universe would become increasingly dense, exceeding critical density, and then the gravitational force would cause the expansion of the universe to stop. The universe would then collapse into itself. Another example is the Big Freeze. This suggests that the density of the universe would be below critical density and the expansion of the universe would continue forever, till the universe becomes too cold to sustain life. Lastly, there is the Big Rip. This suggests that the rate of expansion of the universe increases so rapidly that in a finite amount of time, matter would be ripped apart.

All these theories are very fascinating. But have we reached the stage where we can be deterministic about the universe? Do we have all the facts and answers to make conclusions? I believe there is a cosmic force that is missing from modern science. Let me explain my claims.


Before studying the macrocosm of the universe, I believe we should study the microcosm of it, such as the Earth. Why? Just like the very atoms of an element can tell the characteristics of the element during a chemical reaction- the structure of the macrocosm can be deduced by understanding the structure of the microcosm. Just like, for example, one can ask, how can one prove atomically large alkali metals, like Rubidium, are very reactive, without looking at their reaction with water? We can see that their large atoms lose their valence electron easily due to electron shielding or the screening effect. This corresponds to their high reactivity. In this way, we look at the micro level to deduce the macro level.

Similarly, I believe we can look at the Earth, it being at a relatively micro scale with the universe, and decide from our observations what the universe would be like. One prominent phenomena observed on Earth, involving nature, is conservation. All living organisms respire to provide energy to survive. They release carbon dioxide which plants use to synthesise food. The food is once again consumed by the primary, secondary and tertiary organisms. Moreover, when organisms excrete waste substances, they can be broken down and used as nutrients by plants or bacteria. When organisms die, their bodies are broken down by bacteria, providing nutrients for plants. Plants use these nutrients to grow and provide even more food. Basically, nothing is ever lost. In this closed system, everything is conserved.

This same law of nature has to manifest itself in the heavens too.


My final point is that we should not believe in the "Doomsday". Essentially, it will never come. Since everything in the universe is conserved, if our universe does somehow get destroyed, we will return to continue the cycle of conservation.
Essentially, death is impossible if one believes in this eternal law.

1 comment:

  1. To add to on to the discussion on "Doomsday" from the Buddhist perspective, we do find mention of doomsday-like in the scriptures. However, the 13th century Buddhist sage, Nichiren explained that such "Doomsday" (known as the Latter Day of the Law in Buddhism) is merely the time for the ascend of humanity.

    Buddhism maintains that every phenomenon from the living cells to the cosmos undergo the cycle of birth, growth, decline and death. Many believed that the Big Bang was the beginning. Buddhist believed that Big Bang is just part of this eternal cycle of macro-life. One day the universe may collapse again and rebirth will occur.

    Back on Earth, this cycle applies to societal phenomenon as well as natural ones. At the death of mankind's humanity due to centuries of morality decline including excessive greed, anger and stupidity, a new rebirth in the goodness of mankind must occur. This rebirth is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo which will propel our rise in life's sinusoidal tendencies.

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