The death of our galaxy (General)

by dhw, Friday, April 28, 2023, 12:47 (412 days ago)

An article in The Times asks:

What happens next after the Milky Way's destruction?

QUOTE: "The research involves quasars - short for quasi-stellar radio sources - which can shine as brightly as a trillion stars but are relatively tiny: only about as big as our solar system."

Scientists from Hertfordshire and Sheffield believe that these are created by galaxies crashing together. "They suggest that our own galactic home, the Milky Way, is a good candidate to produce its own quasar. At present, we are careering towards the Andromeda galaxy, with a collision expected in about five billion years."

As I do not expect to be around in five billion years’ time, what really interests me in the context of our discussions is the almost unimaginable size of the universe. Our solar system really is "relatively tiny" when you take into account that our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is estimated to contain a billion (one thousand million) stars. The galaxy we are "careering" towards (lovely vocabulary, because this mad rush will take about five thousand million years) is believed to contain a trillion stars (1000,000,000,000). And if this theory is correct, quasars are the result of other galaxies with their billions of stars having already crashed into one another. Does all this activity really suggest purpose?

Teleology (the doctrine that the universe has been purposefully designed) seems to me convincing when applied to the astonishing complexities of organic life, but when we contemplate the sheer scale of the universe, and the endless comings and goings that serve no apparent purpose (let alone the one and only purpose of producing us plus our food), the very idea of it all being controlled by a single conscious, sourceless mind seems to me to have all the characteristics of what David likes to call a "just so" story.

However, the agnostic in me still demands balance: the sheer complexity of living things balances the sheer vastness and apparent purposelessness of the universe that lies beyond our "tiny" fine-tuned patch. And – again in the context of our discussions – if there is a God, it seems to me only natural that we should look for clues about his (its) possible nature, purposes and methods. The fact that we might never know the answers has not stopped us humans from asking the questions, and nor should it.

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