The sixth sense of man has always tried to find answers for questions beyond his daily needs, like “Who am I? Where from have I come? When did this world come into existence? How big is the universe with sun, moon and the stars? What is the future of this universe and the planet we live in? What is the future of mankind? What is there beyond death?”. Man imagines answers convenient to him.
He would invent a God as his creator and protector. He does not ask himself, if God created man, who created God? Stephen Hawking asked “What was God doing before he made the world? Probably he was preparing hell for people who asked such questions!”. He remarked that he was lucky that he was living in an age when Pope John Paul had no objection to research on space like his, as otherwise like Galileo he would have been handed over to the Inquisition probably, to be burnt alive!
Man is not willing to recognise death as his end. He invents a heaven for himself and a hell for his enemies with himself surviving in the form of what he calls “soul” as something beyond his body. He imagines that he and others whom he loved would continue to be with him after death in such a heaven. He may even be reborn. Even if the planet, this world, the galaxies and the universe are finite, he will live on! This is what he would fondly believe!
It is not surprising that man thought that he and his tribe are specially created by God. The earth he lives in is the centre of the universe with the sun and the moon going around it as was understood by Ptolemy, till Copernicus found the solar system with the sun at the centre. It was Newton who developed the law of universal gravitation. Kepler discovered law of planetary motion. Planck came out with quantum theory. The creation of the universe was explained by the theory of Big Bang occurring about 14000 billion years ago. The universe so created is ever expanding, becoming cooler, destined to be frozen below 125°C with oceans themselves getting frozen.
New stars and galaxies are constantly discovered by cosmologists. The diameter of a typical galaxy is 30,000 light years and typical distance between two neighbouring galaxies is 3 million light years. There is speculation, whether there is more than one universe, since space is endless.
Planck thought there may be other forces like gravity which are fundamental. Nuclear and atomic physics have theories on electro-magnetic radiation with the Big Bang Nucleo-Synthesis in prospect. Radiation like light moves freely and endlessly as Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), which indicates that the first stars were formed before 100 million years, which were once massive, luminous with packets of dark energy. One can see micro waves from distant space, if a T.V. set is put on without switching on the programme.
An ant, which moves about an apple sees only two dimensions, length and breadth. Man sees the universe in three dimensions but what he sees is also a limited vision like that of the ant, with the result that the reality with time as its fourth dimension is different as explained by Einstein in his relativity theory. Universe is a space-time continuum. It consists of both matter and anti-matter. We only see the observable universe. What can be seen with the most powerful gadgetry is only a glimpse of the universe. The planet is a speck and if so, what is the space occupied by man?
The universe is covered for its most part with dark energy and dark matter; both are mysterious and cause the expansion of the universe. The universe has many clusters, each forming a homogenous and cosmological group linked by the dark matter and dark energy. Dark matter contains 26.8 per cent of total mass energy of the universe. It is the photons, which carry electro-magnetic force, the effect of which is observable at micro level among the particles explained in quantum mechanics.
What will be the ultimate fate of the universe? Space scientists predict a negative Big Bang or a Big Freeze and Big Crunch, whereby the universe will collapse. It is no doubt a speculative theory. There are alternative theories envisaging multi-phased ensemble with disconnected space times like a group of soap bubbles, chaotic initially before they settle down. There is also an optimistic forecast of a fine-tuned universe with development of matter with diversity of structures. Philosophers would predict infinite changes eternally.
Astronomy is a fast-growing science, more and more powerful microscopes reporting new planets, stars and galaxies. The galaxies are moving at a great speed. They may come together. Laws of physics do not envisage either the beginning or the end of the universe. There will, however, be a singularity, a point of infinite density and space, time curvature, where time has a beginning. In this expanding universe, there is also a simultaneous contraction taking place, but not in exact symmetry, so as to lead to a bounce, since the density remains finite. Cosmology may yet find an answer to many of the questions both as regards to the origin and the end of the universe.
How does religion fit in with the knowledge shed by cosmologistic research? Religion is still a strong force impervious to discoveries pouring in. It is based upon emotions of human beings. It treats the knowledge with supreme indifference. It comforts the doubters with the assurance that science is not an answer for all the ills of mankind. Hallelujah! Discoveries of science are revelation of the gods! Ethical percepts, it is claimed, are not influenced by the starry heavens.
The story of creation is now underplayed. It is no longer possible to agree that “dark, unfeeling and unloving powers determine human destiny”. Religions vie with each other as the sole owners of the truth, trained to get control over the sensory world with biological and psychological pressures. Freud forecasts crumbling of religions.
Neitzsche narrates the story of some pilgrims who went in search of gods in their abode at the top of a tall mountain, when they saw some pilgrims who had gone earlier returning with the news that the gods were not there. They were asked “What happened to them”, reply was “the gods have all died”. “How did they die?” they were asked. “They died laughing at the folly of man believing in their existence!”.
Neitzsche, an atheist, also believed that the present man who came from monkey will further evolve into a superman, as distinct as today’s man from monkey! Scientific spirit and blind faith may co-exist. Religion is not going to accept reason as it believes that there is a divine reason above human reasoning. Scientific thought is nothing more than a mere process of thinking, which will find solutions for both believers and non-believers, sooner or later. Reason will establish a dictatorship over the human mind.
Darwin published his origin of species, Pierre Curie discovered radium. But these discoveries at the same time, magnificent as they were, pale into insignificance in the history of human knowledge. From the age of bullock cart, we have come to the jet and internet age. The human mind is unable to grasp the vast change now, but reason will prevail.
What is the future of mankind? Will it survive?
“Not if it does not perish.”
“What answer is this, in riddles? I want a plain answer”.
When Goldsmith wanted Johnson to explain one of his answers which Johnson gave `I can only give you an answer. I cannot give you the brain to go with it! Ha! Ha!’”
I have the same reply.