Friday, May 22, 2009

What Does Mars Have to Do With Free Will?

Probably nothing. But here's where my mind went-- logical or not.

I recently saw an article in Scientific American that explains why the ubiquitous, thin layer of Martian dust dons a red-orange color. The Sun’s ultraviolet rays produce a chemical reaction against the thin topsoil of Mars that results in transforming the soil into a certain kind of rust

Mars has a scant atmosphere compared with Earth. The ionization process that rusts the topsoil of Mars also causes constant seepage of the atmosphere into space.

 The chemical composition of Martian soil and thin atmosphere suggest that the red planet has lost about 90% of its atmosphere over time.

Infrared photos of Earth show that hydrogen is burning off from our planet and evaporating into space due to the same ultraviolet light beaming towards our planet.

This phenomenon implies that Earth is headed for very similar conditions as the other planets in our solar system. Earth may become a twin to Venus several billion years from now. This possibility also implies that a lot of time has already passed since the planets have formed. And this also implies that a lot of time will continue to go by just as before.

Other planets had a thick atmosphere long into the past. Maybe these planets could have supported life at one time. Yet, the atmosphere leaked away or changed into a volatile environment. Earth is not immune; leakage is ever so slowly happening now.

We seem to be living on a planet that will not continue to support life as we understand it—regardless of how green we may try to live.

If nothing stops the process, Earth will no longer be the unique planet in our solar system.

But other processes are going on that will eventually turn Earth into a wasteland.

The Sun is due to nova billions of years from now. Other stars have already undergone a nova within the frame of our observation. This implies again that a lot of time has gone by and will continue to go by.

Our Sun is no exception if nothing stops the process of our star going through its nova phase.

Here’s another process to consider: why do we have an asteroid belt? Is it just for decoration, or did a former planet have a really, really bad day?

And one of the remnants of that poor planet could get hurled into our way in the future.

Two asteroid belts! Cool! (OK, probably not.)

I realize that all this can sound rather bleak. Regardless, I still find astronomy and cosmology very fascinating and beautiful. But, I have to accept the bleakness with it as well. That’s very much our universe. Life is coupled with death. Love coupled with pain. Happiness and joy coupled with sadness and loss. We must accept all these things together.

I also accept a beautiful and elegant universe that promises a bleak and entropic ending.

Perhaps I should apply this same thinking to God—a benevolent being creates a perfect, yet seemingly doomed universe. I must accept the good with the bad.

Concerning the argument of free will-- I will admit that the argument sounds reasonable when used to explain why evil exists in the world. To me at least.

At first, at least.

But when I contrast the argument of free will against the backdrop of modern cosmology, I’m no longer personally convinced by the free will argument.

God created everything like this, yes? Or has man’s sin in the garden cursed creation to the extent that even the planets have become either barren wastelands or volatile, toxic environments?

Somehow, the initial sensibility that I hear in the argument of free will deteriorates for me when I consider how our universe seems to make an inexorable spiral into oblivion.

One could say that Jesus will come before all this bleakness takes place. But the stars and planets in the sky seem to testify of a different outcome in my view.
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