—getting there ...
When all of its energy is evenly spread out, the universe will have arrived at what physicists refer to as a state of thermal equilibrium, a rather dreary outcome that is glibly characterized as heat death.
It is so described because energy in a state of equilibrium is not able to
do anything. Why? Because energy that is all evened out has no high
and low spots.
A rock can roll down a hill due to the fact that it is on top of the hill. If it were not on top of the hill it could not roll down.
A rock can roll down a hill because there is a difference between the top of the hill and the bottom. If there were no difference, nothing could happen. The rock would not be able to roll (or anything else for that matter). It would just sit there.
This is similar to what is predicted to take place when all of the universe's energy is evenly spread out. There will be virtually no differences, no hills and valleys.
Human culture is headed in pretty much the same direction.
The vehicle that is taking us to our heat death is called cultural diversity, or multiculturalism.
In the past, superior cultures always overwhelmed inferior ones, either destroying them or enslaving them. From a simple cosmological perspective, this is the way it should be.
I posit this with the full awareness that there is no such thing as should
in the realm of the cosmological. The universe is what it is. If we could somehow
explore every square inch of it, it is highly unlikely that we would find so
much as a single smidgen of should or ought.
There is of course the argument that the human condition is also what it is, and currently what it is is a dynamic that is heading in the direction of perfect equality, what we might call social (i.e. political and economic) equilibrium, a state of affairs in which there will be no differences (at least virtually none). When there are no differences, nothing can happen, whether it is in the cosmos or the arena of human affairs.
Like it or not, differences (or distinctions) are what make things happen.
For years we have heard the chatter about dumbing down. A Master's Degree
(or a PhD), for example, does not mean what it used to. Nowadays nearly anyone
can get them. The very phrase "dumbing down" suggests differences,
specifically differences in personal ability. The holder of an MA or PhD used
to be regarded us "up there" intellectually and/or academically, which
of course carried with it the implication that everyone else was "down
here", suggesting a very real contrast (a difference). With every passing
year these distinctions are less significant.
Where is everything headed? To a state of utter dreariness (sameness). T.S. Eliot was right. The world does not end with a bang, but a whimper, a very dreary whimper.
November 29, 2008