Nobody can exactly forecast the future. There is a whole part of literature, the utopian literature, which is today called Science fiction . This kind of fiction deals with the possible future of mankind and the extraterrestial life in space. Famous example of this literature are Thomas More's book Utopia, Swift's book Gulliver's Travels, the books of Jules Verne, the book Brave New World, the book 1984, the books of S. Lem and many more. In these books one can find many predictions of possible technical and social developments. The above books are quite exciting, and still worth reading.
A branch of science tries to forecast the future. It is called futurology . This science has developed methods to determine future developments. One of these methods, for example, includes the Delphi survey. A group of experts in their field are asked to estimate the most important changes to come. The result is statistically evaluated. For instance, nuclear physicists can be asked when they expect the technical completion of a fusion reactor.
Some statements about the future are no doubt from a scientific point of view. They are described below.
The future of life on earth
The future of life is not predetermined. It does not have a goal , even if it develops according to the rules of the evolution. The further biological development is open. It is ruled by randomness and biological needs at the same time and it is only partly foreseeable. Randomness is the basis of genetic mutations and variation, whereas the selection process is not random but governed by environmental conditions. Increasingly human technology alters and accelerates this biological evolution by breeding and genetic engineering, so that the natural development is strongly overlaid already today by the human influence.
The end of life in the scientific view of the world is rather clear. This future may appear a little sad, because it does not offer any paradise. It confronts us with the fact of own death, the death of mankind and the death of life on earth. This future is from today's viewpoint unalterable. Perhaps later generations may find means and ways, to overcome these limits.
The following hard rules about future are valid in the scientific conception of the world:
- Each human being is mortal. Its active mental life is mortal too and his mind will die latest with the death of its body.
- It is also sure, that life on earth will end at the latest when our sun will be blowing up to a red giant through exhaustion of its energy reserves.
- Mankind will become extinct once. Except mankind will become independent of the sun.
This all has a positive aspect: Humans do not need to fear of making everything wrong. At the same time it has also a negative aspect: No matter how we strive, the end of the earth will come once.
The future of inanimate nature
There is a law of thermodynamics, which says that all structures tend toward more disorder. Another law of astronomy says that the world started with the Big Bang is expanding.
If these two laws possess universal validity, then the universe is an increasingly empty space and it will end in a physical heat death.
However, some structures like our sun will stay quite stable over billions of years, an extremely long time from a human perspective.