“…inevitably, as the Sun switches over to helium fusion, it will become so hot as to boil away Earth’s oceans and smite the life it spawned there. The ten-fold temperature increase required to burn helium will see the hotter sun turn red, and swell in size until it swallows up the planets Mercury and Venus, and melts the surface of the Earth. One hundred million years later, when the sun has reduced more helium to carbon to carbon ash, it will shrug off its outer layers and dispatch them past Pluto. A larger star could resort to carbon burning at this point, but our Sun, a relatively small star by the standards of the universe, will be unable to do so. Instead, it will smolder as an ember, and shed a fading light on the charred cinder where God once walked among men. This dim future, however, lies so far ahead as to allow the descendants of Adam and Noah ample time to find another home.” (Dava Sobel, The Planets, 2005)
This blows the Book of Revelation out of the water. Religious folks have been waiting impatiently for the end of the world for thousands of years. They have devised the comforts of heaven (and the volcanic cruelties of hell) and the bizarre concept of Judgement Day out of these same fears. Now we have far more reliable methods than prophecy for knowing our past and reading our future. The results are getting clearer, and they are staggering: on the positive side, our planet will endure well beyond our lifetime and that of our next thousand generations (the same cannot be said for our species); on the negative side, our Sun will eventually explode and wipe out every recognizable remnant of our solar system.
If life really is meaningless, why not enjoy it and be nice?