Entropy vs. Infinity, and Decline vs. Ascent

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“Omnia mutantur, nihil interit.” (Everything changes; nothing perishes.) — Ovid

“Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact. But maybe everything that dies someday comes back.” — Bruce Springsteen

A lot of religions and philosophies are based in the idea of cycles–that things endlessly wax and wane, die and return and die again. Science and the natural world often seems to support this.

On the other hand, many cosmologies and philosophies also suggest that people and things in general have degraded since Creation and continue to do so. Again, you can find support for this in science.

So we have two opposing concepts here: the idea that existence is a tight, eternal loop (perhaps one that looks something like ∞), and the idea that existence is an ever-widening entropic gyre that will someday dissolve.

There’s one more possibility: existence is an ever-rising spiral cycling its way around to some higher apotheosis. That things improve instead of worsen, ascend instead of decline. This seems relatively rare in religion and philosophy, but it crops up now and again. You can argue that the same is true for science too.

Which is reflected in your belief systems? How is the issue dealt with there? What other metaphysical paradoxes does it touch upon?