Saturday, 1 September 2007

Not just isms - pale blue dots too...

I've found myself talking mainly about isms since I started this blog and I guess that isn't surprising because atheism, existentialism etc are convenient wrappers for a set of conclusions one has come to. But, as the comments on a recent post suggest (with thanks to Me and Reasonable Robinson) labels can also be unhelpful, distracting from what you are actually trying to say. Thus it has been with me.

So I thought I'd get away from the philosophical arguments for a while and talk about some of the other stuff that got me to where my brain's at today. Mainly sciencey things - evolution and cosmology. Both of these areas of knowledge put humanity in its real place in the universe. The theory of evolution is amazing. The more you find out, the more interesting it gets - I'll save that for another post. Cosmology is jaw-droppingly exciting at the moment; the images coming back from Hubble and other space telescopes are expanding our knowledge of the universe all the time. Once you have grasped the immensity of the universe; once you have seen for yourself the latest possible explanations for how the universe came into being, you will never thinkof yourself, or of humanity, in the same way again. This quote from the late Carl Sagan sums it up perfectly:

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.



Bob Johnson said...

Thats why I have a passion for the cosmos! it makes you think and wonder why.

Puddock said...

The images we get of space, especially from the space telescopes, have made an immense contribution to our knowledge but also to our sense of wonder. It always makes me feel better, when humanity is being particularly bone-headed to look up and think of those ver, very far distant places and how pathetically tiny our human concerns are.