Our place in the scheme of things

In our galaxy alone there are over a hundred-billion stars. There are over a hundred-billion galaxies in the known universe. In comparison to the grand scheme of things, I can’t even begin to comprehend exactly how small I am. Anytime I think about these things, I am put into a state of awe. I am impassioned by the majesty of the natural world. The Earth itself is so diverse and amazing that it can keep me up at night thinking about how ecosystems and genetic diversity play out and have played out for the last three or four billion years.

Our universe is 13.7 billion years old, which is another number so large the human mind can’t comprehend it. What’s more interesting to me is that Sol, our local star, is only 4.57 billion years old. It’s a third generation star, which means that it and the rest of our solar system is made up of material from a star that sat in this same spot and then died, twice. I often wonder if life had managed to evolve on a planet rotating around the first or second generation Sol. Maybe that life had reached the stars and colonized this whole galaxy, only to eventually die out in the billions of years that have passed since their first sentient thought.

This seems like a lot of rambling but my point is this: the universe is exorbitantly large and remarkably old. Our entire civilization, whether we leave Earth or not, will be more than lucky to even last a blinks worth of time to this universe. I think that one of the most repugnant things about most organized religion is the kind of self centered id they have about our place in this world. The whole universe was created so that our puny planet could come forth nine billion years later, and we puny humans could come about in another four billion years after that? That is a kind of egocentrism and arrogance that even an atheist could never have. I find all of that incredibly unlikely. However, I do feel fortunate to have been able to witness as much as I have so far, and I can only hope to see more of the wonders the natural world has to offer.

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