Perhaps we are looking at this from a wrong perspective; this search for the truth, the meaning of life, the reason of God. We all have this mindset that the answers are so complex and so vast that it is almost impossible to comprehend.
I think, on the contrary, that the answers are so simple; so simple that it is staring us straight in the face, screaming its lungs out, and yet we fail to notice it. We're looking through a telescope, searching the stars for the answer, when the answer is actually a speck of dirt on the telescope's lens.
For I dipped into the Future, far as human eye could see; saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Sometimes I don't want to see the puppeteers, sometimes I just want to see the magic therein, and sometimes I just want to pry open the atoms and know why they spin.
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
And moments aye divided by keen pangs
Till they seemed years, torture and solitude,
Scorn and despair - these are mine empire:
More glorious far than that which thou surveyest
From thine unenvied throne, O Mighty God!
Almighty, had I deigned to share the shame
Of thine ill tyranny, and hung not here
Nailed to this wall of eagle-baffling mountain,
Black, wintry, dead, unmeasured; without herb,
Insect, or beast, or shape or sound of life.
Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!
Percy Bysshe Shelley
The earth has its own way of taking care of itself. It does keep check on damage being done to it by man. When we overstep our boundaries, it heaves a sigh and that sigh churns up strong winds that sweeps across lands, scattering Man like matchsticks; it trembles and roars and the ground shakes and opens knocking down buildings like dominoes; it opens holes in the skies and sends raging fires across the face of continents.
Humans are not only storytelling animals, we are also pattern-seeking animals, and there is a tendency to find pattern even when none exists. To most of us the pattern of the universe indicates design. For countless millennia we have taken these patterns and constructed stories about how our cosmos was designed specifically for us. For the past few centuries, however, science has presented us with a viable alternative in which we are but one among tens of millions of species, housed on but one planet among many orbiting an ordinary solar system, itself one among possibly billions of solar systems in an ordinary galaxy, located in a cluster of galaxies not so different than billions of other galaxy clusters, themselves whirling away from one another in an expanding cosmic bubble that very possibly is only one among a near infinite number of bubble universes. Is it really possible that this entire cosmological multiverse exists for one tiny subgroup of a single species on one planet in a lone galaxy in that solitary bubble universe?
When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.
With all the blue etherial sky
And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great original proclaim.
The unwearied sun, from day to day,
Does his Creator's power display,
And published to every land
The work of an Almighty hand.
Soon as the evening shades prevail,
The moon takes up the wondrous tale,
And nightly to the list'ning earth
Repeats the story of her birth;
Whilst all the stars that round her burn,
And all the planets, in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.
What though in solemn silence all
Move round this dark terrestrial ball
What though no real voice, nor sound,
Amidst their radiant orbs be found,
In reason's ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice,
Forever singing as they shine,
The hand that made us is divine
The sudden departure of several quintillion atoms from a universe they had no right to be in anyway caused in wild imbalance in the harmony in the Sum Totality which it tried frantically to retrieve, wiping out a number of subrealities in the process. Huge surges of raw magic boiled uncontrolled around the very foundations of the multiverse itself, welling up through every crevice into hitherto peaceful dimensions and causing novas, supernovas, stellar collisions, wild flights of geese and drowning of imaginary continents. Worlds as far away as from the other end of time experienced brilliant sunsets of coruscating octarine as highly-charged magical particles roared through the atmosphere. In the cometary halo around the fabled Ice-System of Zeret a noble comet died as a prince flamed across the sky.
Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
I gaze up at the night's starry domain of heaven,
Then no longer on earth I stand; I touch the Creator,
And my lively spirit drinketh immortality.
I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
Why is it that almost every human culture yet discovered has found it necessary to believe in an afterlife of some sort, but not a 'before-life?' Why are there so many versions of Heaven, Paradise and The Great Beyond, but almost none about The Great Before...
The known is finite, the unknown infinite; intellectually we stand on an island in the midst of an illimitable ocean of inexplicability. Our business in every generation is to reclaim a little more land.
When the moon shall have faded out from the sky, and the sun shall shine at noonday a dull cherry red, and the seas shall be frozen over, and the icecap shall have crept downward to the equator from either pole... when all the cities shall have long been dead and crumbled into dust, and all life shall be on the last verge of extinction on this globe; then, on a bit of lichen, growing on the bald rocks beside the eternal snows of Panama, shall be seated a tiny insect, preening its antennae in the glow of the worn-out sun, the sole survivor of animal life on this our earth - a melancholy bug.
W. J. Holland
Science is about explaining the world, and religion is about interpreting it. There shouldn't be any conflict.
But attempting to understand God must come from a timeless perspective - not creator God making something happen as a cause and effect. Because time is part of the physical universe. This God cannot be inside time and must be a timeless entity... I can't tell you what God is but what he is not. God is not a cosmic magician, not an old man in the sky, not a being within time at all. The closest definition I have is from theologian Paul Tillich: 'God is the ground of being. The rational ground in which the laws of the universe are rooted.' He is not an entity who is going to intervene in ruling of the world. But he is what stops the world from going berserk.
I always look on the black side of life. That way, you won't be disappointed and I'm cheerful if it doesn't work out. I'm a cheerful pessimist.
If you get a drill and drill down 5km beneath the ground, it's teeming with life - millions of tiny living fossils. They resemble the earliest life forms and suggest that life started under the Ground. The bible talks of Eden as a sunny parkland with white fluffy clouds, but it probably ascended from the region that we now associate with Hell.
Anything you don't understand, Mr. Rankin, you attribute to God. God for you is where you sweep away all the mysteries of the world, all the challenges to our intelligence. You simply turn your mind off and say God did it.
The question ["Do you believe in God?"] has a peculiar structure. If I say no, do I mean I'm convinced God doesn't exist, or do I mean I'm not convinced he does exist? Those are two very different questions.
My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.
Man never Is, but always To be Blest.
The soul, uneasy, and confin'd from home,
Rest and expatiates in a life to come.
Lo, the poor Indian! whose untutor'd mind
Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind;
His soul proud Science never taught to stray
Far as the solar walk or milky way;
Yet simple Nature to his hope has giv'n,
Behind the cloud-topp'd hill, an humbler heav'n.
... humans are, by nature, a forward-looking species always seeking greater levels of happiness and satisfaction. Unfortunately, the corollary is that humans are all too often willing to grasp at unrealistic promises of a better life or to believe that a better life can only be attained by clinging to intolerance and ignorance, by lessening the lives of others. And sometimes, by focusing on a life to come, we miss what we have in this life. It is a different source of hope, but it is hope nonetheless: hope that human intelligence, combined with compassion, can solve our myriad problems and enhance the quality of each life; hope that historical progress continues on its march toward greater freedom and acceptance for all humans; and hope that reason and science as well as love and empathy can help us understand our universe, our world, and ourselves.
When I talk to audiences about the size and age of the cosmos, people often say, "It makes me feel so insignificant." I answer, "The bigger and more impersonal the universe is, the more meaningful you are, because this vast, impersonal place needs something significant to fill it up." We've abandoned the old belief that humanity is at the physical center of the universe but more come back to believing we are at the center of meaning.
What can be more soul shaking than peering through a 100-inch telescope at a distant galaxy, holding a 100-million-year-old fossil or a 500,000-year-old stone tool in one's hand, standing before the immense chasm of space and time that is the Grand Canyon, or listening to a scientist who gazed upon the face of the universe's creation and did not blink?
..a world absent monsters, ghosts, demons, and gods unfetters the mind to soar to new heights, to think unthinkable thoughts, to imagine the unimaginable, to contemplate infinity and eternity knowing that no one is looking back. The universe takes on a whole new meaning when you know that your place in it was not foreordained, that it was not designed for us, indeed, that it was not designed at all. If we are nothing more than star stuff, how special life becomes. How inspiring it is to share in the sublimity of knowledge generated by other human minds, and perhaps to even make a tiny contribution toward that body of knowledge that will be passed down through the ages, part of the cumulative wisdom of a single species on a tiny planet orbiting an ordinary star on the remote edge of a not-so-unusual galaxy, itself a member of a cluster of galaxies millions of light years from nowhere. For me, the Hubble Telescope Deep Field photograph WFPC2, revealing as never before the rich density of galaxies in our neck of the universe ... is as grand a statement about the sacred as any medieval cathedral.
There is... in our day, a powerful antidote to nonsense, which hardly existed in earlier times - I mean science. Science cannot be ignored or rejected, because it is bound up with modern technique; it is essential alike to prosperity in peace and to victory in war. That is, perhaps from an intellectual point of view, the most hopeful feature of our age, and the one which makes it most likely that we shall escape complete submersion in some new or old superstition.
Reality is determined not by what scientists or anyone else says or believes but by what the evidence reveals to us.
I don't feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell...
Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?
Nothing is more humbling than to look with a strong magnifying glass at an insect so tiny that the naked eye sees only the barest speck and to discover that nevertheless it is sculpted and articulated and striped with the same care and imagination as a zebra. Apparently it does not occur to nature whether or not a creature is within our range of vision, and the suspicion arises that even the zebra was not designed for our benefit.
Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition.
If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: For it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.
Suppose that we are wise enough to learn and know and yet not wise enough to control our learning and knowledge, so that we use it to destroy ourselves? Even if that is so, knowledge remains better than ignorance. It is better to know even if the knowledge endures only for the moment that comes before destruction than to gain eternal life at the price of a dull and swinish lack of comprehension of a universe that swirls unseen before us in all its wonder. That was the choice of Achilles, and it is mine, too.
One can only see what one observes, and one observes only things which are already in the mind.
It was certainly not by design that the particles fell into order, they did not work out what they were going to do, but because many of them by many chances struck one another in the course of infinite time and encountered every possible form and movement, that they found at last the disposition they have, and that is how the universe was created.
There are more stars known to exist right now than the total number of all the grains of sand on every beach in the entire world. With those kinds of odds, it would seem downright naive for someone to go to a beach in, say, some out-of-the-way inlet in Baffin Bay, stoop to pick up only one tiny grain of sand, and declare that that grain alone was the only place where life could exist.
Only when the doors of perception are cleansed will man see things as the really are - infinite.
... deprived of pain, and also deprived of danger, able to do what it wants, [Nature] does not need us, nor understands our deserts, and it cannot be angry.
We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.
Stephen W. Hawking
If acorns start growing into theologians, or if women begin turning into pillars of salt, then we may wish to hypothesize about a supernatural influence. But until such time as nature becomes hopelessly unintelligible and unpredictable, we need look no further than nature itself for explanations.
George H. Smith
Man is a fraction of the animal world. Our history is an afterthought, no more, tacked to an infinite calender. We are not so unique as we should like to beleive. And if man in a time of need seeks deeper knowledge concerning himself, then he must explore those animal horizons from which we have made our quick little march.
... Carl Sagan estimated that there are a million technological civilizations in your galaxy alone. His more conservative colleague Frank Drake offers the number 10,000. John Oro calculates that the Milky Way is sprinkled with a hundred civilizations.
Life Beyond Earth
Where is everybody? Humans could theoretically colonize the galaxy in a million years or so, and if they could, astronauts from older civilizations could do the same. So why haven't they come to Earth?
the Fermi paradox
...we are, despite all our great technological advances, still very much a simple biological phenomenon. Despite our grandiose ideas and our lofty self-conceits, we are still humble animals, subject to all the basic laws of animal behaviour. ...We tend to suffer from a strange complacency..that there is something special about us, that we are somehow above biological control. But we are not. Many exciting species have become extinct in the past and we are no exception. Sooner or later we shall go, and make way for something else. If it is to be later rather than sooner, then we must take a long, hard look at ourselves as biological specimens and gain some understanding of our limitations.
There are more stars known to exist right now than the total number of all thr grains of sand on every beach in the entire world. With those kinds of odds, it would seem downright naive for someone to go to the beach in some out-of-the-way inlet, stopp to pick up only one tiny grain of sand, and declare that that grain alone was the only place where life could exist.
Q: Do you think there is intelligent life out there?
Q: But if there is life out there, do you think it will be more intelligent or less intelligent than us?
Sir Arthur C. Clarke
When I was a medical student, and a patient came to the hospital with a heart attack, things were mostly up to God. Today, there's a better than 95 percent chance to survive. Now that all comes from research.
The unfortunate things is that there are people, even some scientists, who look at the money that goes to NASA and say, you know, we could use that money to support out work. That's very shortsighted. The more research that's done in any area of science, the better off everyone is going to be. The more that's done in physics, the better off I am in cardiology. There's no better investment for a society than research.
Michael E. DeBakey
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.