Tag Archives: universe

“For The Moment, The Earth Is Where We Make Our Stand”

Earth - Carl Sagan    -    http://mariopiperni.com/

One of the first astronomy books I ever read was Carl Sagan’s beautifully written Pale Blue Dot. It introduced me to the world of galaxies and planets – ours and those beyond – and gave me a perspective on our place in the cosmos in a way I had never before imagined. I instantly became a Saganite.

The following is a video in which Sagan’s words from Pale Blue Planet narrate Adam Winnik‘s beautifully scripted animation. The narration’s audio is a bit low in places, so I’ve included the full text below. Enjoy.

“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again 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.”

“The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.”

“Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”

“The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not.”

“It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”


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The Purpose of The Universe


Michael Shermer of Skeptic magazine ponders not whether there is purpose to the universe but on whether there is any point in believing there need be a purpose.

“…try being an atheist for just an hour or two to see how it feels — and to ask themselves what would change if they stopped believing. Would you lose all purpose in life? Would you quit work? Would you stop being nice to other people? Would you cease loving your spouse, supporting your family, interacting with your extended family, contributing to your community, or participating in your society? Would you abandon all activities that lead to a sense of transcendence and spirituality?Of course not! Shouldn’t we love our families, be nice to other people, and support our communities because those things are good in and of themselves? Of course!

Whether there is a God or not, all of these purposeful activities — and many more — stand as ends in themselves in the here-and-now, not as means to some other end in the hereafter. Purpose is not some prop on a momentary stage before an eternal tomorrow, where its ultimate meaning will be revealed to us. Purpose is created by us through the courage of our convictions and the honor of our actions.

Ponder that.