Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Humans and the universe

We are often reminded by scientists of how BIG the universe is and it is therapeutic to occasionally reflect on this, especially when our ego is bloated. Yet to compare a human being to a grain of sand or a slime mould, as some do, is misleading.

  • You could traverse the entire universe in a fraction of a second of your life if you travelled sufficiently close to the speed of light (relativistic effects include the slowing down of time as experienced by the traveller). This is likely to remain a thought experiment since your mass would become comparable to that of the universe while your thickness would tend towards zero,  but in principle it complies with the presently understood laws of physics.
  • Regardless of the relativistic cosmic speed limit (the speed of light)  quantum entangled particles interact instantaneously, independent of distance or time. Particles are entangled when they emerge from the same quantum system, e.g. from the same atom or molecule. Once the whole universe was one infinitesimal  quantum system, i.e. as it emerged from a point just before the Big Bang. So everything is potentially connected.
  • You can see the universe but it can’t see you.
  • Every experience you have - love, kindness, tranquillity, beauty, revelation, creativity, satisfaction, fulfillment, physical pleasure or even its opposite  - is a miracle given that ultimately it originated in a point in space-time, billions of times smaller than the nucleus of an atom, from which our universe is thought to have emerged 13.8 billion years ago.
  • You can think about the universe but it can’t think about you
  • The entire cosmos would be totally pointless, in a sense non-existent, without life to experience it.
  • Even in ordinary life size has nothing to do with importance. One person in a deserted city would be more important than all the buildings and streets put together.
  • As a human being you can love and be loved.
  • You can have a multitude of experiences: pleasure, pain, heat, cold, light, darkness, sweetness, sourness, noise, silence, harmony, discord, etc. etc.
  • As a human you can create understanding of the natural world, technology, art, music and new ways of conducting human affairs.
  • You can conceive of there being entities or concepts that are beyond scientific investigation (e.g. God or infinity).
If , like me, you believe that humanity, all life and all inanimate matter, were created by a God who cares about God’s creation, then gauging ourselves by size or any aspect of the material world is a pointless exercise, since mind and soul are what connect us to the Creator, and these are independent of space and time.  Good, evil, justice, redemption and free will would also be meaningless in a humanless, godless universe.

The above assumes humans are the only sentient beings in the universe. If we are not alone then one can simply substitute ‘sentient beings’ for ‘humans’ in much of the above.

Feedback welcome.

John Sears

See also

Deep mystery of existence

Ειρηνη του Θεου

Book page for novel about a world where violence is tackled by technology and spiritual Enlightenment
2077:Knights of Peace