The greatest paradox of all is that the most advanced form of life
known to exist in the universe is constrained to a transient existence
with minimal impact on the rest of the cosmos.
These are not opinions. These are facts, astounding facts: We are
insignificantly small in a spaciously huge universe. From another
perspective, humanity is vastly more complex than all the stars put
together. Contrast our smallness to our complexity and you have the
paradox which has troubled mankind since the dawn of history. The more
we learn about the vastness of the universe and the marvels of the human
body, the greater becomes the paradox. It's not going away any time
Who are we? Where do we come from? What is our purpose? These are the
unanswered questions that plague those who choose to ponder the facts.
Attempts to answer the questions that flow from the paradox have driven
religions and philosophies and have defined business, politics, and
Long before the Egyptian pyramids were built, one Sumerian poet wrote:
Mere man--his days are numbered... Whatever he may do, he is but wind.
-The Sumerians, Elizabeth Lansing, p93
It has never seemed fair that my life, activities, and dreams would have to end in absolutely nothing.
Thousands of beliefs have attempted to explain everything from an
afterlife to cosmic consciousness to alien insemination. No belief has
been empirically proven or universally accepted, so each of us is still
obligated to examine the facts and beliefs and reach his or her personal
Whatever our belief, we owe it to ourselves to examine the wonder of
our existence in its full context. Only then can we make decisions based
on the big picture, rather than being swayed by the moment.
The raw facts about the material universe should be objective and
universally accepted. Unfortunately, very little is universally
accepted. In fact, the philosopher George Berkeley denied the very
existence of matter and the principal university in California still
took his name. Is anything sacred?
As we examine the number of stars, their distance, and the complexity
of life, let us take care to separate established facts from assumptions
and conclusions. All are important, but let's start with what we know
for sure and then move to conjecture. As we continue to learn, let's
keep a humble respect for how much we still don't know and what will
always be outside our reach. That is my opinion.