PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
pieterpompies
 
Comments: 52
Article views: 0
 
 
Latest Badges:


 
View all pieterpompies's badges.
 

The Incredible Lightness of Being

19 February 2013, 10:02

Two big questions in human history still remain unanswered:

-       Is life confined to earth?

-       Why are we here?

First of all, are we alone in this universe?

Our universe is 13.7 billion years old according to the latest evidence, with the number of stars now estimated to be up to 10 to the power of 24. Considering that life exists on our tiny blue dot, it seems more than likely that it probably originates (and becomes extinct) randomly throughout the universe on suitable planets that orbit their stars.

Frustratingly, we might never know if we share this universe with other forms of life. This is because of the immense intergalactic distances involved, as well as the expanding nature of the universe. Our Milky Way galaxy lies within a so-called Local Group of approximately 26 galaxies. Our nearest galactic neighbour, the Andromeda, is 2.5 million light years away*. Within the group, galaxies stay together or are moving towards each other, but outside of it, galaxies are speeding away from each other. These might be reasons why SETI and other endeavours have so far failed to find signs of extra-terrestrial life.

* Speed of light = 300 000km/sec. It will take 4 months of constant driving at 100km/hr by car to cover  300 000km… 1 Light year = distance light travels in 1 yr, = 9.46 million million km!

Secondly, are we, as a sentient species, in the cosmos for a “purpose”?

It seems very unlikely.

Other than our own (often inflated) opinion, there does not appear to be any objective evidence that we ended up on the third rock from the sun for any specific reason or purpose. We merely seem to be very advanced (and intelligent) products of evolution. This sobering suggestion might have been staring us in the face all along.

Matter and energy probably have been in existence forever in various forms and combinations. Similarly, our universe could have existed in many forms, either alone, or as part of a suggested multiverse. It might even be the result of a quantum fluctuation.

Who knows?

To repeat, we are (generally) too arrogant and self-centred in our thinking to entertain (let alone accept) the possibility that we are here for no particular reason at all. Most likely we are not far enough evolved yet to come to terms with this unsettling thought.

This last point is underscored by observing how thin the veneer of society is. Open any newspaper at random and scan the headlines…

Yes, we are unique because of our ability to think and solve complex problems. Sadly, we too often take this for granted and miss seeing the big picture. It is time to hop off from our man-made pedestals, as we’ve only mastered walking yesterday. We need to be sprinters before, for example, the next big asteroid visits earth. Ask Tyrannosaurus rex…

Would a realisation that there is no obvious purpose or reason for our existence (from a “cosmic point of view”), necessarily lead to feelings of despair or that there is ultimately no purpose or reason for living?

Absolutely not!

All the things that give meaning to your life right now would remain unchanged. These might include; Love, family, friends, work, art, hobbies, music, sport, nature and many more. In fact, you might even appreciate them more, should you realise that you are not in the cosmos for any predetermined reason…

Arguably, the highest or most important collective goal we can strive for as humans is to discover and understand our natural world. The more we learn, the more we realise how little we know. As per Donald Rumsfeld: “There are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know”. We don’t need to be academics or scientists to participate in this endeavour. Libraries are everywhere and of course, the Internet literally opened a Pandora’s box of knowledge for one and all.

Above issues aside, take a moment to reflect on your own presence. You are here as a result of (and also despite) some extraordinary events. Abiogenesis for one, although not yet fully understood, occurred despite an extremely low likelihood (of occurring). We, and an abundance of life on earth, are testimony to that fact. Whether life originated on earth, or spread here from elsewhere in the universe, is irrelevant in the big scheme of things.   It happened.    Next, think about all the intricate interactions that must have occurred during the slow process of evolution to yield complex life, and ultimately you. As an example, if not for the sudden extinction of the dinosaurs, you would most likely not be here reading this piece of speculative writing. Your very long line of ancestors had to dodge some very hazardous events over a period of more than 3 billion years. Last, but not least, one sperm out of a few million competing candidates, contributed to half of you.

No matter what our personal circumstances, whether rich or poor, content or in suffering, we should at least appreciate Life for what it is.

I think, therefore I am*


I am, against all odds…**


* René Descartes

**You, the reader

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

 

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
52 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Victor VanHeerden
Don’t be fooled by the ANC or Rob...

Many people think that because the ANC were sort of involved in the liberation of SA and are also are an old organisation that they are the party to support.  Read more...

0 comments 2075 views
Submitted by
Jerry Rodrigues
An extant 150-year old grapevine ...

On July 20, 2016 in MyNews24, I reported on the following: “South Africa's own White Crystal grape (Kristaldruif) – its ancestry revealed for the first time!” Read more...

0 comments 636 views
Submitted by
Phillip Sinothi Moyo
Thank you South Africa

Its 2:41 AM here in Stellenbosch,Western Cape,South Africa & here I am,wide awake,ain't studying or watching movies & I am not suffering from Insomnia either , I'm just wondering. Read more...

0 comments 245 views
Submitted by
Louw Venter
The ANC arena is as messy as mess...

The ANC arena has become messy beyond understanding. When people are in such mess, they tend to think they are untouchable as the mess creates a sort of barrier around them. Read more...

0 comments 245 views
Submitted by
Danie Ferreira
Bollocks Laurie Mains! Don’t blam...

Yes, by 2019 quotas can have a major impact on the performance of the Springboks. If half of the World Cup squad must be made up of players of colour and their selection is not based on merit, then I agree. Read more...

0 comments 640 views
Submitted by
Leslie Fivaz
Two days in the week beyond our c...

There are two days in every week about which we should not worry, two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension. Read more...

0 comments 1048 views
 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on Android Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

TV Get us in your home, on your television.

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2016 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.