18 May 2012

Our place in Space, Part 1

Imagine how people (beings) of the future might consider our current search for life in the Universe. We look to ourselves as an anomaly since there's nothing else quite like organic life, that we know of. Meanwhile, we try to expand our understanding through exploration, driven by a belief that we are not the only creatures in the universe.
Religions often hold beliefs that life is like a strange theatrical performance. In an attempt to comprehend, they all propose that an intelligent creature beyond our comprehension created us, and only us, to test our moral strength to decide our placement in a subsequent existence.
That is a very good plot for a story, but the scientific mind would regard all of those beliefs as speculation.
For the purpose of encouraging moral behavior, the beliefs of religion work well. But as humans enter further and more deeply into
science, the facts that are presented will probably be subjected to greater scrutiny.
Meanwhile, life itself is all we know. As a thriving species that is pushing its capacity of resource consumption and population constantly, breaking new thresholds every moment is just part of the experience. We forget that it wasn't always like this. Life on Earth has been difficult and not full of the conveniences we are blessed with the fortune to have in modern times. In a broad sense, failure to appreciate the amenities provided by our developments and advances in technology could complicate our situation.
Karma dictates that taking something for granted is the first step towards losing something. And by "something" that could
mean anything, from a pair of headphones to global financial stability (I lost my headphones recently).
Religion often channels a dire and profound urge by humans to praise the unknown, possibly as a means to counteract the naturally occurring Karma Equation resulting from a lack of praise for those things which deserve appreciation. Praise as an energy form is a powerful tool in shaping the future. Humans often praise the divine spirits conjured in the religious teachings of the ancients, a kind of sacred fiction that gains special respect and reverence by being somehow associated with these divine spirits.
It's probably likely that these thoughts will be revised, as they have been throughout history. Mysticism will always exist, and might shape our interest in science to make "magic" a reality.
Life can happen anywhere, though. We may be special simply because we are here, we can think, and share our thoughts about these things on ever-increasingly connected communication networks. But perhaps we over-estimate our own value. Compared to whatever else we know in terms of planetary cellular life, we are the most advanced thing in the Universe.
There is always the chance though that this is just a dream. That this is only a test.

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