Something’s Not Right

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[Inspired by Sarah]

Something’s not right when most rooms of adults consist of individuals glued to their cell phone screens.
Something’s not right when the children of earth are more interested in their iPhones than playing.
Something’s not right when wherever you go, people are quietly ignoring everyone else around them so they can focus all their mental energy on an LCD screen.
Something’s not right when so much cement and steel pervade our lives that when any nature creeps in to our concrete jungle, it disgusts us.
Something’s not right when we can no longer see the cosmos that made us because innumerable fluorescent lights are glaring.
Something’s not right when the human being can no longer stand to let his mind wander for fear of missing a post.
Something’s not right when a cell phone acts as an immense blockade to any glimmer of human connection.
Something’s not right when we don’t know how to have genuine emotional communication with, or empathy for, another human being because we’re used to using only text to communicate.
Something’s not right when words, photos, posts, and advertisements stream into our conscious worlds so continuously that there’s simply no room to imagine a world without them or beyond them.
Something’s not right when we use our electronic devices to avoid our thoughts and feelings- the things that make us human.

And there’s simply no social room to miss the latest post, photo, or text. And my god, what ever better thing could I possibly be doing with my spare moments than filling them up with the connections and uploads in my digital domain?! Sit in boredom? No way. Look out the window? What for? Watch the world go by? Nah, seen it before. Let our mind wander? Well, wander to what?

If we can’t stand to just sit and let our minds wander, then the entirety of humanity is in dire danger. And I don’t mean that with the slightest spice of exaggeration. All of humanity’s greatest advancements, inventions, and achievements began with a mind that wandered to a new thought. A mind that wandered to a new idea. A mind that wandered to something imaginary that later became a reality that changed everything. The first plane. The first pencil. The first book. The first rocket. The first wheel. The first key. These firsts, and all other firsts, all sprouted from a wandering mind. And they weren’t usually created by one great inspired insight, but by conglomerations of wandering moments that found each other in other wandering moments.

Perhaps if you had put that iPhone down for two minutes your imaginary vision could have changed the course of human history. But instead you decided to keep texting, keep tweeting, keep facebooking, keep uploading photos. You keep letting a screen absorb your consciousness entirely. And in doing so, you’ve told everyone around you that it’s ok to never let your consciousness leave that little screen. In fact, you’ve inspired them to never let their eyes leave that little screen. And consequently, you’ve turned humanity’s advancement down some very small notch. And together, all of us, eyeing our news feeds instead of the world around us, have turned humanity down one, big notch. Maybe it’s not your fault, maybe it’s just the fault of Steve Jobs. But we can’t afford another dial down in a modern world that has too many problems, too few solutions, and too big of dreams to lose the wandering minds who will save it, lead it, and take it to the stars. Indeed, all of humanity depends on each mind wandering to a place that no mind ever wandered before. So I beg you, put that cell phone, tablet, or laptop down and let your mind wander because your species, your planet, and your society depends on it.

Sacred Connectedness

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Sacred connectedness. What does that mean exactly? It means the atoms that are a part of you now were once in the furthest reaches of cosmic space and time. It means that the air molecules you breathe in this very moment were once breathed in by dinosaurs. It means that the electrons and protons that make up your laptop computer once resided in the fiery aftermath of the Big Bang. It means that the all the minute choices of animals and bacteria millions, even billions, of years ago have forged you into the being you are now. It means that without the magnetic sphere of hydrogen and helium in our skies, there would be no me or you. It means that the words you say today will affect other people, live in their hearts and minds, and continue on to others after you die. It means that everything you do now is impacting the people around you in ways you probably don’t even notice. It means that when you die the atoms that make up your flesh and mind will slowly dissemble and eventually become other things on planet earth.

It means that one day when the sun eats the earth and the pieces of us inside the beautiful planetary nebula that forms as the skeleton of our solar system will disintegrate and drift into the cosmos, and then the atoms that were once you may one day become the building blocks of a new intelligent civilization somewhere and somewhen in the universe. It means that all parts of our lives are ever-connecting into a small story about one way the universe existed for a brief blink in time. It means that I’m a 13.8 billion year old expression of a star. And so are you. Sacred connectedness lies a little bit beyond the pier of sheer science because we are taking the facts of science and attaching the cycle of subjective human lives to them to paint a meaningful, true story. Science may never unearth all the myriad ways to which we are connected to the cosmos, nor all the consequences of it, and belief in a connectedness far greater than what we may be able to understand is a sacred piece of our existential puzzle.

Sacred connectedness means that each moment of our lives depends on billions of past and present people and billions of past and present organisms. The words we speak and write, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the buildings we live out our lives in, the technologies we use, and the ideas in our minds, have come from, or were built up by, billions of other people and yet are manifested in this moment. The oxygen that the trees around us are producing and the microorganisms in our bodies are keeping us alive right now. Perhaps it seems like an obvious thing to say -that all the things that matter to us have come from other people and other living things- but to truly imagine the magnitude of individuals and organisms that are contributing to each moment of our lives is to have a sense of sacred connectedness and is to also gain a greater capacity to lessen the importance of the self. Indeed, in realizing sacred connectedness, we see that there really is no “you,” because “you” are a conglomeration of billions of past and present people and creatures, without which there truly can be no “you” at all.

But sacred connectedness means something even bigger. Sacred connectedness means that all existence has branched out from one point- the Big Bang. And this one point was something purely and utterly insane. It’s that somehow nothingness, or some physical state extremely close to nothingness, created an entire universe. It’s that nothingness created me. And you. Thus, the only logical deduction of this we can take is that if nothingness can create a universe, and if a human being is far more than nothingness, then a human being must be capable of creating anything. 

Why Physics Is Wrong

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Mostly wrong anyway. It’s the best we can do on harnessing the truth of course, but still pretty much wrong. If the history of science has taught us anything, it’s that our major theories of the universe usually turn out to be way off. And there’s something painfully obvious that’s missing from modern physics- the fact that it’s all coming from a very limited, and often very stupid, ape. I’m certainly not the first to point this out, but I am the first to give this issue a name- I call it “Evolutionary Relativity.” Physics assumes that we have some kind of god-like perspective of the universe and that we can unlock all it’s secrets with a little math, but alas, we’ve forgotten that we’re just apes, not gods.

EVOLUTIONARY RELATIVITY

The revolutions of Darwin and Einstein can, and should, be integrated. Given that the development of our understanding of physics is a function of our evolutionary heritage, it seems necessary that evolutionary understandings inform our assumptions in physics. Evolution implies that physics is relative and dependent on how Homo sapiens have adapted.

Physics and mathematics are extremely limited in their ability to tell us about the universe because they have originated through an animal’s relative perspective. Homo sapiens have knowledge because of their sensory perception. But our sensory perception has adapted to a very small segment of physical reality and yet that is from where our physics comes. Every equation we write down about the universe is created through a biological lens. This lens concurs with what we observe with our senses and instruments made with our senses, but when we try to apply these equations to very large and very small scales of physical reality, the ability of physics to explain nature breaks down because our senses break down. Human beings are playthings of the environment. Thus, everything we do, physics included, is also environmentally dependent. Hence, physics that is far removed from our sensory perception- quantum mechanics, general relativity, dark matter, etc– is probably a distorted, relative animal vision of the universe. Evolutionary Relativity is not debating the empirical success of any theory. It is claiming that the fundamental assumption of physics– that Homo sapiens have the capacity to accurately describe levels of reality far outside our own– is limited by our evolution. Moreover, our dead ends in physics could be explained by this limitation. This will be proved when we contact another intelligent civilization and learn that their physics is different from ours.

Why Physics Is Relative

Albert Einstein could have taken the concept of relativity one step further. Not only is time and space relative, but so is our entire system of physics. This is because we are animals. We cannot ignore the fact that we experience the universe through a biological lens any more. The more we ignore it, the more we are failing to understand our place in the universe. Of course our physics concurs with what we observe, but when we try to apply our tangible logic to environments that are far removed from the environment we adapted to, we are not gaining information about the universe, but are instead describing our relative perspective. Quantum and cosmological realms are so removed from our senses that they should be considered environments to which we have not adapted. Epistemology tells us that knowledge comes from our sensory perception and our sensory perception comes from how Homo sapiens have adapted to a very particular animal environment. Therefore, we cannot have knowledge about something that our sensory perception has not adapted to process and understand. Our neural circuits are designed through natural selection to solve adaptive problems our ancestors faced- and not designed to solve the universe. The sensory perception of Homo sapiens is fine-tuned to what is necessary to our survival. It is not fine-tuned to the fine-tunings of the cosmos. Thus, our evolution as a species makes the framework of our physics relative. This is what I call Evolutionary Relativity.

Let us imagine the future. Eventually we will communicate with another advanced civilization in the universe. We typically assume that their system of physics would be not only identical to ours, but probably far superior. What if it’s not? What if their system of physics is completely different? If it is different, it might be because their mode of sensory perception is different from ours. For example, if life on earth originated in the ocean via the warmth of hydrothermal vents, it would not be absurd to imagine a marine intelligent civilization that evolved under an ocean. Or perhaps an intelligent civilization that floats in a Jupiter-like atmosphere or one that communicates with electromagnetic pulses. Would their system of physics be anything like ours? Probably not. Suppose we meet another advanced technological civilization and we discover that their physics is in line with ours (because their sensory perception is similar to ours), but that they have the same problems in physics as we do? They may have reached the same point where physics stops being functional. Each species develops its own way of sensing the world around it. And this basis for understanding reality is from where our animal math and physics comes. Alas, we cannot apply that logic to cosmological or quantum mechanical realms without error, because they are environments so drastically removed from the one to which we have adapted. When we communicate with other intelligences in the universe, we will be able to show Evolutionary Relativity, and hence understand that our problems in physics are not problems for us to solve via math and physics, but through more creative ways- when life eventually becomes the driving creative force of the cosmos.

We don’t come upon many theories that try to explain the workings of the cosmos in a new way because there’s a problem with how we are training scientists. Rigorous scientific schooling prevents the imagination from emerging in it’s full potentiality because it just forces pre-imagined versions of how things work on the students. And according to Thomas Kuhn (author of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions), the way science really advances is by a novel deviation from, even a shunning of, all prior puzzle solving approaches to science. But instead we create students that are very good at solving the same old problems, but who are not very good at imagining how the universe could work. The very structure of school is dampening students’ ability to imagine and think creatively, for they can only regurgitate others’ ideas when that’s all they’ve been taught to do. Perhaps if we immerse ourselves in nature and ask ourselves how we know the things that we know and re-ponder the basic questions, without the luxury of textbook or computer, we may come to many realizations about the universe. Since we may come to understand the limitations of physics and mathematics to explain the universe- to where will we turn? To understand the universe, we must make matter from light, life from matter, consciousness from life, and ultimately make our own experimental big bang (perhaps by combining many extraterrestrial spheres of knowledge), so that we can study and observe a universe in its totality.

Physics is not the central science, it is an anthropocentric activity like everything else we do here on planet earth. It’s about time that physics seriously considered the human biology that it is completely submerged within. Nothing is exempt from evolutionary theory. The barriers between the sciences must be broken down for us to maximize our scientific advancements. Hence, no longer should biology, chemistry, and physics stand separately, they are all guided by the same principle; evolution. We live amidst and indeed are ourselves a marvelously complex, blooming process of cosmic evolution.

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Celestial Palace

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In terms of our meaning-seeking, the “celestial palace” we want is a mandala of the cosmos that embodies our understanding of our place in the universe. Buddhists have palace-mandalas to symbolize their map of their spiritual cosmos and to locate themselves and their leaders in that cosmos. The mandala is a building that stands as a framework for reality. Our scientific-cosmological mandala is much younger than the Buddhist ones, but quite sturdier in its reality-infrastructure. Science is still in the process of building our celestial palace.

We need the cosmic mandala, the celestial palace. We need to see how and where we fit in the picture of the universe and then make that picture as tangible as possible, hence the construction of a “palace.” Perhaps the closest science can come to a physically analogous Buddhist mandala is a good planetarium show. But a mandala is really a map and that’s what we need– a reality-map indicating the human coordinates in time and space. And that’s exactly what science wants to build. Indeed, one of the big questions astronomy is really after is:

Where are we?! … Where and what is our home in the cosmic panorama? In no way have we finished answering that question.

We experience every day with a secured sense that we are living out our lives on some sort of a stable milieu. Not the case, at all. Planet Earth zooms around our solar magnetic fireball at 30 kilometers per second– that’s faster than a speeding bullet (which is around 1 kilometer per second)!! And the Sun is rushing around the galaxy at about 200 kilometers per second– that’s faster than the fastest man-made object! The opalescent Milky Way itself is hurtling towards the Andromeda galaxy at 80 kilometers per second for an inevitable cosmic crash… A chaotic bee hive seems a more apt description of our reality than a steadfast terra firma. So much for any kind of physical stability.

Less than one hundred years ago, we could not answer the “where are we” question to much extent. This is because we didn’t understand what a galaxy was or if there were other galaxies. So we didn’t know what the universe was made of at all. How lucky we are to be in the instance of human history that’s starting to draw out the chart of existence. And that chart is transpiring into something slightly insane… Yes, we live on a speeding-bullet planet, on a faster-moving Sun in a system of hundreds of billions of stellar and planetary neighbors that are whirling through the cosmos at ridiculous rates. But there are also hundreds of billions of other star-embellished paisley galaxies that fill the cosmic jewel box that is the universe. It’s preposterous. There are more stars, planets, and galaxies looming in the universe than our brains can really register. What’s more, the vastness of the vacuum of space separating galaxies is so dauntingly gargantuan that our animal synapses can barely begin to imagine it. Yet the vastness swells as I write because of the acceleration of the cosmic expansion. And there’s nothing “outside” of the universe because the Big Bang itself sprouted time and space. Unless… there were other Big Bangs, in which case we live in the Multiverse, a stellar landscape of bountiful bubble universes. The Multiverse is not science fiction. If another universe touched ours or interacted with ours then we could detect it’s eerie existence. Some cosmologists think we’ve already found evidence of this!

Our celestial palace is something pretty absurd. And we are immersed in the absurdity. It can only get more absurd from here on out. But we’ve put ourselves on the map. We just don’t have any idea how far the map could stretch… We’re the cosmic Columbus in this flicker of earth history. We know where one green dot lies on the galactic map. But that’s it, we’ve only started. We’ve only just quasi-realized ourselves.

 

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How do you know what you know?

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Before we can embark on a sturdy sail towards meaning, we have to know what’s really real about our reality. This is because we need a meaning that we can stand on unwaveringly, that we can hang our hat on and say, yes, this is a true, satisfying, source of meaning.

However, historically and generally, humans seem not to care at all if their source of meaning is true. They seem to be reacting in a I-don’t-care-if-it’s-true, just-give-it-to-me-in-any-flippant-form-because-I-need-it-so-badly-manner. Humans will believe anything if it provides them with meaning when they desperately want it. Hence the existence of innumerable fabricated religious stories. But I want a meaning that I know is in some sense true. Or at least that has a mathematical or rational probability of being true. Generally, science is about truth and religion is about meaning. Then “all we have to do” to unlock a form of cosmic meaning is find a way of making science, or the true, meaningful. But getting our way to a true meaning requires that we know exactly how to get to any piece of “the true.”

Firstly, how do we know what we know and which facets of that knowledge are something “real” or “true” in the universe? Well, you can take somewhat mind-numbing philosophy theory of knowledge (TOK) classes in which you use very meticulous linguistic logic to claim a foundation for particular sets of knowledge… Or you can just get straight to the scientific solution to the matter.

So, let me save you the long nights of eyebrow-furrowing reading on philosophical logic that I did and just give you the quick skit. All that reading doesn’t really get to the heart of our question anyway.

You must be sitting somewhere while you’re reading this. I’ll assume you’re sitting at a table. Maybe your elbow is resting on that table while you’re wondering where I’m going with this.

How do you know the table is real?

… What I mean is, how do you know you’re not dreaming up the table? 

That’s a big question in philosophy and many a lecture-hook start out with that question. But I don’t think philosophy by itself has much to say about it, as I already alluded. You know the table is real because of science. Specifically, you know the table is real because of evolution. You know you’re not dreaming because of evolution.

Yes, that’s right. Not math, not physics, not chemistry, not language, not “I think therefore I am” – evolution is at the heart and core of what’s telling us what’s real and what’s not real.

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This is because all of the components of your human sensory perception that epochs of evolution have developed are allowing you to realize what’s true about your environment. Evolution toiled to bring you hands and eyes and other sensory modes that detect truth-bearing-parts of that table in front of you. Evolution’s a reliable process leading you to truth. If you didn’t have any idea of what’s real and what’s not in the universe, there’s no way you’d survive. Thanks evolution, you’re alright!

Billions of creatures across billions of years have learned to pick up on the parameters of the physical world for their survival and hence discovered some facade of the truth of reality.

All other sets of knowledge (math and science included) have commenced and laid their foundation via the sensory perceptions that the evolutionary process perfected and incorporated into our being.

So are we getting closer to the truth because we are so much more advanced than the other creatures? Possibly. Hardly. We’re biased towards the tiny segment of the environment that our species has adapted to. All of our math and science has no option but to be built on top of the mere way we happened to have adapted to a particular level of reality.

Warning: I now need to make an inevitable, highly-opinionated,  science detour. Quantum mechanics and general relativity are realms of reality that humans have absolutely not adapted to and are environments that our sensory perception has no way of understanding. Yes, they are empirically consistent, correct theories on their own, but may not be telling us anything about the “real” of the universe because they are built off of laws that were founded in our adapted sensory environment (basic math and science).  You can’t just slap parts of sensory-founded laws of nature onto a non-adapted, non-sensory environment-realm . That means… there’s probably no Theory of Everything (TOE) because we can’t squash together two human perspectives of two drastically different environments that we haven’t adapted to. In other words… another advanced intelligent civilization in the galaxy will not have the exact same set of basic physics as we do because they will have adapted differently than us to their particular planet and will have a different way of discovering the truths of said planet. Moreover, this means that the basic assumption of physics is possibly incorrect- we cannot understand everything because of the limitations of our evolution.

Anyway, back to finding our meaning podium.

Getting to some of the “true” means picking up on all the sensory facets of our reality that evolution has bestowed upon us. And we can magnify some of those with technology. But there are a lot of instincts and “feelings” or senses about our environment we have as animals that science and society basically ignore because we don’t know of a way to make those things quantitative. But just because we can’t chug it into a calculator or underline it and box it and graph collected data on it doesn’t mean it’s not real! In fact, evolution is telling us that if we’re having a repetitive biochemical sensory reaction to anything in our surroundings, well, then it might be telling you something real about your environment.

Some, maybe most, of our human sense-feelings, like hunger, don’t really seem to have anything to do with the reality of the cosmos. But… on second thought, the exchange of energy and the physics of sustaining life that are associated with that sensory-desire are telling us some things about how the universe works. We need to consume orderly forms (fruit, vegetables, other complicated, orderly animal forms) to maintain our complex human order. Many structures in the universe function on similar principles. Anyway, some of our senses and desires may let us peer into the truth of the cosmos more than others.

But if humanity is sensing a desperate need for meaning, as thousands of religious ideologies have demonstrated, then there’s something real about the meaning search. Our evolution is telling us- find your belonging in the cosmos! Find your meaning! You need it! You must inherit your connectedness to the cosmic schema because you need it in your spirit to advance, to discover, to survive as a species! … Now if science-logic led us to see a potential reality of meaning and if you find the process of truth-hunting satisfactory (how is the search for truth not meaningful?) because you’re starting to see where that hat-peg and unwavering cosmic-stage are hiding out, then maybe our cosmic meaning is upon us.

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Let’s talk about the aliens

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There’s something infinitely meaningful about extraterrestrial intelligent civilizations that gets sidestepped for conversations of contact. Forget contact for a minute. Let’s just think about their existence. Oh yes, they’re there. Top professors at top universities proclaim to lecture halls of hundreds of students that there are probably at least a few intelligent civilizations in our galaxy. That’s a pretty revolutionary claim that’s becoming mainstream in astrophysics.

So somewhere in some galactic crevice of our Milky Way there thrives another intelligent civilization. Maybe they live under an ocean or in the atmosphere. Maybe they communicate via telepathy or have achieved teleportation. Anyway- what are they doing? If they have any technology, then they’re probably trying to understand the universe and their planet and their species… just like we are.

Well, so what?  Remember that planet earth and everything we’ve ever known is going to be devoured by the sun in a few billion years and perhaps every trace of our civilization might disappear forever. That’s cause for letting yourself fall into a big black hole of meaninglessness. Remember that religion is really the longing for the infinite and if science is telling us that we are truly finite, well, that’s a kind of a road block in our path to immense cosmic meaning.

But that’s not the end of the story. So if there are other intelligences that are doing the exact same things we’re doing right now (searching for truth and meaning and developing greater technologies) and if some of them outlive our civilization- then some form, some version of us and the things we value is continuing on in a very real way when we’re gone.

If there are civilizations in other galaxies too, and if we indeed live in some kind of infinite, eternal cosmological landscape, like for instance the Multiverse, then biological and intelligent life is… eternal. So, the same result at the heart of eons of religion and superstition… is coming from science.

To sum up: ETs in every galaxy + the practice of science or similar human endeavors on said ET planets + eternal or ongoing cosmological space-time geometry = eternal life. There is eternal existence for some form of the important things we’re doing now- the search for truth and meaning. When our lives are over, when our planet is gone, the things humanity has dedicated it’s existence to will still be alive somewhere in the universe.

So possibly, there’s eternal biological and intelligent life in some form… and that gives us a sliver of some sense of cosmic meaning. But nothing that I do will be passed on after earth dies, right? Well… maybe, but not so fast. You see, as a species, we’re infants, we’re babies. But guess what? We already know where the earth-like planets are. Incredible! And in a few hundred years, telescope power will have advanced so greatly that we’ll be imaging these earth-like planets directly. That means that if there’s another civilization in our galaxy that’s thousands or even millions of years older than us… they know we’re here. Yeah, you can bet on that. Not only do they know we’re here, they most definitely have the advanced technology to peer into planet Earth and watch every single thing we do…

Yes, the aliens are probably watching you. Good luck sleeping tonight.

We might be the equivalent of frogs to them. But we’ve probably evolved and adapted to our planet differently than they have and that might interest them. They watch us for the sake of science, for the sake of amusement, and maybe even for the sake of… new ideas. Do you see? The extraterrestrial intelligences are probably watching each other, watching us, sharing what they see, and perhaps propelling our ideas into eternity.

Scientific eternal life (even if the aliens aren’t watching)… much, much more amazing and fulfilling than a cloud-scape of fairies and angels and gods that has absolutely no logical or evidential basis whatsoever that we can never go to in real life. But the stars, the other extraterrestrial intelligent civilizations- we will one day go there.

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None of us know what we’re doing

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Many of us experience the world with a sense of familiarity and eventual boredom with our everyday lives. We yearn to fill our lives with things and experiences that excite us, that make us feel alive, that entertain us… And we feel the need to fill every moment with something to occupy our minds. And hence we end up filling every moment of our lives with distractions from the one thing we should probably be paying the most attention to- life, reality, the universe we inhabit. And then we emerge dissatisfied from our “entertained” lives and cry for meaning…

But I can’t blame you. No one probably ever taught you how or gave you the time to deeply and extensively contemplate your fundamental existence in the cosmos. This might be partially because no single human being knows how to live their life. None of us know what we’re doing. And I don’t either, of course.  But the one thing we probably should do before we do anything else with our one precious life, is figure out some kind of meaning or value or importance for ourselves so that we can pursue life with an appetite and joy for planet Earth and the human species … With degrees in astrophysics and religion from Berkeley, you could say that’s all I think about.

I’ve learned that there’s something so miraculous, so absurd, so beautiful, so incredible about every second of our existence that it’s unbelievable… but because we experience it over and over and over again… we never really see or value the miracle we own in our very consciousness right now. Earth might be heaven, but if we experience it constantly, we’ll never notice. That’s why to start our search for meaning, we need to take a big step back from the flows of experiences and excitements that we have access to, and take a good, hard look at reality.

The danger of science without meaning

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Leading physicists at the top of academia seem to think that they have the intellectual authority to sneer at the value of humanity. Phrases like “chemical scum,” “random accident,” “cosmic fluke,” “unimportant trace contaminant of the universe,” or “mere side effect of increasing entropy” sporadically crop up in lectures by physicists to remark on the existential state of humanity. Since these remarks come from the mouths of “geniuses”, we take them seriously and hence begin to yield to meaninglessness and believe that the emergence of life is something that has gone terribly wrong on this planet.

But physicists are not academically equipped to make these claims; I know—I’m trained as one. But I’m also one of the rare science thinkers who is also trained to think about meaning. When we believe in meaninglessness, we take the resources of earth and the beauty of our lives for granted. When we believe in meaninglessness, we over-value the material- since the scientist says that’s all that exists- and cease to appreciate or have awe, wonder, morals, ethics, spirituality, and a loving persona towards our earth and our communities. If we believe in meaninglessness, we will kill our planet. I want to proclaim our scientific meaning to the world—we are a natural unfolding of the cosmos, we are specially condensed versions of the universe, we are how the universe comes to know itself, and we have immense meaning. In fact, if we weren’t here to study, admire, and inquire about the universe, then the whole cosmic show would have gone on unnoticed. We are stardust that can explain the stars, we are galactic inhabitants who can map the universe, and we are the universe itself.

You are the universe

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What’s happening right now on planet Earth is nothing short of insane. 13.8 billion years ago all that existed was a vacuum of nothingness, of empty space that somehow held an invisible, incredible potential. That cosmic vacuum of infinite nothingness manifested into you. The utmost miracle- space transformed itself into a mind. It meticulously built you with the ultimate building blocks of unfathomable amounts of time and space… You are the cosmo-evolutionary product of billions of years and unimaginably vast stretches of space that came together and self-organized themselves into you, into the human species, into a breathing planet. And there need not be anything supernatural about it. That’s how the cosmos works. It creates minds and planets and amazing things from nothingness. The universe could have stayed in a state of nothing perpetually, but it used all of it’s energy, time, and force to coalesce into you…

What all this means is… you are the universe. The universe is not something out there, somewhere, beyond us. It is in this room. It is in you. You are the culmination of all of the cosmos. We are the daughters and sons of space and light and time itself. Amazingly, some of the carbon and oxygen atoms in your body right now came from the very first stars that ever formed in the cosmos. The elements that make up your body were born from the most spectacular and outrageously beautiful and explosive events of the universe. Billions of years of stellar and galactic drama played out to allow for your emergence. Your cosmochemical existence is so ridiculous that it’s hard to believe that this was possible. Yet this is how the universe we live in works.