One Month In…

…and I still feel like experimenting with the look of this blog.

When I was a kid, my sense of aesthetics was always changing. I would re-arrange my surroundings — consisting solely, at that time, of my bedroom — on a monthly basis. I was restless, and looking at my blog, I’m restless here too. Not with what I’m writing, and reading, but with the appearance of the blog. I know there aren’t many out there actually reading this, but of the ones who do, if you have an opinion on what you see, please share it.

The picture at the top is that of Saturn eclipsing the Sun. I found the picture over at the Edge. I had to crop it for the header – but if you look closely inside the rings on the left side of Saturn (there’s a larger picture here), you’ll see a little dot. That dot is us. Earth. Gaia. Our world. The picture is accompanied by a short comment from Steven Pinker, in which he says:

It is not only perhaps the most stunning photograph ever taken, but the fact that it has not appeared on the cover of Time, New York Times, etc., is a sign of our culture’s indifference to science.

There is nothing so fascinating as a picture of a celestial body. When I think of Heaven, I don’t think of billowing clouds with the deceased walking around in sandals. I think of this picture, and pictures like it, of the billions and billions (imagine me saying that with the inflection of Carl Sagan) of galaxies, and the hundreds of millions of stars in each of them, with the billions and billions (Carl again) of planets contained in solar systems we’ll never see, never visit, and probably never even know exist. That’s heaven, or more properly, the Heavens.

I’m one of those people that truly believes that Science will be the ultimate cause of the demise of religion. I am always deeply amazed at the beauty and wonder of the Universe. Like Richard Dawkins, I find more spirituality gazing at the Heavens than in reading any holy book. So I thought the above picture was a good image for an atheist’s blog – one that signifies just how puny humans are in the grand expanse of the Universe, contrary to most religious thought that puts us at the center of the universe. That little dot places everything in proper perspective. And a more fitting image for this blog, I could not think of.

At least until next month.

10 thoughts on “One Month In…

  1. Great post. It’s true how often people don’t take the time to realise how truly small we really are compared to the universe. Compared to the majesty of the heavens every dream, wish, whim and nightmare are just pale imaginings. I’m reminded of the speech given by Carl Sagan on that picture of a tiny dot suspended in a beam of light:

    “I look at that dot and I think that’s here, that’s home, that’s us. On that dot everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human-being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joy and suffering thousands of confident and mutually exclusive religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love every mother and father, every hopeful child, every inventor and explorer, every revered teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there on a mote of dust suspended in
    a sunbeam. The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.”

    The whole speech can be found here.

  2. The whole speech can be found here.

    Excellent. I just read it, and Carl Sagan clearly says so much better than me, what I was thinking and wanted to say.

  3. Dr. Seuss ‘got it’ too in Horton Hears A Who! So much life on a speck of substance in the big picture. It’s mind boggling and awe inspiring.

    Hey, I like what you’ve done in here. So cozy and all Feng Shui-ish!

  4. Xander G, Thank you for sharing the link to the Carl Sagan speech. I just read it. How powerful. If it isn’t enough to look up at the moon and stars at night to remind us how minor we are, surely a gander at the photo on this header and a review of Sagan’s speech should.

  5. Hey Spanish… I just looked at the Edge. Thanks for sharing that too. Out of all the descriptive words I seem to have chosen the same two as Pinker, “awe-inspiring” and “mind boggling.” Great minds. lol. (Actually, I was just trying to sound smart; what I really wanted to say was ‘un-fucking-believable’ and ‘far out!’)

  6. Oh, and sorry for hogging all the ‘comment’ space.

    No problemo. I like lots of comments. It gives me the illusion that I have lots of readers. 🙂 Keep ’em coming.

    Incidentally, if you liked that Sagan speech, you’ll love The Varieties of Scientific Experience, which is an expanded set of lectures he gave on the same theme, and which was published just late last year. One of my favorite reads this year.

  7. Torquemada:

    You said to Sandy: I like a lots of comments. It gives me the illusion that I have lots of readers.

    Well, here’s another comment to feed your illusion. I’ve never been much of a spirituality guy, but I do agree that gazing up at the night sky — or staring out at the ocean, or admiring a distant mountain, or even, as I do frequently, watching the birds go about their amazing daily business — makes you realize how spiritually impoverished religious fundamentalists really are. It never ceases to amaze me that many of us who don’t believe in a mythical deity tend to feel awe at the natural splendor around us, while those god-pushers who blather on constantly about a “Creator,” are far more concerned with mundane things like who’s screwing whom.

  8. Oh good. Another reader ensnared in my web.

    Yes. Well put.

    I still cringe at even using the word “spirituality”, with all of the connotations of supernaturalism it evokes. I’m gradually reconciling myself to the notion of a “human spirit”, which is more like the reflective and introspective state of mind the wonders of nature tend to set off in my tiny brain.

  9. “…while those god-pushers who blather on constantly about a “Creator,” are far more concerned with mundane things like who’s screwing whom.”

    Fuel for judgement and perceived superiority…like it makes a bit of matter in the universe. Ya know, I’m seriously thinking about taking that Saturn photo and an excerpt from that Sagan speech and making it into Christmas cards this year. I should hope that even my bible thumping friends would appreciate the message. Oh, and thanks Spanish for the book recommendation. I just added it to my Amazon Wish List.

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