Life on a Dot

The Unreasonable Paucity of Human Magnificence

Man is a magnificent creature: we have walked on the moon; swam with the sharks, and flown with the birds. Men and women in history have possessed the intelligence to land spacecrafts on moving asteroids; voices that would put nightingales to shame, and beauty to make a sunflower blush.

Ironically, our magnificence as a species has probably blinded us back from seeing things in the right perspective because we are so absorbed with ourselves.

The times we are in have afforded me the opportunity to step back and reassess life. Boy, oh boy, was I surprised! Let’s start at the same level:

The Deep Sea

I found a really intriguing website: The Deep Sea by Neal Agarwal. it’s really immersive. I need you to scroll through and see all the ‘amazing-ness’ and awesomeness in the sea, then come back. I found it oddly refreshing:

You’re done? Pretty cool, huh? Hats off to the scientists and explorers who made these discoveries, especially the two madmen in the submarine featured at the “bottom of the sea”. Imagine me in a pressurized metal container sinking to the bottom of the sea… for science… Nah fam, I’ll pass.

But after seeing all the wonder detailed above, I Googled this: “How much of the sea has been explored?” I don’t know about you, but these were my results:

Now I know we are in the era of fake news and 5G conspiracy theories, so If you want to Google it for yourself, I have no problem. Maybe the figure is even well above 5%; I don’t know. But I dug a little deeper and found from the US Ocean Service that “More than eighty percent of our ocean is unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored.”

If you want to check for yourself, I’ll wait. Just hurry back.

You’re back? We can continue? Awesome.

Slowly, it should begin to dawn on you that for all we know, we really don’t know much. Here’s what I am saying:

If we were to write an exam on all that was contained in the ocean, the most knowledgeable of us would score a maximum of 5%. (20% if that person had the US Ocean Service’s data memorized… but even that is a fail in any school)

Humility check! But we’re not done… there is still a better perspective…

The Pale Blue Dot

“The Pale Blue Dot” is a popular image in astronomy. (Go ahead! Google it!) It looks like this:

the pale blue dot
Do you see it?

Hopefully you see it, but it’s understandable if you don’t.

In 1990, after 13 years of travelling through space, a NASA spacecraft called ‘Voyager’ took a panoramic picture from the edge of our solar system. That’s the image above. Do you see it now? I really need you to see it. So here:

pale blue dot with arrow

You see it now, right? But for good measure, here’s another one zoomed in with contrast increased so you don’t miss it. One of the Earth’s oldest selfies:

Carl Sagan, a popular astronomer at the time, said of the image:

“…That’s here. That’s home. That’s us… 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.”

Carl Sagan, Astronomer

Realize this… all the wonders of the deep sea that we saw above… the great depths of the 5% of the ocean that man has explored, all reside on that tiny speck. Everyone, from a baby born in Syria to Donald Trump in the White House, lives on this speck. You, are reading this blog post right now on this speck!

Are you seeing things in the right perspective? You, me, we are really tiny. At the risk of stating the obvious, permit me to say this: We are inconsequential. If you died today, the entire universe would simply not notice. It’s actually possible some of your neighbours wouldn’t notice either. Don’t feel bad, they wouldn’t notice if I died either. Reminds me of something I heard:

The greatest determining factor of the number of your friends who will show up at your funeral is the weather.

-Unknown

According to scientists at NASA, the original image of the Pale Blue Dot contained 640,000 pixels (the little dots that make up a digital image). For the sake of argument, let’s assume it took 3 pixels to represent the earth, and there was someone who knew everything there was to know about the earth (keep in mind that we have explored 5 to 20% — max — of our ocean… but hey, this is our imagination, right?). Let’s generously throw in like a hundred pixels more, because we have some really smart people studying other objects in our solar system, and I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt.

So with 640,000 pixels, let’s use this as a baseline for representing conservative possible knowledge of our solar system (not our Milky Way Galaxy or the ‘known’ universe, just “My Very Eyes May Just See Under Nine Planets”). Now, if we were to write an exam on our knowledge of the solar system, we could represent what the best of us would score as something like this:

(103px ÷ 640,000px) ×100% = 0.0160%

Yes, my dear friend, if we knew everything there was to know about earth (a generous 3 pixels), which we certainly don’t, and we threw in another 100 pixels for knowing a little bit about the moon, some planets, and a few other space rocks, the best of us on a good day, would be inconceivably and obscenely lucky to score 0.1%. Even our knowledge can be considered daft in the right context.

I’m sitting here writing this, and it’s suddenly dawning on me how the wisdom in this post is the realization of how futile our wisdom and knowledge are, to begin with against the canvas of the universe. In case you didn’t know, scientists still cannot agree on the biological reasons for yawning. That’s how much we don’t know…

For all our magnificence as a race, pride is still really just a dumb concept when you put things in perspective, is it not?. Everything we are proud of: every achievement, our beauty, intelligence, wealth… is a microscopic blip on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

Significant Insignificance

King David’s question is most relevant in the light of this realization:

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

Psalm 8:3,4

Like, really, how do people so tiny get the attention of a God who makes planets, moons and stars? How do we work up the nerve to defy the Architect of the universe when our entire planet is easily lost in a picture? How do we let our one-pixel problems shift our focus from an ultra-HD God?

Maybe it’s an issue of perspective, maybe He’s just too big for our one-pixel minds to wrap around. (You’re not about to get offended, are you? Just look at the picture and try to locate yourself if you feel I’m being too harsh.) Maybe that’s why Jesus, God relevant to man, had to come down to show us the Creator’s essence in our one-pixel context.

For all our degrees and experiences, there’s 95% (80% optimistically) of our ocean that laughs when man takes pride in himself. In full context, even the concept of “sound judgement” doesn’t sound so sound anymore. When the facts are laid on the table, it’s easy to see that the human race is constantly trying to solve a 100,000 piece jigsaw puzzle with three pieces… because we have “expertise” in those three pieces.

Listen, it’s beautiful that we are prized by Majesty… that the God who runs the universe takes the time to concern Himself with the issues and concerns of men; from pimples to relationships, terrorism to biological warfare, and everything in between… He is genuinely interested Dang!

If my math is correct (and it’s wrong, very wrong… we are a woefully more ignorant than estimated), it is pure madness to stand on our 0.0161% knowledge base and act like we can dictate to life, whether today or tomorrow, when there’s 99.9839% of the “known universe” (again my figures are very wrong) which could kick the Earth in the nuts without warning at any time. * laughing in Corona *. (It’s almost funny, a virus brought the world to its knees, and even on its knees the world doesn’t get the hint…)

I think I’m at risk of making this post too long. I should sign out now. But before you leave, allow me to indulge you in another one of Neal Agarwal’s fun projects. He calls this one “The Size of Space?” It’s pretty dope:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding

King Solomon, wisest man in Israel

KayO

PS.

Astronomy is actually quite cool, and Louie Giglio happens to be an amazing tour guide across God’s great universe. If you’d like to see more, I recommend a great video called “Indescribable”. I’ll leave it below:

Originally published at KayO’s Blog.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store