Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Part of the Whirling Rubble*

Richard Dawkins, ethnologist, evolutionary biologist and non-theist, gives the following response when asked, as he often is, why he bothers to get up in the morning: 

After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with color, bountiful with life. Within decades, we must close our eyes again. Isn't it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? 

I thought about this comment of Dawkins’ last Saturday morning as I sat in an elegantly serene and comfortable aerie overlooking one of Puget Sound’s glistening bays. The Cascade Mountain Range jutted jagged, impressive and imposing in the distance. Mt. Baker—partially snow-covered—stood sentry in the forefront.

My “… brief time in the sun …” has spanned several decades. However, only in the last three have I focused so intently on the natural world. In Voyage of the Beagle Charles Darwin wrote, “It is wearisome to be in a fresh rapture at every turn, but you must be that or nothing.” In no way am I comparing myself to Darwin; however, there are times when awe of the universe overwhelms my senses—in the most delightful of ways!

In my own unscientific manner, I question, read and research; as a result, at every turn, I discover even more to think and wonder about. 

This 4+ minute video, Ultra-Deep-Field-3D, taken when professional astronomers pointed the Hubble Space Telescope at "nothing," is both incredible and humbling.

Of course, all life as we know it is finite. That’s nothing new to me or to any other sentient being.

One of the most fascinating and, in a selfish sense, comforting realizations that has come to me within the last five years is understanding that “energy” never really disappears but simply changes form. This has given me an entirely new way of looking at death ... my own or anything/anyone else’s.

In her autobiography, Dust Tracks on the Road, author, anthropologist and folklorist, Zora Neale Hurston, eloquently wrote:

The springing of the yellow line of morning out of the misty deep of dawn, is glory enough for me. I know that … things merely change forms. When the consciousness we know as life ceases … I will be still part and parcel of the world. I was a part before the sun rolled into shape and burst forth in the glory of change. I was, when the earth was hurled out from its fiery rim. I shall return with the earth to Father Sun, and still exist in substance when the sun has lost its fire, and disintegrated into infinity to ... become a part of the whirling rubble* of space. Why fear? 

The stuff of my being is matter, ever changing, ever moving...never lost. ... I am one with the infinite. 

The 13 ¾ billion year continuum of the universe intrigues me and, rather than make me feel small and inconsequential, gives a comforting understanding of my evolutionary connection to the whole. How can one not feel this way when living on such a “…sumptuous planet”?

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