“The Universe Is In Us”
Before you do anything else, watch this entire video and listen.
I try not to go into anything too serious on this blog because it’s not the forum and I don’t know if I have the right voice. I guess this will be my one exception to the rule.
I don’t believe in god. I’m not at all religious. My grandparents are religious, my mom believes, but she never imposed her beliefs on my sister and I. We were free to explore whatever we chose, I’ve learned about many religions, I have friends of all creeds, races, and religions, and I’m extremely fortunate for that. But I’ve always known, and known for a long time, that science above all is what I believe in.
This belief in science doesn’t mean that I’m some sort of robot who doesn’t believe in humanity. It doesn’t preclude compassion, empathy, or anything other feeling that we as humans feel. It doesn’t mean I don’t yearn for understanding of things that I cannot. It means that it just makes want to search farther and deeper and find fact, regardless of what it may be. Most importantly however, it does not preclude me from feeling spiritual. But before I get into that, I’d like to make a quick digression.
I remember the first time I stepped into a museum. It was the American Museum of Natural History, and my parents took my there when I was tiny. As soon as you walk through the front doors, you are greeted by dinosaur skeletons towering over you. I went back there two weeks ago and they still tower over me. I can only imagine exactly what I thought of in that moment, when I barely reached up to most people’s knees. I do remember two weeks ago the sense of awe that overcomes you. I remember as a kid begging my parents to borrow every book on dinosaurs they had in the library (I remember once butchering the spelling of ‘paleontology’ very badly to a confused librarian). To this day I still remember the names of the dinosaurs, which era they lived, when they went extinct, and on and on. And once I had finished the books about dinosaurs, I went on to whales, because as a kid, I was terrified of the huge blue whale hanging from the ceiling of the marine animals part of the museum. That was me as a kid. I genuinely loved to learn, to know, to understand.
One question that always bothered me growing up, is what happens when you die. I don’t think parents ever really tell you what happens, because they don’t want their children to think about that sort of thing. But as I grew up I feel like I experienced loss more than most at a younger age. I know that’s an incredibly presumptive statement, I’ve lived a privileged life, but it is how I feel. But, I came to the realization that death is the end. I don’t believe that there’s an afterlife. It didn’t exactly make me sleep easier at night. I think every one is afraid of death in some fashion or another. It’s only natural. Of course, a deep held belief in science in no way makes you feel any better. But then I arrived at a certain point and as Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson so beautifully states:
“…when I look up at the night sky, and I know that yes, we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up. Many people feel small, because they’re small and the universe is big, but I feel big, because my atoms, came from those stars. There is a level of connectivity. That’s really what you want in life, you want to feel connected, you want to feel relevant. You want to feel like your a participant in the goings on of activities and events around you. That’s precisely what we are, just by being alive.”
Reading that, and hearing those words, it gives me a certain sense of solace about where we are and who we are. We are all a part of something infinite and that infinity is what makes us. We are a part of that simply by being alive. Not because of who we worship, who we love, what color our skin is, or what language we speak, but simply by the fact that we are. That we exist. That we are made of the same things down to the smallest piece of us. That speaks to me more than anything in the world. Using that as the framework for how we live our lives, and how we explore the world we live in is something that I believe in more than anything else. The urge to explore, to know, to understand, I think that’s inherent to the human experience. That is science for me. It’s not just a compendium of facts, it’s a way to look at our universe and to understand our place in it.
Shakespeare once wrote:
“When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night…”
It’s funny how right he was. After all, we are all made of star stuff. And in a few hundred million years, when our sun goes nova and I’m long gone, maybe we’ll all be come stars again, because that’s how the universe is. There is no heaven, but we’ll be in the heavens, all of us one day.
That to me, is beautiful.