The Colossal Improbable Cosmos by Wayne Saalman


HEAVENLY DELIGHTS await us in the night. They call to us with a kind of mysterious celestial telepathy that never fails to capture the enraptured imagination; not of the true lover of all things astronomical, for the cosmic spectacle that graces the night sky of this Earth is magical, beguiling and profoundly enchanting.


Those who live in the country or out in the wilderness are exposed to this spangling of wonder whenever the night sky is clear, but city dwellers get only a pale version with which they must make do at the best of times. Those who live in the city, therefore, must pursue their love of the stars when they can; be it on a holiday island, while vacationing in the desert, camping in the mountains or being out at sea on a ship that is either pressing full speed ahead into the nocturnal darkness or is anchored at bay and happily rocking with the lapping waves.


How and where it comes about, however, is purely incidental. The important consideration is whether or not one takes the time to really look when one can. A passing glance will only satisfy a little bit. To fully feast the eyes and mind with a fuller appreciation of the light show that dwarfs our world by a factor of trillions to one, we must break away from everyone and head off on our own. We must make a solo journey into the darkness or at least wander about in the night with someone who understands that “silence” can be “golden” in a literal, as well as a figurative sense!


The crucial point is that an effort is required to fully drink in the magnitude and scope of the grandeur of the cosmos that surrounds us. Too often, unfortunately, we are so caught up in our own lives that we don’t bother with casting so much as a glance at it. We concentrate, instead, on our troubles and worries, our hopes and dreams, while ceaselessly wracking our brains trying to figure out how we can achieve a better life for ourselves.


Such a state of affairs can render one unappreciative of humanity’s place in the heavenly scheme of things and that is to our detriment.


Whether we believe that a Supreme Creator conjured the staggering reality we call the universe or that the whole of it simply erupted into being purely by chance, what raises the experience to a higher, more profound, level is realizing just how improbable the mere existence of such a vast universe truly is and reveling in that fact.


The odds are so against it, astrophysicists tell us, that we are lucky to be here at all.


The unlikeliness of such an unfathomably great universe existing in any form can only be fully appreciated by getting out under the stars at night and deeply grasping the fact that we are not apart from this astonishing greatness. It is our eyes, our minds, our hearts that drink in this awesome phenomenal spectacle. We are the ones who attest to the actuality of it. That makes us vital to it.


Some astronomers have remarked that the Earth is small and insignificant in the greater scheme of things; that our planet travels along with its host star far from the center of the action at the heart of our galaxy; that our sun is not particularly substantial in size; that we really ought to be humble about our place in the cosmos. “The universe does not revolve around us,” they say. “We humans are fairly trivial adjuncts to our planet, in fact, and worse, we are dangerous and destructive creatures who are collectively destroying it.”


There is some truth to those assertions, of course, and being humble about our place aboard Spaceship Earth is wise, but trivial we are not. We are immensely important. We are the only known beings who can cognize and, therefore, recognize how unlikely and grand this universe is.


Are we driving our habitat to ruin, though? We are, but that is down to the slow arc of our evolutionary development as a species. We have proven ourselves almost too adept at surviving. We have done so with but a weak and flawed view of how fragile our host planet is.


Fortunately, human intelligence is now increasing at an exponential rate, so there is great hope that we will gain an authentically holistic perspective in time to save ourselves and our planet.


Pessimists will offer only skepticism and doubt to such a notion.


Optimists will take action and do their part.


Will it be enough to make a genuine difference, however?


Yes, it will. Count on it. Humanity is tremendously capable of sustaining itself. The biggest lesson of all revolves around a very elementary fact: to sustain ourselves we need to sustain our environment, our biosphere, the whole of our planetary home.


And we are central to something…


From an earthly point of view the observable universe is 46 billion light years in all directions. We are at the center of this particular sphere, this sector, of the universe. Any planet that likewise harbors sentient, self-reflective life similar to our own will see the universe in the same way we do. They, too, will be at the center of an observable sector of the whole. They, too, will be significant and vital to that region of the universe.


If such beings do exist, I hope that they have evolved enough to gaze in awe upon the spangling of unfathomable grandeur that surrounds them. I hope that they, too, understand how improbable such a colossal spectacle actually is and, therefore, appreciate how miraculous in magnitude and scope it truly is, and subsequently take care to preserve their place in it by treating their home planet with the respect it deserves.


Appreciation is a simple thing, but it is one of humanity’s most remarkable of virtues. Whether one is an atheist, an agnostic or one of the religious faithful of this world, there is every reason to deeply comprehend that a virtue such as “gratitude” is a measure of the greatness of the human spirit.


I think it is a testament to humanity’s evolutionary development that many “get it” about this universe of ours; they get how wondrous and majestic and colossal and improbable it truly is…

And because of that, they treat this Earth with the respect it deserves and requires.


There is no question that we are indeed lucky; probability has come out on our side. It has favored us.


The cosmos came into being. It is here, it is real and we are the ones who know that.



1 Comment

  1. Very poetical and heartfelt I enjoyed reading it . It departs from Carl Sagan in giving us a much more significant place in the cosmos ; often reading Mr Sagan I get the impression he is out to belittle us.

    Liked by 1 person

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