In latest novel Amidst Alien Stars, there is a small excerpt which says:
Rjebni waved at the sky again. “If we do not explore it, what is it for?”
This time it was a good question, and Jason found no answer.
So this month I thought I might briefly delve into such matters, and explore our relationship with the universe. There are quite a few questions here, and everybody will have their own standpoint, but that’s how it should be.
Here’s a previous related post: How alive is the Universe?
Sensing the Universe
How many of us have actually considered our relationship to the universe? Sure, that’s a deep and meaningful question that usually gets put on the back burner in our struggle to survive on this scary but beautiful planet. We are all too busy making ends meet, working out personal relationships, ensuring our most basic needs are met in order to survive, sorting out good from bad.
There is another question, though. Does the universe ever consider its relationship to us? What are we to it? Does it even care? This, of course, is bordering on the religious or spiritual side of our being and, to me, that’s what makes it so fascinating. It is well worth giving some thought.
Life and the Universe
Many people are of the opinion that there is no life in the observed universe other than ourselves [although the pendulum is definitely swinging]. But consider this: what if they were right? What if Earth was the only planet that supported a life-form with any sense of being able to recognise where they sat amidst all the galaxies and all the stars and all the planets? What if, amidst the vast entirety of everything, only humans knew about the existence of the universe?
Would that be a good thing or would it be terrible? Or would it not even matter?
One of the biggest questions of all is: What happens when we [the human race] are gone?
The sun was here long before us, and apparently will be here long after we’re gone from Earth. Having formed roughly 4.6 billion years ago, our sun began its life roughly 40 million years before our Earth had formed. And it will eventually turn into a red giant and take our planet out—some 5 billion years from now.
But, of course, human life on Earth could disappear much earlier than that event.
What if there were no humans or aliens?
If, for whatever reason, humans become extinct, and we assume there are no aliens, no more thinking life in the known universe anywhere, then what does the universe become? To my mind, it becomes a pointless thing. It will have no intelligent sentient creatures to behold it—it will have no purpose whatsoever, about as useful as a lifeless rock in a vacuum chamber.
So I believe that beholding creatures are essential for the universe to make sense. Otherwise it is a complete waste of time and space—literally.
And following on from that, it makes sense that intelligent creatures should be conceived. Not as some kind of accidental whim, but as an essential for the universe to make sense. Whether they are humans or aliens may not even matter, but all the eggs may not be in the same basket.
Taking thoughts further, maybe Sensing the Universe is also a great argument for the afterlife. After all, if life after physical death on Earth is a certainty, as most religions believe, then it ensures that the beholding continues—in this universe and maybe also in others [and possibly other dimensions]. There is great scope for thought and hope in that basic premise.
What we sense may only be the half of it [or, for that matter, the hundredth].