Our glorious insignificance; lonely but perilous


One of the many things I often ponder is arguably one of the most sobering but very real truths in life.  Our insignificance.  When I say our, by that I mean humanities.  Stop for a moment.  Think this through with me.  Our galaxy, the Milky Way (also a very yummy chocolate bar), is particularly ordinary.  It’s of average size as galaxies go; about 120,000 light years across and contains around 400 billion stars.  Although the scale is overwhelming to contemplate insomuch as light (that travels at around 187 thousand miles a second in a vacuum)  would still take an astonishing 120,000 years to do one length of our intergalactic pool, this ‘normal’ spiral galaxy is extremely ordinary.

Let’s boggle your head a little; astronomers claim there to be 170 billion galaxies in the ‘observable universe’, by which they mean, just in the bit they can see.  This infers quite strongly that there is lots and lots more they can’t see, containing many many many more galaxies.  Now, some galaxies have upwards of a trillion stars in them.  As I already mentioned, ours has ‘only’ 400 billion.  When we times the number of galaxies in the observable universe i.e. 170 billion by the average number of stars in a galaxy, we shall take the figure in ours having already established it’s ordinary nature, 400 billion, we can come up with some kind of an estimate as to how many stars there are in the observable universe.  Here’s the number;

1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.  Apparently this number is one septillion.   

There is plenty of debate as to if the universe carries on forever and ever, or is finite.  Given the former, we can safely add a few more zeros to this figure and still be nowhere close to the accurate answer.  But as far as the part of the universe that we can see, this number is a good enough indication for my point.  Now, our sun, just one very average star, has 8 planets orbiting it.  One of those is us… the Earth.  Of the other 400 billion stars in our galaxy, there could very easily be many more earth like places, probability would have it that there is.

Even if there wasn’t, what of the other 170 billion galaxies that we can observe (not counting the ones we can’t remember) and the stars in each of those?  What are the real chances of us being the only ones?  Probability ways heavy here and points to favourable odds for other ‘life’.

Tomorrow; the perilous part…. insignificant or not.

Notable mention to creative force; if there is such a thing, s/he is very wasteful indeed.  I can only compare this to making 100 sponge cakes and eating just the one.  Curious.


What is atheism?


Many mistake the term ‘atheism’ as a belief system or a set of beliefs that are abided by, by a person who adopts a stance that renders them a non-believer.  This is a common misconception.  Atheism, in fact, is the antithesis of that notion.  It is the lack of belief.  It describes someone who does not believe in a god or gods as that person is simply stating that there is no credible evidence to support this fantastic notion.  Ultimately it is a rather silly word.  There does not seem to be an equivalent for someone who does not believe in say, fairies; how many times have you heard someone described as a ‘non fairy believer’?  I would doubt if you had heard the term at all.

I am an atheist.  I observe no credible evidence that supports the idea of a god or gods.  My stance is that there is in fact no evidence that would support the idea despite there being many arguments for a gods existence. But none of these cannot be explained by scientific proofs that are, for me, more credible as they are supported by evidence.  Evidence, is truly, the most important thing.  Otherwise we are leading ourselves into delusion.

It is true however, that it is impossible to actually be an atheist in the strictest possible sense, as we cannot positively say there is no god.  I can’t prove this statement.  Neither can I prove that every night at precisely 3am a monster made of baked beans does not creep into my room and whisper the secret to making the best baked beans into my ear when I sleep, this monster only shows up if I am sleeping so I can’t prove this claim.  What can be said is that it is extremely unlikely.  Therefore there is no such thing as an atheist, but rather agnostics.  Atheism is a term bandied around therefore for ease of expression.  Food for thought.