What's It Like Being Only One Of 11 Billion Planets

Einstein was right — seems the guy is always right! — when he said, “With more knowledge comes more doubt.” With the recent knowledge of 11 billion planets in our galaxy which are possibly as inhabitable as ours, has come a roar of doubts. Doubts in the Vatican…in Mecca…in GPS headquarters…even in Hollywood’s disaster-movie studios. I mean look, we just got a few things finally down pat, and now you throw us a cosmic curve ball?

Those 11 billion planets aren’t going to change the way you get to work in the morning. But their discovery is going to change the way we keep changing the way we look at ourselves. At one blissfully ignorant time, we all sorta figured we sat on the back of a giant turtle or that we spun in space as the solo handiwork of a benevolent creator. But now, now things are getting too big to grasp. Too enormous to find any place in it. Instead, we are apparently far less a species than the Michelangelo’s, Shakespeare’s and Pope’s have portrayed us.

Here in 2013 there may be only two roads to take: (1) the high road in which we applaud ourselves for this relentless search for truth wherever it takes us, or (2) the low road in which we admit we are little more than the grandest beast on the smallest rock among 11 billion other rocks blindly spinning in black space.

I can see it now. Love-smitten boy to love-smitten girl under the stars: “Compared to what may be up there, Linda, you’re not necessarily the best catch; but my genes crave your genes until something better comes along!”

I’m not sure what love-smitten girl would answer, but I’m persuaded it would bring boy, Michelangelo and Pope back to earth. I can hear Linda saying something like: “If you want to pretend you understand the universe, be my guest. Only remember this. It’s now how much you know, it’s how much you care…!”

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