“Our small planet, at this moment, here we face a critical point in history. What we do with our world, right now, will propagate down through the centuries and powerfully affect the destiny of our descendants. It is well within our power to destroy our civilization and perhaps our species as well. If we capitulate to superstition or greed or stupidity, we can plunge our world into a darkness deeper than the time between the collapse of classical civilization and the Italian renaissance. But we are also capable of using our compassion and our intelligence, our technology and our wealth to make an abundant and meaningful life for every inhabitant of this planet. To enhance enormously our understanding of the universe, and to carry us to the stars.”

-Carl Sagan, 1980.

From “On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense,” 1873, Nietzsche.

“In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the highest and most mendacious minute of “world history”—yet only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths the star grew cold, and the clever animals had to die.”

“One might invent such a fable and still not have illustrated sufficiently how wretched, how shadowy and flighty, how aimless and arbitrary, the human intellect appears in nature. There have been eternities when it did not exist; and when it is done for again, nothing will have happened. For this intellect has no further mission that would lead beyond human life. It is human, rather, and only its owner and producer gives it such importance, as if the world pivoted around it.”

“What, indeed, does man know of himself! Can he even once perceive himself completely, laid out as if in an illuminated glass case? Does not nature keep much the most from him, even about his body, to spellbind and confine him in a proud, deceptive consciousness, far from the coils of the intestines, the quick current of the blood stream, and the involved tremors of the fibers? She threw away the key; and woe to the calamitous curiosity which might peer just once through a crack in the chamber of consciousness and look down, and sense that man rests upon the merciless, the greedy, the insatiable, the murderous, in the indifference of his ignorance—hanging in dreams, as it were, upon the back of a tiger. In view of this, whence in all the world comes the urge for truth?”

It is dubious as to whether we can survive the end of the sun, which is several billions of years into the future, and frankly I think the demolition we are doing on this planet may well take us down in the next few centuries, or just 100 years.  Of course maybe we can still do something about this; maybe it is still not too late.  Of course I find it interesting how people seem determined to cling to their fantasies about eternal salvation through their petition to a God, but are not able to face the reality around us.

I always thought the movie “Bladerunner” caught most accurately aspects of our modern condition, a world very advanced, but also fragmented and close to some edge of oblivion.  The music by Vangelis caught to mood of it as well.  This movie was based on Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” which had a much the same theme.

“All those moments we lost in time, like tears in the rain.” Lawrence B. Crowell

If Nietzsche were alive today he’d realize we have learned a great deal about ourselves, our intestines, our blood streams and whatnot. Of course there’s oodles more to learn, but we’re learning it. And the sheer joy of exploration and discovery is a great Distraction for some people.
As for not being around in a million years or so, that really doesn’t bother me. The “forever” meme has always been a bit puzzling to me. But we all want to be remembered after we die and I’ve always liked the last four lines of a poem by Longfellow.
The works of great men all remind us
We can make our lives divine
And departing, leave behind us
Footsteps in the sands of time.
One of the reasons I like it so much is that it evokes a literal image — that of the moon, which scientists say has no atmosphere and therefore will preserve such things as the footprints of astronauts for up to five million years. I picture an alien scientific expedition to our sector of the galaxy some 4 or 5 million years from now — an alien Beagle ship. They arrive at our star, still burning brightly of course, and check out each of the planets and planetoids and their moons. They find some bacterial life on a couple, but it is the rocky third planet they have the highest hopes for because it lies in the best habitable zone. But when they arrive they find it a vast desert with dried-up oceans and no evidence of life having ever been there. Disappointed, they  turn around check out the  planet’s single moon, just to get more information on the solar system’s evolution.
And there on the moon they find them — footsteps!!  They lead to tracks of a vehicle. The alien explorers look up at the barren planet in the lunar sky and wonder if there’s more to Planet 3 than meets the eye. Then they follow the tracks…
I don’t know why this story cheers me up, but it does. We have placed our footsteps (and our handprints starting with the Blombos caves in South Africa c. 90,000 bce) all over earth, but if earth were destroyed and all topographical evidence of us buried, would there be other places that aliens could find traces of us? On the moon, if those footsteps hold up for 5 million years. I’m not sure what state the Mars Rovers will be in then, or if they will be buried too.  I kind of like the idea of spreading our mark wherever we can in the solar system, so that others may one day discover us. (or not, but if not, I’ll never know about it).   Anne



About basicrulesoflife

Year 1935. Interests: Contemporary society problems, quality of life, happiness, understanding and changing ourselves - everything based on scientific evidence.
This entry was posted in Are We doomed?, Common, Values and Sense of Life. Bookmark the permalink.

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