Between Stockholm Syndrome and Lima Syndrome
Part 17: The Sahara of All Existence and the Anthropocentric Chutzpah
The only reason why we think that an omniscient and omnipotent God—who knows everything, including our intentions—still has to micro-manage each and everyone of us speaks volumes about our self-aggrandizing thought process. Humans being humans, we are prone to fall into the trap of anthropocentrism. We are really good in chest-thumping, whether or not we realize it. From the Greek words--ánthrōpos (human being) and kéntron (center)—anthropocentrism is the belief that we, Homo sapiens, are the most significant or central species on the planet or in the universe, much more valuable than any other species or living creatures—terrestrial or otherwise.
Now let's look at the facts.
In this Milky Way galaxy, what we refer to as 'the sun' is actually just one ordinary star among a hundred thousand million stars. The diameter of the Milky Way galaxy of 100,000 light years certainly does exceed ordinary human comprehension. As stupefying as it is, we now know that the galaxy itself is but one among a billion other galaxies. It has often been said that the number of estimated stars in all the galaxies in the universe vastly exceeds the grains of sand on all the beaches in the world. Yet, we have not even factored in the possibility of 'cosmic inflation' which considers the existence of a multiverse (meta-universe) consisting of parallel universes!
Nobody puts this hypothesis more eloquently than American particle physicist Victor John Stenger (1935-2014) in Anthropic Design: Does the Cosmos Show Evidence of Purpose? (1999): "The hundred billion galaxies of our visible universe, each with a hundred billion stars, is but a grain of sand on the Sahara that exists beyond our horizon, grown out of that single, original bubble of false vacuum. An endless number of such bubbles can very well exist, each itself nothing but a grain of sand on the Sahara of all existence. On such a Sahara, nothing is too improbable to have happened by chance."
"His eye is on the sparrow" aside, are we kidding ourselves to believe in the concept of a caring God who has nothing else to do? A God who micro-manages everyone of us, 24/7/365, including keeping a current accounting system to record appropriate rewards and punishments including how many virgins certain people deserve in paradise as rewards for certain acts committed on earth?
That's why the belief that the entire magnificent universe (or multiverse, for that matter) is just a temporary scaffolding to facilitate our existence is indeed preposterous. As prominent American skeptic and secular humanist Paul Kurtz (1925-2012) once emphasized: "It is the height of anthropocentric chutzpah to assert that the purpose of the fine-tuning of the universe is for the emergence of the human species." So why are we here and what are we doing?
[To be continued.]
Johannes Tan, Indonesian Translator & Conference Interpreter