The Milky Way Galaxy consists of something in the neighborhood of 100 to 400 billion stars, depending on which scientist you choose to believe. Further, the Milky Way — only one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the known universe — is about 120,000 light years in diameter, an unfathomable distance.
That said, if you were to shrink the entire Milky Way Galaxy down to the size of our earth, the earth itself would be proportionately reduced to a mere speck of dust. From a visual standpoint, then, man does not even exist! Relative to his cosmic surroundings, one might even be tempted to speculate that all of mankind is nothing more than an egotistical illusion.
But not so fast. Whether you got here through “accidental evolution,” God-created evolution, or the presumably more rapid Intelligent Design, the evidence suggests that you are, in all probability, the most unlikely and remarkable object in the entire universe.
Think about it. What kind of “accident of nature” could have possibly brought you into existence? How can a collection of atoms see, hear, laugh, think, plan, and, in addition, be aware that it does all of these things? Given the vastness of the universe, it’s seemingly impossible. But, nevertheless, no matter how you got here, you do exist! It’s a fact.
And unless you buy into the belief that your every thought was determined at the time of the Big Bang, you possess a gift that may not exist anywhere else in the universe: free will. When you think about the vastness of the cosmos, isn’t it just a bit remarkable that you, and you alone, among all other combinations of atoms, have the ability to make choices?
It’s interesting that after all these billions of years, there are only a little more than seven billion of us human beings inhabiting our cosmic speck of dust. To put this in perspective, scientists tell us that a shovelful of dirt contains more microbes than the entire earth has people. Yet, we are the ones who have been gifted with free will.
True, microbes were here before us and they will be here after we’re gone. It’s also true that some of them can kill us, though we can’t even see them. But, even so, we are superior to the microbes because we are actually aware that we exist. Likewise, even if a meteorite were to wipe out the entire human race, man still would be morally superior to it because, unlike the meteorite, he was at least aware of his existence while he was here.
So, yes, you not only are an unlikely collection of atoms, you are remarkable. Now, the question is, do you treat yourself like the special entity that you are? Do you actually live your life as though you are special — possibly the most special matter in the universe?
Do you fuel your free will with knowledge and wisdom — by reading, by thinking, by asking questions, by thoughtfully processing the answers, by observing, by experiencing life? Or does your free will lead you in the direction of unpleasant business and personal relationships, exhausting and fruitless confrontations, dishonesty, alcohol, drugs, and other self-destructive behaviors?
Unfortunately, as special as he may be, the reality is that man is flawed, so everyone is enticed into self-destructive behaviors at one time or another. But just because we are flawed doesn’t mean that we need to throw in the towel and make stupid and irresponsible behavior a way of life.
It’s also important to understand that man is genetically programmed to act in his own self-interest, no matter how much the self-anointed moralists among us may protest to the contrary. The fact is that self-interest is neither good nor bad; it’s neutral. What matters is whether someone is rationally selfish or irrationally selfish.
I bring this up because what determines whether or not you treat yourself like the unlikely and remarkable cosmic specimen you are is whether your actions are rationally selfish or irrationally selfish. If most of your actions are rationally selfish, you go out of your way to avoid engaging in the kinds of behaviors I mentioned earlier. If most of your actions irrationally selfish, you tend to be attracted to such behaviors, which is bad for you and everyone around you.
The out-of-control violence, lack of moral standards, decadent behavior, and anything-goes mentality that has overtaken our once civilized society is a devolution for mankind. I believe that underlying this devolution is the fact that people no longer see humankind as special. Their uncouth bravado is attention getting, to be sure, but it’s really nothing more than a cover-up for their fears and lack of self-respect.
Fortunately, you have free will and can therefore choose to be in the fearless minority — those who possess dignity, self-respect, and a desire to strive for concentricity between their words and actions. That’s right, you have the power to choose to make a conscious effort to treat yourself like the most remarkable cosmic specimen in existence.
And should you make that choice, you will be amazed at how most of your day-to-day secular “problems” magically disappear as peace of mind and optimism replace conflict, struggle, guilt, and misery.