Thoughts & Insights

Time has Come for a Cosmocentric View of the World

“The constant of the speed of light separates us humans from a physical experience of the universe. This constant puts us in a kind of quarantine whose frontiers we can only overcome with the help of imagination.” – OUBEY (1992) Humankind is intoxicated with speed. Over the last three hundred years, as development cycles have become ever shorter, the development pace of our scientific discoveries and technical achievements has increased exponentially.

The intervals between our discoveries and their practical effects have also become increasingly short. For a long time this development process was focused on planet Earth – the only planet we know on which millions and billions of people, animals, plants and other lifeforms can live, simply as creation produced them. Without any artificial oxygen supply or other aids. The Earth is – and will remain until evidence to the contrary is supplied – the only planet in the Milky Way on which we and the bewilderingly vast diversity of species specific to the Earth can live and survive without the need for high tech equipment.

And even though the fortune of this fact becomes more evident with each passing year as our understanding grows, in the countless thousands of years of our evolutionary history, we humans have never managed to forge a bond of friendly coexistence with the sole planet in the Milky Way galaxy which offers us such a wonderful home. Now you might object that nature is also cruel when it overwhelms us with hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and floods that wipe out thousands or hundreds of thousands of human lives at a single stroke.

Yet our “ancient ancestors”, as the Maori called their forebears, were also visited by Ice Ages which nobody living today could possibly have survived (at least nobody growing up in western industrialised societies) and they still had everything that makes life pleasant from food to a warm oven in the house. People and other lifeforms on Earth have seen much harder times than those we are living through right now. Nevertheless they treated this planet with love and respect.

And now we’re looking for new planets to call home both inside and outside of our solar system. This is to be welcomed. If it wasn’t a smart or sensible move, evolution wouldn’t have allowed things to develop thus far. OUBEY was as convinced of this as I am. The driving force behind this search is our deeply rooted longing for a much bigger, broader home – the home from which we actually come. It’s the cosmic home, the home of all the universes, galaxies and stars to which we – as earthly creatures on planet Earth – owe our very existence. It should be very evident that we are not just delving into the origins of where we come from but that we also wish to return to them.

Yet because of our very nature as human beings, time will continue to keep us in that quarantine of which OUBEY once spoke. If such limits are to be overcome, they will be overcome by beings who are so fundamentally different from us through their connectivity with advanced artificial intelligence that they might as well be beings from some science-fiction novel. They will no longer be recognisable as ourselves, they will be a different order of beings. This too is good and meaningful if evolution allows it.

A second deep-rooted longing comes into play in the search for extra-terrestrial habitats for people. Undoubtedly this is one of humankind’s most primeval desires and at the same time a conditio sine qua non in the sense of a logical consequence of the desire to find new bases and homes in the cosmos. Because we will only find such new homes if we are able to greatly extend our own lifespans. As seems likely, this could happen in the next few years or the next ten to twenty years at the latest. And it will inevitably lead to an updated version of the age-old dream of eternal life, and perhaps a kind of provisional immortality will indeed be achieved one day by the people who come after us.

Absolute immortality will never be achieved in this universe nor indeed in any other. Absolute immortality would mean the end of all kinds of evolution. And why should evolution rush forward to its own end – just because a species called humankind became aware of its own mortality a few thousand years ago? And in doing so began to dream the dream of individual everlasting life. If there is something I do believe in, then this is the inner logic of the story of the creation of everything, including us humans – with all its seemingly illogical contradictions and deficiencies. Now it might well be that we could have been both important and useful for this evolutionary process for a period of from 35,000 to 40,000 years. But this period too will come to an end. On Earth, and increasingly in the solar system of which our planet forms part, we have created a human-centric frame of reference in which the human being is the benchmark and measure of all things. We have moved from the geocentric world view of ancient times to the heliocentric system of the Renaissance and the human-centric system of modern times where the human being is “Master and Commander”. And even though the findings of astronomy and astrophysics, not to mention the basic research in physics undertaken in recent decades, have made the theoretical underpinnings of this world view wildly outdated, in practical terms it has still not lost any of its immense power to shape our consciousness.

Yet for the universe in all its unfathomable magnitude, breadth and depth, we are of no importance. This is also the view of the world famous astrophysicist and cosmos researcher Professor Lawrence Krauss. Indeed, it would do our consciousness good if we could at long last move progressively into a cosmocentric view of the world, one that is commensurate with our current knowledge of our significance in the cosmic shape of things. Maybe this would help us to do a bit better on this planet.


If you like to read more, please see the National Geographic´s article: