Nearly a hundred thousand years ago, our ancestors, the first group of Homo Sapiens migrated out of Africa. And as they left the savanna they were confronted with new challenges in the openness of the newly conquered land. But for the first time, they could have glanced the view of the night sky in its full glory. The early men had conquered the land, crossed rivers, and cooked food for the first time but the night sky left him with awe.
Time had passed since then, and we humans have spread across the Earth. We have conquered the grandest of all oceans, the mightiest of all mountains, even the emptiness of space. There is no stopping us. But the pride of all our greatest achievements, when compared to the immensity of the Universe, vanishes in a puff of smoke, and we, the greatest of all the species on planet Earth, are left with nothing but awe like our ancestor out of the savanna.
From the beginning of time, till the end of it, the Universe is all that exists. And that leaves us with questions. What caused the Universe? What is our place in it? Are we alone?
We humans have tried to answer these questions since we have attained self-awareness. Most of the times we attributed the creation of the Universe to some kind of a Deity. Be it the Rig Veda, the Torah, the Bible, the Quran or any other religious book, they all tell the story of a divine creation. The creator has different names. Somewhere in the east, he is Brahma. Somewhere else he holds the name Elohim or Yahweh or Jehovah or Allah. It seems at a glance that the creator deities of different cultures have different names and different attributes. But upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that a deity always looks like men who imagined him in the first place, and he created the Universe for his glory. The answer seems satisfactory to many but the absurdity of the idea that a heavenly creator, an eternal being, could look just like us and have the biological and emotional needs of a human, racial and gender preferences according to the geographical region and time, and self-contradictory views about morality, cannot be unseen. Above all, the idea presented by the creation stories that the Earth and the entire Universe was created for the sole purpose of human existence, seems a little arrogant.
The human kind lusts for knowledge, and we are uncomfortable in ignorance. Our fear of the unknown, the dark, was coded in our DNA as we evolved in the African savanna hunting for food and hiding from predators. But our appetite for knowledge has pushed our sails to the end of the world. And since the last three centuries, we have started to understand the intricacy of the Universe. The Universe has revealed itself to us to be interpreted by science and mathematics. Now we are living in an era when we can actually, answer those questions. Since Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton we have answered many of them. But the more we explore the Universe, it seems that the realm of unknowns is ever expanding. The questions are endless.
We had our footsteps on the moon and sent space crafts that orbited and landed on mars. As every single one of our ships went beyond our solar system and reached the interstellar space we wondered, what mysteries lie ahead. What we find, is humbling and awe inspiring. The vastness of the Universe makes us re-evaluate our age-old understanding of our place in it. We are but a speck of dust, barely noticeable from the interstellar space that lies just beyond our very own solar system. Now imagine our solar system in the Milky Way galaxy that contains roughly a hundred billion stars many of which contains a planetary system of their own. Our observable Universe contains a few hundred billion of these galaxies spread across the darkness of the Universe. The size and immensity of the Universe make us insignificant. It hurts our arrogant belief that we somehow inherit a purpose, and hold a special place in the Universe. But at the same time, it gives us a sense of responsibility. We have to determine our own purpose in the Universe. And the very fact that even being so insignificant in size we still managed to develop, by the means of millions of years of evolution, the ability to comprehend the complexity of the Universe and ask those big questions, makes us sort of unique. We still have light-years to sail as we wander around the shores of the ocean of knowledge and wisdom. We have but darkness to gaze and stars to guide us.