The View from the Center of the Universe

08/11/2012 04:34

by Joel Primack and Nancy Adams.

Great Story Quotes from the Book.


"Without a meaningful, believable story that explains the world we actually live in, people have no idea how to think about the big picture. And without a big picture, we are very small people. A human without a cosmology is like a pebble lying near the top of a great mountain, in contact with its little indentation in the dirt and pebbles immediately surrounding it, but oblivious to its stupendous view." (p. 84)


"Human beings are made of the rarest material in the universe: stardust. Except for hydrogen, which makes up about a tenth of your weight, the rest of your body is stardust." (p. 89)


"Living in the consciousness of planetary-scale time deepens our identity and, most importantly, reveals the opportunities of our time, which, if we rise to them and embrace them, can provide us with the kind of cosmic meaning that humans have sought for thousands of years." (p. 130)


"The history of the universe is in every one of us. Every particle in our bodies has a multibillion-year past, every cell and every bodily organ has a multimillion-year past, and many of our ways of thinking have multithousand-year pasts." (p. 151)


"Thinking cosmically doesn't require zipping around the Galaxy visiting aliens. It simply means integrating the new cosmic reality into our thinking whenever we try to understand what's going on in our world." (p. 240)


"One's thinking should always be on a larger scale than one's actions if those actions are to be meaningful. To act wisely globally, we must think cosmically." (p. 252)


"From a cosmic perspective, our larger identities are bound equally into the past and future of our species and our planet. To discount the future, as though consequences that will only hit a later generation are insignificant for present calculations is a crime against ourselves, not just against our descendants, because it distorts and truncates our concept of what we are." (p. 263)


"Cosmic perspective is the greatest gift that modern cosmology gives us. It reveals that the Big Bang powers us all, galaxies and humans alike, in different ways on our respective size-scales. Every one of us is entitled to say, 'I am what the expanding universe is doing here and now.'" (p. 269)


"There's a joke among cosmologists that romantics are made of stardust, but cynics are made of the nuclear waste of worn-out stars. Sure enough, the complex atoms coming out of supernovas can be seen either way, but these atoms introduce into matter the possibility of complexity, and complexity allows the possibility of life and intelligence. To call them nuclear waste is like calling consumer goods the waste products of factories. A cosmology can be a source of tremendous inspirational and even healing power, or it can transform a people into slaves or automatons and squash their universe into obsession with the next meal or with trivial entertainment. The choice of what attitude the twenty-first century will adopt toward the new universe may be the greatest opportunity of our time. The choice between existential and meaningful is still open." (p. 279)


"The popular idea that the spiritual is a realm outside the universe that 'transcends' the universe is a holdover from an earlier picture of the universe. But the concept of transcendence is not meaningless — it is merely misunderstood. Transcendence is not an imaginary jump to some place 'outside' the universe. Transcendence is what happens many times within this universe, every few powers of ten." (p. 285)


"By the 'spiritual' we mean the relationship between a conscious mind and the cosmos. It's not the study of the cosmos — that's science. It's the way we relate to it. Things larger than about 1012 cm, or smaller than 10-2 cm, can only be known through science and only experienced spiritually. This includes most of the universe." (p. 286)


"Until we find our symbolic place in the universe, we will always misinterpret ourselves, feeling as though we are outside, sensing the familiar existentialist isolation, and looking at a universe in which we play no part." (p. 288)


Visit Primack and Abrams' website for their book:


Basic Source: The Great Story Quotes



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