It seems too good to be true

galaxy-life-stars

“Some things occur just by chance. Mark Twain was born on the day that Halley’s comet appeared in 1835 and died on the day it reappeared in 1910. There is a temptation to linger on a story like that, to wonder if there might be a deeper order behind a life so poetically bracketed. For most of us, the temptation doesn’t last long. We are content to remind ourselves that the vast majority of lives are not so celestially attuned, and go about our business in the world. But some coincidences are more troubling, especially if they implicate larger swathes of phenomena, or the entirety of the known universe. During the past several decades, physics has uncovered basic features of the cosmos that seem, upon first glance, like lucky accidents. Theories now suggest that the most general structural elements of the universe — the stars and planets, and the galaxies that contain them — are the products of finely calibrated laws and conditions that seem too good to be true. What if our most fundamental questions, our late-at-night-wonderings about why we are here, have no more satisfying answer than an exasperated shrug and a meekly muttered ‘Things just seem to have turned out that way’?

It can be unsettling to contemplate the unlikely nature of your own existence, to work backward causally and discover the chain of blind luck that landed you in front of your computer screen, or your mobile, or wherever it is that you are reading these words. For you to exist at all, your parents had to meet, and that alone involved quite a lot of chance and coincidence. If your mother hadn’t decided to take that calculus class, or if her parents had decided to live in another town, then perhaps your parents never would have encountered one another. But that is only the tiniest tip of the iceberg. Even if your parents made a deliberate decision to have a child, the odds of your particular sperm finding your particular egg are one in several billion. The same goes for both your parents, who had to exist in order for you to exist, and so already, after just two generations, we are up to one chance in 1027. Carrying on in this way, your chance of existing, given the general state of the universe even a few centuries ago, was almost infinitesimally small. You and I and every other human being are the products of chance, and came into existence against very long odds…”

Read more @ Aeon Magazine by Tim Maudlin: The Calibrated Cosmos: Why Does The Universe Appear Fine Tuned For Life?

And I loved this one too by Mark Morford: 40 Billion Ways to Dance.


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Comments

  1. And to even try to absorb the fantasticness of these events, I for one can’t help but find the grace in being beyond grateful and awed.

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  2. and our task is to just accept this.

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  3. A lot to absorb so early in the morning…….

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  4. When I read something like this I have the same sensation I sometimes get when I glance into a mirror and think, “That’s ME.” Then I think, well, yes, that’s the person the world knows as Lori, but who is she? Who am I really?” And I feel myself sinking like a stone in the center of concentric circles, going deeper and deeper in. It can be wonderful, contemplative, and at times completely unnerving… Whew…I think I’d best just add a bit more caffeine to the system and step away from the keyboard…

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  5. 2 things come up for me reading this post: 1. I am so unique, no one can recreate me even if they tried. That’s awesome! 2. we try so hard to figure out what life means and why we’re here. Isn’t it obvious? This is all it is, this is it; every single moment, all this beauty, all these opportunities to do good, to get it right and to try again. I get to be here, I get to do it! Isn’t that enough?

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  6. Quite mind boggling when one stops to think, isn’t it? 😕

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  7. I often think of my grand-uncle and all his descendants who might have existed, if he hadn’t been killed in the First World War at the age of 18.

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  8. I have found myself contemplating my existence and where I am today many, many times. The odds are astronomical.

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  9. There is also “good chance” and “bad chance.” The stars had to be aligned for all the bad things to happen too. Gets too complicated for my little brain to figure out numbers like 10 to the 27th. I’ll just “take my chances with life.”

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  10. This really got me … “The same goes for both your parents, who had to exist in order for you to exist, and so already, after just two generations, we are up to one chance in 10 to the 27th power” …

    This is so hard for me to even comprehend. But I learned that 10 to the 27th power is known as … an Octillion. And Lori’s comment on questioning who she really is and how it can be wonderful, contemplative, and at times completely unnerving is so “right on the money”. Tell me, Dave … did you ever do that post on the insight she shared?

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    • No Keith, I did not. And agree, that the contemplation can be wonderful (and at times un-nerving). Reminds me of:

      “You sit and breathe…You see the mind wanting, wanting, wanting…Who are you?”

      ~ Larry Rosenberg, from “Breath by Breath: The LIberating Practice of Insight Meditation” in Fluidself.org

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