Think Cosmically, Act Globally

In his review of The New Universe and the Human Future for the Huffington Post, Deepak Chopra writes that authors Nancy Ellen Abrams and Joel R. Primack are “not aiming to reclaim old religious ideas;” rather, they “put great store in the unique scale of the human world and how our minds have turned to explain ourselves as well as the cosmos.” Considering the current state of science and religion, and cosmology and theology, this is a bold move to explain the origins and meaning of human life. But as the authors write:

There is a gaping hole in modern thinking that may never have existed in human society before. It’s so common that scarcely anyone notices it, while global catastrophes of natural and human origin plague our planet and personal crises of existential confusion plague our private lives. The hole is this: we have no meaningful sense of how we and our fellow humans fit into the big picture.

The story they construct, a combination of biological, religious, and cosmological thinking, relates the discoveries of the modern age with various creationist stories of our universe, observing that:

Many religious believers are convinced that the earth was created as is a few thousand years ago, while many people who respect science believe that the earth is just an average planet of a random star in a universe where no  place is special. Neither is right.

Nancy Ellen Abrams & Joel R. Primack, credit Paul Schraub

Instead, the authors argue that there is a solution to the contrasting opinions: we are all part of the universe and occupy a specific role within it, one that determines our relationship with the planet and the cosmos. Furthermore, a shared idea of our origins and how we can affect the changing universe around us is the key to solving global problems in this age where natural and man-made disasters present a growing challenge to our society. Recently Abrams and Primack have written on the subject for the “City Brights” blog on SFgate.com. Their latest piece addresses the inequality of wealth and how it has led to current economic problems, linking to two previous posts, “Gravity is the ultimate Scrooge principle” on how astronomy relates to financial issues.

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