Fair enough. What's in a name, right? Ultimately it is the cause and the effect aspect of god that bothers me, not the names of whatever is around us. If one were to claim that praying to the clouds above caused the monsoon rains, well, then I will have to figure out an equivalent of "Houston, we have a problem!"
I like that usage. Cosmos. It is a wonderful reminder of how insignificant you, and I, and our lives and everything else are. Here is one measure of that insignificance:
We all reside on a small planet orbiting a single, middle-aged star that is one of some 200 billion stars in the great swirl of matter that makes up the Milky Way galaxy. Our galaxy is but one of an estimated several hundred billion such structures in the observable universe—a volume that now stretches in all directions from us for more than 270,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (2.7 × 10We are tiny.
We know well how tiny we are compared to the planet on which we live.
We know well that our planet is tiny compared to the sun, around which it revolves.
We also know that the sun is nothing but ... oh, well, we are damn insignificant.
In the context of such insignificance, we stress about our balding heads, our paunches, the bank balance, whether enough friends "liked" our Facebook photos, ... We fight over corporate tax rates, gay marriage, torture, when life begins and whether, therefore, man spilling his seeds is a sin ...
If we stepped back from it all, we would laugh at ourselves. Our collective laughter will be so loud that it will rock this tiny planet. But, we don't.
In our efforts to assess our significance, we face a conundrum: Some discoveries and theories suggest life could easily be ordinary and common, and others suggest the opposite. How do we begin to pull together our knowledge of the cosmos—from bacteria to the big bang—to explain whether or not we are special? And as we learn more about our place in the universe, what does it all imply for our efforts to find out if there are other living things out there? How do we take the next steps?That is what education and learning are all about. It will be a phenomenally rich experience if students at any age were to constantly reflect on how the lessons help them with the big picture. Instead, we and they get hung up on the quadratic equation. Or whether the A- is a reflection of one's inability to earn an A+. The big picture gets hidden, overlooked, forgotten, when the nagging question is nothing but, "will this be on the test?"
On the other hand, if we were to cook a tasty meal, or put in a day's work, or laugh with friends, all with an understanding that these are all pieces that help us make something significant out of the insignificance as a way to understand that big picture, wouldn't that be a life that is lived and examined?
If only every single day we stopped to think about Carl Sagan's poetic "a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."