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Woo hoo! I don't think this will attract quite as much attention as "atheists and anger", but this is also a point I care about a lot.

Now, thanks to our departed friend Douglas, I'm quite aware of the risks of the Total Perspective Vortex, but it's quite true that our true position in the universe is best conveyed by a children's song.

There's a speck on the fleck on the wing on the flea on the hair on the wart on the tail on the frog on the bump on the branch on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea.

This is one of the things that I seem to cover a lot, this anthropocentrism that permeates a lot of people's assumptions, and particularly religious assumptions about the meaning of life and the nature of humanity and God.

All I ask is a little humility. We are a moment. We are a blink in the universe. Here and gone in an instant, and forgotten just as quickly. The lack of humility that people have for their existence is staggering. It leads to so many fallacious assumptions.

Sean the Blogonaut


I am a fan of your blog but Greta this post has just blown me away. It is so well put together,so well worded that I am left in awe.



Great post again Greta.


That was a great post, and it reminded me heavily of Carl Sagan. Two of the greatest pieces of perspective-giving I've come across were both of his creation: the "Pale Blue Dot" thing, and the first few pages of "The Dragons of Eden", in which he condenses the history of the universe into one year. The first humans appear at around 10:30PM on December 31st.

Sadly, even detatching oneself from religion doesn't guarantee a break from anthropocentrism. I continually have to remind people of the welfare needs of the animals with whom we share the planet - which is so often overlooked.


....And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions in this amazing and expanding universe!


I remember the one thing that I thought once I realized that Christianity was wrong. Not, I feel like God abandoned me. Not, my life feels so empty. Not even, I hate all those people who lied to me my entire life (although I was a bit pissed)!

I thought, "Wait, so I wasn't chosen by God before the creation of the universe to be his child, to fulfill his divine purpose here on earth, and then to spend an eternity with him in heaven? I feel so... mortal."

Try telling me that Atheism is arrogant - I will laugh in your face.


Greta, Please come talk to my family,since they WON'T talk to me any longer. (I can't wait to see their reaction to my new photoshopped creation hanging in my living room; Penn Jillette's "This I Believe" essay.)

My Mother......whom relentlessly urged us as we grew up to use "common sense" when making a decision has now latched on to the following; "Faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to."

WTF.........that's what I call a "flip-flop" of egregious proportions. (Little does she know, that as a teenager, I had GREAT faith in each joint that I rolled.)

In the past, I have emailed them Carl Sagan's amazing "Pale Blue Dot" video. They said "It's nice, but what does it prove?" I responded, "It proves that you are an egotistical fuck if you truly believe that you are God's special little creation in such a expansive cosmos."

Damn, I love my family....LOL...even if they have abandoned science and reason.


When people ask me about "spirituality," these are the kinds of things I think of. If we accept the layman's definition of spirituality as "belief in something larger than the self," then this post and PZ's post on imagination and science are part of "atheist spirituality." The recognition that the universe is a vast and alien place, and the recognition that we are not the point of it all, are vital.


Really great post. But that is also one of the reasons,if not THE reason
that so many people NEED to believe in religion. They can't live with the truth.

King Aardvark

Wait a sec... do fleas even have eyelids?

To think that all of the mind-boggling hugeness of space and time was created just so that flea could blink its eye... that's one of the most arrogant beliefs I can imagine.

Yet this is explicitly asserted in the Creation Museum planetarium show: after showing a fairly accurate depiction of the size of space (zooming out to show the filaments of clusters of galaxies that make up the large-scale structure of the universe), they came right out and said that we're the reason God made all that.

Like Eclectric, I was reminded of nothing so much as Zaphod in the Total Perspective Vortex. Except that I didn't get to eat the fairy cake after the show.

Duncan Brown

Teilhard Du Chardin was a Jesuit and a paleontologist. the book he co-authored with the Indian saint and philospher Sri Aurobindo, 'The Future Evolution' blew atheism out of the universe of rational and empirical

The Count

That is also the counter argument the religious make when justifying their faith. They point to everything around, space included, and say "how can you look at that and not believe in god?


I look at something like the Hubble Ultra Deep Field image and say "...the next to the last conclusion I'd come up with is that some diety created it all and the last conclusion I'd come up with is that it was all created just for me and the fellow believers of my sect."

Make sure to click on the linked picture for the full sized version, it is awesome at full size.

Donna Gore

Religion is the most self-centered activity humans ever invented. Nearly every religion says:
Our god is the REAL god!
Our religion is the TRUE religion!
WE are special, WE are god's chosen people!
WE get to bypass the laws of nature and live FOREVER!
But all those who disagree with us are DOOMED.

What could possibly be more self-centered than that?
Not to mention all of the shallow assholes who believe things like, "God was looking out for me this morning, I had all the green lights on the way to work!"


Even in its non-literal readings, the Bible encourages the kind of arrogant anthropocentrism Greta describes so well here. Genesis 1:14 explains that God created the stars to serve as signs for the inhabitants of Earth, a message that's not altered if you don't take the text as a literal recounting of creation. Matthew 5:35 says the Earth is God's "footstool", which carries the strong implication that our planet is a place that he is specially concerned with. Revelation 6 says that, on judgment day, the stars will fall to earth and the heavens will be rolled up like a scroll - as if the cosmos had no further reason to exist once humanity's story is complete.

It's not hard to see why people of a bygone, pre-scientific age would assume that they were at the center of everything. They didn't know any better, after all. Their ignorance is forgivable. But today, now that we know the real truth, it's arrogant to cling to superstitious and primitive myths that treat humankind as the axis of the universe. It's a symptom of small imaginations that can't conceive of important things happening that do not involve them.


Listen Greta, you don't know everything. Some scientists think the human species may be MORE than 200,000 years old. And I consider that scientific PROOF of what I know in my heart to be true, that the history of human life is not "Who Let the Dogs Out?" but rather, Sinatra.

Elliott Bignell

You might at least have tried for Mozart!

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