Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is rebooting the “Cosmos” series from the days of yesteryear, when Dr. Carl Sagan hosted the series. In his opening show, Tyson gets the audience to hop upon a cosmic calendar in which the 13.8-billion-year history of the universe is compressed to 365 days, with the current time being midnight on New Year’s Eve.
On this scale, Dr. Tyson reports, the sun was born on August 31 and the dinosaurs died yesterday morning. Everyone you ever heard of, all the kings, queens and prophets, wars and battles, lived in the last 14 seconds of this cosmic year. “Jesus was born five seconds ago.”
“In the last second we began to do science. It (science) allowed us to discover where and when we are in the cosmos.”
What caught my attention was the statement that everyone we ever knew, lived and died within the last fourteen (14) seconds. Yeah of course the time scale was skewed for Tyson’s presentation, but in truth, when you look upon all the billions and billions of years, the human race, you and I, lovers and friends, cats and dogs, our hopes and dreams were all created, lived, breathed and passed in a few measurable moments.
It’s sad to see many spend their fourteen seconds in hatred and anger. There’s no apparent reason why. We just do. So many of our fourteen seconds are spent pursuing the wrong things, the wrong way of living. So many of our seconds are spent destroying another’s fourteen seconds, thumb our noses at others and act as if their soul has no little or intrinsic value.
What science might have to say about God or what religion might have to say about science seems relatively futile, for one always seems to think the other is arrogant. I am, however, fascinated by how scientists of our time — neuroscientists, biologists, and certainly physicists and cosmologists — add their own insights and questions to realms of human inquiry that religion and philosophy long dominated.
Where did we come from? What does it mean to be human? What does the future hold? What is our place in the universe? What is our role in living with a loving God?
I don’t think it’s stupid to believe that religion, science and technology is interwoven throughout every moment of our life’s fourteen seconds. The love of God and the love of life can be empirical disciplines. And if we simply focus on religion, just thought of religion alone, we’d probably come up with the wrong answers because God is far more imaginative and far more diverse than what could be learned in fourteen seconds.
But what if we don’t have fourteen seconds? What if we really have only ten seconds? A friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer this past week. Thus, the last several seconds of his life could be filled with treatment, trying to achieve a possible fourteen. And if the first few seconds of life were dedicated to learning and making it through our teenage years, crude calculations lead us to understand we really only have 10 seconds of life to live, to love and to leave a legacy. Ten seconds … and then we’re gone.
There’s so little time to make an impact. What amuses me about my own life is how much I’ve missed all the really big things, the acts of love, the acts of mercy.
How are you spending your fourteen seconds?