As anyone who has looked at the night sky in all it’s magnificence, I cannot view it without awe at it’s immensity. Thanks to mankind’s technological savvy we have knowledge that this magnificence is much greater than we can see. Not only is our planet not alone, it circles with several other planets about Sol, our life-giving solar mass. Not only is our solar system not alone, it exists along with many other planetary systems that have been discovered only very recently. Not only is our unimaginably huge Galaxy, the Milky Way, not alone, it is kept company by what seems an endless number of Galaxies some of which dwarf our very own. Of course there is much our inadequate eyes cannot see, but knowing that immensity, that magnificence exists, makes the night sky that much more awe-inspiring.
As Lawrence Rifkin wrote recently in Free Inquiry, a magazine published by The Council for Secular Humanism, I view this nightly display in naturalistic terms. He posited that this view of the awe-inspiring heavens and other awe-inspiring things be labeled “sublime naturalism”. He gave the definition as “the experience or expression of a profound emotional response toward naturalism or it’s manifestations.”
To even imagine that all the stars and galaxies were made just for mankind, or that we are special in any other way in a supernatural sense, is not necessary for the purposes of feeling exhilaration and awe at the sight of the Universe’s display. One can however understand why man, in his feelings of helplessness and smallness, might want to invent a better placement of his importance in the scheme of things. By creating a supernatural entity man felt more secure and in control, and so very very special. Not only could a man feel more in control, he could assuage the fears of his children, comfort them when things seemed out of control. This was fine when primitive man, lacking knowledge, was prone to such beliefs. Now however it is time to let go, grow up, so to speak. Mankind must stand on its’ own, realize his’/her vulnerabilities, responsibilities. Let go of the past and embrace the sublime natural world and universe, for that is all we have.