we too are stardust


Sophie’s World

‘Life is both sad and solemn. We are let into a wonderful world, we meet one another here, greet each other – and wander together for a brief moment. Then we lose each other and disappear as suddenly and unreasonably as we arrived.’

The Spanish dramatist Calderon de la Barca, who was born in the year 1600, wrote a play called Life is a Dream, in which he says: “What is life? A madness. What is life? An illusion, a shadow, a story, and the greatest good is little enough, for all life is a dream…”

In Sophie’s World, there are insights and questions –

we too are stardust

Only by conjuring up an intense feeling of one day being dead could you appreciate how terribly good life was… Where does the world come from?… At some point something must have come from nothing. But was that possible? Wasn’t that just as impossible as the idea that the world had always existed?

We live on a tiny planet in the universe. We are only eight light minutes from the sun (one light minute is 18 million kilometers). Our own sun is one of 400 billion other stars in the galaxy we call the Milky Way. So every time you look at the stars remember that you are looking back 2 million years in time. And so far, we’ve only been talking about our own galaxy. Astronomers say there are about a hundred billion such galaxies like ours in the universe, and each of those galaxies consists of about a hundred billion stars.

So what is this earthly substance? What was it that exploded that time billions of years ago? Where did it come from?

That is the big question and yes, we too are stardust.

If you do not want to exaggerate the importance of those figures, just hold a stone in your hand the size of an orange. The question would still be impenetrable: ‘where did this stone come from?’

Philosophers are still trying to figure this out!

at some point something must have come from nothing

Who are you?
Where does the world come from?

nothing can come from nothing
Is there a basic substance that everything else is made of?
Can water turn into wine?
How can earth and water produce a live frog?

the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me and the “big” questions:
Does man have an immortal soul?
Does nature consist of tiny indivisible particles?
Is the universe finite or infinite?

now that we are here, some existential questions –
Do you think man has an immortal soul?
Are we born with innate ‘ideas’?
What is the difference between a plant, an animal, and a human?
What does it take to live a good life?
What is ‘reasonable’ so that we think it viable?

a ship sailing through life with a cargo of genes
A “naturalist” accepts no other reality than nature and the sensory world. A naturalist therefore also considers mankind to be part of nature. He does not rely on either rationalistic suppositions or any form of divine revelation.

God is not a puppeteer –
Do you think you can imagine your life in a cosmic context?
Do you believe as Jesus preached a “religion of reason” which valued love higher than all else.
Do you believe in Christianity’s rigid dogmas and outer rituals?
For a Christian, it would be obvious to see the Big Bang as the actual moment of creation. The Bible tells us that God said “Let there be light!”

man is condemned to be free

‘Sartre said that man’s existence takes priority over whatever he might otherwise be. The fact that I exist takes priority over what I am. “Existence takes priority over essence”. “Man is condemned to be free”, he said. “Condemned because he has not created himself and is nevertheless free. Because having once been hurled into the world, he is responsible for everything he does”.

‘When people realize they are alive and will one day die – and there is no meaning to cling to – they experience angst. A sense of feeling of alienation in the world that creates a sense of despair, boredom, nausea, and absurdity’.

Are you a philosopher –

the only thing we require to be good philosophers is the faculty to wonder
Do you believe in Fate?
Is sickness the punishment of the gods?
What forces govern the course of history?

wisest is she who knows she does not know…
Is there such a thing as natural modesty?
True insight comes from within.
He who knows what is right will do right.

Philosophy of Life and Tolerance:
Make a list of things we can know. Then make a list of things we can only believe.
Indicate some of the factors contributing to your philosophy of life.
What is meant by conscience? Do you think conscience is the same for everyone? What is meant by priority of values?

the path of mystery leads inwards – and a question –
‘What if you slept? And what if, in your sleep, you dreamed? And what if, in your dream, you went to heaven and there plucked a strange and beautiful flower? And what if, when you awoke, you had the flower in your hand? Ah, what then?’


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