View Full Version : Insignificance

2005-Feb-22, 06:13 AM
Sometimes i realize how big the universe is, and how meaningless my life is. If i died would anyone care? do i have any significant role in existance? do i exist only because i was so dam lucky to be born. If i die, i know that the poeple close to me would care, but eventually they would try to get on with their lives, adn i would be forgotten. In a 10 millon years, the human race will not be remembered, and no one will care about our existence. This may not happen but it's entirely probable. 10 million years will pass eventually whether i like it or not, and i know my life's purpose, no matter how important it was, will be forgotten. There is no stopping this.

Doesn't anyone else out there feel as insignificant as i do?

2005-Feb-22, 07:11 AM
Well, yeah.....

I try not to dwell on it. The more life is a cheat, the more we need to enjoy it NOW.

I believe that art and music from our time will be remembered and enjoyed by a slightly different human race in ten million years.

Some primates are less that two million years behind us, and will probably be intelligent and civilized by that time. They will probably like pop music.

2005-Feb-22, 09:15 AM
In a 10 millon years, the human race will not be remembered,
some new life form will get all inteligent and find the remants of as city some 1000 feet below ground level.

you can make your mark in history but yes you will be forgotten.
so enjoy what you are doing and make life as pleasant as possible

2005-Feb-22, 02:20 PM
Significance, like beauty, is in, and only in, the mind of the beholder. A useful moral compunction bequeathed from Christianity to the wider world requires that you define your significance in terms of your subservience to the epitome of sets of virtue, i.e., God. Let not your heart be troubled, neither be despondent. The dinosaurs endured over 200 million years, about one galactic year, and I doubt evaluating their significance occupied much of their time nor the time of our ancestors who were busy staying out of the dinosaurs' way. We should do better if we can figure out what better is.

2005-Feb-23, 07:54 PM
Read Chapter 7, "Are Evangelicals Afraid of Science?" of "Speaking My Mind" by Tony Campolo. While it is a religous book, You will find a very unusual answer to your question.

2005-Feb-23, 08:00 PM
Heads Up. This thread has crossed the line on references to religion. I've let the above posts stand, because they aren't extremely over the line, and I need to think a bit about what change might fix them best. In the mean time, please be careful about this. I know the topic begs for religion in some ways, but we can't go there.

2005-Feb-23, 08:34 PM
This is one of those fun topics that really brings me back to the early stages of my life of wonder. It is also an example of how our indivual, or even collective insignificance is actually our most empowering trait.

We are significant enough to have actually seen our grain in the desert existence for what it is. When we (no backlash from any anthropologists please) walked out of the cave, we became smaller. When we ventured to the ocean and along the shores, we became smaller. When the Sun stopped working just for us, smaller. When Yuri sped above, Apollo 11 touched down, and Hubble said "Say cheese!", we all became smaller and smaller still. What makes us "small", is nothing more than the comparison to our phenomenal growth of understanding.

Should an atom "feel" insignificant? They come a dime a dozen. It doesn't take up much space, won't be around here for a very long time, and probably, on occasion, has a hard time coming up with rent. Can it change a world? Most definitely. Can it change the universe? Simply: Nope. It is the universe. You are the universe...we all are. Instead of thinking of the small teeny little bit of the universe you occupy, marvel that in this elaborate and grandly designed construct, there has been a space reserved just for you. And what is in you, is in all.

Or...something like that.

If at the end, we find the beginning, have we wasted our time?

2005-Feb-23, 08:46 PM
Yes, we will someday all be gone, the Sun will stop shining, and someday the universe will be a cold and barren wasteland. But this is not something that I will see, nor will those I know around me. So I find it worthwhile to do my work and if some legacy comes out of it I will be honored but not act differently because of it.
I also think you cannot ask this question without asking another one associated with it: would you rather you had never existed to see it all and, hence, never have to worry about it? Because no matter what happens to the universe and no matter what happens to my memory I know for certain that it's a grand place to be and I wouldn't want to miss being a part of it!

2005-Feb-23, 09:08 PM
Tiderider: Very well said-- (IOW, I wish I had).

People whose focus is on the destination get discouraged when they realize that it's nowhere, or nowhere special. People who focus on the trip... are endlessly amused. S :D

2005-Feb-23, 09:20 PM
No one of us is insignificant if we are contributing something to those around us. It is in that where our legacy lies. If we have made at least one person happy, we are significant! :D

2005-Feb-23, 11:30 PM
This is the kind of soul-suffering great philosophers have been tormenting themselves with for millennia. It's called "the human condition".

There's no pleasant answers, unless you're victim of self-delusion.

Read some Jean-Paul Sartre! :P

2005-Feb-24, 10:58 AM
Google search for bertrand russell's essay "a free man's worship".

2005-Feb-24, 12:01 PM
I agree that we should not get "into" religion, but if there are very brief references that can be made, then the reader can choose to go or not go there, that seems reasonable. I thought the other subsequent references made were consistant with this apporach and not distracting.

2005-Feb-24, 06:07 PM
I take comfort with thinking that with everything so large in the universe, chaos reins.

When I think of chaos it brings to my mind that nothing is impossible. which brings to mind that some monkeys randomly typing will sooner or later type the book and the butterfly will fly on to pester another dinosaur.

I don't feel so insignificant realizing that I too, can make a lasting mark on this universe. it may not be probable but it certainly is posable.


Ola D.
2005-Feb-24, 08:54 PM
Originally posted by Midnight_Toker@Feb 22 2005, 06:13 AM
In a 10 millon years, the human race will not be remembered, and no one will care about our existence.
Your question is more like philosophical, but I'll be more scientific here. No, I don't think we, Homo sapiens, will be forgotten. Our fossils will still endure to be examined. Fossils of other extinct human races, Homo habilis "handy human" helped studying the development of the "modern human".

2005-Feb-25, 09:17 AM
Insignificant?...........of course not.........an element in the GRAND stew that makes up the universe?........indeed. :)

It's widely known by physicists, that if laws that brought the known universe into existence had been off, ever so slightly, that this place could have been dead and barren, or, never have come into shape as it has today. So, with that, I, you, someone else, even more, all of us collectively, are part of what makes what is.......is.

Consider yourself significant. ;)

2005-Feb-25, 12:57 PM

I used to feel insignificant when I was a 'midnight toker' as that can lead to thinking a bit too much about things! I reckon that when there are a lot of problems in your life, looking at the vastness of things can make your problems seem insignificant which is a good thing.

However, when I think of the of the universe, the beauty of the skies, and the fact that I am lucky enough to look at it, I try to make the most of it, as we may only get one chance to witness all this. Feeling insignificant doesn't really come into it.

Wales (UK) doesn't often get skies as clear as we've had recently, so I'm out there looking, not worrying about the significance of it all. Seeing Saturn through my 'scope the other night was a treat. I've never seen it through such a clear atmosphere!!!!

I'll have plenty of time to think about my role in it all when I'm dead and buried!!!

2005-Feb-25, 02:30 PM
I just wanted to say that this is a wonderful discussion, something everyone feels at some point, and that it isn't discussed enough. Imagine the political impact this would have if parlaiment/congress were to always keep this "significance" into focus. Currently, most thinking is done 1-4 years in advance with a select few issues such as social security.

Also, I must agree with wstevenbrown that tiderider put it quite nicely. Actually, I thought it was brilliantly stated and that every over emotional, midnight toking teen should read it, hehe. Maybe I'll give it to my brother and sis.

2005-Feb-25, 03:56 PM
Whenever such topics come up, I am reminded of Woody Allen in 'Hannah and her sisters' .

2005-Feb-26, 12:52 AM
Originally posted by tiderider@Feb 23 2005, 08:34 PM
marvel that in this elaborate and grandly designed construct, there has been a space reserved just for you.
Nice words, but full of assumptions. The universe could have been an accident (re: anthropomorphic principle). We just don't know, we have no guarantees from "above" whatsoever. Intuition, sure - but just how far do we trust "intuition"?

It is essential to maintain 100% intellectual honesty within yourself - even if that honesty causes grief & anxiety.

Throw ALL assumptions out the window, focus on REALITY. Sometimes it ain't too pleasant, quite frightening in fact. In fact, it is quite obvious that this deep-seated terror we all share (even if we don't admit it) can cause a lot of us to resort to such things as "faith" to make us feel "comfortable" - however much that "comfort" is superficial & artificial. I guess it can be better (for some) to cushion ourselves with fictions than to confront nightmarish facts head-on??

Midnight Toker, when we get down to it, your soul-searching & inner anxiety is what makes us "alive", and very much "human". Celebrate it, live with it, we're stuck in this universe whether we like it or not, so don't fret too much. Have another toke!

The Eternal Pessimist

2005-Feb-26, 03:56 PM
focus on REALITY

I tried that once... it didn't really work for me. B) Steve

2005-Feb-26, 09:42 PM
We can all sit here and discuss what we think our purpose is, how we must live it and whether we are indeed insignificant, but none of us know for sure what our true purpose is, whether or not there is someone watching out for us above, or whether or not we really are insignificant, and even if they do really understand all of this, there is no way of truely knowing it's correct... It's true that all of our physical bodies will someday lay rotting in the ground somewhere, the atomic particals that you are made of will cycle through nature, we are all part of the galaxy we live in.
Now, I really doubt with our level of thinking we could even comprehend what our purpose is even if it was told to our face. But what happens when we finally master space travel and we are able to easily travel to other galaxies? and even travel seemlessly through time? what then? are we going to keep expanding and exploring? I think if there is purpose to all of use being here it is useless for us to even discuss it because we couldn't even comprehend it if we had it right in front of us... although as a human, with emothions, and desires I can't help but to enjoy talking and reading discussions like these, it's our nature....

2005-Feb-27, 03:04 AM
I think Gourdhead said what I think when he said that significance is in the eye of the beholder. We all probably waste our lives in the eyes of at least one other person out there. But most of us at some point or another try to reconcile what we do with our lives with what is important to us.

Just as the fact that the sun no longer revolves around us doesn't mean that it doesn't serve us, the size of the world/universe that we inhabit doesn't necessarily make us any more or less significant. We shouldn't derive meaning from the amount of space that we fill, or the proportion of our world that we comprehend.

Some study the heavens in an attempt to understand our place, others look within themselves and try to understand their purpose through philosophy or religion. Who is to say that those looking up, and those looking within will not ultimately discover the same truth and meaning?

I don't know what my significance is, and I'm not completely sure that I would want to know. Although I am a touch curious.

2005-Feb-28, 02:36 PM
Originally posted by virtualutopia@Feb 27 2005, 03:04 AM
Just as the fact that the sun no longer revolves around us doesn't mean that it doesn't serve us
When the sun expands into a fiery Red Giant and consumes the inner planets, can you say it is serving us?

I believe we are insignificant in the great scheme of things. All our lofty concerns and foibles...ultimately amount to nothing.

Declaring oneself to be "significant" is, well, childish.

2005-Mar-01, 09:37 PM
When the sun expands into a fiery Red Giant and consumes the inner planets, can you say it is serving us?

By then, we will read the signs of impending supernova, grin at each other, and say: "SURF'S UP, DUDES!" S

2005-Mar-26, 02:10 PM
Originally posted by Guest@Feb 28 2005, 02:36 PM
I believe we are insignificant in the great scheme of things. All our lofty concerns and foibles...ultimately amount to nothing.

Declaring oneself to be "significant" is, well, childish.
I don't think that significance is an absolute. When the nebulous and undefined "great scheme of things" is not understood and we do not know where it is that we 'fit' (whether it be as mere dust, or something more integral) we have to find our own purpose. The role of parent to a loved family may be as significant to me as the role of creator of the universe is to who/whatever created the universe.

When the evidence that we have available to us does not tell us either that we are flukes of nature that exist by pure chance, or that we are part of an intricate and deliberate puzzle - we have some scope to theorise about the missing information for ourselves.

When we have a choice between believing in something and believing in nothing, I know which one I will choose.

2005-Mar-26, 03:50 PM
We may be insignificant, but we may be the only 'things' in the universe that can find out how everything works, and why everything is. In that way, we are significant.

I may have to give a link:


Read it. It's serious, it's great.

2005-Mar-26, 05:49 PM
You know, I used to think about this a lot, still do, in one form or another. I've come to the conclusion that we will not be remembered in 100 trillion years, humans will not be here; our species would evolve or die out. So, what would really be the point of living now? You can't help but think that we will be pointless in the grand scheme of things. I think it's to experience tomorrow, to be the best (or worst) we can be. In the end, I say live life to its fullest and dont worry about tomorrow, after all, do you worry about dying every day of your life?

I hope this made sense, as I skipped from one idea to the next very rapidly.

2005-Mar-26, 10:17 PM
The classic motherly idealism... <_<

Better to think of our existence as measured within our own lives. We create our own realities, and pass on our realities to our offspring. The sign of an effective life is in remembrance through manners, not just words.