Category Archives: design

On the universe, evolution, God and religion

Spiral-galaxy-wallpaperHere are some of my ruminations on the universe, evolution, God and religion

The Universe: If only we stop to ponder about the universe we will be absolutely fascinated by it. In the universe there are 100 billion galaxies, each galaxy has several hundred billion stars and each star has several trillion planetary systems and satellites. If we consider the universe to the size of the earth, then the earth itself would be the size of a grain of sand.

In other words the earth is a tiny, miniscule drop in the ocean of the universe. We are located in some remote, inconspicuous corner of the universe. The universe itself started 13.4 billion years ago when there was a cataclysmic event, the Big Bang, when the universe itself was a singular point in space-time. Time, space and the universe were created thereafter. The stars, planets, galaxies have been flung out from the moment of the big bang and the universe is still expanding, The fact that the big bang occurred and the galaxies, stars are moving away, can be measured by the velocity with which they are either receding or moving towards the earth resulting in a red or blue shift in the light spectrum.  A few weeks backs scientists have been able to measure the gravitational waves created during the birth pangs of the Universe about 13.2 billion years ago.

Evolution:  The theory of evolution as propounded by Charles Darwin in his “Origin of Species’ is truly a fascinating work of careful scientific analysis backed by painstaking effort at observing, recording and analysis. Darwin shows very clearly how different species of flora and fauna are formed. The forces of ‘natural selection’ and ‘survival of fittest’ act very strongly, resulting in the perpetuation of certain characteristics in the species, which allow it to survive into future generations.  Those species that are unable to survive by adapting to the natural environment become extinct. The evolution of mammals, fishes and birds all exhibit remarkable changes in physical characteristics of internal and external organs, color and other attributes.  These changes take place over many centuries. It is also fascinating when we realize in how many ways we have changed from our earlier ancestors for example the Neanderthals.

For e.g. the forearms have become shorter, our foreheads have become broader to accommodate a bigger pre-frontal cortex for more cerebral activities. The pre-historic man existed about 4 million years ago. We, the modern man, have a come long way through evolution.

God: The knowledge of the universe and evolution clearly show us where we have come from and how we have arrived here. So where does this leave God?  To be honest, God, as we now know it, loses significance. As Carl Sagan says, it would be really odd that in this vastness of space and time, to believe in a local God for this earth in some insignificant corner of the universe.   Our understanding of God is only about 5 thousand years old. Whereas the universe in itself is more than 13.5 billion years old. The fact that we evolved from pre-historic man is an established fact.  The age of the universe has been confirmed time and again. We need to rethink our beliefs in this context. Also evolution has confirmed the progressive sophistication of beings and thus man.

It is possible that you may ask? What was there before the Big Bang? Who created the universe at the time of the big bang?  The answer is “We don’t know”. Can we assume that chance and nature created man and all creatures with such complexity? To this we can say that evolution for millions of years have produced all these variations.

So, to many of the questions,  we can just say,  we don’t know. Our limited intellect and finite brain cannot comprehend beyond a certain amount. So it is best to say we really don’t know.

Religion: So really nothing can be said about God. There are lots of things we don’t know.

So what can we say about religion. In my opinion, we do not need a God for religion. All religions talk about the same principles of integrity, kindness, compassion and mercy. So whether we believe or don’t believe in an omnipotent, omniscient, all knowing God, we can all practice good moral values of kindness, integrity, compassion and love. This is something that is eternal and has always existed.

So whether you agree or disagree with my views I hope you subscribe to the moral view that we need to have true north based principles and values in this existence of ours.

Design your life!

1If there is one activity that we all should necessarily do, it is ‘to spend time designing our life’. Now why is this important? There are many. For one, we just get one chance in this world. Our life is either short or long, depending on how you look at it.  We want to spend this life in the best possible way we can. So we need to put some effort in ‘designing this life of ours’.

How do we go about designing our life? Here are some considerations that we should keep in mind.

Designing the route

The first one is “Where do you want to go in life?” If we know what our goal and destination in life is, then we need to look at the steps that we need to take to get to our goal. For e.g. if we want to become a Director, senior VP we need to look at what the steps we need to take for achieving this. Still others may want to become musicians, artists, sports persons. Whatever your ambition may be, we need to sit and think through all the steps that we would have to take to get us to our goal. We would then have to diligently follow this process and monitor our progress along the way. This will be your basic design to get you “from where you are, to where you want to be”. As we navigate to our goal we will have to adjust our design to be take us to our goal

Designing a fall back scheme

A common saying is that “All good plans go awry”. So despite our best design for achieving our ambition, we may face roadblocks, failures or disasters. So a good design for our life will have to take all alternatives into consideration. So if you planned in climbing the corporate ladder but found your efforts thwarted midway it does not make sense if you just collapse into a crumpled heap on the floor. A good design of life would have to plan for failures and disasters. So your design for your life should have a Plan B, Plan C etc.

Designing happiness buffers

2As we move through, if there is one thing we want is be moderately happy. Note, I am saying that we should always be happy or simply elated all the time. If we go by Buddhist philosophy that “suffering is inevitable’ then it make sense that we design “small happiness buffers”. By happiness buffers I mean that we should include into small acts or activities that give us some amount of joy. This could be anything from starting a hobby, performing random acts of kindness, learning a musical instrument etc. The feel good factor that one gets in small achievements will soften any blows we may face in life.

Since we have just this one chance in this world, it makes eminent sense that we give some serious thought in ‘designing our life’