The attitudes we hold about our relationship to the universe, as well as to our own species, are the most important elements of our worldview.
Pascal said, “When the universe has crushed him, man will still be nobler than that which kills him, because he knows he is dying, and of its victory the universe knows nothing.”
His view of a coldly indifferent universe persists, though the ‘noble man’ part sounds absurd to our ears. Indeed, Pascal’s conception of the universe has become the unquestioned cornerstone of the general scientific worldview.
Once the idea of man as God’s special creation fell onto the rubble heap of history, it was a short step, in a supposedly chaotic universe of pure chance, to viewing humankind as a cancer upon the earth. We urgently need a redefinition of humanity’s relationship to the cosmos.
Both Pascal’s outlook on nature and inlook on man are erroneous. The first half of the equation—the idea that the universe is a completely random mechanism—could not be further from the truth. Anyone who has spent time alone in the wilderness realizes that nature, while completely indifferent to one’s survival, is permeated with a profound intelligence, far beyond the mind of man.
And the wilderness, what’s left of it on earth, is an expression of the universe. Life on this planet is not an exception; the universe undoubtedly gives birth to life as much as it gives birth to stars and planets.