Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Zoo of Man

Took a road trip to western New South Wales, to a little one-horse town called Dubbo. We arrived about 8:30 pm and the hotel diner was already closed, so we asked where to go to eat dinner and the lady looks at her watch and says, "At this hour? I really don't know..."

Dubbo has a famous zoo, where there are very few cages or fences. Instead there are motes and burms. I learned a few things, like red Kangaroos travel in groups called "mobs", and hippos secrete a red substance that keeps them moisturized, but what impressed me most was once again how humans have become the stewards, the masters of all the other species in the world. We're the only ones that actually know we exist.

We have no predators left, really, now except for microbes. Not the T-Rex, but instead the last threat to our species survival is the tiniest thing. A while back I read Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything" and the one thing I took away was how we can't even comprehend how small things can be--like subatomic particles for example, trillions upon trillions can fit on the head of a pin. Conversely, our minds can't comprehend how large other things are, like the size of the universe.

How small we are! And yet most of us maintain that there is a God with a personality who really cares what we each do; who decrees there is such a thing as sin. More than this, it got me to thinking that if our universe is really on such a scale as to incorporate parts so tiny and others so vast that we cannot begin to wrap our minds around their size....then what if our solar system is just one cell in a much larger organism? Scratch that---

What if planet earth, stewarded by humans, is one small speck of cancer in an entire universe that is nothing but one tiny cell in a much larger organism?

Makes me feel inconsequential, but in a good way. If that makes any sense.

Dubbo, NSW
After a long night, the galapagos turtle passes out wherever it pleases.Can you spot the white-handed Gibbon?
Can you spot the high-collared blue booby?
Can you spot the black swan?
This guy was all about the mating call.


Tony said...

Hey Jesse -

So much to respond to in your
post! Wonderful pics, too. The high collared blue booby is a rare bird indeed.

Re your thoughts inspired by Bill Bryson's book, and the things you're seeing out there, here's a quote from Albert Einstein in a similar vein:

"I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature." (Albert Einstein, The World as I See It)

Jesse said...

Wow, Tony. Please use Einstein to back me up at any opportunity. Ha!

stephen said...

Ok,, I know this sounds strange,, but if you stroke the tortise's neck..,,, he will love you... seriously!... I had one....they love it!

Danny said...

Did you know that Einstein was s meth addict? TRUE FACT!