This topic came out of a private Skype discussion with Brian37.
So much of human thought has been dominated by the unthinking assumption of the special place of humanity in the Universe.
There has been progressive wind-back of the conclusions following from this, such as the idea of Earth being at the center of the Universe, or that the Solar System was in some central place amongst the stars, or that we were specially created, or that the Universe was created for us, and we can live forever if we suck up to imagined creator of the universe, etc.
There are two passages from Shakespeare which came to mind that paint a very different picture of the importance and significance of human life and our achievements, which we felt present far more realistic assessments of our situation, as well as being very deeply moving passages in themselves.
From Macbeth, the more pessimistic view:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
From The Tempest:
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
Comments from the 'groundlings'?
Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality
"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris
The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me
From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology