Have you ever stopped to look at the night sky? Have you ever stopped everything and truly appreciated the beauty of the glistening stars above our heads? Each and every one of those holes in the sky – heavenly bodies hundreds of thousands and millions and even billions of lightyears away. All suspended in the nothingness – all suspended the magnificence of the vacuum of the cosmos. ¹There are a lot of stars, in fact, more stars in the known Universe than grains of sand on Earth’s collective beaches. But here is a strange thought – the Universe is 99.9999999958% empty.
All of matter makes up .000000000042% of the Universe. Those stars you see when you gaze up at the night sky, our Moon that illuminates the darkness, our Sun that brings life, the planets that orbit the Sun (our tiny home included), the comets that shoot across the sky, each brilliant galaxy stretching hundreds of thousands of light years across make up .000000000042% of the Universe. ²With so much emptiness, aren’t stars, planets, and people just glitches in an otherwise elegant and uniform nothingness, like pieces of lint on a black sweater? When you back the camera up, we become pathetically insignificant very quickly. Little flakes of dust wandering in an ocean of darkness.
I stumbled across a really cool model of our solar system titled “If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel.” When we see traditional models of our solar system, the planets in relation to each other and the Sun cannot be accurately spaced apart. There just isn’t enough room on the poster to accurately depict just how far everything really is spread out, and so we lose the sense of vastness that our solar system and the emptiness that contains it really are. The model I came across recently, however, attempts to open the eyes of its beholders to the extraordinary distances that we would have to travel to visit every planet in the solar system. I highly encourage you right now to stop reading this right now and click this link (you will have to scroll to the right to begin to model) to experience the solar system in a much more thought-provoking and eye-opening way. It takes about 20-30+ minutes to get through depending on how much you stop and think, but it is worth every second.
Why does any of this matter though? Who cares about how big our solar system is? Who cares about how small our solar system is compared to the Universe? Who cares that we are essentially specks of dust in the cosmos?
Does anything matter at all then? Is all of this meaningless because we are insignificant and small?
Have you ever looked at a bottle of Germ-X or similar sanitation products? What do most of their labels say?
*KILLS 99.9998% OF GERMS*
Kind of funny.
If the Universe is 99.99999% nothing, are we not like the .00000001% of those strong little germs that the sanitizer doesn’t kill? Does the vast emptiness have any meaning without something there to measure it? Paradoxically, as the model of the solar system shows, we are both pathetically insignificant and miraculously important at the same time.
The fact that we exist is a miracle. Those brilliant points of light shooting across the far reaches of space to twinkle in the sky above your backyard are a miracle. The screen you are reading this on, the oxygen we inhale with our lungs, the ability for us to simply look up into the sky and understand our place in the cosmos is a miracle. So the next time you look up at the stars at night or apply Germ-X to your hand, take a moment and be comforted. Because the Being that created those points of light in the sky is the same Being that stretched them out across the nothingness and the same Being that created you to be a part of that .000000000042% in the Universe.
Existence is both humbling and reassuring. So remember how fragile and tiny we are the next time you feel like a god, and remember how incredibly special and important you are when you feel nothing matters. We are germs that survive. We are brilliant specks of dust cherished by a Being who created and continues to create the cosmos. We matter.