“… I dreamed a dream one day”. The first words of this old song sum up what is new in our expanding knowledge of the expanding universe. We have long known the astronomical, already incomprehensible, statistics concerning the age of the stars and their location at incredible, unattainable distances. Now that we know they are hurtling even further away from us at unimaginable speeds, when we have the chance to observe some of them end their existence in a spectacular supernova explosion (a destiny awaiting our own Sun five billion years from now), when we realize that what we are observing took place maybe 200,000,000 years ago, the pettiness of our puny lives and preoccupations shrinks into cosmic insignificance. The monks and friars will continue to chant “Coeli enarrent gloriam Dei” – “The heavens proclaim the glory of God” – but some of us know that poetry and piety are poor substitutes for hard facts. It is a pity that more people do not allow their fanciful, wishful thinking to be reassessed in light of what’s happening, or what happened, way out there. In the long run, I suppose it does not really matter if some people spend their lives believing in a God they think is responsible for the cosmos and the world we live in. The rest of us live our lives without such illusions and make the most of life as long as it lasts.
I could leave it at that, but I would still like to help others escape the trap I fell into, a quasi-Black Hole from which I was lucky enough to emerge thirty-five years ago.