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Friday, May 29, 2009

What Is a Human Worth?

Dr. Carl Schultz, Houghton College, analyzes the makeup of a human life. His look into definitions of a human provided by science are revealing and diverse: An animal. A physico-chemical being. A creature occupying a small place in space and time. One of the extraordinary diversity and profusion of living forms. Highest form of life. A creature, homo sapiens, at the highest level of animal development characterized especially by a highly developed brain. Occupant of an infinitesimally small body in the solar system. The current world population is estimated at 6,782,536,522. As significant as we think we are, those numbers are staggering since most of us could count immediate and close acquaintances on our fingers and toes. The chance of making much of difference to even a majority of the inhabitants on earth is next to nil. As we chug along in our daily routines, we constantly remind ourselves of the importance of our small contributions to a vast mankind. How about the significance of a human as a species on planet earth? Estimates now reveal that 99% of all the species that have ever lived on earth are now extinct. And, some experts have estimated that up to half of presently existing species may become extinct by 2100. Causes such as genetics and demographic phenomena, genetic pollution, habitat degradation, predation, co extinction, and global warming seem to support this idea. Polar bears, desert gazelles, sea otters, and some species of sharks are among many animals currently on the brink of extinction.Some scientists predict the future life span of Earth will be "only" about another billion years. Earth exists as one of the smallest planets in our own solar system. When we compare the size of the earth to that of the other planets in our solar system, our smallness becomes readily apparent. Although the earth is the fourth largest planet, Jupiter, the largest planet, is 2.5 times more massive than all the other planets in the solar system combined while the sun alone accounts for 99.9% of the mass of our solar system. Of course, innumerable stars are thousands of times larger and brighter than our sun. Antares (Alpha Scorpii), a super-large body, is about 700 times the diameter of our sun and one of the brightest stars in the heavens. The Milky Way Galaxy, in which we exist, is estimated to be 5 billion years old and contains about 200 billion stars. Astronomers estimate that the diameter of our galaxy is about 100,000 light years, or 600 quadrillion miles. One scientist guesses the chance for life elsewhere in the galaxy is maybe 1 to 1000 intelligent life forms, most of the time, in a galaxy like the Milky Way, but maybe only one or two technological civilizations. There are an estimated 10 billion galaxies that can be seen using a light refracting telescope and many more that can be observed using radio telescopes. In a mere 100 years, our knowledge of how old the earth is has increased 50,000-fold, and the universe is now known to be at least 5 million times older than was believed in Galileo's day. Whatever the definition of human used, in relation to the universe, one of us humans seems pretty insignificant. We may think the stars revolve around us as we busily run our missions on our little speck of the planet, but, chances are, we are just spinning ourselves around in our own infinitesimally small minds. Does that help with your problems at all? Here is one author's view of the most influential people in history ranked in order. I seriously doubt if anyone reading this article will break into the top ten in the next revision of this list. (Hart, Michael H. The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, Revised and Updated for the Nineties. New York: Carol Publishing Group/Citadel Press; first published in 1978, reprinted with minor revisions 1992. ISBN 9780806510682) 1. Muhammad (570–632) 2. Isaac Newton (1643–1727) 3. Jesus Christ (7–2 BC – AD 26–36) 4. Buddha (563 BC–483 BC) 5. Confucius (551 BC–479 BC) 6. St. Paul (5–67) 7. Ts'ai Lun (50–121) 8. Johannes Gutenberg (1398–1468) 9. Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) 10. Albert Einstein (1879–1955)
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