How prominent, powerful, important and great do you think you are, and for that matter I am?
The universe we both live in is big, very big. It is 14 billion years old, made up of about 100 billion galaxies (clusters of stars). Each single galaxy contains hundreds of billions of stars. Simply put, there are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on any beach.
Each star is surrounded by several planets. Each planet has its own orbiting moons, in addition to hundreds of thousands of asteroids and billions of comets flying by each star.
One of the stars in our galaxy (the Milky Way) is the sun. It has eight planets orbiting it. One of these planets is Earth, with the right size and at the right distance from the sun to have liquid water and oxygen to support life forms, 9 billion years in making.
In other words, the earth is one of a trillion planets just in our Milky Way galaxy, and there are 100 billion other galaxies like it in the universe. Who knows how many other faraway planets in the universe are habitable.
The most intelligent of all the life forms on Earth is humans. You and I are two of the 7.5 billion people that have called Earth their home.
Now tell me how important, prominent and powerful both of us are.
I am not trying to make you feel insignificant. Quite the contrary. Actually you and I are very strong, powerful and immortal. We are formed of the same cosmic dust made of heavy elements that were manufactured by the thermo-nuclear fusion in the cores of the stars billions of years ago. When we pass, we will become part of the same dust that will be recycled over and over again, creating new life forever.
What matters is our existence, not the size or the duration. After all, 14 billion years ago before the great explosion (big bang), the entire universe was of "sub-pinpoint size."
Exactly who or what caused this explosion that created this very big expanding universe from almost nothing? Who formulated the physical principles that so exactly control all the heavenly bodies? Where did all the physical constants and constraints, chemical bases and balances come from?
None of us know. I imagine this unknown and unseen supreme force gave way to the concept of "creator" or "god."
Faith is believing in something that you cannot see. You cannot see dark matter and dark energy, which are the most dominating and powerful forces in the universe. But we know they are there by observing their effect and influence on their surroundings.
The creator is not even secretive. Everything is in our plain sight to discover. He compacted a lot of intelligence in our meager 3-pound brains to discover the secrets of nature, to decode the secrets of life and to invent different ways of using the universe to our benefit. In our misguided quest for more control, humans came up with the concepts of selfishness, superiority, greed, jealousy and hatred.
The creator did not make you and I from the same mold, even though we are made of the same elements. God did not even make stars and planets the same. Some of us are more blessed than others, in many different ways. One thing is certain: Every one and every thing has a determined lifespan.
It is not how long we live that is important, but how well. Dust to dust. None of us can take anything with us. It is only through helping the needy and the less fortunate that we fulfill the purpose of our brief existence.
"To whom is given, much is required."
Sharing and caring is the basic tenet of God's creation. No human can exist without the help of billions of brotherly bacteria that live within each of us.
There is nothing more godly than helping somebody in need — any kind of help, any amount of help, within our means, and all the time.
That is the best way we can "give thanks" to our creator.
Dr. Rao Musunuru has been a practicing cardiologist serving residents in Pasco and Hernando counties since 1981. He is the current chairman of the board at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Hudson.