poly: something from Dyson

From: d.brin <brin@cts.com>
Date: Wed Apr 29 1998 - 01:57:12 PDT

Stefan Jones, whom I'd like to invite to join this list, sent me the
following that's highly relevant to our ongoing discussions --


>From Dyson's "Greening of
the Galaxy" (From _Disturbing the Universe_).
* * *

'When we are a million species spreading through the galaxy, the question "Can
man play God and still stay sane?" will lose some of its terrors. We shall be
playing God, but only as local deities and not as lords of the universe.
There is safety in numbers. Some of us will become insane, and rule over
empires as
crazy as Doctor Moreau's island. Some of us will shit on the morning star.
There will be conflicts and tragedies. But in the long run, the sane will
adapt and survive better than the insane. Nature's pruning of the unfit will
limit the spread of insanity among species in the galaxy, as it does among
individuals on earth. Sanity is, in its essence, nothing more than the
ability to live in harmony with nature's laws.

I have told this story of the greening of the galaxy as if it were our destiny
to be nature's first attempt at an intelligent creature. If there are other
intelligences already at large in the galaxy, the story will be different.
The galaxy will become even richer in variety of life styles and cultures. We
must only be careful not to let our wave of expansion overwhelm and disrupt the
ecologies of our neighbors. Before our expansion beyond the solar system
begins, we must explore the galaxy thoroughly with our telescopes, and we must
know enough about our neighbors to come to them as friends rather than as
invaders. The universe is large enough to provide ample living space for all
of us. But if, as seems equally probable, we are alone in our galaxy and have
no intelligent neighbors, earth's life is still large enough in potentialities
to fill every nook and cranny of the universe.

The expansion of life over the unverse is a beginning, not an end. At the
same time as life is extending its habitat quantitatively, it will also be
and evolving qualitatively into new dimensions of mind and spirit that we
cannot imagine. The acquistion of new territory is important, not as an end
in itself, but as a means to enable life to experiment with intelligence in a
million forms.'
Received on Wed Apr 29 08:51:22 1998

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