My Place (In The Dance Of The Universe)

I am accident on accident
And chance on random chance
I’m the product of environment
And changing circumstance

The odds of my occurrence
Are incalculably small—
If you round off to the m b trillionth place
I don’t exist at all!

Every atom in my body
From an ancient star’s collapse;
I’m a long time in my making—
Several billion years, perhaps!

In a corner of infinity,
A cold and hostile place
On a tiny blue oasis
Set adrift in empty space

I’m a subset of the universe
That’s learned to look around—
And which cannot help but wonder
At the marvels I have found!

The descendent of bacteria,
Of annelids, of fish,
I’m a member of the primates,
Just an ape-man, if you wish

Through the engine of selection
Some would live and some would die—
“From so simple a beginning”
Just how fortunate am I!

And I pass along my molecules
And take my place in line
So some distant, future life form
Will have carbon that was mine

And perhaps my DNA as well—
Unlikely, though, my friend—
I have ridden quite a lucky streak,
And lucky streaks must end.

So it is, and so it must be
When so much depends on chance
Since the music plays so briefly,
Can you blame me if I dance?

This was a response to having read “the evidence of the creator is all around you!” one too many times.


  1. khms says

    Hmm. I suspect only about a third of the atoms in your body are from an ancient star’s collapse.

    After all, most of it is water – H2O. And hydrogen was around before those ancient stars.

  2. cuttlefish says

    … and is what those ancient stars were composed of! The hydrogen gas you speak of was the mass that came together in clumps, attracting more and more mass, forming the stars. I suspect I have a stronger case for “every atom” than you do for “only about a third”.

    But here’s the cool part. Somebody knows. And knows because there is evidence. And with any luck, someone will give us the answer. Care to wager?

    Edited… it occurs to me that you are not making the argument that the hydrogen somehow bypassed the stars, but rather that “from an ancient star’s collapse” implies the heavier elements. That said, I see your point.

  3. Die Anyway says

    >Since the music plays so briefly,
    >Can you blame me if I dance?

    When my wife and I got married we were ambivalent about the subject of children, but I thought to myself “All of my ancestors had children. Do I want to be the one who breaks the chain? Do I want to deny what billions of years of evolution have led to?” The answer was NO, and two great kids resulted from that decision. The chain may get broken anyway, as they may not have children of their own (who knows yet) but the music played and I got up and danced.

  4. Morrell Deedes says

    This is Morrell from NPR. You had responded to my post on the article “After Tragedy, Nonbelievers Find Other Ways To Cope”, wherein I shared my somewhat cynical sense of humor. This is my reply to you.

    …My comment was not meant to be taken in all seriousness, and there was no harm intended toward people who adhere to atheism. As I said in the post, I was ribbing. I too have lost a brother. He died in a car wreck when he was 18. I was only 15 at the time. And while you say “We don’t need to pretend a spiritual connection; there is a literal, physical one,” I do believe my brother is in Heaven. And I hope to be there someday also.

    …You have a lot of talent. Your poem, though it flies in the face of my own beliefs, is beautiful. I am not offended by your post, and I hope you are not by mine. Thank you.

  5. GodotIsWaiting4U says

    Yay, common meter! You can sing this to Amazing Grace! Or Gilligan’s Island! Or Pokemon!


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