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60Home Alone in the Universehttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2000/05/home-alone-in-the-universe-10
Mon, 01 May 2000 00:00:00 -0400 Ptolemy (second century) was the first and boldest in a long succession of spin doctors for the primacy of human beings. The whole universe, he postulated, rotated around us, with the Earth sitting at the center of Heaven itself. Any marketing consultant will tell you that positioning is everything, and center-of-the-universe is hard to beat. A Polish astronomer named Copernicus (1473-1543) rudely pointed out: Sorry Earthlings, we spin around the Sun, not vice versa . . . . Giordano Bruno, a sort of sixteenth-century Carl Sagan, popularized these concepts, . . . saying, among other things, that “innumerable suns exist. Innumerable earths revolve around those suns. Living beings inhabit these worlds.” . . . Bruno’s crime, like Galileo’s, was to undermine the uniqueness of our planet, and by doing so, to threaten the intellectual security of the religious dictatorships of his time . . . . Over time, advances in astronomy have relentlessly reinforced the utter insignificance of Earth on a celestial scale.