Usually when I ask you to do something, I do it politely, or I make it into a joke. This is not one of those times.
Go read this right now. Unless you're going to complain about it, in which case don't bother, because you won't like it, but there you go.
My grandma and I went to have dinner with my aunt, uncle, and cousins (one of whom is nearly 10 and the other of whom is almost 3 months). On the way there, she said something to me. I don't remember what it was. I was in the midst of thinking about something, so I didn't respond. Then I decided I should apologize for not responding. Then I realized that "Sorry I didn't say anything-- I was contemplating the miracle of human consciousness" sounded kind of strange.
But that's what I was thinking about.
Later, a similar thing happened, only I was thinking about the cosmic radiation background.
But really: human consciousness. How are we "sentient," while animals are not, if we share the vast majority of our DNA with, say, chimps? How are we "conscious," while they are not? If it's just because we're much smarter than they are, what about the really, really dumb humans? Do they count as animals? No.
And how did we become conscious? Did one of our ancestors give birth and suddenly that baby thought "WOW! I HAVE INDEPENDENT THOUGHT!"? I doubt it.
But if this is true, then we really are animals. We're just really, really developed ones so it feels like we have something more. But we're really nothing more than the most complex organisms that we know of. Or maybe we're really nothing less than that.
Some people would find the thought depressing. Aren't we really more than a bunch of instincts and reactions?
Well...it doesn't look like it. But does that make a difference? We are what we are. We still make art. We still have our brilliant ideas. We still have creativity. We still dream. We still love and are loved and feel pleasure and pain.
And that, I think, is where the miracle is: somehow we ended up capable of all of this. Even the most complicated of our computers can't do it (yet).
How freaking amazing is that?