It would be inexcusably egocentric to suggest that we are alone in the cosmos. The chemistry is too rich to declare that. The universe is too vast. There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand in all the beaches of the world. There are more stars in the universe than all the sounds and words ever uttered by all humans who ever lived. ~ Dr. Neil Tyson

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science communicator, and television host of the show, Cosmos (formerly hosted by the late astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, science popularizer, and science communicator, Carl Sagan). Since 1996, Dr. Tyson has been the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City. The center is part of the American Museum of Natural History, where Tyson founded the Department of Astrophysics in 1997 and has been a research associate in the department since 2003.

"The closest genetic relative to the Human Being is the chimpanzee. We share 99 percent, identical DNA. We are smarter than a chimpanzee. Hypothetically, lets invent a measure of intelligence that make humans unique. Intelligence would be the ability to compose poetry, symphonies, art, math, and science, and this would be the arbitrary definition of intelligence, because chimps can't do any of that. But we share 99% identical DNA. The most brilliant chimp ever, could possible do some sign language, but so can our toddlers."

"The fascinatingly disturbing thought is, everything that we are that distinguishes us from chimps, emerges from that one percent difference in DNA. It has to, because that's the difference. The Hubble Telescope, and all great human inventions are in that one percent. Everything that we are, that is not the chimp, is not as smart compared to the chimp, as we tell ourselves it is. The difference between constructing and launching the Hubble Telescope, and a chimp combining two finger motions as sign language, maybe that difference is not all that great. We tell ourselves it is, but maybe it's almost nothing."

"How would we decide that? Imagine another life form that is one percent different from us, in the direction that we are different from the chimp. Think about that. We have a one percent difference and we're building the Hubble telescope. Go another one percent, and ask the questions, what are we to them? We would be drooling, blithering idiots in their presence. They would take Stephen Hawking and roll him in front of their primate researchers and say, "this one is the most brilliant among them because he can do astrophysics in his head." "Oh isn't that cute, little Johnny can do that too, it's on the refrigerator, he did it in his elementary school class."

"Think about how smart they would be. Quantitative mechanics would be intuitive to their toddlers. Entire symphonies would be written by their children, and placed on the refrigerator door, the way our pasta collages are on our refrigerator doors."

"The notion that we're going to find intelligent life, and have a conversation with it, is humorous. When was the last time you stopped to have a conversation with a worm, or a bird? We don't have conversations with other species on earth, with whom we have DNA in common, to believe that some intelligent other species is going to be interested in us, enough to have a conversation, is absurd."

"Are we as a species simply too stupid to figure out the universe we are investigating? There could very well be a species, one percent smarter than we are, for which String Theory (theory of everything - TOE - self contained mathematical model that describes all fundamental forces and forms of matter) is intuitive; for which all the greatest mysteries of the universe, from dark matter, dark energy, origins of life, and all the frontiers of our thought, would be something that this intelligent species could just self-intuit."

~ Neil deGrasse Tyson
Voice of Reason by Richard Dawkins

We have the privilege of being in this universe for a few decades and during that time it is an enormous privilege to be able to understand something about the universe in which we live. Why we're here, why we were ever born, where we come from. I think that is such a wonderful thing to be able to do. 

That's why I'm hostile and angry about competing accounts which seem to me to not encourage that kind of questioning, but instead to say this is how it is, this is how it always is, it is in the Holy Book that was written 2000 years ago and that's the end of it.

I think that deprives people, I think that is such a belittling and demeaning view of the universe and it's tragic that children are brought up with that when they could be brought up in more open-mindedness ways.

That's one reason for the anger, the other reason because that I do think that faith, unsupported by evidence, is a lethal weapon. It doesn't have to be, but it can be. It is a weapon because a group of people can get hold of the minds of young men and use them as weapons, use them as human bombs. The only reason they can be deployed as human bombs is that they have been raised from childhood to believe implicitly, without question, that, whatever the particular religion is, the details don't matter. The point is, that they believe it is the will of God that they should decimate themselves and blow up a bus load of people, or blowup a skyscraper in NY. I don't think that any kind of reasoned argument would do that to people. Religion and religious faith is an enormously powerful psychological weapon. It's not always used for bad, of course, but the fact that it can be used for bad, makes me want to cut it off at the roots, at the very least to stop the inculcation into children of the idea that there is something virtuous in faith.

I'm very concerned with the way children, coming into the world, innocent and knowing nothing, are taken over by the religion, or whatever culture they happen to be born into. You see children being labeled, this is a Catholic child, this is a Protestant child. I would much rather say, this is a child. Perhaps you could say this is a child of Catholic or Protestant parents, but to tie a label on a tiny child, when the child is clearly too young to know what differentiates Catholics from protestants.