Consider an object–a corpse. The body of a dead man.
1. In one sense, it is utterly insignificant. It is so small. In its milieu, it is just one among many. Even in life, there was nothing about the construction of this body that made it stand out. And its milieu was just one small portion of the surface of its world, which surface was itself tiny in proportion to the actual earthy, airy, watery mass of the world, which is itself a flyspeck, a nothing, in proportion to the size of the sun that dominates the local area. But even the sun is nothing in comparison with the emptiness of the solar system. And the solar system is nothing in the galaxy, and the galaxy is nothing in the universe.
There is an emptiness called the universe. And within that emptiness, there are unimaginably tiny emptinesses called galaxies. Anything smaller than those smallest of objects are not just small–they might as well not exist.
2. In another sense, that body has the same significance the universe had. It is entropy. Everything began in one Big Bang and has been running down ever since. Stuff spreads out and out and out further into emptiness. Sometimes some of the stuff joins together into tiny specks of light, which consume most of the energy of the stuff before spreading it back out into the emptiness, where some small proportion of that stuff will coalesce again and consume most of the remaining store of energy in that stuff. Entropy.
There is a speck that is the tiny remnant of prior specks. It is busy consuming their energy and shooting it out into the emptiness. Some very small fraction of that energy falls onto an even tinier speck, a world, itself also made of the tiny, tiny remnants of prior specks. Some very small fraction of the energy that falls onto the world is used by plants. Some small fraction of those plants are eaten by human bodies. Fields and fields, year and after year, to maintain just one body. Most of the energy in the eaten plants is wasted.
Sometimes instead some small fraction of those plants are eaten by animals, which use only a small fraction of the energy in them, and then are eaten by human bodies, which also use only a small fraction of the energy in them. Entropy. Waste, piled on waste. And in turn, those human bodies run down and die. The workings stop. The structure decays. Only rotting remains, and then bones, and then nothing.
So this dead body in a way represents the whole process of the universe. Star stuff formed and reformed over vast distances so it could shine on a world so that the plants could grow to make the bread that this body ate just a few days ago. And now the body is dead. Entropy.
3. In a third sense, this body is the most significant thing. Utterly small, the end result of entropy, lying there . . . it takes one breath.
The heart pumps again. The body opens his eyes, he stands up. He walks. He sees a woman and speaks her name. This body, he saith unto her “Mary.”
It all began with a Big Bang. This one, tiny breath, it changes it all–all–all over again. Because of this breath, entropy will die. The bodies will live. The great emptiness will be filled with meaning and light.