Philosophy and religion cautioned that the gods (or God) were far more powerful than we, jealous of their prerogatives and quick to mete out justice for insufferable arrogance. At the same time, these disciplines had not a clue that their own teaching of how the Universe is ordered was a conceit and a delusion.

Every other proposal, and their number is legion, to displace us from cosmic center stage has also been resisted, in part for similar reasons. We seem to crave privilege, merited not by our work, but by our birth, by the mere fact that, say, we are humans and born on Earth. We might call it the anthropocentric—the “human-centered”—conceit. This conceit is brought close to culmination in the notion that we are created in God’s image: The Creator and Ruler of the entire Universe looks just like me. My, what a coincidence. How convenient and satisfying! –Carl Sagan