Astroethics in Art


The Origin of Scientific Theories

Acrylic paintings on canvas 24” x 30”

Science starts with questions. How does Nature work and what is behind it? We observe Nature and form a theory, and then apply the Algorithm of Science.


We use the theory to predict events. If correct, the theory is accepted as a Law. Otherwise, the theory is modified and subjected to the algorithm until the theory reflects the Laws of Nature.


This simple algorithm gave us the powers to understand Nature and to apply science.  We now need Algorithms of Wisdom to use these powers to our advantage and to benefit all Life.


The observing eye above the cliffs notes the gravitational attraction of two spheres. We then form a theory of these forces and apply it to the trajectory of objects in a gravitational field. The results are input into the Algorithm of Science. If verified, the hypothesis becomes a Law. If not, the hypothesis is modified until the true Law emerges.  

Alternative Universes?

Our Universe Came to a Unique Point in Life

Acrylic on canvas 24” x 30”

The painting illustrates three alternative universes. In one universe the forces among particles are too strong, and all atoms condense into inert solids (left panel). In our actual universe the forces allow life to flourish (center). In yet another universe the weak forces cannot bind particles and all matter dissipates into vapors (right).


Einstein asked: “Did the Creator have a choice?” Could have the Creator formed different universes, or only one set of physical constants is allowed by Nature?


We can experience only one universe and we cannot prove if different universes can, or do, exist. But the fact that this universe is configured precisely for Life gives our existence a special value.  

Human Nature

Acrylic on canvas 32” x 48”

Human nature is directed by layers of control embedded in the brain. These brain centers are inherited from a legacy of ancestral generations: reptilian desires, mammalian love and human intelligence, that will guide us in the universe.


Impelled by the territorial desires of our reptilian ancestors; inspired by the mammalian love to protect life; and armed with the human power of intelligence, we can then fulfill our destiny to safeguard life and expand it in the universe. 


The Order of Life

Acrylic on canvas 24” x 20”

The structures of Life embody the highest forms of order in Nature. However, these living structures are improbable and can more likely disintegrate into formless chaos. Therefore life is fragile and requires constant maintenance.


Nevertheless, the structures of life have endured for eons while mountains rose and eroded, continents shifted, stars formed and exploded, and the universe expanded and cooled greatly.


We are part of the enduring structures of life. This defines our purpose to forever safeguard and promote Life. From this purpose result the precepts of ethics: Life is good and the chaos of Death is evil.


With these precepts, we must expand Life in the cosmos. The unique order of Life will then encompass all matter, and destructive chaos will be vanquished.




Acrylic on canvas 24” x 28”

Each morning people rise to their day’s labor

At noontime children laugh and cry in the backyards

And the nuclear missiles

From their underground vaults cast long shadows.


Each night people watch their movies and lie down to sleep

Lovers embrace on the silent beaches

And nuclear submarines glide to unknown,

awesome destinations.


And each day that people work and children laugh and lovers embrace

The nuclear missiles rust in shame in their vaults and

grow smaller

And Life has won another victory.

 Rising Worlds of Higher Order


Acrylic on canvas 28” x 48”

Life on this earthly cradle brought forth our intelligence and our higher aspirations. We can now emerge from Earth to secure for Life the vast resources of space. There we can construct multitudes of worlds for trillions of humans for trillions of generations.


In these new worlds life can progress to new levels of complexity. Our descendants can then create worlds of the highest orders of structure: Social harmony enriched by Justice, Truth and Peaceful Cooperation. Life, strengthened by these high structures, will long flourish.


Legend: The lower panels illustrate the emerging technologies that will bring us to space. The higher orders of  Justice, Truth and Peaceful Cooperation in these new worlds are illustrated by the human diagrams in the upper squares.


Limits of Knowledge.

1. Complexity


Acrylic on lucite 28” x 28”

Nature, and especially Life, is complex on all levels. The human brain, however, is finite and handles only a minute fraction of complex Nature. The painting illustrates complexity on the most basic levels, of interacting particles in a multi-body system; and complexity on the highest level of an ecological web.


Science is successful in seeing the simple laws behind complex phenomena, but cannot reconstruct the complexity of Nature from these simple laws.


We must be satisfied with the insights that Nature does permit. There will always be mysteries and their pursuit will challenge human minds to ever higher achievements.

   Forbidden Knowledge


Acrylic on canvas 24” x 28”


We desire knowledge. But should we pursue knowledge if it may endanger our survival? Nuclear physics is part of nature, but we may have revealed its secrets too early. 


Other pursuits can have similar consequences. Genetic engineering can lead to stronger species, and it may  lead to diverse space-adapted life-forms. But genetic engineering may also produce species without the desire to propagate life. There is danger also in creating robots that may displace our family of gene/protein life.


Knowledge benefits only those who are wise enough to use it prudently.


That which helps life is good, and that which threatens life is evil. All human acts, even the pursuit of knowledge, must be judged by this criterion.

The Helical Song


 Acrylic on canvas 24”x28”

Life embodies the highest order of structure in this universe. Biological matter, as protein sequences encoded in the DNA helix, arose from the primeval chaos.


Even the first ancestral cell composed of this matter must have been highly complex, and its origins are mystery. Did life arise on Earth first? Did it arise only here? Does the galaxy teem with life? Are we alone, and is then the fate of all life in our hands?


We may not find the answers for many eons, or ever. Whatever the answer, prudence requires that we safeguard life and propagate it throughout the accessible universe. This is the highest human purpose, and fulfilling it will give our existence a cosmic meaning.



 Acrylic on canvas 36” x 36”

Out of space/time the universe burst forth

As the Four Forces emerged from the primeval chaos.

The Four Forces that in the fabric of space/time

Compel galaxies to swirl,

Stars to glow,

Planets to condense form dust,

Complex molecules to assemble

And Life to spring forth and expand into space/time again.


Into space/time the universe will forever expand.

Our descendants may some remote day decipher its secrets

To understand the Laws and to use them,

To populate the universe

And to transform its Laws to their advantage,

Until all matter becomes Life or its supporting matrix.

Our remote descendants will then reach for eternity

And give our human existence a cosmic meaning.


All images and text copyright Michael N  Mautner 2000.    For permission to reproduce free on the internet/web with acknowledgement


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