I'd say that we cannot assume that we are ever outside the universe.
Our chemical bodies and energized minds are a part of the universe, and in that sense we are the universe!
We are star dust and energy that gets endlessly recycled.
We fool ourselves if we think we can look at anything else in the universe objectively, and in recent decades we openly began to suspect that other
parts are looking back at us (even if they just view as a zoo, or some ants in a cosmic jungle).
Are we even sentient beings?
We'd like to think we are.
Yet, even science is starting to suspect that we have other dimensions around us, and few of us can even grasp how time and space are connected.
So how can we call ourselves sentient, or any better than a bacteria that clings to a primordial rock?
We are the product of the universe - the unexplained tendency of life to come from natural forces, or perhaps even "spirit".
As such one cannot simply remove us from the material world, like one could move actors from a stage, or figures from a diorama.
We are the product of a very essence in the universe (God?) and by the same token we impact the universe, beginning with our world.
Thus one cannot view the universe from an outside perspective unless one has a means to go outside it.
Otherwise one would ultimately have to conclude that one is looking at oneself.
edit on 15-2-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason