Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Next Dark Age?


2300 years ago a man named Eratosthenes proved the Earth was a sphere and calculated its size to a high degree of accuracy. He did this in an age of zero technology using only sunlight and a brain unfettered by mysticism or religion. If you had strolled into the Great Library of Alexandria a few years later and asked the scholars therein if the Earth was flat, they would likely have patted you on the head and explained kindly that their buddy Eratosthenes had proved otherwise.

Now fast forward 1500 years and imagine trying to explain your findings to people in any European city, most likely you would have been forcefully told that everyone knows the Earth is flat. In addition, you would have been reported to the local religious leaders as a heretic and tortured into accepting their dogma on pain of death and eternal damnation. Such was the power that religion held over us at that time. Only a few hundred years after Eratosthenes, the mystics and religites destroyed the Great Library and burned the scrolls, almost nothing remains of what once was the greatest repository of knowledge in the world. They also murdered the female librarian Hypatia, who may have been the world’s first feminist – the Dark Ages had begun.

It seems clear then, that mysticism and religious dogma held us back and suppressed knowledge for more than 1500 years before the changes made during the Age of Enlightenment became accepted. Imagine where we would be now had the Great Library of Alexandria flourished and spread its knowledge and thirst for learning throughout the world, perhaps poverty, famine, ill-health, wars and illiteracy would be but dim memories or may have never even existed.

There is no doubt that some religious bodies in recent times have tried and succeeded in doing good, unfortunately, it’s also true that in general, religion has been the scourge of humankind and has slaughtered millions of us for no sane reason whatever.

As a matter of interest, if you’re a religious person, ask your local minister/pastor/priest or whatever to explain how Eratosthenes did his feat. If you get the answer then it’s likely that they have read about it and should therefore be ashamed of themselves, if not, then I’d bet they wouldn’t know how to do it.

In this world of charlatans, woo-woo’s, astrologers, spiritualists, religious lunatics and sundry assholes, it’s beginning to look as if The Next Dark Age is approaching and I’m reminded of Carl Sagan’s words.

“…the candle flame gutters, the demons are stirring.”

2 Comments:

Anonymous CuriousGuy said...

OK, I give up, how did he do it?

2:52 am  
Blogger Po8 said...

As long as people believe, that Belief is the source of enlightenment rather than wisdom, reason and proof, I don't have much hope...

5:56 am  

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