Revolutions in thinking

I’m currently reading about the early fossil hunters – Mary Anning et al, and the huge shift in consciousness they caused. Until the 1800s, the Christian west had understood creation as perfect and unchanging. Awareness of extinct dinosaurs, mammoths and so forth brought into question the whole story. Why would God make things and then not keep them? A perfect God could not make imperfect creatures and have to give up on them! A perfect God would know exactly what he was doing from the start! Why would God make things and allow them to become extinct? It made no sense.

Taking on the implications of the past – that the Earth is older than the Bible suggests, that extinction happens, that things are created imperfectly and can change, that there is evolution, rocked the Victorian world. More than a hundred years on and there are still people who prefer any explanation for fossils but the most logical one. Everything we once thought we knew, was wrong. We went round similar cultural upheaval dealing with the idea that it isn’t a flat Earth, and the sun does not go around the Earth. We killed people as heretics over that, I believe. We struggled with recognising that people are people, no matter their skin colour and that we all evolved from ape-like ancestors.

It is worth looking at how in the past, we resisted new thinking. We fought against feminism and women getting the vote, insisting for decades that women are too silly to handle anything much. As with the folk who haven’t got to grips with evolution, sexism and racism still hold sway in some minds. Often the same minds. Every good idea, every moment of progress has been accompanied by fervent denial, ridicule of the new stuff, through to actually murdering people for daring to disagree. The first guy to translate the Bible into English died for that. We’re so frightened of having our old stories challenges that we kill to protect them rather than accept change, or new insight. That’s not a glowing endorsement of us as a species.

So we’ve spent decades adamant that climate change science isn’t real, and isn’t happening. We’re still having the same maddening debates about equality and tolerance on all fronts and there are still people who think God put the dinosaur bones in the earth to test our faith. Assuming we get our acts together and face up to the challenges of our times – climate change, pollution, poverty, resource allocation, our whole relationship with the natural world… Assuming we get that right and there are future humans who can look back, they will no doubt line us up with all the other idiots of history who refused to read the writing on the wall, and who preferred death to changing the story. The only difference between us and our reactionary ancestors, is that this time if we get it wrong, there may be no one in the future to look back at us in bemusement and wonder how on earth we failed to grasp the blindingly obvious.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

6 responses to “Revolutions in thinking

  • Aurora J Stone

    Oow! Ouch!! That was my first reaction to this very important post, Nimue.

    What you say is only too true, and I’d not seen the blinding obvious in front of me that the same people – in the States who call themselves The Religious Right and who my African-American Baptist preaching professor said are neither religious or right – deny the evidence on dinosaurs and women and minorities and climate. They are not less present in the UK where I live now, but they seem more diffuse and harder to locate as a group with a united voice and agenda.

    There is a substantial culture that says it we don’t see it it’s not there. The same professor said: ‘Denial is not just a river in Egypt!’

    It is one thing if the planet tips on its axis or a meteor slams into the ocean that causes a radical shift in climatic conditions and quite another if we as a sometimes apparently parasitic species, who from greed and sloth and covetousness, alter the conditions under which we all live. It is different if we decide that the short term gain is more important than long-term survival.

    This is a bold statement. Well written, and though I don’t know your voice one I can hear spoken with passion, bordering at times on despair. What we can’t do is give and given in. It seems we have much less to lose by agreeing that climate change, engendered by our use of fossil fuels (nicely rounding back to t he dinosaurs, mind) and destruction of forests and carbon sinks than ignoring and nay-saying.

    Thank you, for here you speak not only for yourself, but all who share it with you, whether they like it or not.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    Ah but how can humas go extinct? Are we not the whole reason for the rest of create was created as a stage just so we humans could prance around on it. Once you question to special uniqueness the humans, then you make a lie of most of our major religions. If we are not the apex of creation then maybe the gods have less interest in us than our ego demands.[Grin]

    • Nimue Brown

      yes indeed. On on the other side of that I get the impression some people are quite keen to bring on the end times, for religious reasons. We could use a bit of evolution….

  • Revolutions in thinking | Gaia Gazette

    […] Source: Revolutions in thinking […]

  • locksley2010

    I don’t see the gods as having created us, they were either beings on Earth with consciousness before we did, or ancestors who became gods through exaltation or…. we created them. Either way they don’t seem to control our affairs, our lives are our choice, they can only prod us in the right direction but it is our choice to follow that nudge… they must be very frustrated with us. 🙂

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