Vectors of Sapien Zeitgeist

Today we understand that the universe is ridiculously large, if not infinite, and that time and space is relative to a given reference point.

There are countless people in history that can be given credit for that sentence. Einstein (of course), Hubble, Doppler, Newton, Galileo, Kepler, Brahe, Copernicus, Gutenberg, Ptolemy, and however many other people with big names or remain nameless but influenced that understanding all the same. Did you notice that I put Gutenberg in there? His printing press was the reason Copernicus has Ptolemy’s star charts which he used to help him bring the idea of a sun-centered universe back into the perception of western humanity. Screws, optics, metallurgy, mathematics, electricity, etc. Countless stories to learn of people we’re ignorant of which led to my car or television.

I’m here telling you this today because November 9th was the late Carl Sagan’s birthday, which is when and why I decided to watch Cosmos this year. During that week I wondered when James Burke’s birthday was and decided to watch Connections, The Day the Universe Changed, and his other series. I knew of James Burke’s and Carl Sagan’s series because there was a summer back in my elementary school years when my mom let me rent VHS’s from the West Linn Library. Pretty sure my mom new of them before me so she may have some memory between the time of me picking up those tapes and their author’s putting them together.

All understanding any of us have is a compilation of uncountable stories and incidental happenstances to run-of-the-mill beings like you or me. This is the inspiration for a new project of study to see how applicable history is to learning everything. Instead of taking the compilation of human understanding at separated segments of learning I’m going to try and learn by following the evolution of memes which happened from antiquity.

I’m starting in the time period of early Mesopotamian literature (~2500BC) since that’s where we have ideas of those people written on clay tablets giving a sense of their applied tools use, focus of life, disposition toward the world around.

It’s been interesting so far, the ancient Sumerians view their gods in a similar way to the Greeks; in their interpretation of how they view natural forces (by today’s standards) as the works of deities with tales of anger, conquest, and stratified focus’. Sumerians believed that deities were immortal, that you can have part breed god-men which are generally great warriors, leaders, or both (Epic of Gilgamesh). Being human, part breed or not, meant you were mortal and could die and death meant an eternal boring sleep in the ground… nothingness… that sort of thing. I didn’t put together that before monotheism heaven was just a dwelling place for moody gods (natural forces) to watch over their domain and to bless or curse the land below them. I was not surprised to find Bible similarities… at the same time reading these stories has helped me to realize how futile it is for people to argue that the Bible is a divine text. I don’t plan to get into that too far until I get to that point in the dating process.

Advertisements