Friday, March 23, 2007

A long, long time ago...

This guy put together a fun article trying to evoke how long human history really is and how little of it we really know in relation. I recommend it; it's a nice read and does the intended job. (Via Kottke)

And you know with that setup you're about to see a bigger but than evidenced in any part of the video for "Baby Got Back."

This is way outside of the point of the article, which uses the Bible principally as a way to represent a time-slice, yet we read:
[I]f you have a grand view of the Bible's contents, that's fine, those few pixels should then conjure up your memory of historic events and aspirations and people who loved and raised families and created art and fought for what they believed in. And for those of us with less romantic visions of the Bible, it represents thousands of years of war and folly and pain and loss.


...

Uh, what did you say?

"[The Bible] represents thousands of years of war and folly and pain and loss."

...

I'm always flabbergasted by someone who is that ignorant of the overwhelmingly positive effect that the Judeo/Christian traditions and cultures have brought to the world. It's nearly impossible to overstate that we wouldn't have a world or Western culture that even remotely resembles what we have were it not for the Bible and those who wrote it and believe in it.

There's so much to explain in that regard that literally several bookshelves would be needed to hold all the relevant books to even attempt to do so.

Y'know, it would make a swell graduate dissertation whose topic was the pervasiveness of a subculture that's sprung up almost exclusively on the web made up of engineers (both computer and the various branches of mechanical and electronic) and biologists who tend towards being Randian Libertarian atheists whose exposure to history and religion is limited to opinions and summaries they've read on the web (usually written by someone of the same persuasion), and who are also overly impressed with their own obvious intelligence enough to never arrive at the truth that intelligence and knowledge aren't the same thing. These are guys who probably just assume that Thomas Cahill's How the Irish Saved Civilisation is about beer, or maybe potatoes.

You create anything in a vacuum and the most impressive achievement that can possibly result is that you were able to create the vacuum in the first place.

Oh well.

Contemplating this article also made me think of how cool it would be to see the same comparison of the time between the last dinosaur keeling over with a rattling gasp to the first time a proto-human first walked around on two legs wondering about something a little more abstract than eating or screwing (that last one's a stretch - I know).

Which whips me back to another question I get on the Bible sometimes: how come the Bible doesn't talk about dinosaurs? If you look at the timelines presented in that article, and then sorta swag the dinosaur timeline, that's part of the answer (to wit: some time had passed and it wasn't all that relevant). The other part is that the Bible is the history of a specific people that began not all that long ago in the cosmological flow of things. The Bible goes from creation to mankind in the space of a few words. It's kind of like that famous cartoon:


Yeah, it would be nice if it were more explicit in step 2 (imagine the arguments that would never have to occur), but the Bible really is not concerned with dinosaurs and primitive peoples, it's about our relationship with God.

Maybe when Moses asked God about that stuff, God said something like, "In a few thousand years a man named Michener will be born. I'm going to let him write about that stuff. You just worry about those tablets, dude." (Not to presume to speak for God, mind you.)

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