Which Way is Up? – Introduction – Rethinking Cosmology


Image Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.Now here’s an interesting tidbit of cosmological history. Apparently the ancient Greeks, those clever guys, knew all about the earth being a sphere and rotating about the sun well before the medieval Europeans twigged on to the idea.

Aristarchus (310 – 230 BC) is the first known Greek to have proposed a heliocentric model (i.e. the earth rotates around the sun). His theory was rejected in favor of the geocentric models (i.e. sun and planets rotate around the earth) of Aristotle (384-322 BC) and later, Ptolemy (90-168 AD). Meanwhile Eratosthenes (276-194 BC) apparently was the first to calculate the size of the earth using math that involved measuring the angles of shadows. Incredible, how smart these two guys were.

It seems to be a truism that cosmological innovators are often met with ridicule and rejection by those around them. Perhaps this goes back to some kind of herd instinct. Animals generally don’t like disruptions to their usual way of doing things. Ingrained patterns make life more manageable for both animals and I would dare say humans too. The problem, however, is that behavioral patterns might have to change when environments change. This certainly seems to be the case with humanity. And not only our behavioral patterns, but perhaps more fundamentally, our thinking patterns from which much of our behavior originates. 

At the risk of sounding like an Al Gore or Michael Moore, I’d say it’s definitely time for another change. Or at least, it’s time to start thinking about one in a manner consistent with our species’ inherent brainpower.

In future blogs, I’d like to look at the role of emotion in human thinking, some views of the universe from subatomic physics, along with a bit of interfaith theology.

THIS BLOG IS PART OF A SERIES:

Which Way is Up? – Introduction – Rethinking Cosmology

Which Way is Up? – 1 – Emotion and Human Reasoning

Which Way is Up? – 2 – Concepts of “Matter” and “Energy”

Which Way is Up? – 3 – “Matter,” “Energy” and Solipsism

Which Way is Up? – 4 – The “Field”

Which Way is Up? – Conclusion: Into the Mystic

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