Former Signs of the Divine

Think of being alive 50,000 years ago - you are not very different than people now. Maybe a bit shorter, definitely thinner, but the same body shape, the same brain, the same social skills. Culture is not as advanced, but it's there. You've got old people telling boring stories, etc. So boring! So you take a walk from the tribe and as you crest a hill, you see this - a green streak dancing through the sky. WTF?

How do you explain this? There's no science yet, though no doubt its seeds are sprouting and spreading. Thus, the gods - some Shamen in the Sky who can do most anything, and is the cause for just about anything you want to attribute to them. The Sun's a god, the stars are gods, the wind and rain and lightning are all gods, or products of the gods. What else can explain them?

With no scientific foundation to understand the phenomena behind what you see, feel, hear and think, you go with what you know - human society, animal society, extrapolated to as lofty or low a position as you (or your Tribe) can imagine.

But now?
We have science. It is THE main force for progress (and destruction) of our species, and has taken us out to space and into the atom itself. It has made us like gods upon this Earth and YET! There are still sizable percentages of people in every ever more densely corner of the world who will still attribute good things, bad things, any sort of thing, to the gods. And of course other people's gods are totally stupid and wrong and we should kill them, or otherwise make them see the error of their ways.

Relics of our ancient past, given apparent eternal life through the power of replicating memes, ideas created, modified, passed on and codified over time and repetition. Even in the face of facts. I think sometimes in spite of facts.

Odd times - we live in a sci fi world of satellites and nuclear power, while bearded men still preach brimstone and fairy tales with impressive results. I worry some times that Science is losing the war against the myths of cult and tribe, because by default we are prone to animism, which is all the gods ever are. Only through education - culture - can we learn about science and absorb its lessons deep within our selves. And so every time you see some Wingnut Education board putting Creationism on the public school science agenda, know this is a direct strike against the very force which has made our species dominant on Earth. The power of ignorance is a very real threat, and it must be fought forcefully and tirelessly.

The above is a pic of the Amundsen polar station at the South Pole - the very purpose of which is science.

Auroras, by the way, are charged particles from the Sun getting funneled down magnetic field lines around the Earth into the poles, where they light up through interactions with the atmosphere. They are also incredibly beautiful and awe-inspiring - no god needed.

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