The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

ON KNOWLEDGE

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

(Attributed {attribution disputed}) to Charles Holland Duell, Commissioner of the United States Patent and Trademark Office 1898-1901.

Whether Commissioner Duell made that comment or not, it is reflective of a mindset to which we humans sometimes turn.  That mindset is correctly called closed-mindedness.  We limit our thinking and box ourselves into our comfort zones and there spend our lives, unwilling to challenge our perceptions, content with the little universe we have created for ourselves.

But we know the universe is a big place – a very big place – an unfathomably big place.  And we know that our place in it is very small and very new.  Some people find that threatening.  I, on the other hand, think that is very exciting.  Just thinking about how little we know and how much we have to learn gets the hairs on my neck standing at full attention – and reverence.

Our most recent scientific estimate is that the universe is 13.5 billion years old and that the Earth formed about 4.7 billion years ago.  We also know that the Earth has gone through many transformations before it became the water world that it is today, providing the opportunity for life as we know it.

We shouldn’t be startled at this transformation as today we can actually see the creation of new stars being born in our Milky Way and we can observe the death of old ones.  Naturally, new and existing stars bring with them the possibility of new and existing planets orbiting them.  And if there are planets it is only reasonable to believe that there is the possibility of life.

The possibility of life on other planets is hardly a new theory.  Most of the founding fathers believed that was likely.  Certainly, as Galileo looked through his newly improved telescope, it is likely that these thoughts ran through his head as well.  But while we may propose this theory, we in our time await confirmation through personal encounters with these beings from another world.  But do we have to scan our skies looking for them or is there ample proof left on Earth that visitors from other worlds met our ancestors in remote times past?

The “Ancient Astronaut” theory sets out to prove that such visitations occurred thousands of years ago.  There is so much evidence scattered through different parts of the world that can be explained through no other theory as to be convincing to even the most skeptical observer should he choose to consider it.

If you are not familiar with the extensive writings of Eric von Däniken, who is an investigative proponent of this idea. then you may at least be familiar with the series of the same title which the History Channel has aired over several seasons.  The series explores examples of remnants of ancient artifacts whose construction can in no way be explained other than that mankind had “help” in constructing them by someone who was technologically far more advanced than they – or for that matter than we are today.

In the historical records of ancient human civilizations there is constant reference made to “the gods” coming to Earth.  Remarkably, though separated by thousands of miles and with no possibility of interaction between those recording these events, the similarity between the authors’ descriptions is amazing.

Is this a matter of group hypnosis between different groups who did not even know of each other’s existence and were separated by thousands of miles – or is the more plausible explanation that these various cultures were indeed visited by extraterrestrials whom they had no better word to describe than “the gods”?

There simply is no theory that has been so far advanced that can better explain how the Pyramids of Egypt could have been constructed – or those of the Mayans in Central America.

How could the “primitive’ Mayans have produced temples that were clearly based on mathematical and astronomic principles that were so exact as to produce a calendar that is more accurate than our own?  How could they have fitted these massive blocks of stone together with such precision that we would, with all the technological advancements we have made today, be unable to duplicate them?  How could they have mined the stone itself with the simple tools available to them to the degree of precision that they achieved without help from a more technologically advanced civilization?  And to what purpose were these monuments built?

For years Homer’s “Iliad” was considered a work of fiction.  The book was passed down through oral tradition, not unlike the tradition of aboriginal peoples in America and New Zealand and Australia and South America.  However, when the book was finally committed to paper several hundred years after Homer’s death, its description of the location of Troy was sufficiently accurate to allow Heinrich Schliemann to uncover that city’s ancient ruins.

We prefer to think of descriptions of “gods descending in winged chariots from the heavens” as mere allegory.  But what other terms would a people who had never seen anything other than birds fly use to describe the descent of an alien spacecraft?  And when the same term is used in disparate parts of the world, when similar pictographs and drawing are carved depicting people who bear no resemblance to those who were the artists for these works, are we to dismiss them as the mere meanderings of the creative mind?  Have we returned to the theory of “mass hypnosis” – but if that theory is valid, who is the hypnotist?

It is hard for me as a rational and open-minded person (or so I like to think of myself) to believe that we have attained the summit of all knowledge.  It is hard for me to believe that the Creator whom I revere as omnipresent and omnipotent has chosen just one little spot at the edge of an ordinary galaxy to convey intelligent life to the exclusion of the rest of His entire universe.  It seems to me that doing so is to limit God whom we describe as limitless.  And if mankind was made “a little lower than the angels,” perhaps in time we will advance to that point that we have taken our place by their side.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

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Comments on: "ON KNOWLEDGE" (5)

  1. Re: knowledge – what we know is akin to a handful of sand, what we don’t is akin to all the desert sands of this world

  2. An excellent analogy, Eric.

  3. Bravely stepping out into the world of possible aliens – I like that.

    I do have to say that, just as I find it possible that it is within God’s plan to populate another, or a million other, planet(s) with various types of life forms, it also could just as well be His plan to just populate just one. In this life, we may never know.

    I know it is slightly off your point, but — I was recently rereading C. S. Lewis’s essay called “Dogma and the Universe”. In responding to modernists who assailed Christianity partly on the grounds of the vastness and hostility of space versus the smallness and insignificance of the earth, Lewis wrote the following, which I found interesting:

    “If we use the vastness of space and the smallness of earth to disprove the existence of God, we ought to have a clear idea of the sort of universe we should expect if God did exist. . . .

    “If the world in which we found ourselves were not vast and strange enough to give us Pascal’s terror, what poor creatures we should be. . . . I do not see how we could have come to know the greatness of God without that hint furnished by the greatness of the material universe. Once again, what sort of universe do we demand? If it were small enough to be cosy, it would not be big enough to be sublime. If it is large enough for us to spread our spiritual limbs in, it must be large enough to baffle us. Cramped or terrified, we must, in any conceivable world, be one or the other. I prefer terror.”

  4. “We cannot in any better manner glorify the Lord and Creator of the universe than that in all things, how small soever they appear to our naked eyes, but which have yet received the gift of life and power of increase, we contemplate the display of his omnificence and perfections with the utmost admiration.”

    – Anton van Leeuwenhoek

  5. It’s interesting to note that the “truths” the most intellegent scientists have come up with over the years get crossed out by the next generation and the next after that. Now the big bang theory is being challenged. The evolutionary theory tells us mankind has progressed all the way from slime to the bright creatures of this day. In terms of intellect and morality it seems to me to be heading in the other direction. I don’t find it un-intellegent to accept that our original parents were made by a Supreme Being and mankind has gone backward rather than forward from that time. I fully respect the right of evolutionists to believe even further back than the slime era that nothing made something as I heard explained to me on Discovery Channel recently. Too bad those who believe that are so militant against those who see things differently.

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