Monday, January 28, 2008

A Historical Falsehood

In popular thought, however, the origin of the universe has counted (I think) for less than its character - its immense size and its apparent indifference, if not hostility, to human life. And very often this impresses people all the more because it is supposed to be a modern discovery - an excellent example of those things which our ancestors did not know and which, if they had known them, would have prevented the very beginnings of Christianity. Here there is a simple historical falsehood. Ptolemy knew just as well as Eddington that the earth was infinitesimal in comparison with the whole content of space. There is no question here of knowledge having grown until the frame of archaic thought is no longer able to contain it. The real question is why the spatial insignificance of the Earth, after being known for centuries, should suddenly in the last century have become an argument against Christianity. I do not know why this has happened; but I am sure it does not mark an increased clarity of thought, for the argument from size is in my opinion, very feeble.
~C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock, "Dogma and the Universe" (1970)

2 Comment(s):

At Wed Feb 06, 09:53:00 PM EST, Blogger Martin LaBar said...

as always, thanks!

At Thu Feb 17, 01:12:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed, Boethius in the early middle ages used the minusculeness of the earth in the cosmic scale when he's writing about the pointlessness of earthly ambition.


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