History

Myths Carl Sagan and Neil DeGrasse Tyson Told Me

Scientists enjoy telling stories. They tell stories about, among other things, the quest to understand the universe — stories that sometimes have implications for belief or disbelief in God…

Too, often, these stories are false.

This is how science historian Michael Newton Keas beings his engaging and enlightening book, Unbelievable: 7 Myths About the History and Future of Science and Religion.

Unfortunately, he his right.

What he is referring to is when celebrity scientists stop talking about science and interject their personal beliefs under the guise of science. If those beliefs aren’t friendly to religion, they have a habit of promoting the false religion-is-at-war-with-science narrative with a variety of myths. The war between science and religion  is a modern fable, not surprisingly promoted by those who don’t think highly of religion.

This is a shame, really, because we need popularizes of science, but when some scientists become celebrities, they can fall off their intellectual foundation rather quickly. When Neil DeGrasse Tyson turns Giordano Bruno into a martyr for science in his show Cosmos, much of the story is fiction. When Carl Sagan made claims to the effect that the cosmos is all that there is or always will be, he wasn’t making a scientific statement, but a personal, philosophical one. When Sam Harris claims the church had been “torturing scholars” for “speculating about the nature of the stars,” it simply isn’t true.

It’s not hard to review history, as Dr. Keas shows, and see there is no widespread hatred of science from religion. In fact, he details some of the ways “theistic religion nurtured the development of modern science from its start.” He also reveals the irony of these celebrity thinkers replacing religion with their own naturalistic philosophy and materialistic magic.

I’ve studied a lot of history and science over many years, so I have seen elsewhere the history Keas lays out.  Such as there is far more to the Galileo story — he isn’t the poster child of a war between the church and science. The Dark Ages weren’t so dark — the Renaissance didn’t appear out of nowhere. Nor were most of our ancestors really confused about the shape of our planet — most thought it was a sphere and didn’t need Columbus to prove it (he didn’t think it was flat either).

Do the celebrities purposefully spread their myths? I hope not, but the history isn’t hard to find and they keep repeating their myths anyway.

The takeaway from Keas book is we should learn to recognize when our experts, celebrity or otherwise, switch from teaching to evangelizing. There’s nothing wrong with the latter, unless you are passing it off for something it isn’t. And don’t for a moment think you aren’t capable of testing and questioning those who portend to speak for all of science and history.

They don’t own all the keys to our past and our universe. We all do.

unb

Categories: Books, Critical Thinking, History | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How do Civilizations Collapse?

How do civilizations collapse?  Congressman Ken Buck explains in Drain the Swamp what lessons history has left for us:

  • They spend too much.  Budget crises have always been early warning signs of the collapse of an empire or regime, and the bigger the government, the harder it falls.
  • Their people stop producing. Civilizations grow when their people are hard-working, self-sacrificing, and entrepreneurial — and they collapse when the become lazy and self-centered and dependent on the state.
  • They become corrupt. As the power of the state grows, so does official corruption, which people are expected to overlook.
  • They lose their why. Eventually, civilizations lose sight of why they came to exist in the first place — their identity, their purpose. When a nation loses its sense of shared identity, the end is near, because no one is all that interested in fighting or sacrificing for a cause or an identity long forgotten.

Sound familiar? Will we listen to our ancestors? Or will make the same mistakes?

Categories: History, Modern History | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Lost to the West

History is not dry or boring. No, it rivals the best novels. Take Lars Brownworth’s Lost to the West, the rest of the story of the Roman Empire.

The empire didn’t end with the collapse of Rome, but endured for centuries in the East, centered in Constantinople. That’s no idle fact for impressing your friends. Without the Byzantine Empire, the West would have become a very different place, and no doubt unrecognizable to this day.

In spite of all the setbacks brought by war, plague, and tyranny, the West emerged while much of the world receded. Perhaps we should pay closer attention to their stories. Where would we be if there hadn’t been constant restarts of civilization? Yet, in darkness, people still triumphed. There are lessons in both for us to learn.

lwest

Categories: History | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding the Hidden Nazi

At the end of World War II, the Allies picked and chose which Nazis would prosecuted, and which would have their pasts scrubbed so their knowledge could be used in the coming Cold War.

And one of the most notorious Nazis vanished; his name virtually erased from history.

Hans Kammler was the personification of evil, having overseen the Final Solution. He also held the keys to every advanced technology program the Nazis had. The conflicting stories of his death never sounded credible. Even Martin Borman had been tried in absentia, but Kammler was forgotten.

After decades of investigation, Dean Reuter and his co-researchers have uncovered evidence that will have to be answered to. Yet, if I were to guess, The Hidden Nazi has only scratched the surface of what all has been hidden from us. thz

Categories: History, Legend, Modern History | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Enigma of Columbus

“Columbus has been alternately venerated and vilified…he became a lightning rod for controversy…[some] saw him as the visionary that led the way [to the Americas]. Others, preferring to believe that Columbus’s discoveries begat genocide against the New Worlds peaceful indigenous people, uniformly vilify him — as if he had orchestrated the atrocities himself or as if the indigenous tribes hadn’t already been waging war on one another…Still others invest themselves in the pointless argument that Columbus was not the New World’s discoverer…Columbus’s claim to fame isn’t that he got there first, it’s that he stayed.

“…History does not know what to make of the Admiral of the Ocean Sea without passions of one kind or another intruding. The explorer will always remain something of an enigma…He was a man of great charisma whose passion sometimes turned others against him…His advocates marveled at his daring and tenaciousness…His detractors thought him brutal and weak. The only certainty about Columbus is that, for better or worse, he chose to live a bold life rather than settle for mediocrity.” – Martin Dugard writing in The Last Voyage of Columbus.

Every Columbus Day people come out of the woodwork to correct what we were taught about Columbus. Then people correct them, and others correct them. It’s clear few of them have bothered to study the history of they day in any depth. So the quote above is meant to impart that actual history is far too complex to be learned from drive-by memes, or history lessons given by people with agendas.

If you want to speak about a person from our past, you should actually step into his world and follow him around. That’s why the study of history is like time travel. Step on in and give it a try.

Categories: History, Native Americans | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

History of a Cursed Island

Fan of the show The Curse of Oak Island? Randall Sullivan has released the definitive history of the island spanning from the original discovery of the “Money Pit,” to the latest efforts on the television show. Even if you watch the show, you know only a fraction of the island’s history. Sullivan explores the decades of digs, and the endless theories of who visited the island, including many fanciful tales whipped up in fertile imaginations. However, the island sits at a crossroads of the old seafarers, and many unexplained artifacts have been found. Who would go to such effort, and why, to hide something presumably a great value? Would gold warrant elaborate traps and tunnels? Was it already found or perhaps never there?

Maybe it will remain an unsolved mystery, or perhaps someday history will be changed.

oakis

Categories: Ancient America, Ancient Sites, artifacts, History | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

June 6th, D-Day 75 Years Ago

Watch this video by British military historian Peter Caddick-Adams on the day that changed history 75 years ago:

dday

Then read the recollections of one of the few remaining survivors of D-Day.

They fought so we wouldn’t have to.

Categories: History, Modern History | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

They Shall Not Grow Old

From Director Peter Jackson comes the stunning documentary on World War I, They Shall Not Grow Old, using 100-year-old film that has been restored like never before. If you want to know what it’s like to travel back through time, check this out. Trailer:

theypj

Categories: History, Modern History | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Freedom and the Future of Humanity

Here’s a pair of books on four men of the 20th Century that still speak to us today: Churchill and Orwell and A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War. Not one of them was a talking head or armchair expert. Each was a veteran of one or more of the century’s — and mankind’s — worst wars.

Winston Churchill warned there was no appeasing totalitarian governments. Evil regimes only ceased their scourge when facing a people who refused to surrender. Churchill’s prophetic voice was nearly ignored in this, and of what the world was to become in the Cold War. Flaws and all, he reached a level few “leaders” today can approach.

George Orwell experienced in the Spanish Civil War that all totalitarian governments were indistinguishable — whether fascist or communist — in their aims and results. His politics were polar opposite of Churchill’s, but they arrived at the same truths through life, not hypothetical debate. His books Animal Farm and 1984 emerged from those experiences, becoming timeless warnings that wherever power existed, abuse of that power would occur.

After surviving the trenches of World War I, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien became academic scholars. While their contemporaries were writing dismal books on the dark future of humanity, Lewis and Tolkien refused to give in to such defeatism. They eschewed the materialistic and naturalistic philosophies that had brought the world to its knees, and were also being used to paint a future of darkness for humanity. Their fantasy novels were more than fairy tales — they unveiled the hope and the Story that had been gifted to men and women — and that Evil could be crushed.

Out of a dark age came these bright lights. We would be dangerously amiss to snuff them out.

hwco

Categories: Books, History, Modern History | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Came to Ancient America?

Unlike many “reality” shows, the History Channel series, The Curse of Oak Island, has a real dose of history behind its premise. If you can bear with the typical reality show style editing and pacing, you will be rewarded with clues to the island’s history. However, as they say, there is much more to the story.

This region of the North Atlantic seems to hold many more secrets beyond what Oak Island may hold. Paul Chiasson writes in The Island of Seven Cities and Written in Ruins of evidence pointing to Chinese visitors to Cape Brenton Island. Mysterious ruins and Chinese words in native languages are among the clues.

Graeme Davis’ Vikings in America attempts to unravel the scope of Viking excursions into the Americas. No one questions they were here, only the extent and impact of their travels.

In Irresistible North, Andrea Di Robilant tracks down the legendary Zeno brothers of Venice. Did they make it to the New World?

And finally, no ancient mysteries would be complete without throwing the Knights Templars into the mix. In Templars in America, Tim Wallace-Murphy and Marilyn Hopkins trace a globe trotting mystery that may have crossed paths with the Zeno brothers and followed the trail first blazed by the Vikings.

So, are you ready for some exploring?

curse

Categories: Ancient America, Ancient Sites, Forgotten Places, History, Legend, Mysteries | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: