Monday, April 23, 2012

The Center of the Universe -- Writer's Poke #384


Ptolemy believed that the Earth was the center of the universe. This view was the “truth” for hundreds of years. Only in the 16th century did Copernicus challenge the truth and suggest otherwise.

Today, of course, we can look back on Ptolemy’s beliefs and laugh, but as Robert Pirsig notes, it took Copernicus to help us fundamentally change the way we understand the truth of our universe.
People simply are not generally willing to question the established truth. Perhaps, as Pirsig suggests, this is because institutions in control of “truth” are more interested in perpetuating themselves than they are in questioning the fundamentals.
Why should anyone be so worried about protecting ideas from scrutiny? One reason may be that ideas define who we are. Maybe they shouldn’t, but there is fear of change and security in stability, even if the stable foundation is incorrect.
How do we really know if our perspective is “incorrect”? After all, we cannot look outside ourselves. We are locked within our perspective, and we have the tendency to assume our perspectives provide us with the proper experiences necessary to see the truth.
How scary it must be to wake up one morning only to discover that the Earth you’ve always known is not a place, at least in a sense, you’ve ever known at all. How many of us are willing, truly willing, to seek out the truth, even if it means erasing everything that we have once believed to be true?
When is the last time the center of your universe (or your understanding of truth) fundamentally shifted?
“A lot of people have this ego need that makes them want to believe that Earth is the center of the universe and humans are the most important species, the supreme expression of creation.” – Ann Druyan

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