I was thinking about Late Antiquity earlier. Specifically, I was thinking about the sack of Alexandria. I can't think of any other historical event I would have wanted to prevent more. It really surprises me that Cyril is still called a saint, but I guess you can't argue with tradition.
Anyway, It seems that in a geologically short time period—only a few centuries—we've basically recovered most of the technical knowledge from the city's library one way or another (unfortunately, very little of the art) and are now well on the path of steady exponential growth of technology.
I can't account for the hardiness of reason, something that has been threatened year in and year out for ages, other than to say that there is something in Nature that favors
it. I'm not necessarily saying that Nature actively
cares about us using reason, or that there is some God or supernatural force that wants us to. I'm not saying there isn't either. Maybe there is. I guess I'm agnostic, but I'm not even sure about that. But, in any case, I'm not so much concerned cause
as I am with effect
. The effect is apparently that using reason in any form is ultimately rewarded much more than wallowing in ignorance, even though it appears to have the advantage in the short term.
And I have to say—it feels good to have something to believe in that isn't petty, like the personal satisfaction I get out of studying or the material comfort I can enjoy from pursuing a challenging field. If any one of us who is interested in promoting the truth fails along the way, ten more will eventually pick up where the one left off. It's a process that can't be stopped, I think. There is evidently something more powerful than any one of us that will crush out the people who blow themselves up in the street in the name of God, the people who kill scholars and the people who try to corrupt science education in public schools. It might be a strictly incidental force of nature, but it's very comforting anyway.
So, I think I've found the peace of mind that I couldn't find in religion or in society as it stands today. This is pretty cool. What do you think?