Aristarchus (310 BCE – ca. 230 BCE) lived on the Greek island Samos and without making use of Cosine tables determined the relative distances between Sun, Moon and Earth. He did lean on the teachings of Pythagoras who lived some 250 years earlier than him.
Eratosthenes (276 BC – 195 BCE), determined the circumference of the Earth to be +/-39,552 km, as compared to the 40,009 km accepted today. (He also proposed a simple algorithm for finding prime numbers, known in mathematics as the Sieve of Eratosthenes.)
The basic, school (Grade 11/12), trigonometry principles of: Sine, Cosine, Tangent, the Sinus rule [SinA/a = SinB/b = SinC/c], the Area of a Triangle, the Theorem of Pythagoras, Radians, Ellipses and Logarithms, combined with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Laws of Kepler and those of Newton, plus Newton’s Law of Gravitation, have made it possible to plot the movement and determine the mass of the planets and moons in the Solar System. That and more, all without leaving the Earth.
These simple, (and beautiful), principles make it possible for example, to measure the height of a tree without having to climb the bloody thing. They made it possible for Romans to measure a square plot, build a road and use a calendar, making sure that the Emperor’s wife’s, 2nd cousin’s, husband’s birthday is not forgotten.
Since then tremendous advances were made in mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry and geology, and in the many sub-branches of each. At every stage of the development of scientific knowledge, these pioneers, from early times until today, were subjected to criticism and ridicule and sometimes worse. Whether it was hemlock, excommunication, imprisonment or public denouncement, there has been constant attack on their lives, their thinking, methodology and character.
Yet despite this, their ideas were vindicated, tested, reviewed, proved, accepted and put in use. Today we will start our car and drive to work without acknowledging the mechanical principles making the engine work, the organic chemistry that make the fuel burn, the thermodynamic principles that make the engine efficient, the science of changing the metals making the car light, strong and safe, geological advances that made the metals available to build the computers managing the engine, gearbox, air conditioner and brakes, the astronomical advances and principles enabling the GPS to work. (Or the science that makes it possible to be an idiot; like talking on the cell phone while driving). We just accept it all and get on with our lives.
200 years ago the car would have been considered magic. What is to come in the next 200 years would today be considered magic. What would old Aristarchus have thought about today’s technology had he experience it 2000 years ago? Yet his principles, and those of his contemporaries, were proved to be true. Considering the “crudeness” of their equipment and the limitations of their knowledge, they did sterling work.
So here is the dichotomy. Why would a person use nuclear power generated electricity to shave, cook, use a laptop or charge their (oh so necessary) cellphone, without understanding the basic laws of radioactive decay? Why would the same person dismiss the concept of dating of rocks and fossils using the same principles?
It is amusing that a person will faithfully (pun intended), follow instructions and submit to radiotherapy or chemotherapy to treat a cancer without understanding an iota of the theory or science of the processes. Why would that same person dismiss the concept of a singularity as the origin of the universe? What insight does s/he posses in the creation and eventual death of the Sun and the many similar bodies in the universe?
Just because one does not understand something, should one fear the unknown? Should one not accept that there is other, more intelligent or knowledgeable people also inhabiting planet Earth? Should one, when the time comes to acknowledge that certain concepts and ideas and facts and knowledge are at a higher level than one’s comprehension and understanding, rather not accept that fact? Rather than trying to rationalise phenomena within one’s own, small and narrow reference frame? Or is that an impossibility inherent in the psyche of the Luddite?
If one is comfortable in four dimensions, but do not understand the mathematics describing the 5th, 6th and higher dimensions, should one be critical of, or ridicule, those that talk a language of worm holes, string theory and who can describe a gravity abyss in symbols of unfamiliar shape and construction? How presumptuous to be dismissive of their arcane communication and their patient translation attempts for those unwilling to hear?
If one does not understand basic school level trigonometry, how can one expound or criticise any postulation, fact, theory or application leading from what was already practically applied 2000+ years ago? [One shudders at the abysmal ignorance and total loss of scientific opportunity and international competitiveness South Africa suffers from, due to the current substandard levels of education at school].
So, dear YECs, anti-Evolutionists, and those wanting to attribute their non-understanding of certain, or all, scientific phenomena to a deity, please understand that not knowing something is not a shameful situation. What is disgraceful is knowing the knowledge is out there and not making use of it, prior to expounding on any subject.
Yet we see/read this every day on these forums......
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