Waking Up from Waking Up from History
May 4, 2012
. . . an error that the Historical Society of Britain some years back listed as number one in its short compendium of the ten most common historical illusions. It is the notion that people used to believe that the earth was flat—especially medieval Christians.
It must first be reiterated that with extraordinary few exceptions no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the third century B.C. onward believed that the earth was flat.
(Emphasis in original.)
There’s a certain narrative out there that history moves in only one direction, that progress is inexorable, that we’re so enlightened today (even that human nature has changed), whereas in ages past humanity lived in unspeakable darkness and ignorance. That’s incorrect.
(For a Christian point of view, read the Bible. See also everything by C. S. Lewis. For a conservative point of view, read Thomas Sowell’s The Vision of the Anointed and elsewhere, in which he describes what he sees as two worldviews or kinds of worldviews: the “constrained vision” and the “unconstrained vision”, or the “tragic vision” and the “vision of the anointed”.)
Anyway according to Professor Russell, this plank in that idolatry-of-progress platform is factually false.