Friday, January 7, 2011

Understanding the World

I'm reading a fascinating book called "The Discoverers," by Daniel J. Boorstin.  He recounts the history of the important discoveries through the ages, but he begins with some very unexpected breakthroughs.  The first discovery he describes is the discovery of time. 

That almost seems like the discovery of air -- how could you NOT know it was there.  But the notion of marking increments of time was a significant idea.  Days are not of uniform length through the year.  The phases of the moon helped some, but were out of sync with the solar year.  The summer and winter solstices -- the longest and shortest days -- proved to be the best points of reference for the solar year.  For daily measurements, high noon was an obvious marker of mid-day.

To imagine a world in which punctuality had no meaning is difficult.  Yes, in many cultures today, 7:00 really means around 8:30, but for millennia, no one could really distinguish 7:00 from 8:30. 

The world was much more a riddle back then.  People tried to explain why the ball of fire revolved around the earth every day.  They explained the phases of the moon by saying that the souls of each month's dead ascended to the heavens and gathered to create the light.  When the light was full, it emptied back out, ready for the next cycle.

There are so many ideas about how the world works.  Some are based on superstition, some on faith, some on science, and many are based on a combination of the above.  What can we really believe?

If the One who made it all would shed some light on this world, it would be worth listening to him.  He has shed light through his Word.  The Creator has spoken.  He has revealed himself, through his written Word, and through his Son, the Word who became a person.

In the midst all the confusing and contradictory ideas of mankind, it helps to have a point of reference for truth.  God has provided that reference by revealing himself.  That gives me a new reverence for the Bible.