The following is an extensive quote from a book on The Copernican Revolution, I feel applies to the rise of conspiracies, ‘alternative social media based could-be-called-RELIGIONS’ like Q-Anon, and a gap between traditional religion, scientism, and finding meaning in the contemporary world. (Quote continues below video, which shows some, I might call, portion of ‘cultural/artistic based spirituality that those who fear the gap more than others may not be privy to)
“The drive to construct cosmologies is far older and more primitive than the urge to make systematic observations of the heavens. Furthermore, the primitive form of the cosmological drive is particularly informative because it highlights features obscured in the more technical and abstract cosmologies that are familiar today.”
“Though primitive conceptions of the universe display considerable substantive variation, all are shaped primarily by terrestrial events, the events that impinge most immediately upon the designers of the systems. In such cosmologies the heavens are merely sketched in to provide an enclosure for the earth, and they are peopled with and moved by mythical figures whose rank in the spiritual hierarchy usually increases with their distance from the immediate terrestrial environment. For example, in one principal form of Egyptian cosmology the earth was pictured as an elongated platter. The platter’s long dimension paralleled the Nile; its flat bottom was the alluvial basin to which ancient Egyptian civilization was restricted; and its curved and rippled rim was the mountains bounding the terrestrial world. Above the platter-earth was air, itself a god, supporting an inverted platter-dome which was the skies. The terrestrial platter in its turn was supported by water, another god, and the water rested upon a third platter which bounded the universe symmetrically from below.
Clearly several of the main structural features of this universe were suggested by the world that the Egyptian knew: he did live in an elongated platter bounded by water in the only direction in which he had explored it; the sky, viewed on a clear day or night, did and does look dome-shaped; a symmetric lower boundary for the universe was the obvious choice in the absence of relevant observations. Astronomical appearances were not ignored, hut they were treated with less precision and more myth. The sun was Ra, the principal Egyptian god, supplied with two boats, one for his daily journey through the air and a second for his nocturnal trip through the water. The stars were painted or studded in the vault of the heaven; they moved as minor gods; and in some versions of the cosmology they were reborn each night. Sometimes more detailed observations of the heavens entered, as when the circumpolar stars (stars that never dip below the horizon) were recognized as “those that know no weariness” or “those that know no destruction.” From such observations the northern heavens were identified as a region where there could be no death, the region of the eternally blessed afterlife. But such traces of celestial observation were rare.
Fragments of cosmologies similar to the Egyptian can be found in all those ancient civilizations, like India and Babylonia, of which we have records. Other crude cosmologies characterize the contemporary primitive societies investigated by the modern anthropologist. Apparently all such sketches of the structure of the universe fulfill a basic psychological need: they provide a stage for man’s daily activities and the activities of his gods. By explaining the physical relation between man’s habitat and the rest of nature, they integrate the universe for man and make him feel at home in it.
Man does not exist for long without inventing a cosmology, because a cosmology can provide him with a world-view which permeates and gives meaning to his every action, practical and spiritual.
Though the psychological needs satisfied by a cosmology seem relatively uniform, the cosmologies capable of fulfilling these needs have varied tremendously from one society or civilization to another. None of the primitive cosmologies referred to above will now satisfy our demand for a world-view, because we are members of a civilization that has set additional standards which a cosmology must meet in order to be believed. We will not, for example, credit a cosmology that employs gods to explain the everyday behavior of the physical world; in recent centuries, at least, we have insisted upon more nearly mechanical explanations. Even more important, we now demand that a satisfactory cosmology account for many of the observed details of nature’s behavior. Primitive cosmologies are only schematic sketches against which the play of nature takes place; very little of the play is incorporated into the cosmology. The sun god, Ra, travels in his boat across the heavens each day, but there is nothing in Egyptian cosmology to explain either the regular recurrence of his journey or the seasonal variation of his boat’s route. Only in our own Western civilization has the explanation of such details been considered a function of cosmology. No other civilization, ancient or modern, has made a similar demand.
The requirement that a cosmology supply both a psychologically satisfying worldview and an explanation of observed phenomena like the daily change in the position of sunrise has vastly increased the power of cosmologic thought. It has channeled the universal compulsion for at-homeness in the universe into an unprecedented drive for the discovery of scientific explanations. Many of the most characteristic achievements of Western civilization depend upon this combination of demands imposed upon cosmologic thought. But the combination has not always been a congenial one. it has forced modern man to delegate the construction of cosmologies to specialists, primarily to astronomers, who know the multitude of detailed observations that modern cosmologies must satisfy to be believed. And since observation is a two-edged sword which may cither confirm or conflict with a cosmology, the consequences of this delegation can be devastating. The astronomer may on occasions destroy, for reasons lying entirely within his specialty, a world-view that had previously made the universe meaningful for the members of a whole civilization, specialist and nonspecialist alike.
Something very much like this happened during the Copernican Revolution. To understand it we must therefore become something of specialists ourselves.”
As a writer, artist, person who believes in art like a religion, reading this, in itself, gives me comfort for living in the world. I feel, the more STORIES we know, the more we connect to life and people, the more we find meaning in the world.
a quote from
The Copernican Revolution: Planetary Astronomy In the Development of Western Thought
by Thomas S Kuhn