The religious point of view is perhaps the oldest perception humanity has of the world and its workings. We started out a virtual blank sheet – knowing nothing but what was nutritious, thirst quenching and how to procreate. As we ventured further into knowledge and leanrt to use tools, make fire, understand symbols we moved away from ignorance. Still there was a lot that could not be explained, especially with a rudimentary language. Religion filled in the gaps – it explained genesis, purpose, the movement of the seasons. Art in cave paintings shows how early man looked for luck and tried to propitate the gods with drawings of animals they wanted to kill for food and furs.
You can follow any strain of scientific knowledge and how it leads to man controlling his environment more and believing in supernatural entities less. Take carbon for instance. Petroleum was used ot build the walls of Babylon. Charcoal was used by the ancient Egyptians as fuel and as medicine. And then there was the Dark Ages where religion ruled and education was limited. Not until 1375 when the first diamond cutters guild was formed does any carbon related advances occur. In 1560 the pencil was invented.
In the Eighteenth Century scientific enquiry was flourishing thanks to the earlier enlightenment. It was during this time that it was discovered that diamond and graphite were forms of carbon.
During the industrial revolution carbon was at the heart of all progress. It was coal that provided the fuel for early locomotion. Carbon based fuels improved along with engines. Designers and engineers were suddenly in demand to find new ways to harness the power from carbon.
And the story of carbon goes forward to the Twenty-first Century where we stand on the verge of a breakthrough in nanotechnology – a technology largely engendered through the discovery of the C60 round molecule.
While religion hasn’t gone away it is more threatened by ever by the progress of science and technology. The gaps where divinity can inhabit are getting smaller and smaller. The rationale for being religious is becoming more and more reliant on the catch-all nature of ’belief’. When we solve the carbon emissions problem and the end of the world doesn’t arrive it will be another blow for superstition.