Let’s step back in time 500 years to the year 1512. Look up with me into the sky? What do you see? You see the sun moving across the sky, from east to west. Move 12 hours forward to night time. What do you see now? You see the stars and planets moving across the sky, again from east to west. What is the most stable, most durable, least movable, physical thing you know? The earth. It was patently obvious to everyone 500 years ago that the earth is the stable center of the universe, and the sun, the moon, and all the stars and planets revolve around the earth. This was so obvious that there was no argument. Just look up. How could it be any other way?
Then, there was this pesky astronomer named Nicolaus Copernicus. He looked up and looked up and looked up, and he just couldn’t make sense of what he was seeing. The patterns of movement for the sun, the planets, and the stars just didn’t make sense. Finally, just before he died in 1543, he published an “earth shattering” book called: On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres. He argued that the whole world had been wrong.
Even though we can look “up” and see what seems like the sun moving, it isn’t. We’re the ones moving. The earth and all the planets actually revolve around the sun. It’s like when you’re sailing down a river and the trees on the bank look like they’re moving. This started the Copernican Revolution which completely changed not only our understanding of astronomy but also our understanding of the world and our place in it. Copernicus was one of the chief sparks of the scientific revolution that is still happening today.
But what most people don’t know is that Copernicus was not the first person to propose this theory. Someone else beat him to it - by almost 2,000 years. In the 3rd century BC, Aristarchus, an ancient Greek astronomer, suggested that the sun is fixed and earth is one of many planets revolving around the sun. Almost without exception, he was shamed and condemned for promoting scientific foolishness and theological heresy. What would have happened if people had doubted what seemed “obvious” to “everyone” to consider the possibility that the universe might work in more mysterious ways? How would our world be different?
Let me describe another prevailing world-view. More work = more productivity. More activity = more happiness. More study time = better grades. Better grades = a better life. More status = more satisfaction. More success = a better life. More stuff = a better life. More pleasurable experiences = a better life. Basically, quantity = quality. Success, status, stuff, and pleasure are the keys to a good life. And the more the better. This is the prevailing view of our world. It is “obvious.” Just look up. Just look at the stars and the rich people and the geniuses. They’ve got it made. It’s obvious.