Grand Sweep of History, part II

4) Look at the rocks and junk. People, especially the over-educated, have a weird tendency to overlook the facts on the ground. But about the only undisputed historical evidence we have is the physical stuff prior ages left lying around.

Examples: Old churches in Europe. They’re all over the place. Big ones, little ones, in every city, little town and village.  We can conclude 2 things: first, that really motivated people built them – can you imagine what it was like to haul and carefully stack huge rocks until you’ve got a cathedral? Without power tools, trucks, cranes and so on? Second, the people must have really loved these buildings. How do we know that? Because, stone buildings take some serious maintenance work every century or so to keep up, an in places where people have built things that are not loved, they strongly tend to get ‘mined’ for materials by subsequent generations. You can see what’s left of ruins of buildings that were not loved everywhere – typically, not much.  (the Pyramids are so massive that a couple millennia of re-purposing has so far mostly just stripped off the nice smooth surfacing. That, and the population hasn’t been motivated to build giant stuff in the desert lately. The locals have not consistently loved them.)

There’s lots to argue about European history. But the facts on the ground say: those Europeans really loved their churches.

Another: Aztec ruins. Here, again, people must have been very motivated to build those pyramids. They’re still around because modern people have decided they’re interesting – charge admission, can’t climb on them anymore or chip off souvenirs.  But they’re effectively deserted – the locals don’t use them for their intended purposes any more. They’re nothing like the churches, which are still maintained and used for their intended purpose by the people in the neighborhood.

So, we can safely conclude, based on the facts on the ground, that, for the most part,  local people loved and still love their churches in Europe, but Mexicans don’t love their pyramids in the same way. It seems churches and Aztec pyramids are different, and people feel differently about them.

It may seem that this is too obvious to point out, but it bears keeping in mind, as people seem to routinely get confused about this when arguing about the evils of the Church and what a pity it is that the Aztecs were snuffed out. The rocks on the ground don’t support that thesis.

Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

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