THE FIRMAMENT OF TIME
Loren C. Eiseley’s book examines all facts, myths and discoveries about the origin of man and the environment around him. Different sets of ideas are depicted in this book and all of them have an attempt to explain how the world came into existence and how man started all the developments that exist in the world of today. Various topics are put together by the author to pursue these myths. The six topics in this book are as follows: how the world became natural, how death became natural, how life became natural, how man became natural, how human is man and how nature is natural. This review is put together to show the basic contents of this book. The presentation is arranged in a flowing manner so that the chapters proceed one after another.
In the first chapter, the author explains facts behind the nature of the world. Many people from diverse backgrounds of civilizations came up with explanations on the how the world became natural. These sweep across science and religious arena. According to the religious people, the author writes that the world was created by a divine being called God. This occurred in six days. Various superstitions also came up from the people most of which were religiously based. Loren quotes that “the primitive man, though so superstitious, he is also scientific and a technologist” (13). In the early days of the world, most scientists were persecuted for claiming scientific reasons as being the basis of the existence of the world.
The origin and nature of death is also illuminated in the second chapter. The religious factions expressed that God created man and put man in the Garden of Eden. Man lived in peace and was destined to live for ever. Days however went by that man sinned before God and for this reason, they were thrown out of the garden of Eden and from that day, man was meant to die after life on earth. Jesus later came to redeem man back to God so that some how, man would live again for ever with God in heaven. The scientists argue that death comes naturally and that any living thing is bound to perish and decay after some time.
The third chapter touches on the aspect of life and its nature. This chapter is based on the medieval era where most myths were based on Christian background and foundation. According to the author, life originated from God who made man in his own image. Life had a nature of honor, respect and dignity. People had to live in pursuit of good things. According to the author things which are eternal must be given priority above earthly things. Loving the world had a consequence of death while those who love good deeds would then preserve their souls because God would come to judge the world in accordance to their conduct.
In the later chapters, the author explains how man became natural. Loren begins this reasoning by confirming that the medieval man was so religious and all that this man cherished was religion and goodness. As time went by, various scientists and innovators came with explanations of events in the world. Among them were James Hutton, Isaac Newton and Mendeleev. The pursuit to explain nature saw the transition between medieval era to celestial times and finally the scientific civilization. The scientists brought forth the first cosmic machine which was an adoption from the celestial engine. Man started exploit about nature. The strong myths based on Christianity were fading and soon, man started asking on the origin of many things like the sun, the stars, the moon and other geographical phenomenon.
Persecution of some of the ancient scientists took place in some parts of the world and this was because of the strong ties that many institutions like the church and the leadership had with the Christian faith. The conditions later loosened and many scientists came up with explanations about the world, live and nature. The cosmic machine that was invented by Hutton later got converted to a geological machine. James Hutton is credited for the discovery of historical geology. At this point Hutton argued that the earth itself was a machine which was self sufficient in that it reconstituted and reconstructed itself through the systems of decay and biological decomposition.
Myths and creation theories were the main basis of the origin of the earth. Very few people used scientific explanations during this time. The author expresses that God was the soul maker of the earth and many people who came with ideologies that are contrary to these Christian foundations were put under critics and some were even persecuted. Having come up with a thesis touching on the blood circulation, Hutton went ahead to say that the world was also under some kind of circulation that resulted into renewal and activity. “James Hutton’s ideas were very great although he was later accused of heresy”. This shows the strong belief that people had on religion and they were never ready to accept any other theory apart from the creation theory.
The author puts in poetic and contemplative prose in attempt to explain life and time. He introduces facts of origin in a gradual pattern so that there is a smooth flow from the middle age history to the atomic era. Loren gives a lot of detail of how the scientific era came into being and al the obstacles that the pioneers went through. The later chapters of the book touches on how comes man is man and also how nature is nature. All these are well explained on the evolution basis. In this respect, all things in the world began as very small bodies or entities but they later enlarged. The author states: “at one time they were tiny droplets, today they are a mass of flood” (134).
Lore, E. (1999). The firmament of time. University of Nebraska Press.