History

Books of history are often fat, sometimes coming in multiple volumes but still, the story seems to be quite repetitive, and we might wonder why history is taking so long.  God gave Moses the ten commandments a long time ago, just as an example, yet even today, people are lying and stealing and killing and so forth, just as if nobody ever told them it wasn’t a good idea.

I’ve given this a lot of thought and I have concluded there are three basic reasons.  One is that people don’t pay much attention.  They are dreamers, you might say, living mainly in their imaginations, and their imaginings may or may not bear much resemblance to reality .  It can take a lot of repetition for something from the outside world to sink in.

The second reason is that people like to make up their own minds about things.  That means every single person has to work stuff out for themselves, no matter how many people may have done it before them.  The word of God, just to continue our example, doesn’t even carry much weight with people who believe in Him.  This has always been the problem with free will.  It makes progress slow, which is why some people think we ought to abandon free will altogether and adopt a system of social engineering determined by a ruling elite.  Good luck with that.

The third reason is that human evolution is essentially a social phenomenon.  It is the product of what we all do together.  Of course, some individuals do it better than others, which might make it look attractive to simply get rid of the slow learners.  But let’s be honest, even you and I have probably done the same dumb thing over and over at some point in our lives.  It seems this is unlikely to change.

I think that is why historians tend to stick to the factoids and try to avoid getting mired in questions of human evolution or what it all means.  All the same, it does look like we have made a little progress over the centuries and I think we should keep that in mind.  Having a positive attitude can make a big difference.

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