All Passes Away

I imagine that in a century or two, people will wonder what all the fuss was about today. Why were they so concerned about Brexit back then? Why were they worried about global warming? Why did they ban smoking? Why the fuss about Donald Trump? Didn’t they have better things to be concerned about?

After all, in 325 AD, the Emperor Constantine convened the First Council of Nicaea.

Its main accomplishments were settlement of the Christological issue of the divine nature of God the Son and his relationship to God the Father, the construction of the first part of the Nicene Creed, establishing uniform observance of the date of Easter, and promulgation of early canon law.

What the heck was that all about? Didn’t they have some more important things to attend to – like the state of the roads in Bithynia , or piracy in the Mediterranean?

Constantine might have had similar questions, if presented with a list of things that were in dispute 1,700 years later. Would it have been possible to explain to him what people in 2019 were arguing about?

Of our present matters of dispute, global warming alarmism is the simplest one to explain. And it’s about the belief of some climate scientists that human emissions of carbon dioxide are acting to warm the Earth’s atmosphere, and could end up melting what ice remains on the surface of the planet, in places like Greenland and Antarctica, and covering the Earth with a 70 metre thick extra layer of water, and drowning every coastal city in the world.

In the matter of smoking bans, it’s almost equally simple. Smoking has been banned because of the belief of some doctors that tiny amounts of tobacco smoke in the air cause lung cancer (and any number of other diseases as well). And there’s not really much of a dispute about this, because almost everybody believes it, and those who don’t believe it are ignored.

Brexit? What’s that all about? That’s not so straightforward. But it boils down to whether you think Britain should be a self-governing country, or whether it should be a part of the European Union – which is a sort of new Roman empire of a kind that Constantine would have instantly recognised, seeing as he happened to be a Roman emperor.

And Donald Trump? What’s the fuss about there? Well, to be perfectly honest, I don’t think anyone knows. There’s just something about Orange Man Bad that enrages some people. They think he is completely the wrong sort of guy to have been elected President of the United States. And in this respect Constantine would have completely understood this phenomenon, because there were probably any number of people back in 325 AD who thought that Constantine was the wrong kind of guy to be a Roman emperor.

So I think Constantine would have immediately understood what’s now called the Trump Derangement Syndrome, and he would have immediately understood what Brexit and the European Union were all about too. But I suspect he would have been puzzled about our modern aversion to smoke, because ancient Greece and Rome were very smoky places. There was smoke everywhere from open fires and ovens, and even from candles and oil lamps. The very idea of “smoke-free” would probably have struck him as wishful thinking.

And I think Constantine would have been completely baffled by carbon dioxide. He would have never heard of the modern idea that all materials are made up of atoms tied together to form molecules, with carbon dioxide being carbon atoms joined to oxygen atoms. Constantine would have regarded carbon dioxide as a fictional substance. And carbon and oxygen as well.

But would Constantine have been able to explain to us moderns the difference between God the Son and God the Father (and God the Holy Ghost)? And would he have been able to explain why it was important to get the date of Easter right? He probably would, because he had just convened a council to debate precisely these matters. Is there anyone who can explain these things today? I don’t think there is.

But perhaps a Freudian psychologist might attempt to explain the Trinity by referencing the modern trinity of Superego, Ego, and Id? But can anyone explain what Superego, Ego, and Id are? Probably not. Or probably every psychologist  has his own idea of what they are. Which is why Jungian and Adlerian psychologists split from Freudian psychologists. And also why new Christian sects were forever splitting away from the Christian orthodoxy that Constantine was trying to get settled at Nicaea, which was a sort of IPCC climate conference of its time.

It all passes away after a while. One day nobody will give two hoots about the EU, smoking bans, carbon dioxide, or Donald Trump. It’ll be past history. And nobody will have the first clue what the fuss was all about. They’ll be far more worried about Artificial Intelligence, and whether their vacuum cleaners are trying to kill them.

About Frank Davis

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5 Responses to All Passes Away

  1. Dirk says:

    More important: Why nearly 9 million small children die every year. This means that 24,657 children every single day die of preventable diseases. Most of the deaths of children under-5 worldwide are from infectious illnesses, with pneumonia as the leading cause, followed by diarrhoea and then malaria.

  2. Algernon Struthers says:

    Underrating the wisdom and intelligence of the ancestors, not an unusual pursuit these days when even the nature of gender is debated, and whether there is male and female, so that stupid is the new flag fought for, and oh so proudly waved.
    What use the wonders of technology when scholastic institutions most high, are fearful that applause by clapping can be harmful! Good grief, I can hardly hear my thoughts, drowned by the mockery of my ancestors, who well knew that beyond them raged miracles impossible to understand – but what the ancestors knew, they knew well. Today, for all the wonders known, what use; detritus in the hands of stupid, or lost in swills of lies.
    Today, a thousand lives saved, but a thousand lost to typhus, rats, bombs and ebola, talk of which is mostly hidden. Instead, rumours abound aplenty, even that someone somewhere wants a human cull. Skin colour too is a problem, and women need the respect of men, but of course, neither actually exist, because it’s all a social construct. Such is the flag of stupid, true one side, false the other, or perhaps false or true, both, who can say. No one dares properly debate, lest from today’s stage, they are erased.
    Artificial Intelligence is just a new exciting form of enslavement, nothing more, currently being perfected. Your entire life; likes, dislikes and prejudices, instantly judged, according to the standard of the stupid of the day, already mentioned above.
    The ancestors knew that when all is said and done, that “the wicked will do wickedly and the wise will understand,” so that actually nothing in the human sphere has really changed. Truth, falsehood, love, hate, good and bad, lost in today’s confusing noise. The average Joe and Joess, not entirely fools, as ever yearn for meaning, often the ways of old, of faith and hope, even if it makes no sense, it makes more sense than the swill peddled to them today.
    All will certainly pass, there is no doubt about that, but whether painfully or pleasantly, is quite another matter.
    And retrospectively?
    Well, I’m chuckling already, but often somewhat sadly.

  3. Dmitry says:

    My robot vacuum cleaner is called Phil (Philips), the nickname is The Flat One, or the Dead Fly Eater, it loves my wife and does not love me. It bumps my feet repeatedly, grumbling somehing like “you sit here, while decent folks do their job”. So it has already started.
    And you are right about the grim future of the antismokers, but it’s such fun fighting them right now and seeing their dismay.

  4. waltc says:

    Wasn’t it Orwell who said the “he who controls the present, controls the past”? Whoever controls the future will determine whether the future’s inhabitants look back at today wondering why people were ever allowed to smoke filthy lethal tobacco, eat artery-clogging meat, drive fuel-powered cars, and denied such obvious truths as the existence of 2500 sexes, the fragilty of the earth which only continues to exist by the grace of Gaia and the banning of electricity–or whether they look back and see this as a reprise of the Dark Ages and wonder how anyone could have believed such twaddle.

    • Roobeedoo2 says:

      I dunno Walt, it could well be through the grace of Gaia. CO2 like second-hand smoke is a huge red-herring, a panacea boogie-man that turns fear into revenue, because there is undoubtedly pollution…

      I watched that doc last night and there was very interesting bit in it about the significance of 911. A man-made tragedy that could alert us to a man-made catastrophe through the medium of whale poo…

      Or we could just wait for the Old Girl to blow her top ;)

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