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Welcome to a problem-identifying node of the Pandeism index!!


Not long ago, a promoter of one particular brand of theism sought to persuade me that his brand was the right one by posing the query, what if the figure central to his faith had never been born? Firing off a list of human achievements he claimed to have been influenced or inspired by this central figure, my would-be-converter waxed poetic on how, but for the existence of this historic religious personage, man would lack artistic and architectural and musical and literary creations done in his honour, and done by adherants to the faith for which he stood; and that man would equally have failed to achieve sundry social and political and economic capacities claimed to draw inspiration from the figure's promoted faith.

And my response? Well, "what if Heraclides had never been born?"

"What? Who's that?"

Heraclides, known as well as Heraclides Ponticus (or Heraclides of Pontus). The fourth century BC Greek philosopher who introduced the notion that Planet Earth spins upon an axis. For, you see, the butterfly effect teaches us, had he never been born, then both for lack of his great insight and for lack of his utterly typical and pedestrian acts and perhaps those of his progeny, events in history would have tumbled out differently all over the place. Our modern music, art, architecture, literature, economy, and all of society would just as likely present drastic and unpredictable differences as if the never-born person were most any other person who had engaged in any human interaction, up to and including the central figures of worldly religions.

But it can with equal assurance be noted that some degree of conflation exists with the proposition that the absence of any one person would especially effect the evolution of scientific knowledge (or indeed, of any branch of human achievement). Principles such as the theory of relativity, architectural achievements brought on by advances in understanding of materials and structural methodology, perhaps even musical and artistic principles, as well -- all would almost certainly have been discovered or developed by someone eventually. And who knows, perhaps some different course of history flowing from the absence of this person or that would have opened a new path and brought about the acceleration of some revolutionary discovery.

And though historic figures have often served as the focal point for the dedication of great musical pieces, it is silly to suppose that, absent one historic figure, there would not have been great composers speaking to other muses. Composers compose to the instrument, and the scientific advances allowing for new musical instruments enabling new forms would have occurred no matter which historic individuals had preceded them. Verily, had the world lacked for Heraclides, perhaps some other thinker would have stepped up to fill that void and achieve those insights (though surely not to fulfill all the mundane acts); and for any religious figure who might not have existed, it is just as probable that another person would have taken their place, espoused their philosophy, been deified by their followers. And O, but for the sweet music which we will never know, for it has never come to be created because of our accidents of history!!

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