Friday, March 28, 2014

It served a purpose

The primary goal of the celestial sciences in ancient Iraq was to support the practice of celestial divination. As such, these sciences are very different from our modern sense of astronomy. At no point in the documented history of this undertaking in Mesopotamia do we see individuals who observe and devise mathematical models for understanding and predicting celestial phenomena for the simple sake of doing so. Mesopotamian astronomy, even when it reached a high level of mathematical sophistication in the late periods, was always the handmaiden of celestial divination (or later, astrology).—Poetic Astronomy in the Ancient Near East, page 29

<idle musing>
Why else would you watch the stars? If you believe the gods write the future in the skies, then it makes sense to learn the language they speak. After all, the life you save might be your own!

<rabbit trail>
I am always amazed at the number of people who treat the Bible the same way. It's as if God has hidden a secret message in there that we have to decode—and only we have the key! Or, more often, this particular book or popular speaker has discovered the secret code and you only have to read their book or listen to their interpretation to get it...
</rabbit trail>
</idle musing>

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