Last night, i watched a program on the building of great cathedrals, which focussed on those in England. All are older than I had assumed, perhaps because I never paid attention to such facts.
As always, I am impressed by the talent and workmanship of the ancient builders, who worked with nothing but imagination, hand tools and simple methods, to include trial and error. Ever try to hammer a rock? Just as computers are based upon the simplicity of ones and zeros, great cathedral design was based upon basic squares, triangles, and circles.
I tried to imagine the awe of simple people at that time, at first sighting the massive exterior. All must have been even more-dumbfounded upon glimpsing the interior, which was touted as the entrance to heaven. Remember, most people lived in thatched huts or hovels and were beholden to every word of gesture of the clergy. Surely, none could imagine such structures being erected by fellow humans.
I learned that England’s great cathedrals were not only about the glory of god, but also to impress upon the population the power of recent Norman invaders. After 1066, the new guys in town used not only superior weapons, but also religion to subjugate the conquered. After all, the boss was known as William the Conqueror, not Willy Wonka. He knew that fear of men was not enough, so they resorted to fear of symbols, just as leaders today employ fear of terrorism (since fear of religious symbols no longer works as well, except for Evangelical Christians and, perhaps, Muslims).
Despite computer design and modern tools, no one builds like they built in 1100.
Believe it or not, I want to say something positive about religion...
I was reminded of something while watching a program on Tolstoy. I know nothing about his religious beliefs (I've read his biography, but have since forgot that aspect), but the program included shots of several Russian orthodox churches and monasteries.
I frequently visit religious structures, not for the emotional experience but to marvel at the architecture and design. Some of the greatest creative feats of man have been achieved in the name of some deity. I'm extremely impressed by anyone that came up with the ideas, much less did the physical work to bring those ideas to fruition. Simply consider the tools and technology available to the builders of the great cathedrals and mosques. I have not visited a mosque, but would like to inspect some of the great ones. The photos reveal amazing deigns, which must be seen in real life.
Many humans and animals toiled, sacrificed, suffered, and died to ensure the completion of these marvelous structures. Our admiration is the least they should receive as reward, because they certainly didn't get the afterlife they must have been promised.