A few days ago, I published a little riff on the topic of curiosity, based on a wonderful book I just read. Curiosity, book author Philip Ball shows, was long frowned upon by religious authorities as a sign of insufficient humility. All you were supposed to do was gape in mawkish wonder at the miracle of nature, and prostrate yourself before the Lord, expressing awe and suppressing all natural inquisitiveness.
Glad we left that atavistic attitude behind us. Or did we?
Pope Francis said this on Thursday:
“The spirit of curiosity distances us from the spirit of wisdom because all that interests us is the details, the news, the little stories of the day.”
Such a spirit, he warned, brings about dispersion and distances people from God. The Vatican leader further noted that Jesus himself warned against a worldly spirit of curiosity, as it causes confusion and impels people to want to feel that God is “here or there.”
Didn’t you know? Curiosity — the central driver of virtually all human inquiry, discovery, invention, and progress — is really just about gossip and temporal nosiness. Oh, and about “details.” ‘Cause screw details.
Here’s one set of people (the curious): Leonardo da Vinci, Wilbur and Orville Wright, Jonas Salk, Nicolaus Copernicus, Elon Musk, Francis Crick, Marie Curie, Johannes Gutenberg, Isaac Newton, Lise Meitner, Richard Feynman, Su Song, James Cook.
Here’s another (the incurious): All 266 frickin’ popes who ever lived.
Which group truly rocketed us out of the Dark Ages? Which group did the most good for all of humankind?
To ask those questions is to answer them.
(Image and caption courtesy of Brain Pickings)