Mark Reads ‘The Science of Discworld’: Chapters 24 – 25

In the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth chapters of The Science of Discworld, we learn about the complicated and mysterious ways in which life formed, and the Librarian goes on an errand. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

I know I said this before, but THIS IS LITERALLY HOW EVOLUTION WAS DISPROVED TO ME. Knowledge wasn’t a life-long process of learning as much about the world as one could; it was a rapid-fire quiz that reduced existence to whether or not I could provide an answer to deeply complicated processes. When I first started questioning creationism and the things I was taught, I was presented with a frustrating logic: the world was as my mother said it was unless I could prove otherwise on the spot. To make matters worse, that “proof” never seemed to stick. Obviously, someone constantly shifting goalposts on you is a sign of a different problem, but the basic phenomenon followed me throughout my teenage years. It definitely cropped up in church, too, and I’d hear the same shit: Show me an animal that evolved here in our modern world. How could humans have been monkeys? Why would God allow that?

Anyway, despite my own interest in all this stuff, I AM STILL LEARNING! One of the lies-to-children mentioned here that I “learned” was the whole primordial soup thing, that this was the only way complex chemicals formed on Earth. The reality is that… well, it’s way more detailed than that, and it’s also mysterious. I appreciate how frequently this text just says, “We don’t know.” It makes me feel better about not knowing things, either!

And there’s a huge unknown smack in the middle of all this. Does anyone else find it difficult to even fathom the sense of time that’s spoken of in the Roundworld chapter? It’s not just the length of time, but I also can’t even picture a world like the one I read about in this chapter. It’s so long ago; it seems so alien; and humans have been here for such a relatively tiny time compared to everything else. There’s a vastness to this that almost unnerves me, sort of like when I think about the deep ocean for a long time, or if I consider how big our known universe is. There’s just so much I don’t know and probably won’t ever know. WHICH KIND OF FREAKS ME OUT, but at the same time, I wouldn’t trade away the sense of wonder I have about this world and our universe. One of the main delights of The Science of Discworld is that it basically fulfills this desire to learn of mine by giving the reader little doses of education. Y’all, I am not sure I ever heard about triploblasts until I read this book. THAT’S SO COOL.

Thus, I’m glad that there’s a wizard who is also quite enamored with trying to learn as much as possible, so Ponder is a lot of fun. But was the end of chapter 25 a hint that the Bursar is going to contribute to this, too? I hope so!

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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