Tag Archives: stone circles

Five common realities – facts and logic

On our contemporary Odyssey to “Who are you” we arrived for our fourth stage “facts and logic” in Florence.

Why do we start our stage “facts and logic” in Florence?

The emergence of the first facts and logic in people is shrouded in mystery [1]. How did mankind for the first time become consciously aware of a fact? When using a stone as a melee weapon or during love feelings for descendants? How did mankind for the first time consciously notice a logical link? When consciously eating plants with specific properties or on foreseeing pregnancy after sexual intercourse? We do not know.


At this fourth stage, we wish to avoid the world of religion [3] – or where people fall back upon when interpretation should be given to the unknown, because at other stages during our quest we will address religion adequately.

IMG_1408 (1)[4]

Due to time constraints, we also ignore the genesis and further development of philosophy in ancient times [5].

Our fourth stage “facts and logic” starts at the transition from the medieval Scholasticism [6] to the Renaissance. Both philosophies have attempted to consider the world as deterministic, that is: when the principles and the internal rules are known, then the past, the present and the future are determined. Both philosophical currents had made every effort to determine the order and the internal rules to get grip and insight into our world centred around God [7] within the Scholasticism, or around mankind and human reason within the ruling elite in the Renaissance [8].

From the beginning, Christianity has never stopped to debate the relationship between truth revealed from God in the Holy Scriptures and the continuous discovery of truth and facts by human reason – also seen as a gift of God within the Christian faith [9]; these debates reached their peak in expansion and complexity during the heyday of Scholasticism.

At the beginning of the Renaissance in and around Florence the origin for the discovery of the actual reality permanently shifted from the revelations by God in the Holy Scriptures to human reason centred around mankind. According to the Old Testament the earth – founded by God – will never move [10], but around 1600 AD Copernicus [11] and Kepler had conclusively shown that the earth revolved around the Sun. Galileo Galilei had defended this factual discovery in 1632 AD in his writing Dialogo sopra i due Massimi Sistemi di Galileo Galilei del Mondo Tolemaico e Copernicano (Dialogue from Galileo Galilei over the two main world systems, the Ptolemaic and Copernican) in front of the Church Inquisition. The Christian Church had sentenced him in 1633 AD to house arrest and permanently banned the Dialogo. Over 100 years later – in 1737 AD – Galilei was reburied from a humble graveyard to a tomb in the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence. In October 1992 AD the name of Galilei was finally purified by the Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II [12].

graftombe galilei[13]

The continuum of the transition of Scholasticism into the Renaissance is perceived at our visit to the Santa Maria del Carmine [14] and in it the Cappella Brancacci located in Piazza del Carmine [15] in Florence.

Santa Maria del Carmine[16]

The following post will include the report of this visit.

[1] For interested readers: a small corner of the veil over the early emergence of facts and logic is lifted in: Arsuaga, Juan Luis, Het halssieraad van de Neanderthaler – Op zoek naar de eerste denkers. Amsterdam: Wereldbibiotheek: 1999; in: Lewis-Williams, David & Pearce, David, Inside the neolitic Mind. London: Thames & Hudson, 2009; and in: Beyens, Louis, De Graangodin – Het ontstaan van de landbouwcultuur. Amsterdam: Atlas, 2004

[2] Image of the Venus of Willendorf estimated to have been made more than 20,000 years BCE. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_of_Willendorf

[3] For the emergence and development of religious ideas, we refer to the studies: Eliade, Mircea, A History of Religious Ideas, Volume 1. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1982; Johnston, Sarah Iles (ed.), Religions of the Ancient World – a Guide. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004;  Mallory, J.P. & Adams, D.Q., The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007

[4] Stone circles in the Middle of England. Source image: Marieke Grijpink

[5] There are several standard works on the history of philosophy.

[6] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholasticism

[7] For example: the Five arguments for the existence of God in de Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Aquinas

[8] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance

[9] See also: MacCulloch, Diarmond, Christianity – The first three thousand Years. New York: Viking, 2010 p. 141

[10] See amongst others: Psalms 93:1, 96:10, 105:5 and 1 Chronicles 16:30

[11] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolaas_Copernicus

[12] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei

[13] Tomb of Galileï in the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei

[14] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Maria_del_Carmine,_Florence

[15] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brancacci_Chapel

[16] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Maria_del_Carmine,_Florence


Introduction: Three – Object in the middle – Church

In the previous post you and I have met the role of the house as “object in the middle”. The role of the home has changed over the years from the environment where we live to a habitation. This habitation in the form of a house is seen by our ancestors as a safe haven and as a reference point from where the world is experienced. Recently, people started to identify with their home: they give shape to the house and the house expresses who they are. Our society demands of us more and more that we have a nationality and a permanent home and residence. Without these assets, people are not treated as full citizens.

Now you and I are looking into the role of the house of God as “object in the middle”.  The first sacred places, we have already seen. We have encountered sacred stones on our Odyssey. We remember the stone circles as places for ceremonies which we no longer know.


We also know the golden calf as an image of a (demi-) god [2]. We have read in the Old Testament about Yahweh who is present between the tips of angel wings above the lost Ark of the Covenant,.

Probably the hunter-gatherers have already given shelter to Gods. We have read about rituals performed by the hunter-gatherers to unite the hunters with their prey as redemption for killing of the prey, and to maintain the unique bond between prey and hunter for both their survival. The rituals may be performed at specific times and places. These sites may be seen as a precursor to the house of God. The many caves with paintings of hunting scenes are a next step towards a house of God. Probably, these paintings also had a religious background.

Many nomadic peoples have travelled around with their herds. They may also have known fixed holy sites. And probably they have seen sacred sites of established residents. Have they identified themselves with the gods of the established residents and the hunter-gatherers? Probably not, but maybe they have adopted some elements of the faith of other people. As nomads, they will have carried their sacred objects on the travels with their herds. In their tents special places are reserved for shrines. One example is the Ark of the Covenant that the Jews carried around on the travels and place in a tent during stages. Even in the temple in Jerusalem, the ark is placed with poles on both sides as a reminder and a preparation for a new travel.

The form of Islamic mosques reminds you and me of temporary stays – large tents and outposts to indicate the entrance point – in a desert. These mosques are transferred in imposing houses of Allah with courts and outbuildings around. An example is the Suleyman Mosque in Istanbul.


Farmers with fixed fields are moving into permanent habitations. Also the gods receive their private habitations. The recognition of the house of Gods does not happen overnight. When we visit the oldest stave church at Urnes in Norway, the guide explains that the woodwork of the church is decorated with dragon motifs on the outside to keep the many evil spirits outside. This is necessary in the long dark winters. The Vikings have to leave their swords outside next to the door. Inside the church has only a few small lights from above. In that light a wooden crucifix is seen from which redemption and access to the afterlife may come. The priests at that time do try to change the image of Valhalla – the hall where the honorary fallen soldiers during battle continue eating, drinking and fighting to the end of time – into a longing for deliverance from sin and a Christian view of the afterlife. The blue paint color – lapis lazuli – on the wooden crucifix from around the 12th century AD comes from Afghanistan according to the guide.

During the explanation of the guide I think of Jalāl al-Dīn – also known as Rumi, who is born around the same time in Vaksh in Balkh Province in Afghanistan. Probably Rumi transcends the “object in the middle” in his contact with Allah: “My thoughts are in the heart of Allah, the heart of Allah will be sick without the thoughts of me [4]”. Later on our Odyssey more about this.

When we leave this church, you say: “Those light openings under the roof remind me of a saying by Oscar Wild:” We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars “.


“Do you remember the first rays of the sun at 6 o’clock in the morning on the first day of spring? [6]” I ask.

“Whenever I visit a church.” You answer.

The next message continues on churches as “object in the middle”.

[1] Source of image: Marieke Grijpink

[2] See the previous post “Introduction: Three – Object in the middle – part 1” on 5th of May 2011

[3] Source image: http://www.islamleer.nl/islaam/biografie/geleerdenoverigen/758-kanuni-sultan-suleyman-i

[4] See: Nicholson, Reynold A., The Mathnawi of Jalálu’ddin Rúmí, Book II. Cambridge: Biddles Ltd, 2001 p. 281

[5] Source image: http://www.sacred-destinations.com/norway/urnes-stave-church

[6] See the last post on “Two” on 25th of April 2011