We all have our comfort zones. I know I do—that being by myself away from others, and I know that most people would rather stay safe and secure where they can be sure of what they know even if it is wrong.
For the typical person in the 16th century the safe zone included the belief that the Sun orbited the Earth, the geocentric model of the universe. But not Nicholas Copernicus. He didn’t think that God would so exalt Man as to put him at the center of the Universe, but that instead the Sun would be at the century with the Earth on the periphery as it were.
Western Europe was at the time at the beginning of the scientific revolution. Which meant that a lot of people insisted on evidence, on proof. Some astronomers say a problem with Nick’s idea, other said that it made sense. So they made observations and came to conclusions.
Now as part of his proposal Copernicus insisted that the planetary orbits were perfect circles because that is how God would do things. However, what the other astronomers saw was no such thing. Predictions were made as to when Jupiter say would be in the sky, and Jove just didn’t show up when he was supposed to.
Then the German astronomer Johann Kepler took the work of his late mentor Tycho Brahe, made some observations of his own, and did some math. Though he did make mistakes, which he did try to correct.
When he was done his conclusion was that far from being perfect circles the planet’s orbits were ellipses, including Earth’s. As you could expect his contemporaries disagreed, and went to put his work to the test.
They found his mistakes and corrected them. They made their own observations, did their own math, and came to the conclusion, “Damn, he’s right.”. The universe they knew was Sun centered with all the planets orbiting it in elliptical orbits. Then centuries later we discover that rather then orbiting the Sun, each planet orbits a center of gravity they have in common with old Sol, an orbit that happens to be a perfect circle. Though that’s not really God’s work, but more because of the laws of motion.
When you get right down to it, Copernicus took a trip outside a comfort zone and as a result how we see reality changed immensely.
Darwin did the same thing in biology, though he relied a lot on the evidence gathered by himself and others. His theory of evolution was not a leap of faith as was Copernicus’ declaration, but a cautious step into the unknown, supported by as much data as he could gather. Still, he has been proven to be write, and even a number of creationists have accepted his work, albeit in heavily mangled form.
And that brings us to the Sasquatch and the Yeti. I remember the early days of the controversy, because scientists insisted there could be no such animals. Apes didn’t live in the mountains—not cold mountains that is, and they had no way of crossing the Bering Strait.
Then people started seeing yeti in the Russian taiga, and it occurred to us that the Straits haven’t always been there. And the fact, last I heard, that Beringia was at the time ice free. No ice fields of any kind at all.
But who was, or were, the ancestor or ancestors?
Some have proposed Giganthropithecus, though it would appear that that genus went extinct long before the Ice Ages leaving no descendants. However, keep in mind that only about 0.1% of all life has left behind anything we can study. Last I heard, within a few thousand years the U.S. population of currently 350 million people won’t leave enough material for a single specimen. You get right down to it, it’s entirely possible the Yeti and Sasquatch do have ancestor, just ones who haven’t been preserved. My conclusion is, they are possible.
But, accepting them is outside our comfort zone. Such things just can’t be. Like the Sun being at the center of the Solar System and descent through modification in biology. We feel safe in our comfort zones—I know I do, and it takes real courage to brave the unknown.
That said, there are rewards for taking the road less travelled, and at least some creationists have compromised with Darwin.
So speaking as an autistic iconoclast I give you my formal permission to be daring. Check the subjects I mentioned above out, especially the state of Beringia about 30,000 years ago. And remember the most important word a scientist needs to know, “Oops.”