by HENDRIK GOUT
History is littered with mistakes. Columbus thought the west Indies looked distinctly oriental, Hitler and Napoleon believed the Russian winter would defrost like a fridge held open, and IBM chairman Tom Watson was convinced there’d be a world market for about five computers.
Then there’s the question of faith: that is, the belief in gods and deities. The world once had thousands of religions, and to challenge these beliefs meant death. Ancient Greeks built temples which started at Aphrodite and ended at Zeus, animists believed that plants had souls, and ancient hunter-gatherers held that rivers and mountains were created by giant crocodiles or snakes.
A giant cod did not dig the River Murray, and we know that because of the work of geologists and geographers. Since the beginnings of religion 300,000 years ago, science has challenged faith. Science is evidence, not belief, and scientists don’t burn other scientists at the stake because they disagree with each other. But the belief in human-caused global warming, says one scientist, has become the new religion.