Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lost Knowledge

Our first peak at the Duomo in Florence, Italy.

The Pantheon in Rome (pictured below) is one of the true wonders of the ancient world.  The diameter of the circular building equals the 43 meters-high (129ish feet) dome.  Pretty high for a bunch of ancients, particularly so because a larger dome wasn't built until 1436, when the Duomo in Florence (above) was constructed.

I was able to visit both on our trip to Italy the last few days.  I also took occasion to visit the little-trafficked Duomo Museum in Florence, and was delighted by the very good English descriptions of the cathedral's construction.  There I learned that because the knowledge of the ancients had been lost, Filippo Brunelleschi, the cathedral's architect, had to re-invent the process and tools to build it.  His dome has an octagonal shape to it, making it less like a true dome, but nevertheless truly impressive.

This got to thinking more about lost knowledge.  If important architectural knowledge could be lost, couldn't other kinds of ancient knowledge be lost, such as spiritual knowledge?

My musings were compounded by reading this in Edward Gibbon The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1788) (I figure that while in about it! -- but don't be too impressed, I'm reading the abridged version - six volumes don't pack well when two persons share a backpack):

"[S]ince every friend to revelation is persuaded of the reality, and every reasonable man is convinced of the cessation, of miraculous power, it is evident that there must have been some period in which they were either suddenly or gradually withdrawn from the Christian church.  Whatever aera is chosen for that purpose, the death of the apostles, the conversion of the Roman empire, or the extinction of the Arian heresy, the insensibility of the Christians who lived at that time will equally afford just matter of surprise."

Not only can knowledge be lost, but so can faith and power.  I believe this.  Knowledge, faith, and power (all connected but yet separate) can be lost--gradually, suddenly, and most usually insensibly.

But it also can be found.  I believe that certain spiritual knowledge, and certain spiritual power, were lost in ancient times.  It was not re-discovered, found, or, a favored word of my faith, restored, until the early 1800s in the eastern part of the United States, but it was.  I know this to be true, and am grateful to have this ancient, once-lost knowledge of a Savior who lives and loves me, who died that we might live again, and who has restored his ancient priesthood power so that families can live after the manner of happiness now and eternally together.

Some re-learn ancient knowledge of how to build magnificent domes, others re-learn how the human race can be made happy.

Dome and copulus of the Pantheon.


  1. Ok you have the coolest life!! I would love to travel all over the place! Its a dream of mine.

  2. My sister who is studying aeronautical engineering told me that the technology that allowed man to land on the moon was lost and it would take enormous efforts to recreate that experience. I find that so incredible, since that occurred just in our parents' lifetimes. How do you lose the technology to walk on the moon? It gives pause to think about how "human" we all really are.

  3. I've got the model of that beautiful cathedral on my bookshelf! Took two hours to assemble.

    Duncan In Kuantan

  4. @ Denise - Don't you think all of us have cool lives, we just take it for granted and somehow miss it? I forget that I live in London all the time...

    @ Melanie - that's amazing. What a loss!

    @ Duncan - where did you get the model?