The Map That Changed the World by Simon Winchester offers an engaging perspective into one man’s incredible journey towards creating something truly revolutionary, driven solely by passion and dedication. Similarly, Marshall’s book, Prisoners of Geography, provides a comprehensive overview of each region’s geopolitical dynamics, as well as its cultural influences from ancient times to the present day. In doing so, it makes clear why certain countries are at odds with one another or form alliances; why some nations are more powerful than others; or even why some states exist in their current forms while others do not exist at all. Both books are extremely interesting and offer readers an informative look through the lens of geographical and international history.
The legacy left behind by William Smith is seen not only in how it changed our knowledge of geography, but also serves as a testament to human curiosity, creativity, and ingenuity. Smith dedicated himself tirelessly to perfecting this project despite numerous obstacles and a lack of formal education. It was through sheer determination that he eventually succeeded in completing such an ambitious undertaking, something we can all learn from no matter how daunting it may seem. This revolutionary work often referred to as “the Winchester Atlas,” was created through years of meticulous geological survey work and marked a major milestone in cartography.
A particular detail in the Winchester reading that caught my attention was the system of belief surrounding the “figured stones.” In the seventeenth century, people believed they were naturally occurring and randomly took on a unique shape of a creature or something familiar. “Aristocrats and members of the leisured classes especially, amassed enormous collections of them.” There were numerous theories surrounding their origin, however, at the same time, it was not prudent to question mainstream beliefs and would be viewed as “apostasy or heresy” to suggest otherwise. The rocks were either a coincidence, intentionally placed by God “lapides sui generis,” or the fossils were inserted by God using a plastic force called “vis plastica” for the sole purpose of reminding the entire human race that God did indeed move in mysterious ways.”
Other theories surfaced such as “gravitational influence from stars, remains from the flood of Noah, and supernatural placement.” To me, it seems extremely farfetched and ridiculous to not question some of these theories. If we are true to our faith, we have nothing to worry about. Unpacking science does not minimize God, it glorifies him. He created it all, so why are some Christians hesitant when it comes to science and God? The National Academics organization says, “Creationists inevitably look for God in what science has not yet explained or in what they claim science cannot explain. Most scientists who are religious look for God in what science does understand and has explained.” I realize this scientific era in Smith’s time was in its infancy, but are we still living in a world where we follow the “leader” without question and stay silent even when it seems implausible?
I hate to be a bullhorn but when masses of people are doing anything in large numbers, I think the safe play is to stop and analyze the situation with spiritual discernment. Many individuals openly participate in activities simply because someone says to, the majority is participating, or there is pressure to proceed. As two of my children approach their teen years, I can’t stress to them enough to stand up to peer pressure. I apologize in advance if this offends anyone but one recent example of societal pressure or opinion is that there are countless studies of the ineffectiveness of most masks, yet mandates are still in place all over the globe. I believe there was, and is, HARKing in the cherry-picked pandemic and/or political statistics we’ve seen in recent years; and many of these stats play a role in mandates that still exist today. Vaccines alone normally take 10-15 years to produce yet people were forced, pressured, and voluntarily took something without all the information, sufficient testing, and adverse monitoring over time.
It is concerning when making this connection to Christianity. We often witness misconceptions of the Bible or stay silent in situations that may cause stress or discomfort. We claim to be fully devoted but when it comes to questioning the pressures of society, will we stand up? Are we forced to believe that the stone that looks exactly like a creature captured in mud over time is a coincidence instead of a fossil? What if it costs us our lives? I am sure most of us would say or like to believe that facing martyrism we would proudly stand in the name of Jesus and accept our fate, however, I don’t think it’s that easy or based on just a yes or no to deny Christ. I think the devil is craftier than that and we deny him over time with our skewed views of what is acceptable. The enemy plays on our emotions, our families, and our insecurities, and builds entire scenarios of complex pressures.
I’m definitely not placing our Christianity or salvation on a vax or mask preference or any other societal trend, my point is the world is the devil’s domain and I would highly question anything that politicians, governments, pharma companies, masses of people “we have to do.” We must discern and take every big decision we make to God first.
 Marshall, Prisoners of Geography
 Winchester, The Map that Changed the World, 46
 Ibid, 47
 Ibid, 47
 “The Intersection of Science and Religion.” Nationalacademies.org, 2020, www.nationalacademies.org/evolution/science-and-religion.
 Chivers, Tom, and David Chivers. 2022. How to Read Numbers. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 3