One way to sum up what I've learned this year is that the human heart never changes but the human brain is always learning. And how mind-blowing it must have been once Darwin's message was taken to heart. Before that, though, there was Charles Lyell's similarly mind-blowing revelations that the earth is a lot older than you think it is, and, in fact, doesn't particularly need you at all:
In the vast interval of time which may really have elapsed between the results of operations thus compared, the physical condition of the earth may, by slow and insensible modifications, have become entirely altered; one or more races of organic beings may have passed away, and yet have left behind, in the particular region under contemplation, no trace of their existence.Not only might you and all your ilk pass away without anyone caring, but you (and most, if not all, of your ilk) aren't particularly good at figuring out what happened to you.
Even when they conceded that the earth had been peopled with animate beings at an earlier period than was at first supposed, they had no conception that the quantity of time bore so great a proportion to the historical era as is now generally conceded. How fatal every error as to the quantity of time must prove to the introduction of rational views concerning the state of things in former ages, may be conceived by supposing the annals of the civil and military transactions of a great nation to be perused under the impression that they occurred in a period of one hundred instead of two thousand years. Such a portion of history would immediately assume the air of a romance; the events would seem devoid of credibility, and inconsistent with the present course of human affairs....He who should study the monuments of the natural world under the influence of a similar infatuation, must draw a no less exaggerated picture of the energy and violence of causes, and must experience the same insurmountable difficulty in reconciling the former and present state of nature.In other words, most all y'all are idiots.
I imagine that if we were fully sensible to the huge indifference of the earth we'd never get out of bed; so there's probably something to be said for our default setting denying this fact. Additionally, when we make man the measure of all things, it saves us many trips to Home Depot.
photo from flickr user Kaptain Kobold used with a Creative Commons license.