Hollis Brown Thornton
The phrase “The Earth on the Back of the Giant Turtle” originates in Native American myth. In the story, the world is covered in water and an animal is asked to dive to the bottom of the primordial ocean to collect mud to form the dry land on the back of a huge turtle. Although this earth origin may seem silly today, the story is one in countless explanations cultures throughout history have formed defining the origins of Earth and the nature of the universe. We constantly question events happening around us and our answers are always dictated by our limited perspective, by what we know or don’t know, by being born into a culture with a dominant religious or mythological or scientific belief, and by living in a constant state of flux and, eventually, death. And it is our perspective, beliefs, culture, religion that make this turtle story seem a bit unrealistic, just as future generations will likely dismiss certain beliefs of our time. The story of the earth on the back of the giant turtle is another step in the continuously developing understanding of an ever-changing reality through science and experience, from explaining how and why the sun sets to predicting the path of a hurricane to trying to understand the growing impact of virtual reality to the potential future realities.