Bringing fire

Bringing Fire is putting skills and forethought to bear on a problem.

According to one rendition of the Greek pantheon: in a time ruled by cruel and capricious gods, Prometheus, whose name means “fore-thinker,” was a lone champion of the human race. Against the wishes of Zeus, the jealous king of Olympus, he brought mortals fire, as well as writing, mathematics, agriculture, medicine, and science.

The universe may be a challenging place, ruled by forces that care not for our concerns and sometimes even seek to do us harm, but against those forces, we have gifts that were hard-won: the forethought to envision a better life and to link actions with consequences, the ability to develop tools, and the skills to use those tools ever more effectively.

According to archeologists, control of fire by humans definitively dates back 125,000 years. Imagine our ancestors, these early humans. Genetically our equal in every way, possessing the same capacity for thought and emotion, but lacking every asset that we are now accustomed to from civilization. Lacking a history of knowledge, they were bewildered by phenomena they did not understand; lacking the power to shape their environment, they were beset by the dangers of the untamed world. How they must have suffered! And how their spirits must have soared, when they learned how to banish darkness, forge tools, and turn their predators into their prey. Prometheus — the manifestation of skills and forethought — gave them that ability.

The use of skills and forethought to produce technology is not only an effective way to enhance our lives; it is to participate in a history that stretches back to the first stirrings of civilization. It is a glorious expression of one of our most innately human qualities.