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Explanations that Satisfy

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Later we were guests in the beautiful Nantawarrina Indigenous Protected Area. Uncle Kelvin took us to the upper reaches of Moro Gorge, where water from an underground source ran down through rock pools through a steep rock-walled gorge. It was an amazing spot. We were able to climb down, and the kids among us took a swim, and we absorbed the beauty of the place. Uncle Kelvin explained to us that this gorge was formed in the Dreamtime by the Rainbow Serpent. The Rainbow Serpent dove down into one rock pool and up through another, carving the gorge, the pools and waterfalls. You could see the pattern of the serpent diving and rising all the way down the gorge. On the way back, my car was filled with the team I brought. Without Uncle Kelvin there, one of them asked what I thought of the creation story, anI found myself in a conversation that again highlighted our western assumptions and blindness. An explanation is only meaningful if it satisfies something. A western explanation of the formation of Moro Gorge would involve fault lines, ground movement, erosion and a lot of years. That explanation satisfies us because it relates to something that we know is true, namely science. Explanations of fault lines and earth shifting followed by years of erosion make sense to us; that’s the point of satisfaction. For Uncle Kelvin, that all may be true, but it doesn’t satisfy. When given an explanation of fault lines and erosion, he responds with, “Yes, but why? Why did the fault line crack? Why does the erosion shape?” For him, the answer to that is the Rainbow Serpent. That’s the explanation that satisfies. We, westerners, assume that our explanation is the best because it satisfies us and therefore defines truth for all.

From “Removing The Plank” by David Smith

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