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An Inquiring Mind That History Remembers

An Inquiring Mind That History Remembers

An Inquiring Mind That History Remembers

● How would you like to be remembered? What will come to people’s minds when they think of you? Driven by concerns over their legacy, many aspire to greatness in science, politics, sports, and the arts. But what if you were particularly remembered for questions you asked?

Five hundred years ago, a man in Central America asked many thought-provoking questions. He was a native chief called Nicarao, from which “Nicaragua” is evidently derived. His name came to identify the tribe of his people, the land in which he lived, and their large lake.

Nicarao’s tribe lived on the strip of land between the Pacific Ocean and huge Lake Nicaragua. Shortly after Columbus discovered the New World, the Spanish set out to explore this area. Captain Gil González Dávila led his troops north from what is now Costa Rica and entered Nicarao’s land in 1523 C.E.

Imagine the explorers’ trepidation as they journeyed into unknown territory. How pleased they must have been on meeting Chief Nicarao! With generosity that continues to be a hallmark of Nicaraguan culture, the people welcomed the Spanish and gave them gifts, including a large amount of gold.

Nicarao wanted answers to questions he had long thought about. Other questions came up as a result of the visit of the Spaniards. Chroniclers report that he asked Captain González the following:

Have you heard of a great flood that destroyed all men and animals? Will God flood the earth again? What happens after death? How do the sun, the moon, and the stars move? How are they suspended in the sky? How far away are they? When will the sun, the moon, and the stars cease to shine? Where does the wind come from? What causes heat and cold, light and dark? Why do the days vary in length throughout the year?

Clearly, Nicarao was eager to know about the natural world around him. His questions indicate much about his religious beliefs. They reveal that he had interests and concerns similar to those many people have today. And the fact that Nicarao and his people knew about a great flood reminds us of what the Bible relates.​—Genesis 7:17-19.

Even though Nicarao’s culture was steeped in spiritism and ritual human sacrifice, he was concerned about the conduct and way of life of his people. His questions bear witness to the operation of conscience. In this regard, the apostle Paul wrote: “Their conscience is bearing witness with them and, between their own thoughts, they are being accused or even excused.”​—Romans 2:14, 15.

Today, a statue of Chief Nicarao stands as a memorial near the place where he is supposed to have first met the Spanish explorers. His inquiring mind, which moved him to think deeply about life and the world around him, may well serve as an example for us.​—Romans 1:20.

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