Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Man on the Ground: In Which I Speculate Wildly

The earliest result of thought is the recognition of an individual object as such, that is to say as distinguished and marked off from the mass of its surroundings. No doubt the first impression produced Upon the nascent intelligence of an infant is that of a confused whole. It requires much exercise of thought to distinguish this whole into its parts. The completeness of the recognition of an individual object is announced by attaching a name to it. Hence even an individual name, or singular term, implies thought or comparison. Before the child can attach a meaning to the word 'mother,' which to it is a singular term, it must have distinguished between the set of impressions produced in it by one object from those which are produced in it by others. Thus, when Vergil says Incipe, parve puer, risu cognoscere matrem, [begin, little boy, to recognize your mother with a smile] he is exhorting the beatific infant to the exercise of the faculty of comparison.  Deductive Logic, St George Stock

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”  So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.  The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.  So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. – Genesis 2:18-22

I’m still trying to catch up with everything so I’m not really going to expand on the idea too much.  I started reading this old book on deductive logic and was struck by how we understand the functioning of human thought.  When you think about being able to think about thinking, it’s pretty amazing. 

With the words of Mr. Stock in mind, consider what it means that man was alone and “out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast … and every bird”.   According chapter one of Genesis, animals were created before Adam.  Here, God seems to have Man by himself to begin with and creates the birds and beasts looking for one to be a companion to him. 

God would see His creation as one.  Everything is part of everything else, each piece being dependent on all the other pieces to exist.  The universe, like the human body, has a diversity of parts none of which would make sense or be alive in a healthy way apart from the whole.  Could Man then be God’s “discerner”, His “discriminator”, His agent “on the ground”?  Many years ago, we had an issue at our site in Madison, Wisconsin.  One of my colleagues called and was discussing it with me.  I told him that the boss wanted me to drive up and spend a couple of days there.  In his Rhode Island accent, he replied, “Yeah, that’s what we need.  A man on the ground.  Get a feel for the situation.  Smell the Hormel factory.  

As Bob has said, the infant initially comprehends only the breast.  It is as we develop space and perspective and are able to separate that we become the man on the ground able to break the whole into parts that we can then put back into the whole -- perhaps a new and unique whole.  

 From God’s perspective, it is all good.  To the man on the ground, some things are better than others.  If we allow for free will and process, is it possible that God is allowing us through prayer to not only know His will and be empowered to obey, but to have input into what is going to be brought “out of the ground”.  As we are trying to figure out how the universe works, are we really looking for the way it ought to work? 

I'm just asking.  I don't know; we probably can't know.  Yet there has always seemed to me to be a sort of weight to the words that whatever man decided to call a living creature, "that was its name".  Could it be that part of our purpose is to be involved in the calling forth of creation? 


Rick said...

"Could it be that part of our purpose is to be involved in the calling forth of creation?"

This man on the ground thinks our furbears had some hand in building the cathedrals. Some. Those things don't build themselves.

Plus, your colleague is wickid smot.

mushroom said...

I did give the free translation. In addition to being a Rhodie, he used to be a DI. You can imagine.

Rick said...

Damsel Indistress?

mushroom said...

OK, I laughed.

Drill Instructor.

Rick said...

Figured you could use one.