[percy-l] Language is an approximation

Michael Larson Mlarson at SOUTHEASTMN.EDU
Sat May 12 14:09:56 EDT 2007

>Robert Eckert (RE) states:
>"The process of natural selection which allows a creation to continue is 
>the mechanism the Creator uses to create creature speciation.
>We cannot finally know how we were created."
>Michael Larson (ML): "These two statements seem to be in conflict. If we cannot know how we were 
>created, then we can claim neither evolution in general nor natural 
>selection in particular as the method by which God created us."

Ken Armstrong (KA):   "If evolution is established scientifically, it seems it can be subjected  to the "if...then" statement that Robert makes. Observing (a triadic activity, after all) and knowing how are not necessarily the same things. I don't think he means his claim to fall under natural science."

ML: I'm unclear on several things here. First, what is the "if...then" statement to which you are referring? Second, although there is certainly a difference between observing something and knowing how it is done, this does not explain the apparent contradiction between Robert's two statements. The first statement does claim certain knowledge of the how: natural selection leading to speciation. The second statement claims we cannot know the how. Which one is being asserted? And third, which of these two claims do you think is not meant to fall under natural science? Surely the first one does, so I'm guessing it must be the second? If so, maybe this explains the apparent contradiction: one of the statements emanates from natural science and the other from a kind of agnosticism?

>Robert goes on to state:
>"Man does become a unique being at the crossing of the triadic threshold.
>The reason we become god like is, to me, because only God and man can 
>synthesize triadic relations.That is, God speaks the universre into being, 
>we speak our mental, cultural world into being."

>ML: "It is true that we are unique among material creatures by way of language, 
>but the function of language is strained, I think, by suggesting that it 
>makes us co-creators."

KA:   "But the suggestion was not that we are co-creators. One creates the universe and all being, the other creates its culture."

ML: But you fail to quote the rest of what I was responding to. Here is the continuation again (RE): "The act of creation by man is indeed not the process of natural selection. God and man are creators now. Witness domesticated species and recombinant DNA creations. We indeed have dominion."

After Robert states that "God and man are creators now," he follows the thought with what appear to be illustrative examples of man's creation: "domesticated species and recombinant DNA creations." Aside from the fact that these things are not "cultural" creations, and in light of the sentence they follow, they seem to imply a kind of new-frontier-co-authorship of created things. This is reinforced by stating that we do indeed have dominion.

>ML: "A novelist, for instance, can do no more than signify the objective 
>creation; he cannot actually call it into being. Even Tolkien, who 
>invented in detail the idea of Middle Earth, does not cause it to actually 

KA:   "True, but neither was that the claim. It seems as though you are fighting a straw man. Do we create? Are we unique among the creatures? If the answers are yes and we are careful to say one kind of creating is not the equal of the other, I'm not sure what the problem is."

Yes, I have perhaps overstated my concern, which is merely that we may be asking too much of language when we want it to be both the clue and the prize, both the means and the end; and I'm willing to concede that Sgt. Eckert may not have intended any such thing.

Best regards,
Michael Larson
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