[percy-l] Language is an airplane

robert.g.eckert at us.army.mil robert.g.eckert at us.army.mil
Mon May 14 21:11:09 EDT 2007

Natural selection is a scientific hypothesis and being such it is not a claim to creation knowledge, as analytic statement 2+2=4, but is rather a synthetic statement. A scientific hypothesis is subject to an endless process of verification by a community of knowers. Therefor, there is no finality to scientific knowing as is with knowing through faith.

Faith is yet another form of knowledge. Faith and reason are two distinct ways of knowing. This distinction is discussed on JPII's "Fides et ratio" and Kierkegaard's "The Difference Between a Genius and an Apostle." 

Ken s correct when he distinguishes between forms of creating. God's is "creatio ex nihilo." Human creations are the result of imposing arbitrary form upon creation. We create in our conception, then impose our mental creations on the physical environment by rearranging nature.

Domesticated species and recombinant DNA creations are "cultural" in the anthropological sense. The anthropological definition of culture is the imposition of arbitrary form upon the environment. The archaeological evidence of this imposition of arbitrary form -- symbols, clothing, ect. is evidence of our having crossed the triadic threshold.

Language is the most pervasive symbol system. Other symbol systems, mathematics, alphabets, have given us even greater power to rearrange nature to our will. 

Spc Robert Eckert
172 Chemical Corp
Ft. Riley, K 66442 

BTW -- Spc is E-4, Sgt is E-5 (Soon, but not yet.)
----- Original Message -----
From: Michael Larson 
Date: Thursday, May 10, 2007 21:52
Subject: [percy-l] Language is an airplane
To: percy-l at lists.ibiblio.org

> Robert Eckert 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."
> 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. Science, by its own admission and method, must derive 
> its explanations of the universe by observable phenomena. This is 
> good as far as it goes (as Percy often said), but it only goes so 
> far. If we look to science for an explanation of origins, well, 
> then evolution, with its subset of various processes (some of 
> which are even readily observable) is an admirable theory, a 
> valiant attempt to make sense of it all given the self-imposed 
> handicap of allowing only material evidence. But along comes man, 
> the symbol-mongerer, and a wrench is thrown into the evolutionary 
> machine. And this was Percy's point: language is one of those 
> things man does (not the only one) that cannot be explained in 
> random-evolutionary or materialist terms. At the very least, we 
> must acknowledge a mystery here (as I think Robert does as well).
> If we expand our considerations in our search for truth to include 
> such non-material proofs as philosophy and alleged divine 
> revelation, then we have much more to work with, and we have 
> righted the modern inversion; spirit once again takes its place 
> above and over matter. From the Roman Catechism (Article I), 
> "Christian philosophy, on the contrary, so quickens the human mind 
> that without difficulty it pierces the heavens, and, illumined 
> with divine light, contemplates first, the eternal source of 
> light, and in its radiance all created things." Before we are too 
> quick to cast aside such a claim, let us remember that Percy 
> counted himself among the recipients of Catholic Faith. And this 
> is not something to easily dismiss. Consider his essay, "The 
> Message in the Bottle," which centers on the idea that it is not 
> so much the news as the news bearer that carries persuasive 
> weight. And this merely echoes Aristotle, who claims that ethos, 
> among the three rhetorical proofs (the other two being logos and 
> pathos), is in fact the most influential on the rhetorical 
> situation. In other words, we often learn what is true by our 
> trust in who it is that tells us so. 
> 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.
> 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."
> 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. 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 exist. 
> So language is a portal through which we may leap into the non-
> material realm, but it is not synonymous, in and of itself, with 
> that realm. Imagine a man, a complete amnesiac, who wakes to find 
> himself on a deserted island, nothing but the clothes on his back 
> and, farther down the beach, a weird metal object with wings. Day 
> after day, he examines the object, certain that it is a clue, a 
> key to how he got here and possibly to how he might return 
> (whatever that might mean). Then one day, he starts it up by 
> accident, and something clicks: he remembers that he is a pilot, 
> and he starts making forays to neighboring islands--for communion 
> with others (and for fuel!). He makes longer and longer flights. 
> One day, he knows, he will have to make the longest flight of all 
> in a calculated gamble to find his homeland.
> As a pilot, Percy never mistook his airplane for where he meant to 
> go with it.
> Best regards,
> Michael Larson

More information about the Percy-L mailing list