A great awakening
We see ourselves as more advanced than our forbearers, and we are. Even people from the recent past of George Washington’s day were seriously lacking in understanding, according to many changes that make our world what it is today. Each new generation is born into a world that had never previously existed.
Our greatest advantage is not our brilliant minds, but our ability to pass on to each new generation what we have learned, thus adding to our knowledge. Each new generation has learned from its predecessors. I was born into a world just 90 years ago that hadn’t yet invented television, the internet, jet airplanes, or automatic transmissions. In 1927, the year I was born, Charles Lindbergh made the first flight ever across the Atlantic Ocean, in an airplane, from Long Island to Paris. The trip took him 33 hours and 32 minutes. It was an unheard-of accomplishment.
If you did not have an organized civilization surrounding and teaching you, you wouldn’t be any smarter than a prehistoric cave man. You would only know what you could teach yourself, and that would surely not be much. We all stand on the shoulders of those who went before us, to see a much wider horizon than they could even imagine. That’s how it is.
Each generation has interpreted the world according to what they knew at the time. Theories of what was and what was not changed periodically as understanding changed. Galileo was imprisoned, because he tried to teach that the earth was a round sphere. Many years ago when people saw and heard thunder and lightening, or saw a volcano erupt and bury a town, they thought that God was venting his anger at us. There have probably been more advances in our understanding of the world in just my lifetime than in hundreds of the preceding years.
The first reaction to our new scientific advances has been a growing faith in man’s ability to control with science, and with much less reliance on an angry God in the heavens. We are now tending to eliminate God from that old phrase: “God helps those who help themselves.” That was just a stepping-stone to helping ourselves. Mankind has increasingly depended on his own independent ability, his own understanding of what he sees as realistic scientific management, than to rely on any divine being. Frank Sinatra began a new gospel when he sang, “I Did It My Way.”
As the scientific systems advance further however, those who study them will become even more aware that the universe is so well ordered with each element, each force, each energy, and each life system, filling a uniquely needed function, in such an orderly and necessary way, that it cannot possibly be so organized and structured by accident. Intelligence reveals that such order and organization are not characteristics of happenstance. The multitudinous order created in the variations of life alone would surmount any plausibility of happenstance or chance.
I look at a modern automobile, or skyscraper, and I am amazed at the intelligent, organizational ability of man, and yet how trivial that is when compared to the organization of the universe, and all of its various functions, from the atom to the grand planetary systems and to life.
The next great awakening, or advancement in our understanding, will be to understand the necessity of a creative intelligence for the organization of reality as it is, and a new ability of humanity to live within it. We shall come to understand, to our benefit, that the rules which govern everything in existence, also govern our own destiny. We shall come to realize that our own destiny is what it is, and it’s better than what our insecure egos might have tried to twist it to become.
Just as the modern world of today was incomprehensible to Ben Franklin, that which tomorrow may hold for mankind is just as incomprehensible to us. As we continue to work on the great jigsaw puzzle of reality, piece by piece, a new great awakening happens every day, which shall at last reveal the complete masterpiece of creation. May God bless America.
Richard Westlund is a Collins resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org