The Adaptations Of Nature To The Intellectual Wants Of Man -- By: G. Frederick Wright
BSac 51:204 (Oct 1894) p. 560
The Adaptations Of Nature To The Intellectual Wants Of Man
That man should be able to interpret nature, and from the experiences of the present both reproduce the past and forecast the future, is a mystery of the first degree. It was considered a marvellous triumph of human ingenuity when Champollion deciphered the hieroglyphics of Egypt, and opened to his followers the vast stores of information which had been so long concealed in them. But his success was due to the fortunate discovery of a key in the celebrated Rosetta stone, which contained an inscription in Greek translating the parallel inscription in hieroglyphics. Sir Henry Rawlinson’s success in interpreting the cuneiform inscriptions was due to a similar fortunate experience. In these cases the interpreters were dealing with the works of men whose capacities were altogether like their own. Man cannot, if he would, wholly deceive his fellow-men. In knowing the restrictions of our own powers we know those of our fellow-men. Hence it comes about that cipher despatches, designed to deceive all but those specially initiated, can never wholly baffle the skill of experts. Some clue exists, and, when discovered, readily yields the secret.
To the thoughtful student of nature, there is no other evidence of the goodness of the Creator so impressive as the fact that his works are capable of interpretation by the mind of man. That the infinite mind should make his thoughts
BSac 51:204 (Oct 1894) p. 561
known to the finite, betokens a condescension which only a benevolent being would exercise. It is as when the full-grown man shortens his steps in the drifting snows, in order that the child behind him may have a beaten path through which to reach the safety of his home. Or, as when a great philosopher like Faraday condescends to speak for the instruction of children, and puts his profound thoughts in language so simple that the infant can understand. The more fully we realize the fact that the Creator is infinite in power, that his thoughts are above our thoughts, and his ways above our ways, the more wonderful does it seem that the works of God can be understood by us at all. Yet, as a matter of fact, we do find nature comprehensible, and capable of interpretation. We are able with confidence to reconstruct in thought a large portion of the past, and to forecast in hope the distant future. The Creator has so graduated his steps in nature, that man can follow them in the past, and calculate their course in the future.
In maintaining this point it is not necessary for us to contend that we can fully understand the works of God, for this is not needful for our present well-being. Indeed, there could be no greater calamity than for man to have atta...
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