Wednesday, 13 November 2013
"...surely He must have known that man being man, the fruit of that tree would be eaten..." (p. 7)
I think that Asimov and I would agree in interpreting Genesis as a collection of "myths," or meaningful stories, not as a literal account of cosmic and human origins. However, I am interested in one logical implication of a literal interpretation. The phrase "...man being man..." assumes the viewpoint of someone who finds mankind already in existence whereas, of course, in a literal interpretation, the viewpoint here is that of mankind's creator.
Thus, He made us as we are and could have made us differently. To say that we have free will is to miss the point. If we know someone's "nature," then he is most predictable when acting freely. I suspect that we all accepted Asimov's statement that "...man being man, the fruit of that tree would be eaten..." because we are all familiar with human curiosity. Probably no one thought, "But Adam had free will so he could have refrained from eating." However, an omnipotent creator could, if he had wanted to, have created Adam without curiosity. That would not have been mankind as we know it but it could have been mankind as created by omnipotence.
Walking through town, I overheard an Evangelical preacher saying, "God created us to be his companions but, because it is in our nature to do so, we turn against him." So he didn't create our nature? It is in our nature to contradict our creator's purpose for us? It is in our nature to turn against the being whose companions we were created to be? Again, the preacher was assuming a "human nature" that somehow preceded the creation of humanity and that even the creator of humanity had to accept as a given.
On my way back through town, I heard the same preacher say, "In my experience, an explosion just makes a big mess!" Clearly a comment on the Big Bang from which emanated gasses that gravity condensed into galaxies. We don't understand how this happened? Then we need to keep looking for answers, not just say, "God did it."
Asimov goes on to say, paradoxically:
"Increasing knowledge has vastly increased the volume of the unknown..." (ibid.)
A Kurt Vonnegut novel contains the song:
"My name is Yon Yonson.
"I live in Wisconsin.
"I work in the paper mills there.
"When people ask me my name, I say..."
That expresses someone who knows who he is, where he is, what he does and nothing else and probably won't hear anything else because he will be too busy saying, "My name is..." Even the name, "Yon, son of Yon," implies no change from generation to generation.
Nucleic acid molecules, matter near absolute zero temperature, cosmic rays and neutrinos "...all meant nothing to the wisest Greek philosopher..." (ibid.) because he did not know about them.
So the moral is, "Let's enlarge our circle."
Asimov rightly says that Anderson has the knowledge, writing ability and disciplined imagination that are necessary to address astrobiology.