Lately there has been much back and forth jawing on the internet between the faithful and the skeptical. Not much changes because people tend to be more steadfast when finished speaking than before they spoke.
Whenever science presents a new finding or a successful advance in knowledge, the atheistic members inject a tone of smugness about their 'rational' position on this issue.
Try as they might, they will never explain nor accept the observation recorded in the essay below.
In The Bird and the Machine, Loren Eiseley opens with his reading the newspaper at the breakfast table. The paper has a story on the advances in machines and robotic engineering. The most dramatic changes are in the smartness of machines and their enhanced brain capacity. The joyous extrapolations the journalist draws from these scientific events leave Eiseley questioning the conclusions.
Eiseley recalls an experience from his time as a young archaeologist, one of a party of scientists exploring the wilderness of the upper mid-western United States in order to, as Eiseley puts it, 'capture the past.' He describes coming "into the valley through the trailing mists of a spring night. It was a place that looked as though it might never have known the foot of man, but our scouts had been ahead of us and we knew all about the abandoned cabin of stone that lay far up on one hillside."
He writes that they "had, in addition, instructions to lay hands on the present. The word had come through to get them alive - birds, reptiles, anything. A zoo somewhere needed restocking It was one of those reciprocal matters in which science involves itself. Maybe," Eiseley writes, "our museum needed a stray ostrich egg and this was the payoff. Anyhow, my job was to help capture some birds and that was why I was there before the trucks.
"The cabin had not been occupied for years. We intended to clean it out and live in it, but there were holes in the roof and the birds had come in and were roosting in the rafters...I got the door open softly and I had the spotlight all ready to turn on and blind whatever birds there were so they couldn't see to get out through the holes in the roof. I had a short piece of ladder to put against the far wall where there was a shelf on which I expected to make the biggest haul. I had all the information I needed, just like any skilled assassin. I pushed the door open, the hinges squeaking only a little. A bird or two stirred-I could hear them-but nothing flew and there was a faint starlight through the holes in the roof...
"Everything worked perfectly except for one detail - I didn't know what kind of birds were there. I never thought about it at all, and it wouldn't have mattered if I had. My orders were to get something interesting. I snapped on the flash and sure enough there was a great beating and feathers flying, but instead of my having them, they, or rather he, had me. He had my hand, that is, and for a small hawk not much bigger than my fist he was doing all right. I heard him give one short metallic cry when the light went on and my hand descended on the bird beside him; after that he was busy with his claws and his beak was sunk in my thumb. In the struggle I knocked the lamp over on the shelf, and his mate got her sight back and whisked neatly through the hole in the roof and off among the stars outside...He chewed my thumb up...and lacerated my hand with his claws but in the end I got him, having two hands to work with. He was a sparrow hawk and a fine young male in the prime of life."
Eiseley puts the bird in a box too small to allow him to injure himself, performs some repairs on his hand and retires for the night.
The next morning, Eiseley writes, "I was up early and brought the box in which the little hawk was imprisoned out onto the grass where I was building a cage. A wind as cool as a mountain spring ran over the grass and stirred my hair. It was a fine day to be alive. I looked up and all around and at the hole in the cabin roof out of which the other little hawk had fled. There was no sign of her anywhere.
"Probably in the next county by now," I thought cynically, but before beginning work I decided I'd have a look at my last night's capture.
"Secretively, I looked again all around the camp and up and down and opened the box. I got him right out in my hand with his wings folded properly and I was careful not to startle him. He lay limp in my grasp and I could feel his heart pound under the feathers but he only looked beyond me and up.
I saw him look that last look away beyond me into a sky so full of light that I could not follow his gaze...I suppose I must have had an idea then of what I was going to do, but I never let it come up into consciousness. I just reached over and laid the hawk on the grass.
"He lay there for a long minute without hope, unmoving, his eyes still fixed on that blue vault above him. It must have been that he was already so far away in heart that he never felt the release from my hand. He never even stood. He just lay with his breast against the grass.
"In the next second after that long minute he was gone. Like a flicker of light, he had vanished with my eyes full on him but without actually seeing even a premonitory wing beat. He was gone straight into that towering emptiness of light and crystal that my eyes could scarcely bear to penetrate. The light was too intense. Then from far up somewhere a cry came ringing down.
"I was young then and had seen little of the world, but when I heard that cry my heart turned over. It was not the cry of the hawk I had captured, for by shifting my position against the sun, I was now seeing farther up. Straight out of the sun's eye, where she must have been soaring restlessly above us for untold hours, hurtled his mate. And from far up, ringing from peak to peak of the summits over us, came a cry of such unutterable and ecstatic joy that it sounds down across the years and tingles among the cups on my quiet breakfast table.
"I saw them both now. He was rising fast to meet her. They met in a great soaring gyre that turned to a whirling circle, and a dance of wings. Once more, just once, their two voices, joined in a harsh wild medley of question and response, struck and echoed against the pinnacles of the valley. Then they were gone forever somewhere into the upper regions beyond the eyes of men."
I have read that essay many, many times and it still gives me a lump in the throat.
The quote below below is confirmation from The Outermost House:
“We patronize the animals for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they are more finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other Nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time.”
― Henry Beston
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