Friday 6 July 2012

*shouts* "Timbe-e-e-e-e-er!"

The forestry up above the reservoir near where we live is being harvested.  I guess it must be 25 or 30 years since the trees were planted, by the size of the trunks, so this very slow-growing cash crop has taken a generation to be ready to be felled.  I was walking the dog there the other day when I saw one of the logging machines (not quite what's in the photo above) and just stopped and watched.  The machine has an amazing head on its arm, which cuts the tree where it stands.  The jaws hold the trunk while it's stripped of bark and branches and cut into 10-ish foot long sections.  All in a few seconds, leaving a post-apocalyptic wasteland on the hillside.  The operation and the machine has a menacing, primeval sensation to it.  It was mesmerising and slightly scary  to watch this machine at work, picking 18 inch diameter trees as if they were blades of grass and processing them into cut logs in a few well-designed hydraulic strokes. It would have taken individual men, even with chainsaws, days to do what this machine can do in a just a few hours, driven by a man using his fingertips to drive the hydraulic devices.  

Reflecting on this, as I tore myself away to finish Molly's walk, humanity is unique in the way that we, with technology, control our environment.  This first hit me many years ago when I was becoming a ship designer, and I learned that the design of a vessel is dominated by the waves that hit it.  The waves, millions of them, will destroy the ship, eventually, as the steel cracks like an enormous paperclip.  The trick is to correctly design the life of the steel and scrap the ship before this happens - humanity wins by designing the technology correctly.  The same feels true of the logging machine: the trees grow and are harvested impressively by the somewhat menacing machine - humanity wins!  Trees and other plants will grow up in the harvested wasteland, but humans, by controlling the environment, have taken over this environment.

I guess there's a post about ABUSE of the environment here, but today I'm more interested in human creativity and determination.  No other species controls the environment to the extent that humanity does.  As a person of faith, looking at the divinity in this, humanity has been given this creativity and ability to adapt and control and go beyond natural limitations. We live in hostile parts of the world, and even in space. Is this the human echo of the divine creativity that Genesis attempts to describe?  Created in God's own image: is God the ultimate environmental engineer, devising schemes and systems that allow life to flourish and grow? Devising the life itself (and the Higgs-Boson particle that lets it all exist...)?  A post on intelligent design doesn't really interest me: proof of God is not something I seek.

But a sense of awe at a God who has equipped humanity with creativity, drive and the ability to harness, control and exist in the universe.  That sounds like something worth exploring...

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