The Only Miracle


Contents List:

Implication
Meanings
Significance
Wake Up!

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Substance: A History of Modern Synthetic Materials. An affectionate look at the miracle materials and substances created by modern science that have become part of our everyday lives. 5. Kevlar. "...the miracle fibre that saved his life during the recent Iraq war". Radio Times for Tuesday, 29 July, 2003.

Implication

The quotation at the head of this essay betrays absence of the clear, educated thinking that would otherwise prevent vested interests from getting away with many of the outrageous claims by which they contrive to secure an advantage over the people on whom they rely for maintenance of their artificial superiority. Please be patient with me while I briefly review the original meanings of the key words in the above quotation so that I may attempt to justify my assertion.

Meanings

Miracle is derived from the Latin verb mirare, to wonder. In former times, the word was reserved for "acts of God", i.e. supernatural events so wonderful that they were regarded as implying divine action.

Substance is derived from the Latin substare, to stand beneath. It is the essential "something" that underlies everything we can sense, and enables us to "understand" its existence.

When we look up the definitions of words like matter, material, or substance in a dictionary, we encounter a confusion of circumlocutions and metaphors which might lead us to suppose that they all mean the same thing. To preserve the distinction between matter and substance, I shall take matter to mean that which seems to occupy space and to possess inertia, leaving substance to refer to whatever underlies the material appearance. This "restoration" of meaning seems necessary to take cognisance of the distinction between classical physics and quantum theory.

To create is to bring into existence. It does not mean the same as to construct, which is to put together or build something from matter which already exists. Blurring the important distinction between creation and construction impoverishes the language.

Science is the study of the physical world and the resulting body of scientific knowledge about physical things. Scientists are people who enhance and apply the methods of science in the quest for knowledge. They discover many wonderful things about the physical world, but to say that science creates, or even constructs, miracle substances is to confuse science and scientists, if not with the Creator, at least with technology and technologists.

Technology is the commercially motivated study, development and application of scientific knowledge to the synthesis of compound materials and to the construction, production and manufacture of goods and appliances which have potential for increasing the power, or enhancing the physical ease and comfort, of human beings.

Significance

Kevlar is a product of technology, not of science. It is used in body-armour (such as a bullet-proof vest) which makes humans feel more confident and comfortable about exposing themselves to enemy action and therefore less reluctant to go to war. It may seem a "miracle" to some, but it can also be viewed as a "mixed blessing".

Technologists are happy to be referred to as scientists because it confers upon them an aura of respectable moral authority and thus obscures their essentially commercial motivation. Academic "scientists" find it "comfortable" to put up with inherently contradictory dogmas because they need to obtain "funding" for their researches, and vested interests do not ordinarily invest in mavericks who are liable to upset their apple-carts. There are relatively few genuine scientists left in the world. Those who challenge "established" authority tend to be ostracised and find it almost impossible to hold academic posts or publicise their ideas in "learned" journals.

Wake Up!

I hope I have now said enough to show how careless abuse of language blurs important distinctions and anaesthetises the intellect so that it no longer notices the moral spiritual substance which underlies the physical and which makes such minor "miracles" as kevlar possible.

In particular, it contrives to blind us to the one and only miracle the Creation, ab initio, of the Universe and all that it contains, including ourselves.

The inventor may conceive an idea, but its realisation in material form is, more often than not, only construction. It is only greed that makes a multinational corporation seek a restrictive patent on something that has been awaiting discovery from the foundation of the world. It is only ignorant arrogance for any of us to overlook the Creator Who stands under everything of which we can be conscious.