National Inventors’ Day (February 11th)

by Hilary Horn

Sorry to be posting this late, but please enjoy this post about National Inventors Day that was on February 11th from our wonderful friend Rowan Wyatt

An ape sits, gazing at a pile of dried, desiccated bones. He stares at them with a sense of detachment until something triggers in his mind. He remembers the monolith he had seen the night before, and in his head, the spark the monolith had planted ignites, firing the brain into action. The look he gives the bones are different from before, gone is the disinterest and detachment. He picks one up and realises he can use it.

Used as a weapon to bash his foe, the ape tosses the bone into the air, where, with clever and ingenious use of film editing, the falling bone jumps to a drifting satellite, orbiting the earth with grace and logic.

This is the opening scene to one of my favourite movies 2001: A Space Odyssey and on National Inventors’ Day it seemed apt to look at this famous film scene where the span of invention is shown from the Dawn of Man to our current age of technology.

We have come a long way. From tools of stone and flint, to bronze and iron, to steel and wheels and not just practical tools to be used in hand but for the mind too, with the discovery of mathematics and science, philosophy and theology. We have gone from walking and running, to taming and riding animals, to crude wheeled chariots, to cars and aeroplanes, to the pinnacle of technology the two spaces, Outer and Inner space, the realms of space exploration and invasive surgical procedure into the brain.

What a clever collection of atoms and soul we are. Thanks be to God for giving us brains that can develop, learn, comprehend and expand. Like the fictional monolith in 2001, God touched us, like Adam on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and our brains sparked into life. We have him to thank for our development and our inventiveness. We have left the darkness of primitive existence, entering into a world that, ideally, is civilised and educated. If only that could be so all the time.

National Inventors’ Day was devised and first celebrated in 1983 in order to recognise the contribution Inventors have made to our lives. Every inventor from the humblest garden-shed tinkerer to the PhD scientist has been a part of this contribution and so are honoured the same on the day of recognition, and rightly so. As they are, so should we honour God and give him thanks that he gave us the capacity and intellect to invent and develop. At this time, we in the UK don’t recognise this day, but we should.

Of course, inventions can be devised and developed not to benefit man but to kill and destroy, poison, cripple and disfigure. With invention comes the responsibility that it should be for the good and benefit of mankind. Sadly, our technological progress has gone hand in hand with death and pollution, which the world is beginning to pay a price for.

Going back to that scene in 2001, the transition cut from bone to satellite. It looks idyllic, the white space craft floating in a black sea to the wonderful music of Strauss, but something few people know is that the satellite is a weapons platform, its missiles aimed directly back at the planet from where it was created. The Earth is on the brink of catastrophic nuclear war. This is never made clear in the movie, but that is the background to what is happening on screen and the reason the second monolith is found on the moon, it is there to teach. We have reached that stage in our world where humanity is in that frame of cinema, we have no monolith to say stop, but we have God.

God has seen us create wonderful things to benefit each other, he has given some of us the gift of that higher, reasoning intellect that can see further than most of us can, so they can develop things, for good, for health and conveyance. God has also seen us develop horror and destruction, we have used our free will to become more like Cain, willing to strike our brother down, using what we have developed to do it, coming up with more and more obscene ways to kill, and patted ourselves on the back while doing it, ignoring the responsibilities free-will gives us.

Let’s honour at this time the rising tide of inventors, most of whom are working for good, for the peaceful aims we all desire, to help the planet recover, to aid health and growth, agriculture and medicines. Let’s lift them up to God and pray for their endeavours, that they may be blessed and beneficial, that our leaders will remove their dark glasses and agendas and see the world. Let’s pray for science and faith to reconcile and work together for the good of mankind.

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