essay was originally presented at a Masonic Lodge, so it was intended
to be meaningful to Master Masons. And yet, I believe there is
something of interest here for anyone who might entertain the
possibility of a Supreme Being having influence in the natural world,
or for anyone who might delight in yet another example of the Wisdom,
Strength, and Beauty of Nature.
am always amused when someone, especially a scientist, dismisses the
wonderful activities and works of animals as "only instinct". We tend
to praise intelligence alone, which we believe makes us superior to
Instinct is what enables a bird, hatched in isolation,
to construct a marvelously complex nest, exactly like his species makes
and like no other. And to sing the unique melody which is also like no
other. We humans, on the other hand, must learn from others, and
create with our minds, the architectural structures and songs that we
believe show our creativity and intelligence.
And yet, there is
the study of the Japanese macaque monkeys on the island of Koshima.
One of the monkeys, named Imo, had learned to wash the sand off sweet
potatoes by dipping them in the ocean, and the younger monkeys learned
this technique right away. A scientist then threw a bunch of grain in
the sand. The monkeys tried to pick the grain from the sand, an
arduous process. Imo picked up a handful of the sand-grain mix and
dropped it in the ocean. The sand sank, and Imo scooped up a handful
of clean grain to eat. The youngsters quickly picked up this trick as
well. The old monkeys never did, but sometimes stole from the
juveniles. To me, this is but one of the many examples of creativity,
intelligence, and learning among animals.
To me, intelligence
and learning are easy to understand, exemplifying cause and effect.
But instinct is mysterious, as if an amazingly complex set of detailed
instructions is somehow implanted in a being, like a program in a
computer. This, of course, explicitly requires an intelligent
programmer, or "implanter". Well, let us look at a portion of the
lecture of the Second Degree (Fellowcraft Degree) for a Masonic
"...while it [operative masonry] displays the effects
of human wisdom, as well in the choice as in the arrangement of the
several materials of which an edifice is composed, it demonstrates that
a fund of science and industry is implanted in man for the best, most
salutary, and most beneficent purposes." Implanted!
the hatched bird, for whom the choice and arrangement of the several
materials of which a nest is composed demonstrates something as well.
When we say "implanted", we must ask "by Whom?" This lecture plainly
implies that the GAOTU (Great Architect Of The Universe) has implanted
in man the foundations of architectural creativity and workmanship.
This elevates the concept of instinct to an exalted holy plane, and
inspires us to view with reverence and admiration the perfections of
our Divine Creator.
It is so easy to treat the rituals as just
interesting morality plays, and not look too closely at the details.
But, like this example, there is an amazing wealth of treasure there.
There are many "hidden mysteries", which the "contemplative Mason"