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This 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.

I 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 animals.

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 insight:

"...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!

Think of 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" continually discovers.

 
   
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