The Engines of Our Ingenuity: An Engineer Looks at Technology and Culture

By John H. Lienhard | Go to book overview

2
God,
the Master Craftsman

A dam awoke on the eighth day of creation, measuring his newly gained creative powers. In a harsh, forbidding world, somewhere to the east of Eden, Adam flexed new muscles and smiled. “That garden was nothing, ” he chuckled. “We're well rid of it. I'll build a garden that'll put it to shame.”

That eighth day of creation was, in fact, very late in time. Adam had hunted and gathered in the garden for four million years. Then, just the other day—only about thirty thousand years ago—he came into the dense, self-reinforcing, technical knowledge that has, ever since, driven him further and further from the garden.

We are a willful, apple-driven, and mind-obsessed people.That side of our nature is not one that we can dodge for very long. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the eleventh-century Christian church was that it forged a tentative peace with human restlessness. All the great monotheistic religions of the world have honored God as Maker of the world, but the medieval Christian church went much further: It asserted that God had manifested himself in human form as a carpenter—a technologist, a creator scaled to human proportions. It seemed clear that if we are cast in God's image, then God must rightly be honored as the Master Craftsman.

The peace forged between the medieval Church and Adam's apple was wonderfully expressed by an anonymous fourteenth-century Anglo-Saxon monk who sang:

Adam lay ibounden, bounden in a bond. Four thousand winter, thought he not to long.

-20-

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The Engines of Our Ingenuity: An Engineer Looks at Technology and Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Preface vii
  • The Engines of Our Ingenuity *
  • 1 - Mirrored by Our Machines 3
  • 2 - God, the Master Craftsman 20
  • 3 - Looking Inside the Inventive Mind 35
  • 4 - The Common Place 55
  • 5 - Science Marries into the Family 70
  • 6 - Industrial Revolution 86
  • 7 - Inventing America 96
  • 8 - Taking Flight 115
  • 9 - Attitudes and Technological Change 126
  • 10 - War and Other Ways to Kill People 139
  • 11 - Major Landmarks 153
  • 12 - Systems, Design, and Production 167
  • 13 - Heroic Materialism 179
  • 14 - Who Got There First? 193
  • 15 - Ever-Present Dangers 209
  • 16 - Technology and Literature 219
  • 17 - Being There 229
  • Correlation of the Text with the Radio Program 241
  • Notes 243
  • Index 255
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