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The perfect cosmic machine

In early January 1985, a Soviet cruise missile, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead with a 350-kiloton yield, skimmed low over the out­skirts of Murmansk, roared on over the Pasvik valley of north Norway and finally crashed into Lake Inari in Finland. The missile appears to have been fired from the Barents Sea. It is normal for the Russians to test missiles there, but they are usually fired in a north-east direction in order to avoid inhabited terrain. This one was fired south-west by mistake. The Norwegian government lodged a strong protest with the Soviets, while making clear that they did not suspect the latter of deliberate provocation, and realised that the missile had erred from its course by mistake.

Commenting on the incident, David Fairhall, defence correspon­dent of The Guardian newspaper, wrote that the fault was assumed to lie with electronic failure and human error. “The first lesson to be drawn from the incident is that all complex military weapons systems sometimes go wrong. We ought to appreciate this by analogy with everyday experience. Television sets go on the blink. Expensive motorcars break down. Ships stuffed with advanced navigational equipment collide. Or to put it in a conventional military setting, the commander of an air force base would reckon he was doing well enough in peacetime if three quarters of his aircraft were fully serviceable. The truth, as some embarrassed Soviet naval captain has just reminded us, is that guided missiles, like television sets, cannot always be expected to work properly.”

If our everyday experience tells us how imperfect machines designed by humans are, it also shows us that there is another machine which func­tions absolutely perfectly. That is the machine of the universe, which the Creator has put to our service. The universe is a machine more complex and grand than any other. Yet it never goes wrong. It can always be counted upon to work properly. So much so, in fact, that we have come to take its perfection for granted, and fail to sit up and take notice of the consistent and regular performance that it displays.

The sun shines, but it never goes on the blink. Seasons continue their journey never wavering in the course. We see all this and depend upon it for our livelihood; yet we fail to wonder at its perfection, or consider its implications.

Machines constructed by us go wrong from time to time. This is because humans are imperfect and so are the objects that they create and operate. But the cosmic machine, which we have not created, and which lies beyond our control, functions perfectly. This shows that there must be a perfect power behind it. Human machines fly in a totally wrong direction when the person operating them shows the slightest negligence. It is inconceivable; therefore, that there should be no one watching over the cosmic machine, or that the Power who controls it should be of the slightest negligence. 

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