The Tongues of Men and of Angels

To begin by looking at the big picture, the one and only thing we know for certain is that we as limited human beings cannot be absolutely certain about anything. Science is a process of getting better and better answers to questions but it can never obtain the end point of certainty, especially about matters of substance. The origins of things are lost in the mists of time.

Because of this uncertainty, it is possible that there is no meaning, no purpose, no God, no creator and no values in the universe, which leads to nihilism. Radical materialism, scientism, and logical positivism paint an impoverished and dreary picture of our situation.

And even if we choose to believe that there is an omnipotent and omniscient creator God, then that God did not see fit to give us the facts in an unambiguous, undeniable way. If that God is benevolent and in charge then evidently a decision was made that we were better off not knowing what the purpose and meanings behind existence are unless or until we could decipher and learn those things on our own. An omnipotent God could have given us instructions, answers, and let us know definitively that S(He) existed and that our optimal happiness could be achieved by doing things in a certain way.

But one thing we do have is an inner mental life, an inner space that to us is perhaps more real in some ways than anything else. And even if our conscious inner life came about by random chance with no prior purpose or meaning at all, the closest thing we have to certainty is that this inner life exists and is real. We can interpret the meaning and value of this inner life. It seems to have value and meaning for a time, even if it is temporary. And we don't really know anything about time and what it really is anyway, so our current moments of existence are what is accessible to us and seem to be important to us.

And our inner selves can perceive beauty. Although there is ugliness, there is also beauty, the beauty of the natural world, love between humans, and the human created beauty of art and religion. In fact art and religion are efforts to communicate to the broad world the inner values and beauty that are perceived by an inner self. We can try to make the beauty outweigh the ugliness, to achieve an inner world that is at least a 51% good inner world for ourselves, and to share it with the broader world if we so choose.

Now in my inner world I choose Jesus and a value system around what He metaphorically stands for, to me. And who can say I am incorrect? For me, my individual belief in Jesus is real, it is my reality. But one thing for sure, I cannot impose my inner beliefs on anyone else. To try to impose one’s religious beliefs on others is a crime against humanity, because there is no proof that these inner values and beliefs are valid outside of one's own inner life.

Still, art and religion are valid attempts to communicate values and beauty and are worthy activities. We should try to enrich our lives with as much beauty and value as we can, immersing ourselves in the beauty of the natural world, a gurgling stream in the woods, a mountain retreat, a beautiful beach. And we should also find and cherish human created visual art, music, story, and song.

One thing of beauty we can cherish is language. This little book is an attempt by me to explore the beauty of language. Language is an interesting phenomenon and can be quite beautiful. Before language was invented and developed, it would have been impossible to imagine it. And language was created by human beings, so we can say for sure that a thing of beauty and value has been created, and it was created by us. None of us created language all by ourselves, but collectively we have made it what it is today. We are all still contributing to it. Imagine ten thousand generations of mothers teaching their children to talk, teaching language itself to generations of children. It is difficult to imagine anything more noble.

And while we cannot point to anything that is certain, even by using language, logic and mathematics, we can by using language invent and describe an infinity of possible certainties. Which is astounding, if you think about it.

Now, having created language, a thing that couldn't have been talked about, envisioned or predicted prior to its creation, how can we be sure that people will not in the future create something that we presently cannot imagine, predict or even conceptualize, that will be of greater value, interest and beauty than language, perhaps of much greater value and beauty?

So, having created language, a thing of astonishment, wonder and beauty, what might we create next, and how beautiful and interesting might that be?

Could it be a new form of consciousness, as far ahead and beyond our current consciousness as language is beyond whatever form of inner mental world was in the heads of our human ancestors before they created language? We know our brains have a great deal of plasticity, they can be reconfigured by necessity and environmental circumstances, and even by taking thought and effort. For instance, when the brain is injured and portions of it are completely disabled, the functions previously performed by that part of the brain can be gradually assumed and performed by another, previously unrelated part of the brain. Or, a person who practices a particular skill intensely for a long time, such as playing the piano, can cause the portion of the brain involved to grow and enlarge itself. Taxi cab drivers in London have larger cerebrums than other people, on average, and larger cerebrums than they had before learning "the Knowledge" of how to navigate London's streets without the aid of GPS. How great , novel and beautiful might a new higher form of consciousness be? We cannot even imagine it, just as pre-language humans could not imagine language.

And to aid and abet an enhanced consciousness, might we invent a new and enhanced form of language, combining alphabetic script with color-coded, iconic, multimedia hieroglyphics, Chinese characters and emojis? Or, more likely, something beyond anything we can even imagine?

There is room for more creation.

玄 言 :-)