This is part 3 of my series "Cultivating a Heart Open to Life."
As the flight begins, all is well. Our would-be airman has been pushed off the edge of the cliff and is pedaling away and the wings of his craft are flapping like crazy. He’s feeling wonderful, ecstatic…What he doesn’t realize, however, is that this craft is aerodynamically incapable of flight. It simply isn’t in compliance with the laws that make flight possible—but he would laugh if you told him this. He’s never heard of such laws, knows nothing about them. He would point at those flapping wings and say, “See, just like a bird!” Nevertheless, whatever he thinks he is not in flight… he’s in free fall.
Fortunately—or rather, unfortunately for our airman—he chose a very high cliff to launch his craft from. His disillusionment is a long way off in time and space…. From his great height he can see for miles around, and one thing puzzles him: The floor of the valley is dotted with craft just like his—not crashed, simply abandoned... “Why”, he wonders, “aren’t these craft in the air instead of sitting on the ground? What sort of fools would abandoned their aircraft when they could be enjoying the freedom of the air?”
… But then he looks down again, and what he sees really disturbs him. The law of gravity is catching up to him at the rate of thirty-two feet per second—at an accelerating rate… He is disturbed but far from desperate. “I just have to keep going.” And so he starts pedaling with all his might. Which of course does him no good at all, because his craft simply isn’t in accord with the laws of aerodynamics. Even if he had the power of a thousand men in his legs- ten thousand, a million—that craft is never going to achieve flight. The craft is doomed—and so is he unless he abandons it. (Ishmael, pg. 106-107).Quinn gives this analogy of the doomed airman to illustrate the point that there are natural consequences for not following divine and moral laws, just like there are natural consequences for not following the laws of aerodynamics. His point is that all civilizations (including animal civilizations) must obey divinely prescribed laws if they are to survive and thrive. If they ignore or disobey these laws then they are doomed to destruction, unless they abandon their course and change their behaviors.