Thursday, December 30, 2010

Helicopter Therapy

The packing box proclaims 14+ the appropriate age for ownership and operation of this toy. Perhaps this is the age at which the principles of physics governing the Syma S-107 helicopter’s operation are first introduced to middle school or high school students. More likely, the manufacturer wants to avoid excessive crash damage from underage operators. Even seasoned citizens, I’ve discovered, must be diligent following the operating rules precisely.

Could a toy helicopter contribute in any way to our understanding of spiritual principles for operating our lives? The answer depends on how deeply we wish to think about its function. When we manipulate the two control sticks on the remote control box, we may move the helicopter up or down, point it right or left, and direct it forward or backward. Successfully directing the two-ounce, eight-inch long toy around the air space in the room gives us a powerful feeling of being in control. Obeying the invisible digital infrared signals from the hand-held remote unit, the helicopter submits to the will of the operator. And therein lies the potential for satisfying success or tragic disaster.

At the risk of becoming too pedantic, I’ll mention a few science principles inherent in the toy’s operation. Of course, these are the same principles governing every physical activity of our lives. Understanding them may or may not enable us to direct the tiny flying machine perfectly, but practice and experience certainly help. Rules of energy transformations and laws of motion--how acceleration relates to force and mass, how laws of inertia apply to matter’s behavior, how reaction is equal and opposite to action--these are just a few of the topics we may discuss in the science classroom, if not in our family play room.

Our physical universe is governed by dozens of God-ordained “universal constants,” mathematical quantities which are the foundation of the equations of physics governing the behavior of all physical systems such as our toy helicopter. These constants and the proven equations derived from them are not subject to change. Our personal physical activities are successful to the degree that we adhere to these “rules of the game.” Our activities fail when we do not adhere. Lack of adherence occurs through willful “disobedience,” careless adherence, or ignorance.

Doing what I want to do apart from the “rules of the game” for helicopter operation results in failure and frustration. My “helicopter therapy” sessions have taught me that when I follow the physical rules for its operation I am happily entertained, affirmed and satisfied. Behavioral rules and spiritual truth have also been ordained and revealed by God. Once again, man exercises his free will in obeying or not obeying them. The consequences of each alternative are described in Scripture as well as from our personal experience.