Mary Arline (queen_of_kithia) wrote,
Mary Arline

Confessions, part 1

First, I must confess that I have converted to the worship of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I have been touched by his Noodly Appendage.

No, I'm kidding, of course, but I do find Bobby Henderson to be an excellent satirist in the great tradition of American satirists (and America has produced some superlative satirists, probably because we as a society consistently provide a wealth of material). Not only that, but he provided me with new, graphic, and humorous materials that I can use to teach logical fallacies this semester and in the future.

But this brings me to my second confession, which I make in all seriousness: I actually believe in a theory of intelligent design. Not THE theory of intelligent design that they wish to teach in the Kansas school system. My theory is slightly different in that I recognize evolution as a component of the design.

The God I believe in is a God who makes liberal use of processes that bring order to creation: photosynthesis, respiration, mitosis, meiosis, menstruation, reproduction, metamorphosis, the water cycle, the nitrogen cycle, etc. I'm sure the first guy who figured out that butterflies started out as weird little worms or that frogs started out and weird little fishy things was considered to be crazy, dangerous, wrong, and heretical as well, yet I don't understand how people who can accept that caterpillars turn into butterflies and carbon dioxide is transformed into oxygen can find the process of evolution so outlandish. Our God is a God of processes. How is evolution any different? It's slightly less observable than most of these processes, but really only slightly. We can observe the evolution of bacteria and viruses. Conversely, has anyone ever been able to observe molten lava's transformation into sedimentary rock?

The use of the phrase "intelligent design" to exclude the possibility of evolution both perplexes and amuses me, because it implies that evolution is somehow unintelligent. Since it's a given to me that God conceived of and makes (notice the present tense) use of evolution, that makes it sound like God is unintelligent. Of course, the crazy man considers himself the one sane person in the world, and the dullard cannot accept that a theory that he doesn't understand might be beyond his mental capacities; it is obviously the theory that is flawed, or the teacher who teaches it, or the visionary that conceived it. But evolution fits perfectly with my theory of intelligent design; while I get the gist of it, some of its nuances are beyond my intellectual capacity which, at the risk of sounding boastful, is not inconsiderable. Since the process is at least somewhat beyond most if not all of us (obviously there are still questions that have not been fully answered), the design is intelligent, and the designer (God) more so. The implication that God's not smart enough to figure out how to make things evolve would offend me if it didn't tickle me so.

If I sound unduly harsh in my criticisms of those who adhere to a literal interpretation of the Bible and a pseudoscientific theory that supports it, it's because I have very little patience with these people, just as I would have with people who insisted that children should be taught in schools that the earth is flat, or that water is not wet. They waste everybody's time arguing about something that really doesn't matter. I was able to reconcile the illusory disparaties between myth and fact when I was seven years old, and have given the matter very little thought since, and I don't appreciate people continuing to waste my time arguing about it.

I still remember that day, because it was the day I took my first step into a larger world, the day I began to think beyond the literal, the day I started out on the path to the study of literary analysis. I can't remember what brought it up, but I remember saying to my mother something to the effect of, "You know, science and religion seem to contradict each other." I didn't iterate this, but I think I was feeling confused and frustrated about what to believe.

"What do you mean?" she asked. I told her that I knew that, while the Bible said the world had been created in seven days, the scientific theory was that it took million of years. I remember her explaining to me, "You know, people back then didn't have a concept of millions of years; they couldn't understand it. They understood day and night, so they told their stories in terms of day and night, but a 'day' in the story could actually last millions of years."

"Oh," I said. "Okay, that makes sense." I was so relieved; I didn't have to choose which to believe, they were both right. I don't think I was thinking of evolution at that point because I don't think I had heard of it yet, but once I learned about it it fit in so perfectly with what my mom taught me that day, when I was no older than seven, that I was able to apply it seamlessly to my own beliefs.

Granted, I was blessed to have a mother who is intelligent, wise, and reasonable, and I suppose anyone so blessed would have less problem reconciling the seeming contradictions than someone who was taught a literal interpretation of the Bible from infancy (and probably before), but still, I just have to think, "Come on, people, I figured this out when I was seven years old; get with the program already."
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