Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we proudly trace our DNA back to some itty bitty speck in the primoridal sea! If you believe the Earth is 6,000 years old, please explain to me why I can't grow diamonds in my backyard. I've got a pile of coal just sitting there doing nothing!
Mr. Johnson likes to go to book sales. He's always on the lookout for books that I'll find interesting. He hit the jackpot early last spring with a title called Trials of the Monkey: An Accidental Memoir, by Matthew Chapman.
Matthew Chapman is the great-great grandson of Charles Darwin. I can't speak for you, but I'd sure like to have that kind of DNA swirling around in my cells. Packed to the plimsol line with pure genius.
Like many a fine writer before him, Mr. Chapman did not attend college. He wasn't great shakes in high school, either. He even bypassed that fine bastion of Higher Letters, the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Damn good thing.
In Trials of the Monkey, Chapman (a dapper filmmaker from New York City) travels to Dayton, Tennessee to revisit the site of the Scopes Monkey Trial 80 years later. If you know anything about Scopes, you'll know that Chapman's good ol' ancestor got roughed up there, albeit posthumously. Chapman uses the trip to muse on his great-great-grandaddy's legacy and also on his own life, which has been interesting in and of itself.
Yes, it was a smart idea for a book, and smartly executed too. We at "The Gods Are Bored" place it on our "recommended reading" list.
This spring Chapman has released ... ready for this title? ... 40 Days and 40 Nights: DARWIN, Intelligent Design, GOD, OxyContin, AND OTHER Oddities ON TRIAL IN Pennsylvania. I know my capitalization stinks as a rule, but I didn't add all those caps. They're in the title.
In late 2005 a school board in Dover, PA (stuffed to the gills with fundamentalists) decreed that students would have to hear a statement about intelligent design before learning about evolution in biology class. The statement -- too long to be printed here -- suggests that evolution is a theory, not a fact, and that students interested in another theory, intelligent design, could consult an alternate available textbook, Of Pandas and People.
Needless to say, a cluster of parents jumped all over this, with the help of the ACLU and a couple of pro bono lawyers from Philly. The school board didn't back down. Thus, a trial that lasted 40 days.
The defense, led by the Thomas More Law Center in Michigan, dragged out some scholars who believe that certain forms of life (most notably some itty bitty bacterium with a fancy tail) could not possibly have had ancestors with less complicated machinery, because the whole thing had to be created at once.
That's one bacterium tail stacked up against an Everest of evidence supporting Darwin's un-fact.
Chapman used the good ol' family connections to secure a front-row seat for the trial and to interview personally many of the participants on both sides of the aisle. In the end he came to a conclusion about intelligent design that we here at "The Gods Are Bored" heartily endorse.
But here's the scary part. The attempt to insert God into public school has taken a sinister turn, y'all. Witness:
1925: Tennessee's Butler Act outlaws teaching any theory that contradicts the Bible. Specifically the Bible.
1978: Inspired fundies start a "creation science" movement consisting not of any provable, peer-reviewed science but rather a misrepresentation of the theory of natural selection and a general dissing of Darwin. Still it was hard to get around the "creation" part. Court cases arise, creationism crashes and burns.
1995 (approx. date) Inspired fundies re-name "creation science." Now it's "intelligent design." Stuff has been created, all right, but the creator is only "intelligent." Could be God, could be Bumba, could be some alien from the Crab Nebula. (We at "The Gods Are Bored" know it is Bumba.)
(Cue horror music) ID took a bashing at the Dover trial, where even a George W. Bush appointee to the federal bench couldn't find any scientific credibility in it. So the nasty little belief has morphed again.
First of all, if you have a copy of Of Pandas and People (you moron), hang onto it. The newest edition of this hardcover tract is called Design of Life. And "intelligent design" has been replaced by a newer, snappier word for your better class of moron: "sudden emergence."
A certain portion of our American population will not rest until American students are told in public school classrooms that stuff has suddenly emerged on this planet. Which is true, but if they're not giving credit to Bumba, they're not really being scientific.
Seriously, my friends, take notice of this. Hard-core, un-Christian Christianity has learned how to spin. Never mind that we'll raise generations of mini-morons. Science is bad anyway.
Do you think this "sudden emergence" stuff will sell in China? Me neither.
Back to Matthew Chapman. I wanted to send him an email telling him how much I enjoyed 40 Days. He's elusive. I guess I would be too, in his place. So, maybe he'll see this and feel good about a great book that offers a wake-up call to people who think this Creator Yahweh science is gonna just evaporate. (Evaporation is a theory, and a theory is not a fact. Remember that.)
One last "Gods Are Bored" extra on 40 Days. When we were researching our own book on the Scopes Monkey Trial, we learned that Charles Darwin had a host of illnesses that historians think might have been psychosomatic. It turns out that Matthew Chapman, by his own admission, is phobic about germs.
There's the old ancestor peeking through again.
Moral of this long sermon: Bumba created the universe, and He is very intelligent.
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS
My book's now available on Amazon for cheaper prices. It's called Defining Moments: The Scopes Monkey Trial.