Thursday, May 05, 2005


Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where today we salute the righteous Princeton students staging a week-long on-campus "filibuster" IN FRONT OF THE FRIST BUILDING! Go for it! Feel free to read this blog in its entirety, as I've coined a term for Frist: Chippie, i.e., Christian/hippie.

We coin a lot of terms on this blog. We like playing with the English language. We either take a misunderstood word, like "liberal," and restore its true meaning, or we take an ugly word, like "masturbation," and turn it into something appealing, like "turtle dove love." We do all of this in honor of the fairies, who enjoy puns, songs, and riddles.

Today's topic: Science.

Method of exploring topic: Anecdotal.

My beloved grandfather, may he cavort forever in Sidhe, grew up in the Appalachian mountains on a farm. Grandpa wasn't the oldest son, and the farm was mostly rock anyway, not a good bottom-land farm, so he did something no other person in his family had ever done. He went to college.

Actually he went to a thing called "Normal School," where he spent two years learning to be a school teacher. (If he went to "Normal School," what's Princeton? "Crazy School"? Bet ol' Fristy is thinking so this morning.)

Grandpa valued the books he had to buy for school, as well as the books he saved up and bought himself on clock and watch repair. Throughout his life he kept all those old books on a shelf in his house.

Grandpa finished two very enjoyable years at "Normal School" and went to work as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in the mountains. He boarded with the families of his students and earned $18 per month. And he hated it. The families never wanted an extra mouth to feed, the students sized him up as a softy and paid no attention to him. He was miserable.

Lo and behold, Grandpa had learned something important at "Normal School." In an entomology class he took as an elective, he learned to use a microscope. This was doubly welcome to him, because he really enjoyed looking at tick mouth parts, and the same microscope could help him fix watches.

To make a long story short: One day one of Grandpa's younger brothers called him and said the industrialized factory in the big city was looking for someone who knew how to use a microscope. Grandpa applied for the job, got it, and was suddenly earning the princely wage of $24.00 per week. He and Grandma hated leaving the mountains behind, but what Appalachian doesn't? Besides, they still owned a piece of land, upon which they spent every vacation of their lives and every minute of their retirement years.

During those retirement years I spent a great deal of time with Grandpa. He was a swell guy, and we loved each other. I have a picture of him on my desk even as I write this.

One day I sat down and looked at Grandpa's old books. I couldn't get much out of "Entomology for the Agricultural Student" or "Basic Principles of Clock and Watch Repair." But Grandpa had another book there, a Social Studies book that he must either have used to teach from, or used as a student in his childhood. It was clearly a school textbook, not college level. As I recall, it was published around 1910.

Early on in the text, you come to a full-page illustration entitled "The Races of Man." The illustration is of a big tree with branches that jut out on each side.

On the branches closest to the ground were Asian Islanders, like those from Borneo, Indonesia, etc. Also close to the ground were Sub-Saharan Africans. As you moved up to the next set of branches, you got Arabs, Eskimos, Indians (from India), Indians (from America). Next set of branches, Eastern Europeans, Poles, Russians, Chinese, Japanese.

And at the very crown of the tree: blonde haired, blue-eyed Aryans. Yes, gentle reader, the textbook said "ARYANS." And this book was NOT written in German, or published by a German company. It was an American textbook, probably distributed to hundreds of thousands of school kids, who had to memorize the Races of Man and their place on the ladder for a test.

In the 95 years since that book was published, a wealth of biological, anthropological, genetic, and (unfortunately) historical information has served to put this Master Race theory in the learning landfill. It would be unthinkable, even in Scopes, Tennessee, for a Social Studies teacher to stand up and draw that tree on a blackboard and teach his students about the Races of Man and the Superiority of the Aryans.

It's safe to say we've learned something since 1910. Took the lives of six million Jews to make the point, but we've learned something.

In that same 95 years, paleontologists have unearthed innumerable fossils that advance our knowledge not only of prehistoric creatures like dinosaurs and trilobites, but also horses, pigs, birds, mollusks, and rodents. And apes. Let's not forget apes. The evidence in favor of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural suggestion is overwhelming and consistent. Either that, or a deity was intelligent enough to create a world with all appearances of a million-million-plus years prehistory, but not quite bright enough to make a human being who wouldn't covet his neighbor's wife.

Creation science belongs in the same learning landfill with The Races of Man. And watch out, Chippie teachers, when you start spouting Creation Science. Your students might believe you about that as much as they believe such seminal, important, and boldly truthful films as "Reefer Madness."

I say, if you want to find a science teacher who will demonstrate with empirical evidence that the earth was created in one week, about 6,000 years ago by some tall, blonde, blue-eyed male deity, you go right to the nearest Christian school. But don't foist this stuff on the general round of public school students. They're gonna have to figure out cures for Bird Flu and cancer. They're gonna have to design spaceships and mechanical livers. They need all the real science they can get.