Saturday, August 13, 2005

God did what? I didn't read that part...

Let’s talk Miracles and science. A matter of perspective, especially within the lower level of miracles. I make dumplings from time to time, which are just flour, egg, salt, little baking powder, assorted spices. For chicken stew I tend to toss in chives, tarragon or sage.


Allegedly, all WASPs eat sage. A friend of mine (Portuguese) went to a dinner with his then-girlfriend (Scottish) and came back astounded. “Stinking of sage, Michael, your people are stinking of sage” This was the same man who from time to time would pick up a loaf of Wonderbread and say “Look Mike, the food of your people…”

Anyhow- low level exhibition of the deity. The dumplings always look horrible and sticky. You take a spoonful of the foul stuff and drop it onto the steaming stew, whereupon it sort of melts and you’re sure the stew is ruined. Then you put the top on the pot, let it steam for 10 minutes or so and…voila…perfectly shaped dumplings. Soft, but not too soft. Chewy, but not too chewy. Done correctly, they taste sort of like a whole wheat sponge infused with chicken (and sage or tarragon) that has been wrung out just enough to be palatable and maybe even delicious.'s a low level miracle, but it always seems to work. Or maybe its just the naturally leening qualities of eggs plus the flour and baking powder responding to heat. It’s hard NOT to make good dumplings in such a situation. That explanation lacks the poetry of the miracle of the dumplings, but who writes poems about dumplings? Chalk it up to science.


One other low level miracle (or at least proof that the good Lord works in strange and mysterious ways) is the art of mimicry. I was at a party around 10 years ago and watched a nationally known Canadian journalist transform herself seamlessly into Dennis the Menace (complete with his dog Ruff) with only a sideways baseball cap and a bright eyed enthusiasm that one is born with, rather than aspires to (we were playing a party game, but alcohol was also a factor). And I was briefly in a band with a 6’1 longhaired Finnish-Canadian drummer with heavy metal leanings who, for some unfathomable reason, did the best Jack Benny impersonation I’ve ever seen.

First assumption: God not only has a sense of humour, it’s a weird one.


This brings up the topic of 'Intelligent Design',, which can either be seen as a compromise in the Creation / Evolution argument, or a gutless cop-out by either side in that particular argument. You can sum it up simply in several dozen ways. My personal favorite boils down to “Well, yes, evolution works. But God invented it.”

I used the much-grumbled upon Wikipedia,(sort of an open source encyclopedia which is either wonderful and represents a free exchange of information, or is specious and grossly inaccurate and the repository of crackpots) to link the term, because its at least flexible enough to let everyone kick at that particular can, and even tosses this definition of Intelligent Design (ID) into the pot:

The majority of ID advocates state that their focus is on detecting evidence of design in nature, without regard to who or what the designer might be. However, ID advocate William Dembski in his book "The Design Inference"[1] lists God or an alien life force as two possible options.

So. The X-Files fans and the Come to Jesus types might have just found themselves on the same lifeboat (probably eyeing each other as potential shark buffet). If you’re religious, this could fit in well with the previously mentioned First Assumption.


I have less of a problem with school boards that prohibit teaching evolution entirely than boards who have decided to embrace the whole Intelligent Design idea. If you are a diehard creationist, at least you’ve tied yourself to a set of rules, even if they’re a bit dodgy. Last I checked, creationist professed the belief that the world was 6000 years old or so, and a few even suggest that Noah’s Ark was full of dinosaurs at one time. Probably the smaller ones. Or it was a really REALLY big ark.

I don’t agree with the creationists but I’m not trying to knock them entirely. At least they’ve made that particular leap of faith in the direction of faith (where, admittedly, its easy to find a soft landing). The Intelligent Design movement worries me because it feels like a halfway maneuver, something along the lines of “Fine, the whole ‘evolution’ math works out on the blackboard. We agree. Therefore, God made the blackboard. No? But we agreed on the math...”, and so on. Sort of like shaking Darwin’s hand while giving a thumbs-up to God behind his back.


The movement feels like an escape clause rather than the compromise that its supporters suggest. It makes it much easier to say something along the lines of “Why don’t we just knock the whole evolution theory out of the equation, it takes ages to explain, and since we’ve agreed that God started the whole thing, why not just say its all God?” Why do we have to teach religion in Science class?


For that matter, why do we have to teach it at the movies? A thought for another evening...


STAG said...

This was an open letter to the Kansas City school board.

The board had said that if their electorate wants them to teach Intelligent Design, then by gum they'll do it. This usually can be translated to "if enough people want us to do it, then we must do it!" The fellow in the link above is soliciting names on a petition to demand that the Kansas City school board teach that a Giant Spagetti Monster created the world.
And also that there is a correlation between fewer pirates and global warming.
Its a fun web site.

I have been Saved! I have been touched by His Noodly Appendage!

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