In the course of a recent exchange with a Young-Earth Creationist, I was accused of dodging what my interlocutor imagined to be “the hard questions,” all of which were pretty much on the level of Bill O’Reilly’s “OK, smart guy, how’d the moon get there?” His rapid-fire questions basically took the form, “If there’s no God, why do we see something instead of nothing?” They boiled down to the ontological difficulties concerning the origin of the universe and the origin of life, both of which (of course!) he imagined to be inadequately addressed by “evolution.” No surprises there, right?
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard those objections raised by some close-minded troglodyte who had no intention of paying any attention whatsoever to any answer that involved more syllables than “God did it,” I’d be a very wealthy man by now. As any honest person recognizes, there’s still a lot to learn about the origin of the universe and of life. There’s still a lot to learn about evolution, for that matter, which is why the relatively new science of EvoDevo is so exciting: it’s starting to furnish some answers to some longstanding puzzles. But it will inevitably raise other questions, a prospect that is troubling only to a person with no native curiosity and a deep-seated need for “the sure thing.”
I think maybe it’s time to turn the tables on people who raise what they imagine to be unanswerable questions (and who, in raising them, show no sign of actually being interested in answers, but raise them rhetorically, as a “gotcha” device). My motive in doing this is to try to get Christian fundamentalists to see just how ridiculous their “questions” are. Let me counter with a few nagging theological questions. Let’s see if I can get some straight answers from fundamentalist Christians, who seem to be so damn sure that their “holy book” has all the answers we need to all the questions that are worth asking. Turns out, the Blessed Old Leather-Bound Bible leaves quite a few things unexplained.
Let’s start with the matter of feces. Does God’s Word really tell us all we need to know about that?
To begin at the beginning (about 6,000 years ago, according to the received wisdom): did the poo of our first parents stink before the Fall? Or did it just start to smell objectionable after sin entered the world? And even if it didn’t stink before they included forbidden fruit in their diet, did they… you know… bury it or cover it up or anything, or did they just drop a payload any old place and leave it lying around for an unwary Yahweh to step in when he went for a stroll in the Garden during the cool evening hours, as Genesis 3:8 suggests? Did they watch each other “straining at stool” or were they squeamish about it? Did they point and giggle? (“Unashamed” suggests quite a range of behaviors, doesn’t it?)
And skipping ahead to the divinely-inspired Law of Moses: I read in Deuteronomy 23:12-14 ,“Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad: And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee: For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.” What were the wandering Children of Israel doing before God gave them this inspired directive concerning a matter of sanitation that they certainly couldn’t have figured out for themselves? Did they just pull up their skirts or shuck down their drawers any time they felt like it and leave a big ol’ steaming grogan lying right there in the middle of the road, or what? Before the invention of civilization’s greatest benison – toilet paper – how did the rootless Israelites wipe themselves in the middle of a desert? How did Jesus of Nazareth do it? – or did he, being GodInTheFlesh, simply not have to worry about such earthy matters?
If any fundamentalist Christians happen to read this, I hope I can finally get some straight answers to these questions that have kept me awake at night for as long as I can remember. Most of the Christians I ask about it tell me I’m over-thinking everything and will probably burn in hell for it.
I’d appreciate serious replies only, please.
Is the foregoing a strategy, or what?