If the first talking snake had kept shtum, we wouldn't be here. Eve wouldn't have eaten the forbidden fruit. But she listened and was curious. So she fell into humanity, thank God. Good old snake, say I. I celebrate its independence of mind. Satan? Neh, that's a later interpretation. The snake was part of the divine purpose. God allowed it into the garden, aware of its linguistic abilities. He knew what would happen. Jesus commended dove-like innocence. AND the wisdom ... of the snake.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Someone's having a laugh - I think ...
I first came across the theory of Intelligent Falling on a bulletin board, shorn of any attribution. For anyone who hasn't read the article that started the mischief, it's here.

I assume you weren't fooled, once you saw the context. The Onion wasn't even trying to pass it off as anything other than satire. But others have been suckered. One guy fulminated "look at the crazy stuff these fundamentalists are coming out with now! They believe it! You couldn't make it up!" Sorry, but someone did; and the clues aren't too subtle. The spokesman for the theory is identified as one "Gabriel Burdett, with degrees in education, applied Scripture and physics from the Oral Roberts University?" Or what about "there are many phenomena that cannot be explained by secular gravity alone, including such mysteries as how angels fly, how Jesus ascended into heaven, and how Satan fell when cast out of Paradise"?

The Onion was itself pinching, sorry developing, an idea that had appeared in a cartoon strip earlier in the year - see above. Meanwhile, the "intelligent falling" idea became an internet in-joke, with some re-workings so ingenious and poker-faced you almost wonder if it's being taken seriously. It merits an entry in Wikipedia. One Joshua Rosenau almost persuaded me he didn't have tongue in cheek when he wrote "I believe that angels push the planets around, and control the falling of objects toward one another. If this is true, there's no reason to teach our children the unBiblical falsehood that the earth moves around the sun. If the Pusher wanted the sun to move, there's no reason that it couldn't. " It was only his profile that reassured me: "progressive politics, neat biology, and whackings of whackos". Phew, so he's sane after all; but do check out the link above. The site is too big, too laboured, too badly designed, to be merely ironic. It's in absolute earnest, and quite barking: the pitch is that Copernicus got it wrong. The universe really does revolve round us. Time for the medication, fellers.

I'm heartened that so many appreciated "Intelligent Falling" as a clever piss-take. It's hard to imagine a similar attempt from the creationist side making a fraction of the impact; but that's saying something about the social uses of humour, which is typically targeted by the dominant culture against minorities - the supposedly stupid Irish, effeminate homosexuals, tight-fisted, whisky-slugging Scots. It's how in-crowds draw boundaries between themselves and threateningly different outsiders. But it's worrying that the target is thought big and possibly dangerous enough to be worth attacking. If satirists are treating creationism as fair game that means two things; first that their audience will know enough about it to get the joke - and second that it's a force to be reckoned with. That needs to change.


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