Thursday, March 26, 2009

"It Was Just Born There!"

You remember those Twinkie commercials? (At least I think they were Twinkies.) They went around to the little kids on a playground and asked them all how the cream got inside a Twinkie, and one of them throws up his hands and said "It was just born there!" and everyone goes "Awwwww." Only problem is, grown-ups say this too. When grown-ups say it, whether they're talking about geology, biology or astronomy, it's not so cute. Especially not when they threaten you with violence for not agreeing that "it was just born there".

Every theological argument for how the world works translates to "it was just born there", also popularly translated by our community as "godidit". While these heroic efforts to fight off comprehension are frustrating, it does immediately slant the game in favor of rationalists, even rhetorically. Chiefly among our advantages: pretend-science arguments that are really religious discovery-obstruction in disguise (like intelligent design) never have any facts or findings of their own to show, and oddly, when they get their own documentary, instead of sharing the fantastic discoveries of their discipline with the world, they take ninety minutes to rant about the conspiracy against them (UFO nuts are oddly similar). Related to this is the dearth of inventions. Why, if their "theory" (be it based on the Bible or L. Ron Hubbard) is so great, are they outnumbered by a healthy margin (score: all to zero) in patents and applied knowledge that lead to cures and profits?

As someone once pointed out to me, if Christianity, or Islam or any of the rest of them, are in any meaningful sense true, eventually we'll discover that - it'll just take us a little longer. So why the fuss? Why are these people not only insisting that "it was just born there", but trying to keep the rest of us from finding out and teaching what we've found to show that it wasn't just born there. Whether it's why the stars move the way they do, how the brain works, where animals came from or how the Earth formed, they'd rather stop the questioning before it gets too serious. But I really like Twinkies, and I really want to know how the cream gets in there for real. And then I'll like them even more.


Dan said...

What? You don't believe in a priori cream? Infidel!

While Twinkies are nice, I'd rather suck the vital essence from a gelfling.

Michael Caton said...

I only believe in a priori cream with Hohos. Twinkie Apriorians are heretics and must die.

Dan said...

The Hoho creaming process (flat cake, creamed on one side and then rolled) is simple and elegant. Assuming a priori cream in such a case fails Occam's Razor.

Stay up late watching Discovery on a weekend and eventually, you'll see a machine inject a Twinkie. It's a rough and impersonal process, clearly not designed by a loving god.