Adam Ash

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

JESUS NATION SEX REBEL, mini-chapter 21


Adam whistled. The morning was fresh, engendering a brisk jauntiness into his walk. The burning at the stake still flamed in his mind, as it did in the whole country’s. But today was new. The sun burned far away. Its light washed over the image of the burning, and smoothed its edgy contours into a faded blur.

Adam noticed that a new billboard campaign had gone up. There were eyes everywhere, big, small, singular, many, by different artists, different photographers. The eyes all illustrated the new slogan: “The eye of God is upon you.” Adam imagined the idea was to show that God looked through all eyes, because He had created them all. Every eye was the eye of God. Adam felt he was being stared down, stripped in some way, a tree fleeced of its bark.

Inside the College there were no eyes. But he was sure they would soon follow here, too. No doubt there would be posters to hang on the wall at home, and a campaign to buy them to support the troops overseas.

Adam started his day. He enjoyed lecturing. It brought out the showman in him. He liked playing with the minds of his students. Using strange facts to disturb and awe them. He had, for example, a fondness for those mammals called bonobos. A species of ape that shared most of our human DNA. He brought the bonobos up now, after running through a basic primer on the Intelligent Design perspective of Creationism, which was based on the scientific truth that biological life contains elements too complex – the mammalian blood-clotting mechanism, the bacterial flagellum – to be explained by natural selection alone.

He always had a good time pontificating on the history of his field.

In the bad old days, the enemies of Creationism had managed to strike down equal time for evolution and Creationism, when the Supreme Court decreed in 1987 that Creation Science relied on Biblical texts, and therefore “lacked a clear secular purpose,” thus violating the First Amendment clause prohibiting the establishment of religion. Then Creationists had come up with Intelligent Design Theory, which they pushed without mention of the Bible or saying that the Intelligent Designer was God, thus circumventing the Supreme Court’s decision.

Whenever Adam was in his office, he gazed often and fondly at the major works of the field on his shelf, arranged at eye-level across from where he sat behind his desk.

“Natural Theology” by William Paley, 1802. The great insight: imagine finding a stone and a watch in a field. Unlike the stone, the watch will appear to have been purposely assembled. It couldn’t function without that particular combination of parts. “The inference,” Paley wrote, “is inevitable, that the watch must have a maker.” The same logic, he concluded, applied to biological structures like the vertebrate eye. Its complexity implied design. It had a maker.

Darwin thought he had answered Paley’s “argument to complexity” by arguing that natural selection could create the appearance of intelligent design. And so the great Paley was lost to intellectual history.

But then, almost two centuries later, came two scientists who revived Paley’s ideas in a field unknown to Darwin -- molecular biology.

“Darwin’s Black Box” by Michael Behe, 1996. He wrote that natural selection could not explain the “irreducible complexity” of molecular mechanisms like the bacterial flagellum, because its integrated parts offered no selective advantages on their own.

“The Design Inference,” by William Dembski, 1998. He said that any biological system exhibiting “information” that is both “complex” (highly improbable) and “specified” (serving a particular function) could not be a product of chance or natural law. The only remaining option was an Intelligent Designer – either God or an alien life force.

Philip Johnson’s “Darwin on Trial.” The anti-evolution book that shrewdly dispensed with Biblical accounts and united anti-evolutionists under the single, secular-sounding banner of Intelligent Design.

Then, in the twenty-first century, came his own groundbreaking works.

“Myths of Evolution” by Adam White. His magnum opus. The battle-ram with which he stormed the castle of the higher academic institutions.

Of course, then the Reformed Constitution was written – the original Constitution having scandalously omitted mentioning the name of God anywhere. Now, with God re-installed as the prime giver of rights to humans, and the separation of church and state banished as treason and blasphemy in the new Republic of Christ, the last defense against Creationism fell away. A new type of natural selection, Adam quipped to himself.

Adam raced through his lecture, and after a final bon mot – “and so Evolution was replaced by our Revolution” -- he came to his favorite mammal, the bonobo. A fascinating species. Closely related to humans, but very differently organized. Their social glue was sex. For humans, sex was a dangerous thing that had to be controlled under the Dating Protocols of the Bureau of Behavior Design and Management. For bonobos, sex was the opposite: the loose tie that binds. Bonobos had sex all the time. They used it to become friends, to settle arguments, to make up, to pass the time. Everyone got along because everyone had sex with each other (in a variety of positions, too). Bonobos were sexually equal. If a male bonobo mistreated a female bonobo, her female friends banded together and beat him up to teach him a lesson.

“You might say female bonobos know how to defend their civil liberties,” Adam concluded. A few female students snickered. “Do you think it’s a good thing to defend your civil liberties?” asked Paul, the student who challenged him the most.

“Why don’t you ask a female bonobo?” Adam replied. “She might tell you that it’s tantamount to a good thing for a female bonobo to defend her civil liberties.”

This time, more students laughed. Adam saw Paul turn red. Good. He liked humiliating the irritating little upstart.

After his lecture, he went to his office.

“There’s a message for you,” Adam’s secretary said.

“Who from?” He looked at prim Mrs. Veldt.

“Mr. Joshua Grant. Sunday Fox Media. He’s the CEO. He said to call anytime.”

He noticed that prim, pale Mrs. Veldt had an uncharacteristically red face. He looked harder. Her eyes were bloodshot.

“What’s the matter, Mrs. Veldt?” he asked, and then regretted asking.

“My sister died,” she said, and burst into tears.

“I’m so sorry.”

“Melanoma. They couldn’t do anything for her. They didn’t even try.”

Health Management was not the strong suit of the Men of the Gospel, unless it came to their own health.

“I’m sorry,” he said again. “Why don’t you take the day off?”

“I wouldn’t think of it,” she replied.

He turned away, slightly irritated at his offering of sympathy. Her tears irked him. He didn’t know anyone whose loss would make him cry. Not after the death of the love of his life.

“Get me Mr. Grant.”

The conversation with Joshua Grant was brief and to the point. Mr. Grant said he had read Adam’s books a few years ago, and wanted to know if Adam would like to host a TV program about Creationism. Wasn’t there some controversy these days? Yes, Adam said, the Young Age Creationists were making a lot of noise again. Well then, if there is movement in the field, this should be something our viewers should know about. It’s not really a movement, said Adam; it’s more like a wish to go backwards. A matter of interpretation, said Mr. Grant, but I think the country could do with an open discussion of any controversies in Creationism. Who better to host this than the man who had led the fight for Reformation in the academy?

Adam could not disagree.

They made an appointment. Next week Tuesday. Lunch. At a restaurant where a single drink would break Adam’s budget for the week.

This will be very good for the career, Adam thought. Bible good. Massive upside potential. It was rare for an academic to get a chance to impact the culture via a medium as mass as television.

Power. He felt years younger.

He wanted a woman. Darn, he didn’t have one. It was time to start hunting again. He went to his computer and clicked on Not a Sanctioned Action -- one was not supposed to go on dating sites while at work. But what the hell, he was going to be a powerful man. He was going to rise above petty rules.


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