The God-squads are out in force.

From: Marty Leipzig
Subject: Well, it's Saturday. So the God-squads are out in force.

Well, it's Saturday morning and I just got rid of a brace and a half of perhaps the most befuddled fundies to come along since the universe shrugged it's collective shoulders and barfed up R. Thorneycrofter.

My wife and daughter #1 were out to her dance class. That left me in charge of daughter #2 and the household beastiary. I was in the middle of nuking yet another smoldering fundy on the 'Smoke when there comes a plaintive knock on the door. I restrained Lady McBeast (our 120 kilo Mastiff) and opened the door to one bedraggled fundy father and 2 obviously bored sons; all dressed in basic black (it is currently 78 degrees here in Houston today) and clutching heavily thumped, and as we were soon to find out, seldom read Bibles.

As daughter #2 was in the land of Nod, taking a snooze, I asked them what they wanted. "We wish to discuss with you the Bible and how it relates to society today."

To which I responded: "Why?"

<Look of utter shock> "Why? Well, because it's the most important book in the world."

"Why?"

<Look of sheer terror> "Why? Well, because it tells us of God's plan for us."

"His plan? What ever happened to free will?"

"Well...."

Being bored silly and sensing that I've got a real live one here, when he got to the inevitable "Can we come in and explain it all to you?" I said, as a good atheist should, "Sure, why not?" And in they came, crossing the threshold into something like what I'm sure Alice felt on her little trip down the rabbit hole...

But I must first explain a few things. The decor of our house is best typified by the expression "Early Neo-Modern Museum". Besides my personal library (over 10,000 volumes and growing), it is replete with rocks, fossils, cores, drill bits, and other bits and pieces gathered from my world travels. Also, being a lover of cigars, explosives, guns, knives, good liquor and other esoterica; the fundie's kids were immediately engulfed in a feeling that they've just wandered into a curiosity shop filled with things wonderful, things bizarre and things forbidden. They literally goggled.

I, playing the part of the host to the N'th degree, bade them welcome to my study/lab/office. I offered them seats in front of my drafting table (which was supporting my latest draft of the structure of the Lower Wilcox in South Texas), next to the Savard speakers (8' towers {with bass couplers}, in front of my bookcases and right next to my computer, currently tuned to HolySmoke.

I sat down at the computer desk, shoved aside the copy of "Origin of Species" and "The Satiricon"; opened the bottom drawer, pulled out a bottle of Wild Turkey 101 and asked my guest (The eldest, of course. I offered the kiddies a couple of cans of Jolt, instead.) if he prefers his straight up or on the rocks. The look was priceless. "I don't...."

I cut him off immediately: "Don't tell me your one of THOSE!" I thundered.

"What?" he intoned meekly.

"Don't tell me your one of those SCOTCH drinkers!?! And after I let you into my own house!"

"No. I...umm...er..uhh...I don't drink."

"Damn. I'll bet you get thirsty after a day of pounding the pavement in July around here."

"No. I mean I don't drink alcohol."

"Can't handle it, huh? Oh, well. It's good that a man can recognize his limitations. Sorry you won't join me; I mean, I only drink in groups of one or more."

Before he could reply, I noticed his eldest son (13 or so, I would wager) had gotten up and was looking (actually, gape- jawed gazing) at some of my collections.

His father cracked the big book and started in on an obviously canned speech prepared by his masters for him to deliver to the heathens. I continued to listen (asidedly) and watched his eldest wonder over some of the artifacts I've about. His dad was droning on and on (I was waiting for a key phrase to soon pop up) whilst I surreptitiously keyed up Cshow and loaded God$love.gif.

"God loves everyone. He will keep and defend you..."

Perfect.

"Here. Take a look at this and repeat what you just said."

Click.

"That's awful! That's hideous! That's..."

"...that's your God's love for all..."

Sensing that he had suddenly gone from the frying pan into the fire, he began to furiously paw around his Bible for salvation. I noticed that both his sons were wandering around the room ooh!'ing and ahh!'ing the things found there. I walked over and picked up a _T. rex_ tooth and asked them if they knew what that was...

"I don't know. Kinda looks like a tooth."

"That's right. It is a tooth. A tooth from a creature dead over 70 million years."

Daddy pipes up: "No it isn't. It can't be. The world isn't that old...."

"Your Daddy's right. The Earth isn't THAT old. It's 4.63 BILLION years old. Much, much older than 70 million or the 6,000 your big book says."

"How do you know? Were you there?"

<"God has delivered him into my hands." to paraphrase Huxley.>

After a brief excursion into physical evidence, Pluto and the Earth's core; I left Daddy to continuously paw his Bible for the proper rejoinder. "Tell me...why does your inerrant Bible say that bats are birds (Lev. 11:19) or that pi equals 3.0 (1st Kings 7:23)?"

That really got him. He grasped that Bible like it was a life saver cast to him in a sea of skepticism.

I went over to his kids, still gasping at the collections. "Tell me. Why aren't you out playing baseball or fishing or chasing girls on a perfectly wonderful day like this?"

"Daddy won't let us. He says those things are worldly and evil. We have to spread the word...."

"Why?"

"Well...because."

"Are you doing God's work?"

"Yeah. That's it. Were doing the duty of the Lord."

(I let that one pass unadulterated.) "If God is all powerful; why does he need us to do work for him?"

I continued: "I guess your Dad would say that's a mystery of faith, right?" Nods and bewildered looks. "Let me show you something really mysterious...", I pick up a replica skull of _Smilodon californicus_ (the saber cat). "Look at this. 15 cm. canines. Look at those fossae. A great predator. Obviously very efficient and cunning. Yet he is no more. Gone. extinct. Mysterious."

I handed him the skull...I grabbed a piece of the Gun Flint Chert. "See this? This rock has fossil algae in it that's over 1.76 billion years old (Dad is still looking through his Bible). Pretty neat, 'eh?"

"Mister...what's this?"

"That's a fossil hurricane." And I tell him the story of the core and the record of the storm event written in the rock.

"What's this?" "Bedded halite...a record of a fossil sea."

"What's this?" "That's a coprolite...." <Fossil excrement, but they didn't ask any further.>

"What's this?" "That is ozerocite. Solid oil."

I have to admit, even Dad put down his Bible and wandered over to see what captivated his kids so...

"Um...mister...do you really want to hear what I have to say about the Bible?"

"Not particularly. I've heard it all before and it's quite the mundane fairy tale."

"Oh, yeah!?!" <I seem to have struck a nerve> "Well. What about all that stuff you've been saying? I think that's all the work of the devil <he actually said this!> and a fairy tale."

Nothing could have possibly been set up better than his next line:

"How do you know all this, Mister...ah...Mister?"

"Doctor, actually...after getting my doctorate in Geology and Paleontology; I went to work for the oil industry for the past 15 years and traveled the world over. Seen more religions than you could ever imagine."

I must admit I truly enjoyed watching the color drain from his face like that...

His kids swiveled between Daddy and what he obviously thought was Satan incarnate.

"Besides that, I'm a skeptic and an atheist. Your pitiful book is no match for the power of Science!" as I picked up the copy of Chuck Darwin's best and waved it around. <I couldn't resist the Darth Vaderian reference...did I mention that I had lit up a cigar by now?>

"Come on kids. Let us leave this place!"

"Aww, Dad...."

"Really. There is so much more I could show them. Real things. Wonderful things...."

"You just lured us in here to make fools of us!"

"Nope. It was your free will decision. Remember, you asked to come in. As for the fool part, I don't have to make you a fool; you are completely self made."

"Let's go!" he roared. I couldn't help but notice that he'd purposely left behind numerous tracts and other pieces of propaganda. Turnabout is fair play.

"Wait. Before you leave...." I handed each of his kids a piece of dinosaur bone (scraps of no real scientific value). "Here, I want you to have these. A momento of your visit."

Before Daddy could object, the pieces swiftly vanished into respective pockets. "Those pieces are at least 100 million years old. Show 'em that the next time someone tells you the Earth is only 6,000 years old. Tell 'em Dr. Leipzig says so."

Broad, gap toothed grins covered the faces of at least 66.666% of the trio. Daddy was muttering incoherently about marking our house so that others would not make the same mistake.

As they left, I handed Dad a flyer announcing my upcoming lecture at Harris County Community College. He read it, spat a vile "Hmmph!", threw it down and trundled off; bemused, grinning children in tow.

I waved goodbye, puffed on the cigar and picked up the flyer. The title of my upcoming lecture? "Scientific Illiteracy and Joe Public; a reading from Science 461:232."

I do so look forward to the weekends...if only I'd use my powers for good instead of evil...<snirk>.



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