Sunday, September 7, 2008

One Big Mac and a large portion of absolution, please.

Okay so Im sitting in a McDonalds in a town called Ballina in Australia. I actually lived briefly in the one in Ireland but that is neither here nor there. Well it is there but that's the way places are isn't it. They're there. I digress. I'm sitting there in this McDonalds with a vanilla mocha and a pink donut with my nose buried in a book. The book is called The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins. It's about Darwinian evolution through natural selection. This is something I've only gotten interested in recently having been moved by a reading of Derren Brown's Tricks of the Mind to pick up his favourite book, The God Delusion.

I should broach the vulgar topic of atheism:

I am one and it's not a vulgar topic.

There. That's the way I see it.

I actually feel like I owe Mr. Dawkins a debt of gratitude for writing a coherent and cogent argument for that being an acceptable thing to say and feel in the modern day and I've long felt it myself. Anyhow reading the God Delusion made me want to get down to the actual science of natural selection and Darwinism, inasmuch as a non scientist can fully understand such things. So I bought the blind watchmaker which is touted as a watershed work on the subject. There's nothing wrong so far is there? Nothing at all. Well there I am buried snout deep in a chapter callled Origins and Miracles which deals with the subject of the origin of life, the original self-replicating cells and I hear a voice say, "Must be good books."

If you hear someone say that to you do not think, run. It means he thinks there's something out of the ordinary in reading. Or that books must be spectacular and not just ordinarily edifying to move the reader to expose his word lust in public. My companion was perusing the lonely planet guide to the land down under and this is what our curious interloper seemed interested in first. In retrospect it was a good move I guess. After a couple of pleasantries and truisms on the subject of her Majesty's prison yard (sorry if you're australian, I couldn't resist) he looks at me. "And what's that one about?" he asks. "Evolution," says I.

This is a dirty word to the creationist ear - that's what he was by the way, a real one, a the-world-is-6,000-years-old sort of guy - but our galllant soldier of Jesus didn't even flinch.

"Richard Dawkins," I said. "It's very good."

"I know that fella, going around in his wheelchair," he said.

I was stunned and I'll explain fully why in a second. "That's Stephen Hawking," I said. Unperturbed this warrior of righteousness attempts to, in his own way shatter the arguments of Professor Dawkins, with, I swear to his God, a quote from Genesis. I can't remember the whole thing but it was something about trees replicating or everything coming from trees. Whatever it was it was the sort of semi poetic nonsense that can in hindsight be applied, with a little crowbarring of logic, to anything. The reason I was so surprised that he came over to me at all is that I can understand a deeply religious person recognising Dawkins and seeing him as a threat. A person of that turn of mind is compelled by his own dogma to try and save me whether I want it or not. What I am surprised by is the fact that he was still on his way over even when he thought it was Stephen Hawking I was reading. A scientific argument for disbelief is God is one thing but saving me from quantum physics and string theory? Is this how bad it's gotten? Well anything, I suppose, like learning can be perceived as evil when you think the earth was created around the time of the agricultural revolution....

Then out of his wallet, he produces, under the exasperated gaze of his wife - whose face seemed to be saying 'Leave the poor Godless bastard alone, Robert' - a laminated card. He handed it to me as he said the following: "We believe a different theory," here he hands me the card before saying, unbelieveably: "Death is the wages of sin." I was amazed. I would love, in my masochism to have spoken longer with him but he was pulled out the door by the missus and I was left with the greatest bookmark a Darwinist could ever hope for, especially while reading such books as I'm dual reading now The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins and God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens.

So there we are, saved, under the pearly - sorry, golden - arches, under the omnipresent gaze of St. Ronald Mc Donald, the patron saint of burgers and plastic movie tie-in toys. The lord is my McSheperd, there is nothing I shall want. (Except maybe to super size for just 50c extra.)

Here it is, the keeper of my page, the constant reminder of my damnation, the laminate of my eternal suffering.

Evolution, the wages of sin.

A digression of lighter tone. This was taken on the way back to the car from Australia Zoo. It could have been the overdose of crocodilia but that cloud does look like a croc, doesn't it? Well maybe a long beaked version of Darkwing Duck but still...

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