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The Existence of God: Why Do bad Things Happen? What Does it Mean? The Asian Tsunami and Other Questions

As the Professor strode to the podium, the entire hall quickly became quiet then silent as he looked down at his notes. When he looked out towards the assembled students, he could see that one hand was already raised high.

Mr. Lewis? What is it that you canít wait to share with us?

Lewis:Yeah, well I read the assignment and I wanted to know; was Kant black? I mean, was he an African American? In some of those pictures, he looked black to me.

Professor: Of what possible significanceÖ.

Picoli: He was a German, you idiot!.

Lewis: So what! And youíre the idiot. Mozart was Black and he was from Germany. You think Black people canít live in Germany?.

Professor: If you would both just take your seats and stop talking, i.e. shut up! Youíre both idiots!

Now, Iíve got something of real import to talk about today. The second mid-term is still being graded, so we have a little time with which Iím going to use to deviate from the outline today. Mr. Scott! How are you today he asked, interlacing his fingers and leaning forward on the lectern?.

Mr. Scott nearly swallowed his gum. Fine sir he squeaked out and then tried again. Fine sir..

Professor: Mr. Scott are you aware that upwards of 250,000 people perished from the effects of a huge earthquake and tsunami last week in Southeast Asia and that the count may very well go higher? Are you aware that the people who perished were among the poorest in the world; that among the dead are innocent women and children? Donít you have an announcement to make to us today?.

Mr. Scott: An announcement, sir?.

Professor? Yes, Mr. Scott. Arenít you prepared to admit to us today that clearly there is no God! I want to hear it, Mr. Scott! There is no God! One thing Iím sure of is that there is no way that you are even going to try to justify to me that there is a God when this tragedy was permitted to overtake some of the meekest, poorest people on earth including hundreds and thousands of innocents! .

The class was completely silent..

After what seemed like a long pause, Mr. Scott saidĒ Well clearly, I have no such announcement to makeĒ..

Picoli: Another long pause ensued. I just want to get this cleared up. Mozart wasnít Black, was he?.

Class:Nervous laughter..

Valerie: Professor. This calamity is difficult for Christians as well. Weíve never claimed that we fully understand everything about Godís plan or about how He works. We have to grapple with the answers to these questions as well.

This is a veil of tears, though and since sin came into the world, death also came into it. No one thinks its his day to die, or his time to suffer.

On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

Professor: Stop! Are you kidding me? Were you actually reading from a Bible? This is not going to happen today. Iím controlling this discussion and Iím not going to let you sidestep the direct question in front of you. DO not read anymore from that book! I want you to use your own thinking and logic here! Understood!

Now, Mr. Scott if your paralysis has worn off could you tell me why anyone should continue to believe in a God? And if there is one, could you tell me what good He is if He cannot prevent 250,000 people from perishingóor worse yet, is responsible for a quarter million people, including, the innocent, perishing without warning?

Look Mr.Picoli! Would you be so kind as to tell me what in the blue blazes you are laughing at!?.

Picoli: Um; sorry sir. I was just showing him the picture on the leaf jacket of your book. I mean, how old is this thing? Iíve never seen you with dark hair. I mean this is you, right?

Professor: Picoli, what edition of the book are you looking at?

Picoli: Um, Copyright 1994.

Professor: Picoli, the book we are using in this class is Copyright 2002. This is 2005. There are seven chapters in the 2002 Edition that are not in the 1994. If you are trying to save money, Picoli may I suggest that by the looks of that fat face of yours that you try cutting back on pizzas and buy the current edition of my book?

Two words!, Mr Picoli: Top Ramen!

Class:Laughter

Professor: It was Beethoven who was thought to be Black. His mother was a Moor. Now, if I have to speak to you again todayÖ.. Where was I? Mr. Scott! Mr. Scott!

Mr. Scott: Okay, sir one reason I hesitate is that you have a tendency to make me speak for all Christians. Here, I canít speak for anyone but myself and whatever I say may not be the same thing that all other Christians would say.

Professor.: Stop blathering Mr. Scott. I never suggested that you were speaking for all Christians. Thatís a mantle that you took on yourself. Whatís the problem anyway, donít you all read from the same manual? Now quit stalling.

My question or my comment is:1)There is no God, admit it! Or 2)If there is a God, what good is He if He either Canít prevent this type of catastrophe or as I argue He is Responsible for the catastrophe?

Mr. Scott: You have a young son, right?

Professor: I do. Be very careful, Mr. Scott!

Mr. Scott: The analogy is; how would you feel if as he grows up he never thanks you for the home you provide, the food you provide, the gas and electricity, the clothes, your love etc. but then curses you every time the lights go off in a rainstorm or every time you temporarily run out of bread or every time his dinner is cold?

If you came to class once or twice and said: ďMr. Scott. There is a God in Heaven! I was able to wake up this morning and I rolled over and kissed my wife and I was thankful for her and for the home God had given me. I had breakfast and I had my fill of eggs and sausage and I looked out and saw a beautiful sun rising over the rolling hillsÖ.

I gave thanks because I had been cancer free for many years and because I have been able to accumulate all these possessions and because there are people I love and people who love me. Why even the very laws of the universe have been created to sustain me! I give thanks that even though there was calamity in the world today, it did not touch my family and I have been spared and blessed with one more beautiful day. Surely there is a God in Heaven!

Now, Professor, If you had come in one day or two days and said something like that, then perhaps it would seem to give you standing to come in and say "hey something bad happened in the world so, why shouldn't I blame God! Even then you would be wrong, but at least you wouldn't be hypocritical.

Professor: I see that youíve regained your voice if not your ability to reason. Where was God last week when the people of Southeast Asia needed Him.? Iím pretty sure they had spectacular sunsets that morning, as well?

Mr. Scott: Okay. The question for me isnít so much where was God? I know where He was and He was here among us. The question is where were we? For those who are in Christ, we experience heartache and sorrow like anyone else. But, because we are children of God, we are prepared to live and prepared to die. Those without God are poorly prepared to live and totally unprepared to die. Christianity is not about escaping all the troubles in this world, it's about how as God's obedient children we can cope with heartache, trouble and loss.

Professor: How far away you are from answering my questions! How long will you talk and talk and say less and less?

Ms. Miller: Professor, why do you always start these discussions and just let these Christians preach in here? Iím sick of it. Especially, do I not want to hear any Bible verses. Church and state are supposed to separated! This guy just doesnít get it. I want to know how come he is passing this class, anyways? Iíll bet that half the people who drowned were praying to somebody or something even as they were being pulled under the water. Itís all just superstition. Iíll bet you that people with the lucky rabbits feet did as well as those who were prayinĒ!

Ms. Ramirez: Professor. Iíve got my own private beliefs too. Why do you have to always be picking on God? I donít want to discuss this stuff in class, it makes me very uncomfortable. Maybe God created evolution. Maybe aliens created us. I mean, whatever, ya know?

Valerie: Hey! Its not as if we ever said; lets go to Philosophy class and get harassed by the professor. We would have been just as happy to keep our mouths closed this entire quarter. I donít come to Philosophy class for any other reason than you do-to take care of a requirement. But, we are certainly going to respond when someone challenges our faith, hopefully in a respectful way.

Ms. Miller. Okay. Iím on your side, then. Thatís what Iím asking the Professor; canít he see that trying to talk some sense into you guys is hopeless?

Professor: Canít any of you see that weíve got them in a box? Todayís the day ladies and gentleman. If you let me get to the meat of this and stop interrupting, they will eventually have to admit that either there is no God or that He is no good to us. Itís flatly just one or the other.

Um, Mr. Picoli. I see your handÖ. Are you sure you want me to call on you? More than likely, this comment will be the one that gets you thrown out of class.

Picoli: No sir. Well, Iím a Catholic, I guess, though I havenít been to a mass in about 10 years. Plus the Pope says that evolution is true so.. I got that going for me also.. No, what I wanted to say is; did you consider that most of those people who died werenít praying to God anyway? I mean, they was MuslimsÖ.

Class: Groaning.. and suddenly many new hands raised.

Professor: Good one, Mr. Picoli! How about that, Mr. Scott, is it your view that all those people died because they held onto the wrong flavor of superstition?

Mr. Scott: Sir, I think way more issues are being raised than can in any way be addressed within the context and the timeframe of this classÖ

Professor: Sounds like a sidestep too me and no doubt to the other people in this class..

Mr.Scott: No sir! No sidestep! First, I believe that there is but one way to be reconciled to God and that is through His Son. Secondly, I believe that as the Word says, God wants all men to be saved and wants men everywhere to repent. Thirdly, God causes the sun thatís (s,uín,) to rise on both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. To sum up and in case no one understood, I do not believe that those people died because they were Muslim or because they were not.

You and you other Atheist friends are still alive, arenít you? All those who perished were not evil and all were not good. The sun is still rising on some of the evil and the rain is still falling on some of the ďrighteousĒ.

Professor: Yep! Sidestep!

Ms. Miller It's all just a song and dance, I was almost snapping my fingers to it!

Class:LaughterÖ.

Sarah Lima: Professor! You should read the book of Job.

Professor: What? The Book of job? The book of jobs? Why? Who's it by?

Valerie: No, the Book of Job, from the Old Testament! It's just her accent! Professor. There are tough questions on both sides. Letís look at it from your philosophy. Ms. Miller is being very sarcastic here but it seems to me a few months back she was almost in tears over the idea that we were saying that as an Atheist, she, de facto, has no purpose. She was quite certain that she had a purpose and was quite indignant about it.

A few weeks after that you triumphantly lecture us about the wonders of sociobiology. Looking at her notes, she continued; You said and I quote Ē Sociobiology explores the biological basis of all social behavior, including morality. All moral and religious systems, including Christianity, exist simply because they help promote the survival and reproduction of the group.Ē

You went on to say that because of the selfish gene, all behavior is really just a mask for humans or any species to reproduce. You further said that ďthe ultimate goal of any organism is to survive and reproduceĒ. So, if religion is just a way of fooling ourselves into doing the bidding of our selfish genes so is any raison díetra that Ms. Miller can come up with.

We said that Ms. Miller, as an Atheist believing in evolution and materialism, by definition, has no purpose, she is an accident and, that upset her. But you say, as sociobiologists say, Ms. Miller may fool herself into believing in whatever her mind can conger up, but that in reality her only purpose is to mindlessly reproduce her genes. And why? Again for no higher purpose, no cosmic or eternal truths other than to keep propagating her genes. So, whatever her higher brain functions can come up with they are trumped by mindless, unthinking genes who mindlessly want to reproduce themselves.

Under that world view, what was the import of the catastrophy in Asia? Is it that certain genes will be lost forever and sadly, will be unable to propagate themselves? Well cheer up Professor and cheer up Ms. Miller! I know for sure that all the genes of humanity can be carried by eight people or less! Be warmed! Be cheered!, Because all those selfish genes survive in people who did not die!

According to the Professor, those who clung to hopes and dreams, to religion, to family to ideas about a better life were simply deluding themselves in what was really a desperate life with no purpose other than to mindlessly pass along their genes. And even that little purpose? Accidental! Random! Irrelevant.

Professor: Try to keep your responses short and to the point, Ms. Milton. That was quite a little speech! Iím the only one in this hall who is paid for speaking wisdom to those assembled here and for good reason. What you are inartfully saying, Valerie is in so may words correct.

However, you are overlooking the power and mystery in the human mind, the highest product of evolution. It is so powerful that whatever it conceives as a way towards happiness can make oneís life actually complete. It alone is powerful enough to give each life meaning. That power cannot be overestimated and it is you who are underestimating it.

Mr. Scott: In terms of the human mind.. It can possibly do all that, but in reality, according to sociobiology, it is still just and illusion.

Professor: That may be, but ask me if Iím still happy. I am not caught up in religious superstition. I know whatís real!

Ms. Miller: I donít care what anyone says, my life has a purpose! Iím a survivor! Iím going to be right here. I have people who love me so thereís my purpose right there. To love and to be loved!

Mr. Scott: God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. God's all about love!

Picoli: Hey! I think that is from the Bible. Can he say that?

Valerie :Professor? Could you pass along to Ms. Miller the real bottom line of this type of thinking? i.e, that even rape can be justified because of the need for humans to reproduce their genes? Because of this so-called reproductive imperative..

Professor: No he canít, Mr. Picoli! Mr. Scott, for the last time--knock off quoting the Bible in here! On behalf of the Atheists, the Jews and the Muslims in this class, knock it off!

Mr. Law: Knock it off for the Buddhists, too!

Class:laughter

Professor: As too the issue of rape, you must be able to understand the difference between a biological imperative and what is moral and what is immoral. The argument is not that rape is moral-but that its roots are in this basic need to reproduce. Not everyone who writes in this area agrees. Donít discuss concepts that you do not understand.

Mr. Scott: In terms of morality, Iíd ask, what do selfish genes do or need with morality?

Professor: Now that Iíve mopped the floor with you on this subject, can we turn to a related one? And that is, why do you fundies elect a President who is virtually clinically retarded? The man is supposed to be a Christian and have all these moral values and here he is offering $15 million , initially for tsunami aid, embarrassing this country (yet again) in the eyes of the world community.

You know why this guy is the president? Because of Adam and Steve! Even the fundies thought he was the worst president in history Ėexcept that he was against gay marriage. Thatís why this guy is the president, because you guys think it matters who sleeps with whom when the lights go off. Who cares!

What I do care about is some guy being president who if he was lucky, could get a c- in my class. Mr. Scott, Valerie Milton, a pox on you and your president!

Mr. Scott. I thought we were going to talk about Kant, today?

Professor: My pictureís still in the textbook, and on the front door, Mr. Scott.

Mr. Scott: Iím certainly not here to defend president Bush.

Professor: Well you should try, Mr. Scott. Its you fundies who re-elected him. I believe his inaugural is going to cost more than he initially offered to send to Southeast Asia, and half the country didnít even vote for him!

Mr. Scott: OK, Just for the record, I did not vote for President Bush though I agreed with his position on gay marriage. I also did not vote for Senator Kerry because of his stands on gay marriage and abortion. I voted, but I did not cast a vote for President because I personally could not do so in all good conscience. Other Christians felt differently.

I remind you also, that both Bush and Kerry consider themselves Christians, so the "Christian vote" was probably not as monolithic as you suppose.

Valerie: I did vote for Bush and he is your president as well, Professor!

Professor: Mr. Scott! You surprise me. Nevertheless, my assertions about homosexuality prove to be correct. You are homophobic!

Mr. Scott. Not unless I am also afraid of my fellow students who live together without being married, or of adulters and of people like yourself who divorce for any reason or with-- those who lie or steal.

Professor: Harrumphh! You are equating homosexuality with thieves and liars?

Mr. Scott. It doesn't matter what I think but according to the Word of God that is very true It's all immorality.

Valerie: Professor. By the way, donít you see how anti-homosexual sociobiology and evolution are--and in fact have to be? You spent two lectures talking about sociobiology and how the whole purpose of human life is to reproduce our genes. The ultimate goal of any organism is to survive and to reproduce you told us.

Let me ask you, don't you realize that rather than arguing that homosexuality is acceptable, as you suppose, you are in fact arguing that it is completely in opposition to the tenants of evolution and sociobiology? Why would a gene that made it unlikely that you would reproduce be an aid to fitness? Why would the genetic tendency not to reproduce be rewarded by a system whose sole purpose is to reproduce selfish genes?

I say, that according to the Word of God, homosexuality is wrong and according to your explanation of natural selection and sociobiology it is counter to those systems (180 degrees opposed) as well.

Professor: Youíre making speeches again, Valerie. Other research has shown that perhaps other characteristics, such as increased fertility in women are also carried by the same genes that cause homosexuality.

Stanley Yee: You canít have it both ways can you Professor? You want homosexuality to be genetic so you can try to end moral arguments about it. Yet, at the core its very obvious that homosexuality does not confer advantages in terms of reproduction or natural selectionó-quite the opposite. It does not correlate with the idea that we are really just a mass of genes trying to propagate ourselvesóif we are not engaging in the type of sexuality that actually leads to reproduction.

Further, to suppose that there are certain other beneficial characteristics that might cause homosexuality to persist.. Come on. Do you understand that youíve constructed this elaborate theory to explain all behavior, all biological evolutionóand then go on to claim that notwitstanding all that, that the one activity which is 180 degrees opposed to the direction of your base theory of our purpose can nevertheless be sustained?

Youíve just put forth a theory and then falsified it in the same afternoon! And what about Lesbianism! Are you trying to say that male homosexuality and female homosexuality were both sustained by evolution for two wholly different reasons and through two separate processes?

What next? Sociobiology explains why the gene to commit suicide by age 13 is sustained because it confers upon women the desire to shop for good cuts of meat?

Class:Laughter

Stanley Yee:If evolution is sustained in any measure by ďnatural" selection, then I must understand you to be saying that homosexuality is ďunnaturalĒ since it does not help an organism survive or reproduce?

No, I know that the Lord said, be fruitful and multiply and coincidentally and no matter how contorted it is, not matter how inartfully stated, even you materialists/evolutionists have to recognize that humans were made to be fruitful and to multiply. What kind of beneficial characteristic exists such that if everyone expressed it, the race would die in one generation? I can only think of one other thing that would lead to the same resultóif everyone was a male or everyone was a female.

How it must rankle you Professor to realize that nature, whom you revere, is not on your side! Youíve got no one to offer prayers to, no hope in this life or the one to come. The life youíve made for yourself has no meaning other than reproduction of your genes and it could end at any moment.

Mr. Scott said it well when he said that you (I mean people like you, no offense) are poorly prepared for this world and totally unprepared for the next.

Through this tragedy perhaps some who would not have been saved will be because they have begun to seek Him out. You still have time professor because you are still live! I know this is true because when my brother died, I turned to God. That was seven years ago!

Professor: Class! Turn to chapter 18. Mr. Scott., Ms. Milton, Stanley Lee. See me directly after class!

C.St. James, Copyright 2004

See Also: Mr. Scott's Biology 103 Exam

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