Open letter to the Director, Department of Intelligent Design

Dear Sir,

It is my belief that, the prototype having been in production for some 6,000 years, some issues might be addressed which have come to my attention.

First, although it may have seemed a good idea at the time, it is increasingly clear that it was a mistake to make the universe seem so much older than it really is.  I was not present at the meeting when this was discussed, so I cannot say what the purpose may have been.  There has been talk of some sort of test to be administered to a transient species near the end of the process, but it now seems rather a lot of trouble to have gone to, for what could only have been some sort of joke.

Second, I thought it had been agreed that the order and harmony principles behind the design would obviate any further tinkering down the line.  It now seems that suspension of the rules which govern things is so frequently required that there is even a name for it: “miracle.”  I don’t suppose it occurred to whomever authorized the first miracle that it would set off a chain of events requiring more and more of them as more time went by.  Can you say butterfly effect?  I understand it has even gotten to the point where sporting events can no longer be decided without intervention.

Third, biology.  I don’t know where to start.  Who was in charge of biology?  I mean, it started out fine, lots of diversity there, plenty of fun, but did somebody go on vacation, or what?  I get a column with four protrusions.  Nice symmetry, good locomotor possibilities, sound basic engineering.  But why stand it up?  Do that, and the load structure goes all wrong, you get joint issues, and the column goes all to hell.  ME 101.  Hell, might as well just have evolution if we’re going to be that sloppy.  And don’t even get me started on bacteria; they’ve got security issues you could push a planet through.  We need a change of leadership there, for sure.

Fourth, and in my opinion, most disturbing, we seem to have pushed all our error down into the nano level.  I completely see the reasoning behind this: sweep it under the great cosmic rug, and hope nobody trips over it.  But they will, you can count on it.  Already, people have found out that we’ve got stuff popping in and out of existence down there all the time to keep things in balance, and they’ve been poking around anti-this and dark-that for years.  It’s only a matter of time.  (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but I hope there is still time to address these issues.  I know, we can always create more time if we run out, but is that really the right way to run things?

With all due respect,

God, Sr. (Retired)

Humility and the scientific method

In the Fall of 1990, on a whim of the gods, I was in Tunisia, touring the ruins of ancient Roman colonies with some Italian students.  Saddam Hussein had just decided to reclaim Kuwait (believe it or not, he had some historical precedent) and the long litany of dares and double-dares had begun.  Most of the Arab speaking world backed Saddam in this, albeit halfheartedly, because they thought of Kuwaitis as selfish and spoiled.  Poor people rarely like rich people.

In any event, Americans, such as myself, were viewed warily, especially unusual ones.  First of all, I stood literally head and shoulders above most of the population.  Secondly, I was traveling with Italians, and it was clear that I spoke Italian.  Everyone knows Americans don’t speak Italian unless they’re up to no good.  It was obvious to discerning Tunisians that I was a CIA operative, in Tunisia during the Gulf crisis to – what?  The fact that no one could imagine what such a person might be up to there only confirmed their suspicions.  Lucky for me, they are, for the most part, a gentle and amicable people, but it did take awhile to get accustomed to knowing smiles and the occasional glare.

All things considered, I was left a bit dubious of the critical thinking skills of the hoi polloi.  And so it happened that, on a break from run-down Roman baths and fora. we visited Douz, once the fabled trailhead for Timbuktu and points beyond, nowadays a hive of hucksters and tourists longing for a one or two hour Lawrence of Arabia experience.  Typically, one wanders out into the Sahara on a camel led by a guide on foot, has lunch, and returns for an extended photo op.  I thought the camel ride seemed pointless, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching the friendly clash of cultures.

Suddenly, my pondering was interrupted by the loud and repeated braying of a camel.  Camels, of course, are among the rudest animals humans associate themselves with, but this outburst had an unusual urgency about it.  I looked over and saw that four or five men had wrestled a camel to the ground, and were holding it down.  Nearby, a wood fire burned, with a long iron rod reddening in the heat.  I walked over and asked one of the camel drivers standing nearby what on earth was going on.

“Ah,” he said, “this camel refuses to eat.  He will die soon, unless something is done.”

As he said this, a man pulled the iron, now white hot, out of the fire, walked over to the prostrate beast, and began searing three parallel lines on the animal’s throat.

“This will make him hungry, and he will eat, and all will be well,” my new friend cheerfully informed me.

Poor benighted bastards, I thought.  If only they had access to modern veterinary practice, instead of relying on this absurd medieval ritual!  I wondered what they would do when they realized this wasn’t working, maybe exorcise demons?  The men concluded their torture and let the camel stand on its own.

Whereupon it immediately walked over to a clump of grass, and began enthusiastically devouring it.