For best results, see Part 1
This one is an aside. ‘Origin of Life’ science, as discussed in the lecture series, might easily strike a non-enthusiast as so speculative as to challenge the all-time king of speculation in the guise of science: evolutionary psychology. So it is that I diverge into that other cutting-edge field.
The circuit overseer was visiting. It was a week of special activity. We reconvened to plan our afternoon. Nosmo Jones had unexpectedly cancelled his study to bail one of his kids out of jail, so I was open. “Does anyone have any calls?” the circuit overseer asked. “I have - Mr. Strawman out on Pretensia Pond Road,” I said. “You remember him from your last visit.”
“Does anyone else have any calls?” Silence. I knew Bill Ding had several, and also Sally Shinspits, but they would likely not be home at this time of day. “Are you sure nobody else has any calls?” the circuit overseer repeated. I reminded him again about Bernard Strawman. “He’s told me since our last call that he could believe in God!” I said. “We could build on that foundation.” He’d also said something about climate change in hell, but I hadn’t understood what he had meant by that.
“Check carefully. Nobody has any return visits?” the circuit overseer asked again, looking desperate. “Maybe we can do street work,” he pleaded. But Brother Bruno’s wife, Brunette, had done street work all morning and her feet were sore. She wanted to ride around for a while.
Twenty minutes later we pulled into Mr. Strawman’s driveway. A Mercedes was already there, in addition to the Jaguar that Mr. Strawman drove. I rang the doorbell with the circuit overseer in tow. Mr. Strawman answered. He invited us in, told us to take off our shoes, and introduced us to his visitor, Dr. Adhominem. I’d never met Dr. Adhominem, but I’d heard Mr. Strawman speak of him glowingly.
Mr. Strawman asked us to be seated. He asked us if we would like some orange juice. When we said yes, he explained that he didn’t have any. I settled in my chair for a stimulating discussion that was sure to come! The circuit overseer mentally reviewed his notes for the talk he would give that evening: “Are You Following the Lead of the Angel in Your Ministry?’
Mr. Strawman and his visitor explained to me the research paper they were preparing to submit to Wonderful Scientist Magazine. It was to be their contribution to the exciting field of evolutionary psychology. “Much of the cutting-edge work in science is in this field,” Mr. Strawman told me. The paper he was co-authoring with Dr. Adhominem, he explained, was on the evolutionary origin of boisterous flatulence. “Back in the stone-age eat-or-be-eaten days,” Mr. Strawman explained, putting the concept in a nutshell, “you wanted to evolve everything you possibly could to scare off predators. And nothing would do the job like boisterous flatulence. It quickly cleared the area, the same as it does in modern times.”
I was very impressed with this crock of insight. But the circuit overseer said: “Got any evidence of that?” He had heard of something called the Scientific Method. I was so embarrassed. Dr. Adhominem smiled and explained that to become obsessed with such matters was to chase a red herring. The very reason such rapid progress was being made in evolutionary psychology, he continued, was that researchers could work without that sort of distraction. He asserted the time for his breakthrough had come because similar research had been accepted by the scientific community. To tell the truth, I was becoming more than a little mortified by that circuit overseer. Clearly, the man doesn’t know much about science.
For example, Dr. Adhominem told us about the evolutionary origin of faulty reasoning, something which had long puzzled scientists because it seemed to fly in the face of survival of the fittest. But the April 5, 2010 issue of Newsweek summarized the latest scientific thinking. “Faulty reasoning is really our friend! It enabled our ancestors to learn argumentation!” If there was no cockeyed reasoning, Dr. Adhominem explained, nobody would have anything to argue about. Throw any issue before the masses, and they’d all instantly agree! How could survival of the fittest take place? Smart people can only evolve if they have blockheads to stomp into submission with their clever argumentation. So stupidity has proven to be essential to our evolutionary advancement!
The circuit overseer said: “That doesn’t make any sense to me at all.” Dr. Adhominem gently suggested the reason: evolution had selected people like the two of us to enable people like himself and Mr Strawman to become brilliant. I felt privileged to have such a role in science! The circuit overseer asked to use the bathroom. “Eighth door on the left,” Mr. Strawman said.
The three of us remaining strolled out into the back yard. Next door, Mr. Strawman’s neighbor was drooling over his curvaceous girlfriend prancing about in a micro-bikini. I instantly turned away. “Interesting how evolutionary psychology accounts for this phenomenon,” Mr. Strawman remarked. “Indeed,” Dr. Adhominem said. I drew a blank, so he patiently enlightened me. “You’re not going to get far in the struggle for survival if your wife keeps dropping your babies and killing them, are you? Decidedly not!” Pleased with himself, he continued: “But that knockout bombshell of a competitive wife has convenient shelves upon which she can balance as many babies as you can give her. Thus, over the eons, our ancestors began to prefer curvy women and to think them beautiful.” How could I have been so stupid for so long?
We seated ourselves again inside and the circuit overseer said something about God. Mortified, I slid down into my chair! Mr. Strawman had already explained to me the evolutionary origin of God: “See, any group of individuals will have some riffraff who must be kept in check so as not to disrupt the clan. The trouble is, the riffraff doesn’t like being kept in check. They fight back, and this spills the primordial soup of even the most peaceful clan, spewing evolutionary ripples everywhere. What you need is a superhuman cop, one with whom you can’t fight back! Then those ne’er-do-wells will behave. That’s how the concept of God evolved, with all its quaint notions of right and wrong.”
“Homosexuality? Surely that has to be a fly in the ointment of your race to procreate,” the scientifically ignorant circuit overseer said, much to my dismay. “Not at all,” Bernard Strawman replied with a smile. “Homosexual men tend to be nurturing, and so they nurture everyone in the tribe, including themselves, giving the entire tribe a competitive advantage,” he said.
We discussed other interesting things as well. Seeing that he was getting underneath the circuit overseer’s skin, Mr. Strawman asked us as we were leaving how we knew that we were there? “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, how do we know that it makes a noise?” What a fascinating question! “Because the squirrels go nuts!” the circuit overseer said. “I’ll be in the car, Tom.” He’s a fine brother but he really doesn’t know anything about science.
“What a wonderful experience in the field ministry!” I exclaimed to all as we entered the Kingdom Hall after field service was over. I suggested that the circuit overseer might use it for his upcoming part in the circuit assembly, but he said he already had participants.
[The boisterous flatulence hypothesis is (for now) made-up nonsense, but all the other ideas have found acceptance among evolutionary psychologists. I predict boisterous flatulence will also be embraced one day soon, since it is only slightly more ridiculous than what has already been embraced by these characters.]
The circuit overseer will not go back on that call again. I hope his discouragement does not hinder Mr. Strawman’s progress.
To be continued:
****** The bookstore