Of God and Men

Determining whether we were created or evolved makes for an adult discussion.

My friend Skippy called me last week and asked me what I was going to be doing Friday night.

I explained that the high school softball team my daughter coaches would be playing in the state tournament in Phoenix and my son would be participating in the 5A-South track and field regionals at Flowing Wells High School. Plus, they were retiring Jennie Finch's number that night at the UA softball field. So, whatever he had in mind was an infinitely distant fourth.

He explained that there was going to be a debate at the UA involving a real scientist and some creationism guy. And then he added the kicker: He wanted me to go and take notes for him.

See, Skippy is a Seventh-Day Adventist, and he can't do anything non-religious between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday. He adheres to that strictly, but he's not crazy enough to go around knocking on doors, so that makes him sort of a Jehovah's Bystander.

I politely declined and told him if I want to do something that's a complete waste of time, I could always watch the Fox News Channel. Still, he persisted; he wanted to use the notes in preparing his lessons for the church youth group he teaches.

I've known Skippy for a long time; in fact, I gave him the name "Skippy." (He is an African-American gentleman who was given a high school football scholarship to attend an exclusive, all-white prep school on the outskirts of Chicago. When he first told me that, I blurted, "Damn, they must've called you 'Skippy'; they probably gave you a propeller beanie to wear and voted you homecoming king to show how liberal they were, but then they wouldn't let you dance with the white girls." He nodded sheepishly and said, "I was homecoming king, and there were two or three girls who were more than happy to dance with me.")

They say that there's no zealot like a convert, and Skippy is certainly living proof of that. He came to his religion rather late in life. In fact, he hit 30 like it was a brick wall and found the Lord waiting for him when he came to. Despite his knowing that I'm a hard-core Catholic, he used to call me up late at night and quote Scripture. I told him that I had read that entire book when I was 15 and found it too full of sex and violence. And not the good kind of sex, either--just all that begetting stuff. If I want to read about sex, I want the word "areola" to show up at least once.

He asked why I had read the Bible, and I told him that, back in high school, I had heard a story about how some guy had found the famously scandalous W.C. Fields reading the Bible, and when he asked why the comedian was doing so, Fields responded, "I'm looking for loopholes."

We're still good friends, but I don't get to see him that much. He works a lot of hours and he's a good dad and husband. But he shows up every now and then at the gym to play some ball and take a whuppin' in dominoes.

Anyway, he pleaded with me to go to this debate, saying that I might learn something. Then he went on to rave about this guy, who is supposedly "a world-renowned creation scientist."

I stopped him right there and explained that the creation is simply something you believe in. Adding the term "scientist" to the back end if it makes you sound desperate and/or stupid. It's like saying that someone has a doctorate in luck.

He claimed that people in that "field" were making great advances, not only in finding evidence of the creation, but also in finding ways to disprove the theory of evolution. I heard the voices in my head screaming, pleading, demanding that I just hang up the phone right then and there, but then I heard my own voice uttering, "Like what?"

He said he had come upon this long list of questions, any one of which, he claimed, would poke a hole in evolution. I asked him where he got the list, and he said it came off the Internet. Well, that certainly lends credence to your enterprise.

"What about the Second Law of Thermodynamics?" he blurted. "It says that systems must become more disordered over time, so therefore organisms can't become more complex."

I knew that Skippy had majored in business in college, so it was reasonable to assume that he knew precious little about thermodynamics. Or laws, for that matter. Besides, I'd heard this argument before and it derives from a profound misunderstanding of the Second Law. If what Skippy said were true, snowflakes wouldn't be able to form out of water droplets. The Second Law actually states that, in a closed system, the total entropy of that system cannot decrease.

Unfortunately, some people consider "entropy" and "disorder" to be interchangeable terms, and that's simply not true. Furthermore, the Second Law clearly states that entropy can decrease in part of a system if it undergoes an offsetting increase elsewhere.

"Well, if man descended from apes, why are there still apes?"

That's like saying, "If kids come from adults, why are there still adults?" New species splinter off from existing ones. The parent species can then either die off or survive indefinitely. Certainly, the new species may be better suited for survival, but the arrival of a new one doesn't mean the automatic extinction of the old one.

Furthermore, evolution doesn't teach that humans descended from monkeys; it teaches that humans and monkeys have a common ancestor.

And so it went for the better part of an hour. Finally, I said we should settle it like the intelligent, spiritual adults that we are: We'll play a best-of-seven series in dominoes to determine whether evolution is real, and then we'll have a three-point shooting contest to determine, once and for all, whether God looks like Billy Dee Williams or a young James Caan.

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