So when we got back home from the beach yesterday, the first, panicked thought that went through my head was "Sweet Jesus on a broke-down Zamboni, lookit all them weeds!"
In two weeks the goddamned crabgrass had absolutely taken over the front beds, there are literally hundreds of these miserable invasive, smelly trees-I-cannot-identify poking up everywhere, and there's a pokeberry bush the size of a young woolly mammoth eyeing the raspberries with obvious malign intent. The lawn's a mess, vines everywhere, and the whole wall of vegetation that surrounds my three-acre forest clearing has advanced another three feet inward. Now it's two-and-a-half acres, and if I don't get hopping with the machete -- and look right slippy about it -- it'll be two acres by Saturday.
And let's not even talk about the vegetable patch, okay?
I'm glad to see nobody turned off the Completely Natural Course of Things in my absence.
I've harped about this before, but it bears further examination. I stopped and took this picture this morning, because it illustrates what I'm going to say quite nicely:
Bucolic, no? But what you're looking at there, in that pretty, butterfly-festooned country lane, is Nature Red in Tooth and Claw -- just in a slightly more protracted way.
Once not long ago that road was open to the sun. The young trees by the side of the road noticed -- in whatever way trees can be said to "notice" anything -- that a resource vital to all of them -- light -- was to be had by the simple extension of a branch in the direction of the road. All the trees extended their branches into the light, competing among themselves for height advantage, until the shady tunnel that you now see came into being.
Now, I'm a complete 6-by-2 plank when it comes to biological science, but even I -- who have read only a couple of Richard Dawkins' books, having most recently bogged down hopelessly in "The Ancestor's Tale" -- even this complete gooberhead can see that there must be winners and losers in the competition for available resources. The winning strategy -- faster growth rate, better branch design, more efficient leaf production -- is not something the trees consciously try to produce; the winner is determined by just plain dumb luck. The loser dies. This is not a concept requiring advanced thinking or a huge, bulging brain fed by a steady diet of fish.
But this, I think, is probably the thing that most bothers our Intelligent Design friends -- the randomness of natural selection. Faced with the prospect of living in a world where a whole species can be wiped out because of a chance event that suddenly changes the nature of the competition -- a meteor impact, say, or (gulp) global warming -- the true infantility of their belief system becomes self-evident, and they rock back and forth, sucking their thumbs, hoping against hope that this utterly imbecilic idea, this neo-Medieval, peabrained Thomist notion just might -- oh pleeeease! -- turn out to be true. Otherwise, Everything They Know Is Wrong.
Try this on for size. Let's for the sake of argument allow for a moment that 160 years of solid, painstaking science has been completely discredited (forehead slap -- How could thousands of highly trained biologists have been so wrong!) and the map of Micronesia, if you connect the islands together in just the right order, actually spells Deus Me Fecit in handsome script -- what then? Darwin wrong, ergo... Parting of the Red Sea? Transubstantiation? Virgin Birth? Resurrection?
If not this, well, then, quite ineluctably and beyond the shadow of a doubt, that! Glory Halleluiah!
In the febrile little mind of the ID Creationist, I'm very much afraid that's just about exactly the level of critical thinking going on. If you can somehow refute the theory of evolution, goes the logic, you have pretty much won the whole enchilada and we can zip on back to that happy pre-Enlightenment time when the preachers made the laws and those pesky scientists were constrained to damned well ask Mother Church if their investigations jibed with current dogma or risk the label of heresy and losing their funding.
I don't usually get too hot under the collar about stuff -- you know me better than that. But this this is capital-S Stupid, comin' atcha. If the Forces of Dumbness are emboldened by Commander Cuckoo Bananas to use the power of local politics to force ID to be taught as a competitive "theory" over the objection of every credible scientist in the world, you can kiss goodbye to the notion that our standard for objective belief is observable, predictable, and testable facts. Welcome, instead, to the world that obtained when all you needed to say to win an argument was, "Well, Aristotle said it, so it must be true."
That's not how you run a civilization, kids. That's the bell, there. It tolls for thee.