Monday, October 10, 2005

Yossarian on Intelligent Design

'And don't tell me God works in mysterious ways,' Yossarian continued, hurtling on over her objection. 'There's nothing so mysterious about it. He's not working at all. He's playing. Or else He's forgotten all about us. That's the kind of God you people talk about - a country bumpkin, a clumsy, bungling, brainless, conceited, uncouth hayseed. Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of creation? What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did He ever create pain?'

'Pain?' Lieutenant Scheisskopf's wife pounced upon the word victoriously. 'Pain is a useful symptom. Pain is a warning to us of bodily dangers.'

'And who created the dangers?' Yossarian demanded. He laughed caustically. 'Oh, He was really being charitable to us when He gave us pain! Why couldn't He have used a doorbell instead to notify us, or one of His celestial choirs? Or a system of blue-and-red neon tubes right in the middle of each person's forehead. Any jukebox manufacturer worth his salt could have done that. Why couldn't He?'

'People would certainly look silly walking around with red neon tubes in the middle of their foreheads.'

'They certainly look beautiful now writhing in agony or stupefied with morphine, don't they? What a colossal, immoral blunderer! When you consider the opportunity and power He had to really do a job, and then look at the stupid, ugly little mess He made of it instead, His sheer incompetence is almost staggering. It's obvious He never met a payroll. Why, no self-respecting businessman would hire a bungler like Him as even a shipping clerk!'
Catch-22, Ch. 18.

And don't forget this classic:

A mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer, and a civil engineer are sitting around at a conference. The pitchers of beer turn to fifths of Jack Daniels, and then odd bottles of less expensive booze, The conversation turns, as it always must, to which field is superior, and in particular, which sort of engineer God is.

The mechanical engineer, borrowing a page from William Paley, argues that the intricate structural complexity of the human body, its joints and struts, the hydraulics and pneumatics, the powerful tendons and opposing pairs of muscles, all are powerful evidence that God is a mechanical engineer.

The electrical engineer laughs and declares that absurd. "Look at the nerves," he says. A consideration of the wiring of the human body, the massive parallel processor in the head, the complex software driving those joints and struts, all point inevitably to the conclusion that God is an electrical engineer.

The civil engineer sits silently. The others turn to him expectantly. After taking a careful swig, the civil engineer concludes, "One things for sure, God isn't a civil engineer. No self-respecting civil engineer would run a sewer through a recreational area."

All of which leads us back to Yossarian:
'What the hell are you getting so upset about?' he asked her bewilderedly in a tone of contrite amusement. 'I thought you didn't believe in God.'

'I don't,' she sobbed, bursting violently into tears. 'But the God I don't believe in is a good God, a just God, a merciful God. He's not the mean and stupid God you make Him out to be.'

Yossarian laughed and turned her arms loose. 'Let's have a little more religious freedom between us,' he proposed obligingly. 'You don't believe in the God you want to, and I won't believe in the God I want to. Is that a deal?'
Intelligent design tends to look pretty silly when you push it to its limits.