Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Magic, Miracles and Martians

Its amazing the cockamamie things people believe.

We were coming home from church on Sunday, driving through the Soweto market in dowtown Lusaka when we stumbled on a fascinating bit of African lore. The Soweto market, named after the South African township is a bustling sea of people, cars, and mini–buses. Along the roadside, I noticed several signs posted advertising the services of witch doctors. I asked our Zambian friend riding with us if he thought many people in the churches went to see witch doctors.

He said they do, and went on to explain some of the things they seek help for. One of them apparently is a charm that mothers put around a babies waist so that he or she will grow up to have (in plain English) a big booty, which our Zambian friend described as “big butticles.” I suppose sort of like tentacles, but...well, not.

Apparently, its not very desirable for an African to have a western style posterior wherein one’s legs and back just sort disappear into one another and people look a bit like a two pronged fork, like the kind you use for serving pickles. No, here protrusion seems to be the key and out of a deep seeded fear that their Zambian kids will grow up looking like us rumpless oddities of nature from the west, they go to great lengths to insure a healthy hiney.

Now, I know what your thinking. THAT’S THE MOST BIZARRE THING I’VE EVER HEARD! How could anyone think that a “magical charm” could give them a big butt? I mean, everybody knows that if its it rear–end real estate your after, then a steady diet of, well, actually no steady diets at all...but just you and Betty Crocker and the TV remote! But this is Africa, and here the supernatural is not relegated to the FOX network and O.J. Simpson trials. Here the supernatural is everywhere, and when it comes to your gluteus maximus, the thought I suppose is that the means justify the end.

Not everyone in Africa, though believes in the supernatural . I heard an interview on the BBC the other day where they were interviewing some scientist type guy who was espousing his love for all things Darwinian, in honor of the approaching 150 year anniversary of Origin of Species. When the interviewer said (with enough contempt in his voice to handily win him the coveted “Pretentious and Biased Reporter of the Year Award”) that people like “those creationists” would not agree on Darwin’s assertions, the scientist being interviewed responded by saying (about belief in the Bible) that “it just goes to show that when you are taught something at a very early age, how difficult it is to separate yourself from that belief despite it being completely irrational.”

He went on to espouse how belief in God was basically insane and how in the modern world we ought to have graduated from such folly of believing in highly improbable things. In other words, science is based on facts, religion on fairy tale. I’ve heard Richard Dawkins (author of The God Delusion) say similar things. “Only an idiot,” he said, “would believe in the existence of God.”

Thus according to Dawkins, Galileo, Newton, Kelvin, Max Plank, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein – idiots all. Not to mention Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Barak Obama, just so you know I’m not trying to float any political agenda here. By Dawkins reasoning, idiots every one.

Speaking of Barak Obama, I was listening to BBC again this afternoon as I was running some errands, and they had an Israeli poet (didn’t catch his name) who read an open letter to the President–elect. He talked about what an incredible thing it is to witness an African American becoming president of the United States. He said, “Generations upon generations of people have called things impossible until someone came along and did it, and then it became possible.”

And he’s right!

Belief in improbable things is not the mark of an idiot. It is the way that the world has always moved forward. Its the way we discovered the world wasn’t flat, and the way we discovered that the sun, and not the earth is the center of the solar system (which of course is why its called the SOLAR system) and its the way we put a man on the moon. And, sorry, but I get a bit annoyed when some scientist professes that he only subscribes to facts and logic and that scientists never pursue illogical ideas because they do it all the time!

All systems of belief, whether its Darwinian evolution or creationism or intellegent design require a degree of faith. Since science in the truest sense of the word is the study of that which is based on observable facts, it is impossible for any theory of origins to be rightly called “science” as no one can possibly observe the origin of the universe (for much better treatment of this than you’ll get here, see “Who Made God” by Ravi Zacherias and Norman Geisler).

In Ben Stein’s (who is Jewish by the way) recent movie “Exposed” he shows how the scientific community has closed ranks and “blacklists” anyone who even mentions the words “intelligent design.” He closes the film with an interview with Dawkins. And he asks him how he thinks life on earth began.

Dawkins answer? Aliens. Or in his words, “One very intriguing theory is that highly evolved, very intelligent life forms ‘seeded’ or planted life on earth.” They flew space ships here, opened up a petri dish and poured out some bacteria, and then went home to watch.

Now, I don’t have ANY problem with a person believing in evolution (or aliens for that matter). If that’s where you think the evidence points, then fine. But I do mind when people try to hide their animosity towards faith behind the pretense of intelligence, as if arrogant barbs will suddenly awake Christendom from its stupor and it will dawn on us that not a SINGLE ONE OF US in 2000+ years of the faith’s existence HAS EVER ACTUALLY THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT WE BELIEVE OR EXPLORED THE VALIDITY OF THE BIBLE and we will finally pull our heads out of our butticles and come to our senses.

Like I said, its amazing some of the cockamamie things people believe.

1 comment:

Netta said...

OMWord! This post is so deep and yet so hilarious! THANK YOU!
I'm gunna link my blog to it so my friends can read this...SO GOOD!!

(and now I'm pretty sure that I must've worn one of those charms on my wrist as a child!)

Love you guys!