Thanks to last week’s houseguest Aaron Long (“Well, Well, Well”) for his input on this one. He and my friend Bill Dominick (who is prone to rants) and I were discussing the efforts of various local school boards in bumfuck states to get Creationism into high school curricula on equal footing with actual science. I had recently read an article about a battle over textbooks in Pennsylvania, in which one school board member, an opponent of Inteligent Design, who you would expect to be the voice of reason, gave the following reason for her opposition: “When I hear ‘Intelligent Design,’ I think aliens.” We despaired over the state of the average American’s scientific literacy, currently at about the same level as a twelfth-century European peasant’s. Aaron likened the whole absurd and exasperating controversy to having to take Grimm’s Fairy Tales as seriously as physics. I decided to change his analogy to Norse Mythology because 1.) Grimm’s tales don’t really have a creation myth or a story about the origin of human beings and 2.) Norse mythology is so fucked up. In fact it’s so complex and contradictory that I had to cheat a little in my descriptions; although Bullfinch’s (the finest authority on all mythology, after D’Aularie’s) says Yggdrasill is rooted in three different worlds, other references have it at nine, including Hel, Midgard, the world of the dwarves, the world of the dark elves, etc., which is all much too hard to draw. Thanks to my high school friend Derick Arnold, whose excellent panoramic view of Norse cosmology, drawn for Ms. Smith’s 9th-grade mythology unit, served as a model for my own.
It’s always both cute and pathetic listening Fundamentalists try to use the language of empiricism to try to defend their wonky myths and superstitions, sort of like seeing chimpanzees wear little human clothes or very young children trying to use polite etiquette. They can approximate the form, but they just don’t get the content. They don’t understand what the word “theory” means; they confuse correlation with causality; they argue by analogy; they can’t keep a grip on logic. I’m not going to waste any space in this artist’s statement explaining or arguing for the theory of evolution; it’s like having to argue for the theory of gravity or electricity. And anyway, there’s no point in engaging advocates of Creationism or Intelligent Design in debate as though they really accepted enlightenment values or could be convinced by evidence or persuaded by rational discourse. There’s no reason to talk to them at all. They just want to believe in God. They can go ahead and believe in Him. But they won’t be winning any Nobel prizes any time soon.
I would like to issue an official apology to any believers
in the Norse faith. I certainly have no wish to get on the wrong side of
any Vikings, who historically have not expressed their grievances through
letters-to-the-editor. As my friend John Patton pointed out to me, it’s
a little foolhardy of me to insult the religion of a seafaring warrior people
when I live right on the water.