Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Elephant’s Butt: Nature’s Bomb Shelter

I’ve weathered a great deal of mockery for my recent decision to hide myself from the world—to hole up, as it were, inside an elephant’s butt. I can withstand this teasing with ease and good humor from my pungent place of safety and solitude, but what I won’t stand for is the notion that setting up shop inside the asshole of an animal, like Luke Skywalker squeezed into an eviscerated Tauntaun,1 is somehow weird or unusual.

Nothing could be further from the truth!2 Establishing a Hathienda is a reasonable and effective away of escaping attention, assassination, the pressures of unrelenting fame, and even jealous mistresses and/or future ex-wives. Ask yourself this: have you—or has anyone else you know—ever heard of someone being found hiding in an elephant’s butt? Admit it, you haven’t, and nobody else has either.

This proves it works.

The human race has a long and distinguished history of pachydermal posterior peregrination, and among its proud practitioners you’ll find a Who’s Who of memorable missing persons.3 Among the notables who have taken up temporary or permanent residence between an elephant’s buttcheeks are:
Jimmy Hoffa.
Union leader Jimmy Hoffa disappeared into an elephant’s ass on July 20, 1975, and after almost a third of a century still has yet to reveal himself. Not only are his whereabouts unknown, but searchers—including several police departments—have yet to even agree upon whether he’s hidden in an Asian or an African elephant, or whether he’s hiding in a zoo or has found his way back into the wild. The theory that this elephant was subsequently buried under Giants Stadium has yet to be seriously addressed.
Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna.
Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia (perhaps better-known to Americans simply as Princess Anastasia), daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, escaped death at the hands of the Bolsheviks by hiding out in the last surviving Siberian woolly mammoth. This woolly mammoth—quite conspicuous in early twentieth-century Russia, even in the midst of a violent revolution—then escaped detection by shoving itself inside the bunghole of a passing squirrel and tip-toeing off across the Ural Mountains. The squirrel is known among Russian folklorists as The Saddest Squirrel in the World.
Amelia Earhart.
Earhart, the famed aviatrix—which, weirdly, is apparently what female pilots actually were called at the time—flew her Lockheed L-10E Electra directly into the asshole of an especially large (and presumably irritated) elephant at an airspeed approaching 150 miles per hour on July 2, 1937, on the island of Nikumaroro. How the gifted pilot was able to discreetly ship such a large animal to this remote Pacific island—not to mention spiriting it away secretly after parking a five-ton airplane in its atoll4—is part of the enduring mystery of Amelia Earhart.
Tiger Woods.
For the sake of what’s left of his reputation, both with the general public and with the ladies, let’s hope he’s not taking dates back to his place at the moment.
Osama bin Laden.
Tora Bora translates from Farsi as “wrinkly grey buttocks.” The U.S. Military searched all over Tora Bora, but found neither hair nor hide of bin Laden there—again, this proves it works.
Bill Buckner.
It’s widely believed that former baseball player Bill Buckner, a veteran of twenty-two major league seasons with more than 2,700 hits and 1,200 runs batted in, retired to a life of seclusion in an elephant’s butt several years after making a memorable fielding error in the 1986 postseason that allowed the New York Mets to escape elimination in Game Six and eventually win the World Series.5 This, however, is an urban legend. Buckner retired to Boise, Idaho, not to an elephant’s rectum—although confusing the two is understandable.

1. And I thought they smelled bad on the outside.
2. Or is it “farther from the truth”? I can never keep these straight.
3. All the following information has been generously provided by the U.S. Government Office for Bullshit Statistics. They’re also in charge of the budget.
4. Ha! Sorry.
5. I for one believe that far too much attention has been paid to Buckner’s error—although I admit that, given the high stakes when it happened, I’m not surprised—at the expense of recognizing his workmanlike production over a long and consistent career. He wasn’t spectacular, but he was a good ballplayer for a long time. And given how quickly tens if not hundreds of thousands of Boston fans turned into cocky, insufferable dicks after their team finally ended their World Series drought in 2004, I think we owe all the 1986 Red Sox team a warm thanks for falling apart and keeping their fans quiet, bitter, tormented, and pathetic for an additional eighteen years. Here’s hoping they find a way to trade the Bambino away again.

Now That's the Holiday Blues

Oh jeez. I think Some Guy has watched too much 2012, seen too many pets posing with Santa and spoken to too many illiterate people. Or perhaps he merely decided to find a safe place to hide from impending Armageddon. I'm just glad he decided to put on the body condom before, uh, entering.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas!

In my first posting from a mobile device I wish my Blogmate and all the good readers of Bowling in the Dark a very Merry Christmas! More to come in the days following the holiday.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2012: Final (maybe) Thoughts

Lest you think I simply have an irrational hatred for Roland Emmerich and/or his movies, and would have panned 2012 regardless of whether it was actually good, I readily admit that when Independence Day hit the theaters in 1996, I paid to see it and I enjoyed the hell out of it. If I caught it on TV right now, I'd probably watch it again, and while I'd likely mock some of the goofier parts of it—and there are plenty of these—I'm sure I'd enjoy it again.

But Independence Day is, of course, thirteen years older than it used to be, and so am I. Tastes tend to change as we age, standards tend to become more refined.

I lived in a dormitory as a college freshman and sophomore; Independence Day came out during the summer between my first and second sophomore years.1 Near the end of my freshman year (a bit more than a year before the movie was released) an acquaintance of mine from a few doors down the hall barreled through my half-opened door, wide-eyed, giddy, and a bit shocked, desperately looking to get his hands on a ruler and a camera.

I didn't have a camera—he ended up borrowing my roommate's—but I was about to hand him my ruler until he explained why he needed it: he wanted to measure and photograph, presumably so he could show his grandkids, the amazingly huge dump he'd just taken.

You probably can tell where I'm going with this unnecessary little story, but in case you can't, I'll spell it out: where people of a certain age (say, around twenty-one) might see the most amazing, astounding, exciting thing ever, a somewhat older, slightly more discerning person looking at the exact same thing may just see a big pile of shit.2

1. This is not a typo—I was on the six-year college plan. And now I'm using the internet to criticize others for their underachievement, laziness, and stupidity. I think that's funny.
2. In case you're wondering—and who wouldn't be?—I never did try to catch a glimpse of the record-breaking turd, either live and in person or by tracking down the photograph. Some things are best left unknown, including about 75% of the things that go on in a dormitory bathroom.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Appetite for Destruction

WARNING: The following half-assed review of the half-assed movie 2012 contains a ton of spoilers, most of which you've probably already guessed. But if you haven't, and you don't want me to ruin the movie, here's a summary: don't go see it.

It’s with some shame that I admit to having recently seen 2012, director Roland Emmerich’s latest enthusiastic effort to destroy civilization. I do take some pride in the fact that I didn’t pay to see it—my boss paid for the tickets as part of our office Christmas party—but at the same time, my ticket was still paid for, and I feel bad about that.

My conscience would have been less troubled if we’d snuck into the theater for free, and managed to ruin the film for a big crowd . . . but what I would have needed to do to actually ruin this particular movie, as it turns out, is a little too disgusting to even contemplate, much less describe.

I’d like to say that I went into the theater unbiased and open-minded, but astute Bowling in the Dark readers would realize this was bullshit. I did my best, though, to keep an open mind—which in this case amounted to telling myself maybe it won’t be as shitty as you expect.

Boy, do I hate being wrong all the time.

Some might say—and, for all I know, may already have said—that Roland Emmerich is simply Austria’s answer to Michael Bay, infatuated with special effects rather than story, car crashes instead of credibility, explosions instead of, uh, something good that starts with “e.”

This is patently untrue. Emmerich is German. But he, like Bay, has shown that he’s dead set on blowing shit up regardless of the consequences to common sense, steadfastly and nobly refusing to let mundane details of science, logic, plot, characterization, or good dialogue get in the way of telling a bad story.

While Emmerich has directed at least a couple of movies that don’t feature the end of a major city, or a continent, or human civilization as we know it, he clearly has what can only be described as a raging, mega-huge boner for the apocalypse. For your reading pleasure, I’ve compiled a partial list, in no particular order, of things and places Roland Emmerich has damaged or destroyed in his movies and, in parentheses, what destroyed them:

  • New York City (monument-destroying alien lasers)
  • White House (ditto)
  • Less awesomely-explosive parts of Washington D.C. (giant laser-induced fireball)
  • New York City, again (giant lizard)
  • Los Angeles (alien lasers)
  • Area 51 (alien lasers)
  • Los Angeles, again (tornadoes)
  • New York City (water, then cold, then ice, then Russian freighters, then wolves)
  • Al Gore’s credibility1
  • Two British helicopters (cold, more cold, and one dumbass opening the door to let in the cold)
  • Los Angeles, again (earthquake, falling into the Pacific Ocean, insufficient buoyancy)
  • That guy who played Bilbo Baggins (more cold)
  • Yellowstone (volcanic explosion)
  • Las Vegas, Nevada (earthquakes, liquid hot magma)
  • Paris Casino, Las Vegas (budget constraints—too difficult and expensive to destroy the real Paris)
  • Other less-important, non–New York City parts of the Northern Hemisphere
  • White House, again (crushed by aircraft carrier)
  • Woody Harrelson (volcanic explosion)
  • Washington Monument (gravity, earthquake, tsunami—take your pick)
  • Hawaii (liquid hot magma)
  • Delhi, India (tsunami)
  • St. Peter’s Basilica (heavy-handed anti-religious symbolism)
  • Thousands of Italian Catholics crushed by toppling St. Peter’s Basilica (see above)
  • Unsportsmanlike-Conduct Jesus statue, Rio de Janeiro (director’s need to destroy something religious in the Southern Hemisphere)
  • Poor old bell-ringing Himalayan Buddhist monk, some 600 miles and 14,000 to 20,000 vertical feet from the ocean (tsunami, somehow)
The repetition in the above list suggests that human civilization really ought to build new photogenic monuments for moviemakers to destroy, but redundancy isn’t the biggest problem with 2012. And it’s not the convenient falling back onto one of its director’s favorite stock characters, the sniveling weasel politician—although he does that as well. (See below for examples, and see if you can pick out the Mad Scientist character!)

The biggest problem with 2012 is that it’s completely, utterly preposterous. And yes, I expect and even look forward to a tiny bit of preposterousness in my movies. Even a good disaster movie requires our willing suspension of disbelief, but this one asks for two and a half hours of suspension of thought . . . which is about fifteen minutes past my limit. The lowlights include, but are not limited to, the following examples:
  • The Earth’s core overheats thanks to neutrinos. In real life, these particles pass through our bodies harmlessly by the tens of trillions every second, but in the movie they're dangerous because they’ve mutated. Mutated neutrinos. And they’ve mutated so that they heat up the core of the Earth, but nothing they pass through on their way to the center of the Earth—like, say, air, land, people, the oceans. 
  • John Cusack’s limousine can outrun earthquakes, which may explain why it can make the a thirty-six-hour round trip from L.A. to Yellowstone and back—including a night’s stay—in what appears to be about twenty-four hours. 
  • A twin-engine prop plane and a thirty-year-old camper outrun a pyroclastic flow.2 At one point, John Cusack's character outruns it on foot
  • The hellish volcanic firestorm that obliterates Yellowstone National Park, drops ash on Washington D.C. (2,200 miles away), and blots out the sun worldwide, musters only enough of a breeze locally to knock apocalypse nut Woody Harrelson giddily off his feet.3 
  • The entire surface of the Earth (which is, by my math, very large) shifts by thousands of miles in a matter of about twenty hours, conveniently placing the lost, crippled, low-on-fuel Russian cargo plane directly above its desired landing spot, without causing the slightest bit of catastrophic air turbulence. 
If you see this movie in the theater, that dull thumping you will hear is not a sub-woofer, it’s the sound of logic being kicked repeatedly in the crotch for 158 minutes.

All that said, though, I can’t bring myself to simply warn you away from this movie. It scored off the charts on the Unintentional Comedy Scale—I haven’t laughed so hard at a movie since The Hangover—and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy myself. But when you leave a movie about a global apocalypse and the near-end of the human race, is enjoyment really the right thing to be feeling? I don’t think so, which means either I’m a bit sick or 2012 was crap. So go check it out and let me know if I’m a bad person for getting a good belly laugh out of the end of the world. Do me a favor, though—if at all possible, sneak in without paying; you’ll help me sleep better tonight.

1. Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth apparently re-used glacier footage from The Day After Tomorrow. The problem is that the glacier footage was wholly computer-generated—i.e. fake, made-up, not real—which strikes me as kind of a no-no in a documentary. And, of course, it should be noted that this particular fake footage was taken from a movie that had nothing to do with weather that could happen in the real world.  
2. A pyroclastic flow (a “fast-moving current of hot gas and rock” occasionally thrown out by erupting volcanoes) can travel at speeds up to 450 miles per hour—faster, even, than an American RV.  
3.The film tries to redeem itself a few moments later by incinerating Harrelson’s character on the spot, but I’m sorry, that’s just too little, too late.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Knowledge is Power

One of the many intriguing observations Carl Sagan makes in his bestselling 1995 book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark is that slaves in the pre-Civil War United States of America were not permitted to learn to read. This in itself is not exactly a revelation—I imagine that it’s more or less common knowledge—but how Sagan relates this fact to modern-day America, where most of us were told from a very young age that knowledge is power, is keenly insightful and more than a little disconcerting. As Sagan put it, quoting Frederick Douglass along the way, this
was a most revealing rule: Slaves were to remain illiterate. In the Antebellum South, whites who taught a slave to read were severely punished. “[To] make a contented slave,” [Douglass] wrote, “it is necessary to make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate the power of reason.” This is why slaveholders must control what slaves hear and see and think. This is why reason and critical thinking are dangerous, indeed subversive, in an unjust society.

Now, it’s probably fair to say that being fined or whipped—or even both—isn’t as harsh a penalty as being, say, sent to prison or killed (or both), but it’s also fair to say that these punishments are exceedingly vicious given that they were meted out for teaching someone to read, an activity so contemptibly familiar that distressingly large numbers of unashamed Americans don’t even bother with it anymore.

According to a poll released in 2007 by Associated Press–Ipsos, 27% of Americans didn’t read a single book in 2006. Now, reading at a pace of a single page per day would be enough to get through an average-length book in a year. That’s less than five hundred words a day—maybe five minutes’ worth of work for a slow reader—but roughly 80 million Americans either couldn’t do that or didn’t bother to try.1

Granted, this statistic applies only to book-reading, so it’s very possible that some or all of those 80 million people read something else over the course of 2006. American readers have thousands of magazines to choose from and at least five or six surviving newspapers to read, not to mention millions of street signs, cereal boxes, and insightful billboards.

And some of this decline in book-reading could be attributed to the Internet, where the staggering volume of free and easily accessible reading material at least somewhat compensates, one could argue, for its dubious relevance, quality, or sanity. But be honest: do you really think that folks who don’t read books (or magazines, newspapers, or cereal boxes) go online to find reading material?

Neither do I.2

And granted, that AP-Ipsos poll is from three years ago; it’s possible that since 2006, some of those millions of non-readers have turned things around. Given how easy it is (or, at least, should be) to go from reading zero books a year to reading one—by my math, a net increase of just one book—a measurable improvement here should be a piece of cake. But it seems at least likely that reading in the United States of America—much like common sense, common courtesy, the 33⅓ RPM record, the barbershop quartet, and the leprechaun—runs the risk of continuing to dwindle into insignificance. That’s dangerous, Sagan tells us, and while he’s focusing mainly on scientific literacy in The Demon-Haunted World—rather just on literacy in general—I’m inclined to agree with him.

An illiterate society is an ignorant one; an ignorant society is an illogical and superstitious one, easily swayed by hucksters, tricksters, charlatans, demagogues, and dictators. Knowledge really is power, and ignorance is slavery.

In The Demon-Haunted World, Sagan draws connecting lines between laughable (and sometimes horrible), obvious superstitions of our past to their surviving descendents, the superstitions and pseudoscience of today. As he sees it, Dark Ages humanity’s belief in demons (specifically succubi and incubi),3 astrology, and witch-burnings don’t differ significantly from modern humanity’s fixations on the “face” on Mars, alien abductions, astrology (still alive and kicking, for some reason), the healing powers of crystals and magnetism, the Bible Code,4 Ouija boards, the “lost continents” of Atlantis and Lemuria,5 and pretty much every word ever printed in the Weekly World News.

There are plenty of ways to have your mind taken away from you—you could trash it with drugs and alcohol; you could be struck by an anvil or a falling piano, Tom and Jerry–style; you could, like Phineas Gage, have a giant metal rod explode through your skull; you could have your head ripped off by bloodthirsty Care Bears.6 But don’t just give it away for nothing. Our abilities to learn and to reason are what makes us human—that and some crazy genetic bullshit I won’t even try to understand7—don’t let ’em take them from you without a fight.

1. Some time ago—probably right around the time the AP-Ipsos poll came out, in fact—I had a brief conversation with a woman who claimed, without embarrassment, to have read only five books in her lifetime. She was probably in her early thirties, and had had to read a couple of the books for school—two books in (presumably) twenty-four semesters being not a particularly bruising pace—and one of the other three on her list was a book on the Atkins Diet. Call me picky, but I don’t think that counts.
2. To be fair, I suspect that readers and non-readers alike go online for roughly the same things: a. porn, b. shopping, c. porn shopping, d. fantasy football, e. porn . . . x. to settle bets, y. to check e-mail, and finally z. for insightful reading material.
3. Sagan makes a very convincing connection between the Dark Ages’ succubi and incubi (horny little demons who, although their existence was commonly accepted, went completely undetected by anybody except the humans they seduced in the night) and today’s alien abductors (horny little bald aliens who probe their victims quite thoroughly and rudely). These aliens have apparently mastered space, time, travel across impossible distances, and the ability to slip silently and undetected from the exosphere through skies blanketed by radar by a watchful military, all the way down through solid walls and into your bedroom . . . and they're sex-obsessed but haven’t the faintest clue what’s going on with human biology. If it's generally (of not universally) accepted nowadays that these demons were mere myths, why are we any more willing to give credence to their little grey-skinned descendants?
4. Sagan doesn’t mention the Bible Code in The Demon-Haunted World; that addition is mine. I hope sooner or later to share my thoughts on the subject, once I figure out more or less what they are.
5. Think Atlantis, but in the Indian Ocean. Or possibly the Pacific. An old roommate of mine once told me, at great length, about the “serious” book he was reading about the search for Atlantis. I still don’t know whether to cringe at the subject matter and at how ready he was to believe it, or just be happy that he was reading.
6. Don’t even try to tell me you don’t think this could happen.
7. I’m using irony here. Get it?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A New Reason to Hate the Yankees

I am not one for hating on the Yankees. Yes, the New York Yankees make more money than any other team in baseball, and of course they, correspondingly, spend more money on players than any other team. For reasons that I understand but do not agree with, this makes some people irate and many others quietly perturbed. Don't hate the Yankees because they operate within the system at their maximum potential to win baseball games. Further, I concede that the system may be flawed but do not agree with implementing a salary cap. I have not heard a cogent suggestion for how to fix the issue that I can get on board with.

So I am conceptually fine with the inherent advantages the Yankees have in the economics of baseball. But what if the Yankees get an additional competitive advantage from the vast (and evil, by the way) media outlets in the immediate vicinity of New Yankee Stadium? Having just traded for Curtis Granderson, a very good, if somewhat over-rated, center fielder formerly of the Detroit Tigers, it appears the GM of the Yanks shipped off some prospects to fill a hole with a player they can certainly afford. Here's the rub - they got the player they wanted and only gave up an over-rated prospect (to be fair, he could be pretty good eventually) and a marginal major league starter and a couple relievers (neither very good - these grow on trees in major league baseball). What if the mega-media outlets, who talk about the Yankees' prospects all the time, have contributed to that team's prospects being over-rated on a consistent basis? This would lead not to better home-grown players on the field, but to better players available by trade. Consequently, not only would the Yankees be able to buy the best players, but because their prospects are hyped way more than any other teams' maybe they also have the advantage when it comes to trading for the best players too.

Gosh. Maybe this is a bit out there, and certainly not something I would normally advocate. And I definitely do not qualify as an expert on any teams' prospects. But after watching the rumors float in the world of the LA Dodgers that such and such teams want the Dodgers' top four prospects plus some major league talent for certain players in trade, it does make me wonder if other teams believe the hype given to the Yankee youngsters by the Yankees media conglomerate a bit too much when I see trades like the Granderson deal.

Maybe something I'll look into. Any ideas how to prove this from the Bowling faithful? Just what we need - another reason for everyone to hate the Yankees.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Think of the Consequences!

On my good days, I’m filled with a cheerful belief that maybe American society isn’t as frivolous, silly, wasteful, and occasionally downright embarrassing as I sometimes suspect it is. On those days, when the sun is warm on my face, birds are signing, or I just haven’t slept enough to think clearly, I tend to hope and even—dare I say it—believe that maybe, just maybe, we’re not moseying naively down the path toward willing personal and cultural self-destruction, much less sprinting down it, clambering desperately over one another to get to the end first in case there’s a TV crew waiting for us there. It’s a nice feeling to have, this optimism.

My bad days, on the other hand, usually involve something like this:

The image above was listed as one of ten “Holiday Essentials” in a flyer mailed to me by a nearby mall. Why the retailers didn’t have the guts to describe these as “Christmas Essentials”—given that Santa Claus is fairly well established as a genuine Christmas icon, rather than merely a “holiday” one, and there are slim odds of even finding, much less offending, a Santa Claus fan who doesn't celebrate Christmas—is neither here nor there; I don’t care all that much about it one way or another, but regardless, it’s a topic for another day.

What really concerns me about the above is this: as your pets get older, more mature, more wise to the ways of the world—but still wide-eyed with wonder and innocent of heart—how can you bear to tell them that they didn’t actually get to meet the real Santa Claus?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Religion Embraces Evolution?

I appreciate Some Guy saying that he followed Monty Python's Flying Circus religiously. And while I can, unfortunately, confirm that he was a dork in high school (weren't we all?) I need to thank him for providing the foreshadowing to my post. For as I constantly strive to seek universal Truth (that's with a big T) I start to tackle the human condition known as religion (see what I did there - my bias on display already!).

The recent book "The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures" by Nicholas Wade explores his theory that people have a genetic impulse to worship due to the natural selection benefit provided to early societies that adopted religion. I have read books on the historical development of religion, by both atheists (such as Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion") and those of faith (including "The Dawkins Delusion" which I recently started), and I intend to put Mr. Wade's new addition on my list as well. Fortunately, my new favorite newspaper columnist, John Tierney of the New York Times Science section, did read it. The money quote (which includes a quote from the book itself):

In “The Faith Instinct,” after discussing some of the challenges to traditional beliefs (like the arguments of scholars that Jesus had little to do with the invention of Christianity, and that Muhammad might not even have existed), Nicholas notes that music appreciation, like religion, is a universal human faculty that draws people together, stirs the emotions, and exalts the mind to a different plane. He then observes:

Is there not some way of transforming religion into versions better suited for a modern age? The three monotheisms were created to meet conditions in societies that existed many centuries ago. The fact that they have endured for so long does not mean they were meant to last for ever, only that they have become like some favorite Mozart opera that people are happy to hear over and over again. But the world of music did not achieve final perfection in Mozart.

This is a brilliant observation by Mr. Wade. I hazard to guess that high-ranking officials in each of the Big Three Religions (in case you live under a rock - uh, a rock with Internet access - the Big Three consists of Christianity, Judaism and Islam) agree with portions of this sentiment. They DO need to evolve, and have done a piss-poor job of this in, oh, say the past 600 years. While standing around in their official garb (hey - it's a word!), the priest the rabbi and the imam (no, sadly this is not the beginning of a joke) would be loathe to admit that people only go because it has been something they are used to hearing over and over, like Mozart. It may not be a good reason, but it may just be the most common reason. And just like fans of the New York Yankees, they need to understand Mr. Wade's point - that just because they've been the winner before does not mean their institutions should endure.

Dawkins presents his argument in unabashedly indignant fashion, and this can feel like a club of the figurative head while reading his material. A biologist by education, Dawkins can (somewhat ironically - check me here, Some Guy) be "holier than thou" in his assertions, almost daring people to argue with him and giving off a vibe that if you beleive in God it is because you're not smart enough not to. But he brings with his arrogance a certain scientific credibility in his arguments. This is something I believe, for obvious reasons, the faithful cannot counter, for much of their argument boils down to "we believe it all happened, so it must have". This doesn't make it wrong, just as it doesn't make it right. On this issue, rarely do people use logic over emotion, and the discussion quickly breaks down.

Perhaps Dawkins' fatal flaw is that he doesn't distinguish between religion, faith and god, three very different ideas. God is the all-powerful being itself, and faith is the belief in.....well, something. But religion, while presumably based on the first two (faith in God) has become an entirely separate, almost corporate, entity, which can seemingly exist regardless of the actual existence of a supreme being. And maybe this is where Wade will shine, as he seems to identify a need to worship as something separate from the existence of god (or God, which ever he's talking about). Tierney wraps up his article discussing one idea for the evolution of religion:

What would the product of such a transformation look like? One possibility that occurs to me is a version of environmentalism, but with better music and with rituals that are more elegant than sorting garbage. A Church of Green could provide some of the same moral lessons and communal values as traditional religions, and I suspect it’s no coincidence that green fervor is especially prevalent in European countries where traditional religion is on the decline.

I can't wait to read Wade's contribution to the ancient and escalating debate. What do the faithful of Bowling in the Dark think?