I was in Canberra a couple of weeks back, visiting some relatives. And in between a gargantuan amount of time spent playing New Super Mario Bros., we managed to peel our arse cheeks off the couch long enough in order to visit the Canberra Botanical Gardens – we being myself, my missus, and a 4×4 full of in-laws.
We had Lunch. I ate approximately 54% of my body weight and precisely 638% of my RDA of cupcakes at the restaurant. I decided to try and walk it off – through the beautiful gardens, looking at all the ‘plants and shit’ as I so delicately put it.
But, being perfectly honest, walking isn’t really my thing – reading is. And it was for this reason that I found myself so easily distracted by this little guy…
Yes, that’s right, a little sign thing.
There were absolutely loads of these little sign things dotted around the Gardens. Plastered with ‘in-one-ear-out-the-other’ info on trees, flowers, foliage (or is it foilage? Thank goodness for Microsoft spell check) and such like. Being that I’m not clinically blind, and have the power of sight beyond sight, I noticed the scratching on this particular sign immediately, but dismissed it as the work of cider guzzling teenagers. Just vandals, bored, indulging the idle banality of misspent youth. Crazy kids.
But then I took a second look. It was then that I noticed. The word that was so precisely scratched off the sign was pivotal – perhaps the most pivotal word in the entire paragraph.
It was, specifically, a period of time.
But still, I just kept on walking, dragging my heels, slouching my shoulders, trying my level best to look ‘cool’ (extremely hard to do in a botanical garden, but I was giving it my best shot). After roughly a hundred yards of this rubbish, totally uncool walk, I started reading another info sign.
Again with the scratching. Again with the period of time. There was a pattern here, and I was starting to make the connection. I walked on for a bit, and eventually came across a third sign.
At this stage it was clear – even to me – that someone had gone through this park and deliberately scratched out any reference to time, or periods of time, from the information signs dotted around the park.
At this stage I made an assumption – the assumption being that the culprit, the vandal running around Canberra Botanical Gardens with a pen knife or whatever, was most likely a Young Earth Creationist, trying to erase from these helpful little signs any information that dared to suggest the earth’s age could be calculated in ‘millions’ of years instead of ‘thousands’.
I could be wrong. It could have been the dastardly work of someone who just really, really hated the word ‘million’; but I doubt it. The pattern was clear, and from it I deduced that someone clearly wanted to subvert science. They wanted to obstruct learning – they wanted to censor reasoning, and the conclusions that come from said reasoning.
Now I know what you’re thinking – here comes the conclusion where I make a sweeping judgement upon all Creationists, calling them idiots and such like.
Well you’d be wrong.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m perfectly aware that there is a body of research, written by people who know infinitely more about the subject of evolution than me, and they’ve most likely written bloody big books about it as well. Those people may have come to a different conclusion to me, and completely believe that the evidence shows that, yes, the earth’s age can be measured in thousands of years instead of millions.
I would disagree with them, but that’s fine. I don’t object to that – it doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
What does bother me, however, is this creepy little vandal running around the Canberra Botanical Gardens, deliberately sabotaging the hard work of others.
Because this is what the evolution/creation debate has been reduced to. It’s not science anymore, it’s not even theology – it’s simply politics. It’s about beating the other guy. And that’s not good for science, it’s not good for progress, no matter what your definition of progress is.
We’re at the stage now where Creationists and those that believe in evolution are so intent on fortifying their own position, mostly by squabbling with each other, that the ability to truly question themselves, or spend time perfecting and evolving their own theories (like all true scientists should) is lost.
And that’s the real tragedy – the direct result of idiots running around Botanical Gardens with a sharp little knife and a weird phobia of the word ‘millions’.
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