I?ll never forget the day that Ms. Derwin got sick just before our high school biology exam. We had been studying evolution for weeks and were looking forward to a nice review session the day before the test. Ms. Merx from sociology had to cover for Ms. Derwin at the last minute. She tried to answer our questions, but I guess she was a little overwhelmed. This is all I remember:
Q: Ms. Derwin told us that the fittest individuals in the population will leave the most offspring. When I asked her to define ?fittest individuals? she said that they are the ones who leave the most offspring. Can you elaborate on that? I mean, if I told someone that the Pizza Hut is located next to the Wal-Mart they might ask me where the Wal-Mart is located. Shouldn?t I be prepared to tell them something more than ?next to the Pizza Hut??
A: I?m afraid I really don?t know the answer. It?s outside my area of ex ?
Q: I have a question about our reading from Richard Dawkins. He stated that an animal might have a need for five percent of an eye because it might provide him with five percent vision. Wouldn?t five percent of an eye produce zero percent vision?
A: Well, I?m afraid that it is purely a matter of speculation. I think that maybe ?
Q: Dawkins also talked about limbs evolving into wings. Do you think that a ?pre-wing? would be useful before it was capable of producing flight? It seems like an animal with a mutation like that would have difficulty climbing and grasping its food.
A: Oh, you are certainly wrong there, Jimmy. Such an adaptation must have happened according to the theory. If it was as awkward as you say, it would not have survived.
Q: Ms. Merx, where is the Pizza Hut?
A: It?s next to the Wal-Mart.
Q: Where is the ?
A: Shut up, Jimmy.
Q: My Dad is a computer programmer. He says that a random change in a Microsoft Word program would produce nonsense. Do you think that it could produce a coherent document in a different language?
A: I think it?s possible.
Q: Do you think that a change in Word could translate your sociology notes into biology notes, so you could give us some more coherent answers?
A: Shut up, Shirley. Does anyone have a non-sarcastic question?
Q: Wasn?t that a sarcastic question, Ms. Merx?
A: I said shut up, Shirley!
Q: What did Darwin mean when he said that ?Nature may almost be said to have guarded against the frequent discovery of her transitional or linking forms?? Was that a call for us to have faith over and above the failures of science?
A: I pray that you are only kidding.
Q: Aren?t you forbidden to pray in school, Ms. Merx?
A: Shirley, quit being such a God da?
Q: You can?t say ?God? in Ms. Derwin?s class, Ms. Merx. Didn?t she tell you that?
A: No, she?s in the hospital.
Q: Can we say a prayer for her?
A: Go to the office now, Shirley.
Q: I have another question about Richard Dawkins. In reference to the fossils of the Cambrian explosion, he said that ?It is as though they were just planted there, without any evolutionary history.? What did he mean by that?
A: Surely, he didn?t say that.
Q: Why are you calling me Shirley? Didn?t you just send her to the office?
A: Go to the office!
Q: Has any scientist ever manufactured a living organism from amino acid?
A: I don?t think I understand the question.
Q: Well, if it can happen by chance without science but not on purpose with science then what good is science? For that matter, what are scientists good for?
A: I think we?re having a communication problem. And stop it with the stupid puns.
Q: Sorry. My humor isn?t highly evolved. Maybe a random mutation would help to ?
A: Knock it off, Johnny.
Q: Do you think there?s such thing as a missing communication link?
A: Go to the office, Johnny.
Q: Surely, you jest.
A: Stop calling me by my first name. Call me Ms. Merx, not Shirley.
Q: My Uncle Bill owns a junkyard in Mississippi. A tornado swept through his neighborhood a few years ago. What would you say if the tornado turned a bunch of old car parts into a 1955 Chevy?
A: Well, Jethro, I would call it chance assembly.
Q: Why wouldn?t you call it a miracle?
A: I don?t believe in miracles. That is the province of religion, not science.
Q: Speaking of religion, Ms. Derwin showed us an episode of ?Cosmos.? Dr. Sagan kept saying that the Cosmos is ?all that is or ever was or ever will be.? Did he ever consider recording a musical version of that song to the tune of Gloria Patri? You know, ?As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever will be.? Maybe the closing line could be changed to ?World without God. Darwin. Darwin.?
A: Son, if you say ?God? again, I will have to send you to the office.
Q: Was that ?son? you uttered just capitalized?
A: Shut up!
Q: Ms. Derwin referred to creationism as ?demonstrably false? in one of her lectures. But, previously, she called it unfalsifiable. Which one is it?
A: That?s it. I quit. I have enough faith to believe in communism, but not nearly enough to teach you kids about evolution.
That?s okay, Ms. Merx. I struggle with my faith, too. But I sure don?t have enough to be an atheist.