Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Missing Links

Dato claims to hate Americans, so I pepper my conversations with him, as much as possible, with as many "like"s and "omigod"s that I can manage. I aim to annoy. After a long discussion last evening about evolutionary psychology, I flipped my hair back, rolled my eyes and said, "I mean, whatever. I don't believe that evolution stuff anyway."

Dato composed his face into a neutral expression. "Huh. Really?"

"Well, yeah. I mean, god, there's so many gaps in the theory, it's totally unbelievable. But nobody wants to pay attention to the one theory that has no gaps. It's all there in the bible, you know."

"Really?" he said out loud, struggling for polite. Ignorant Americans, he was thinking.

"No, not really. Christ, Dato, I'm an educated woman. Of course I believe in evolution."

Then he told me this story.

On a flight back to Georgia he was sitting next to two gentleman, one American, and one Georgian. The American was explaining to the Georgian why evolution should not be taught in schools, in favor of intelligent design or creationism. Apparently, according to Dato, this debate is currently taking place within Georgia as well, as a result of the growing influence of the Orthodox Church on the state.

But the Georgian was very polite. He listened carefully to the arguments, nodded his head thoughtfully, and offered "I understand what you're saying. And in Georgia it is particularly difficult to find teachers who can present the material in the sophisticated manner that it deserves. But I still think that it's probably important to keep evolution taught in the schools." The American would fire back arguments, and the Georgian would calmly acknowledge his points, but politely, inoffensively, demure from signing on to the crazy train.

Dato did not think anything more of the conversation until he was reading an article in the Economist a few days later on evolution, and saw a photo of the Georgian on the plane. It was this man, who had discovered the skull fossils at Dmanisi in Georgia; the oldest human fossils outside of Africa. That man, he has a restraint I will never know.

Forgot to mention that towards the end of this conversation on teaching evolution in schools, I very nearly attempted to explain to my Georgian friend the story of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, until I saw into the future five minutes, recoiled from the look he was giving me, and kept my mouth shut.


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