Monday, November 14, 2005

Somewhere over the rainbow

By some quirk of cyberspace a private exchange of e-mails appeared on my computer. Although Science Musings doesn't often visit political themes, I feel a public obligation to share the intercepted messages:

Dear George,
Forgive this e-mail, but I have a bad case of laryngitis and must curtail my thundering from on high. I have good news and bad news. First the bad news. The Earth has become corrupt, and filled with violence. I will send a great flood to destroy men, and with them the creatures of the Earth. Now the good news. You shall build an ark (see attachment). You, your wife, your daughters, and your immediate staff will be saved. You shall bring two of every sort into the ark, male and female. Of the birds, of the animals, and of every creeping thing of the ground, two of every sort shall come with you.
Yours,
God

Dear God,
Thanks for allowing me and my family to survive. I knew our personal relationship would pay off some day. I have instructed Dick's old company Haliburton to begin building the ark according to your plans. A no-bid contract, of course. Can I make a suggestion? The idea of preserving what the tree-huggers call biodiversity is -- well -- fine. But, really, is that the most sensible use of space on the ark? Wouldn't it be better to bring along the CEOs of all them great American corporations and their families. Who needs cockroaches, rattlesnakes and armadillos anyways?
Sincerely,
George

Dear George,
Sometimes I wonder why I bother. All you chainsaw Republicans think about is your pocketbook. Do you really imagine I made the Earth just for you? Do you think cockroaches, rattlesnakes and armadillos were afterthoughts, to be brushed aside when they become inconvenient? A panther lazing in the sun affords more pleasure in my sight than a hundred men scrabbling after gold. A condor soaring on the wind fills my heart with immense satisfaction. Please don't second-guess my creation. Get on with it, George. Load the ark, two by two.
Yours,
God

Dear God,
I don't mean to be unpertinent, but the task you have set me won't be easy. Gosh, there must be at least a thousand different kinds of animals. How will we ever fit them in? I've asked my pal Brownie to look into it. He did a heck of a job with Katrina.
Sincerely,
George

Dear George,
There are upwards of 50 million species of animals. I recall having created 30 million kinds of beetles alone (I have an inordinate fondness for beetles). But don't worry, I've worked this out carefully. The hundred or so largest species -- the elephants, hippos, and giraffes, for example -- will occupy more space on the ark than all the rest put together. A boat three hundred cubits by fifty cubits by thirty cubits will be sufficient. Take my word for it, George, there is room enough for all of my creation -- if you and your cronies don't hog it for yourselves.
Yours,
God

Dear God,
Forgive me for saying so, but the forthcoming flood offers a pretty darn good chance to get rid of unnecessary species. I mean, all those caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, they're just a nuisance. Maybe I misunderestimated, but I thought we humans were your favorite species.
Sincerely,
George

Dear George,
O.K., I'm tired of arguing. Decide for yourselves the value of snail darters, spotted owls, and caribou. But don't imagine I created these species lightly. The atmosphere, oceans, rocks, and life are all of a piece. Keep those so-called "unnecessary" creatures off the ark and you'll find a change in the air you breathe, the soil you plant, and the weather that brings rain to your crops. Take care, George, lest you inadvertently destroy the very source of your prosperity.
Yours,
God

Dear God,
I've talked it over with Dick and Karl. We'll stock the ark with domesticated species only. When the waters go down, we will turn the Earth into one big subsidized industrial farm. Biodiversity has a certain antidiluvian -- is that the word? -- charm, but the cost is too great. Let those 30 million kinds of beetles take care of themselves.
Sincerely,
George

Dubya,
It's a good thing I've got laryngitis, because I really feel like thundering from on high. When I gave you humans more brains than the other species, I had in mind that you'd be responsible stewards for my creation. It turns out that even an Intelligent Designer can make a mistake. Take care, George. It has started to rain...