LIFE AS WE KNOW IT
Once a movement was founded to support the claim that “the jury’s still out regarding life on this planet.” All attempts to explain the origins and development of life as we know it were deemed, by followers of this movement, to be merely theories. Evidence for the validity of any one of them was just that, evidence only, from which firm conclusions could not be drawn, based on the following logic: theories are not facts; this fact by itself is enough to reduce all theories to opinions; all opinions are equally right or wrong; therefore, in the absence of agreed-upon truth, all theories, being essentially one person’s word against another’s, have equal potential for being either true or false; so, as a rough guide to the universe, believe whatever you want to believe and ignore all else. Any time one theory on the origins and development of life as we know it was presented, in a classroom or in public discussion for example, all other theories were to be given the same airing in descending order, determined not on the basis of “evidence” (which was merely a matter of “interpretation” and thus unreliable itself, many held, forming air quotes with their fingers to strengthen their point) but by a nose count of those who professed to believe in the theory in question already. If this determination to recognize absolutely every theory out there as being equal extended all the way to a conviction that life was only a few thousand years old or was left behind by aliens from distant galaxies who had, for reasons of their own, dropped by again at some later date to teach our distant ancestors the cosmic secrets of how to stack stones in neat piles and then zipped off once more after leaving instructions to wait for further guidance about what to do next, well, adherence to nonjudgmental neutrality in the matter of truth required that these assertions, too, be taken seriously. There was even a declaration made that life was so complex in design it couldn’t really be understood anyway. So appealing was the promotion of what came to be known as the “Jury’s Still Out” approach to life on earth that many of its proponents were invited to address school boards and state legislatures and help in drafting government regulations or selecting judges who pledged to enforce the “Jury’s Still Out” stance as the final word on any subject. Under normal circumstances, such an approach quickly could have proved self-defeating, of course, yet because it favored no particular position on the existence of life on this planet but instead threw the doors of the schoolhouse, government agencies, and the courts wide open to any and all claims without distinction on the basis of either evidence or logic, nobody felt anybody else’s view of the matter enjoyed an unfair advantage. Even those charged with the actual conduct of schools, government, and the courts seemed relieved that they too no longer needed to offer a convincing explanation of why they were here.
Copyright © 2003-2004 by Geoffrey Grosshans