A few tens of thousands of years ago, there might have been a prehistoric man standing at the opening of his cave, idly scratching his arse as he gloomily surveyed the scene around him: a barren landscape with dry and withered crops. He and his fellow humans were almost on the point of starvation because of drought.
Then, a single raindrop fell on his face. Then another, and another. Within a few minutes there was the beginnings of a shower. And then there came the full rainstorm. He ran to get his friends and brought them to the cave entrance, where they began to leap around with joy – because even in those early days of humanity, long before the invention of science, they had worked out the connection between rainfall and the growth and blossoming of plants. This was the miracle that would save their lives.
And so that small tribe of early humans, having realised that there are certain connections in nature, certain causes and effects, started to work out and practise ever more elaborate ways of scratching their arses. Each year, they would go through the prescribed rituals that they determined would bring rain. After all, the leader of that particular tribe had noticed the fact that after he scratched his arse, the rains came. And others who witnessed it had no choice but to agree. What else could explain it?
Elaborate religious ceremonies evolved ever more complicated methods of arse-scratching. There were high priests of arse-scratching, and a carefully organised hierarchy of arse-scratching clerics.
The people who could bring the rains each year were revered. This was so important that the people willingly gave those clerics absolute power: their very lives – their crops – were at stake. Soon, the whole of that society was organised around the arse-scratching cult; huge shrines were built and adorned with arse sculptures and paintings. Those lucky people who happened to have a big arse were deemed to be blessed by the arse god, and the most pious of the arse priests developed the divine power to even talk out of their arses.
There was some dissent, however. Some people questioned the arse cult, not believing that scratching one’s arse did anything more than get rid of an itch. For their trouble, they were accused of heresy or blasphemy and faced torture and death for daring to defy the arse god.
These heretics were seen as a danger to the stability of the arse church, and the arse bishops of the church found that they had to explain why the arse-scratching ceremonies did not always bring the life-giving rain. They reasoned that sometimes, the arse-god was angry. Yes, that must be it. Other times, they realised that their arse-scratching ceremonies had not been done in the correct manner, so if the arse god was not properly appeased, he would not send the rain.
No one who wanted to stay alive questioned the existence of the arse god; whenever the ceremonies failed to bring rain, the arse priests could always think of a reason why the arse god did not respond to their arse-scratching. Sometimes, they would point at one of the villagers and accuse her (it was always a woman) of some kind of sorcery, and drag the wretched woman out to be questioned. She would be given a fair trial and then burned at the stake. And if the rains came the next season, that was proof that the witch had been the cause of their misery.
As time went on, however, a small number of people started to make their own observations. They noticed that the weather could be capricious. Even when they wanted sunshine and avoided scratching their nether regions for just that reason, it might still rain – sometimes causing huge floods that killed thousands of their citizenry. When they started to keep records of the weather, they found that it followed regular patterns – it could even be predicted for several days ahead, and annual weather patterns were worked out. Different crops could be planted at different times and cultivated in certain ways to get the maximum yield; not only that, but irrigation ditches could be dug in order to bring water from rivers when the rains did not appear.
These people, however, were reviled. The arse priests would have none of their so-called “science,” and had them rounded up and put on trial for their blasphemy. Their holy scriptures, handed down for hundreds – even thousands – of years from the earliest arse prophets could not be wrong. It was an article of faith that the arse god created and controlled the world, and it was the job of the arse priests to make sure that the arse god was worshipped as he required. For centuries following, the streets of the towns and villages were pervaded by the aroma of roasting meteorologists.
Eventually, however, the church of the holy arse saw a decline in its influence as rationality started to emerge in the human psyche. The godless scientists had developed an understanding of the world that enabled them to produce great wonders: electricity, computers, medical breakthroughs that saved thousands (even millions) of lives each year. And yet, despite the enlightenment of rational thought, there were still millions of people who clung desperately to their superstitious beliefs, unwilling to accept that the arse god was just a fantasy. For them science was still the evil anti-arse and they continued to believe in their imaginary deity; it still didn’t matter that their arse-scratching went unanswered, so long as they could rationalise their beliefs in their own minds and rally the faithful to continue to protect their religion against rationality and anyone who could think for themselves.
It was true, though, that in the most modern age, people wanted the best of all worlds. Those religious folks would accept and use any aspect of science that did not threaten their religious beliefs – things like computers and the internet, just so long as they could use the fruits of science to denounce, erm… the fruits of science.
Even though science had by now unravelled many of the mysteries of the world, and indeed the universe, the church of the sacred arse would not accept any of it. No one in the now secular society was denying them their freedom to follow their religion, but the arse worshippers wanted their religion to have the control that they had lost to the dark forces of reason. They would not accept evolution as a valid theory, and demanded equal time in science classes to promote their religious creation stories. When that got nowhere, they repackaged creationism with a new name: Intelligent Scratching – and called it “scientific.” But verily, it was cobblers.
And so a stalemate was reached. The science that had freed mankind from the dark ages because of the Enlightenment was still under threat from religion that was hell bent on taking humanity backwards to a new Endarkenment.
Will creationism win?
Only if the rest of us fart about with nothing better to do than scratching our arses.