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Isaiah Lake
December 3rd, 2011, 08:53 PM
“In the beginning, there was nothing… Then gases exploded and created the universe.”

I had barely gotten this out of my mouth when a student spoke up and asked a question. “But Doctor Smith, where did these gases come from?”

Why this student couldn’t understand what I was teaching him was beyond me. “Jimmy, let’s use our brains here… In the beginning, there was nothing. Do you understand? This has to be so because anything eternal would imply that God could exist, but science tells us that nothing is eternal…”

Again, my student interrupted my teaching, “But Mr. Smith, what about the law of conservation of energy that states that energy cannot be created or destroyed?”

“Jimmy,” I said, “Since we know that God cannot exist, we know that nothing is eternal. Now, after there was nothing, gases exploded creating everything. This, class, is how Earth was created…”

“But Doctor, I thought Earth wasn’t created?”

“Jimmy, of course Earth was created. How do you think it all happened? Now, after the universe was created, Earth just so happened to be in the exact spot in the solar system that it needed to be to sustain life. Otherwise, we would be either too close or too far from the sun. Then bacteria formed on Earth and created millions of perfectly harmonious organisms that so happen to be a perfect formula for life on Earth.”

Still, Jimmy couldn’t understand, “But Doctor Smith, why did everything just happen to fit together so perfectly?”

“Jimmy,” I said, “It’s like a watch. If you take all the pieces, put them into a box, and shake the box for millions of years, you will eventually get a watch. Just remember that in the beginning, there was nothing. We all know that God cannot exist because nothing is eternal.”

“Oh. Well, I guess that makes sense.” He finally understood. I just don’t know what was so confusing for him.

egpenny
December 3rd, 2011, 09:10 PM
Loved the stories content, especially the watch parts in the box. I think you use the word Jimmy too much. There are two speakers in the piece so there is really no need to keep identifying one of them as Jimmy, he's a student, a young man even a he, so mix it up a bit. There is some punctuation stuff going on too, I'm pretty sure, but my punctuation sucks so I'll leave that for someone else to mention. This was thoroughly enjoyable, made me smile.

Raptor980
December 4th, 2011, 03:57 AM
Well, I don't agree on everything you stated but it's your POV. The overall storyline was humerous but like egpenny stated you used Jimmy a lil' too much. Just an opinion. I don't think you'd get a watch even after millions of years. Watches are too delicately made that the chances would be like 10000000000*10^23. This anology was used well in your story though. Was overall enjoyable though.

Isaiah Lake
December 8th, 2011, 12:03 AM
Thanks. Just keep in mind that as delicately as watches are made, we are infinitely more complex. I do believe that you both are correct about the overuse of "Jimmy".

josh.townley
December 8th, 2011, 01:05 AM
A fun little story. I don't like the watch analogy for evolution, though, since I'm a scientist myself. It's often used as a way to discredit the theory of evolution by people who don't really understand the theory of evolution.

fossiliferous_g
December 9th, 2011, 03:33 PM
I'm a scientist too, a paleontologist actually, and for all of my studies and papers and research, I still don't really understand the big bang. I like this story because it really captures how hard it is to teach difficult concepts because sometimes, even the teacher doesn't truly understand what they're saying (and that could be in any subject matter, not just science!) Just denying God doesn't necessarily make it science...

I also like the way the teacher seems confused - why doesn't this kid get it? I was a writer before I was a scientist and I combined the two disciplines because I have big dreams of interpreting science for laypeople, explaining the things that seem so confusing in terms that can be understood by elementary schoolers. But it's just not that easy...and it's not that easy because I have a hundred colleagues in the natural and environmental sciences that just intuitively understand their work, but have a hard time telling me why it's important and what it means.

And many of them have that attitude - why doesn't this kid get it?

Nice concept

Punnikin
December 11th, 2011, 09:37 PM
I understand how time constraints could cause you to oversimplify the beginnings of the universe, epecially for the point of the story, but if a teacher had said any of thses things to me in class, I'd have had them drawn and quartered.

So, the critique. Skipping the previous statements about the overuse of names, the punctuation was very good, and the use of paragraphs was excellent. Sadly, I couldn't get any kind of enjoyment from a story so blatantly misinforming as the teacher's argument. A teacher of any subject should have at least a base understanding of the subject they are teaching, although I know this isn't necessarily the case. I found nothing in this story to amuse or enlighten me. I'm sorry.

Cuppy
December 18th, 2011, 05:56 AM
I liked it, but ir really just seemed like a poke at science. I agree with the story, but it just seemed strangely out of place without a larger context.

ElDavido
December 30th, 2011, 01:56 AM
I think what may be helpful, with regards to the narrative concept at least, is if you stated what the aim of the piece was. I think far fewer people would raise issue if it was about the difficulties of teaching complex ideas than if it were intended as a legitimate dig at the scientific method. As an aside, if it was the latter I would criticise it as unhelpful in any debate. Really to offer anything helpful I would need some more information about the direction you are writing from.

SeaBee1
January 1st, 2012, 03:37 PM
I think the direction Isaiah is coming from is self evident. It seems to me to be a short piece on the concept of intelligent design or at the very least that the concept of a "God" should be considered in any "Origins" debate. On another level, I don't think Isaiah is trying to highlight the student's confusion here but more the teacher's. The story really boils down the whole complex "Origins" debate into a few paragraphs. Both sides of the debate are well set in their beliefs and neither side understands why the other side doesn't "get it". In this story, I think Jimmy simply moves on because Doctor Smith "doesn't get it".

Then again, Isaiah may come back and tell me that isn't what this is about at all. That I "didn't get it". At any rate, well done Isaiah, I enjoyed the story.

Walkio
January 1st, 2012, 06:50 PM
Well written little snippet. However, as others have said, it's better to have a working knowledge of what you're criticising before you criticise it - and it's generally considered bad form to lecture/moralise your readers through your characters.

Die Oldhaetunde
January 3rd, 2012, 06:33 AM
Very well written creationist propaganda. I suppose you are pleased with yourself.

Isaiah Lake
January 4th, 2012, 12:47 AM
I think the direction Isaiah is coming from is self evident. It seems to me to be a short piece on the concept of intelligent design or at the very least that the concept of a "God" should be considered in any "Origins" debate. On another level, I don't think Isaiah is trying to highlight the student's confusion here but more the teacher's. The story really boils down the whole complex "Origins" debate into a few paragraphs. Both sides of the debate are well set in their beliefs and neither side understands why the other side doesn't "get it". In this story, I think Jimmy simply moves on because Doctor Smith "doesn't get it".

Then again, Isaiah may come back and tell me that isn't what this is about at all. That I "didn't get it". At any rate, well done Isaiah, I enjoyed the story.

SeaBee, you nailed it on the head. What I've written here isn't a research paper including everything you need to know about the creationist vs. evolutionist argument. If it were, I wouldn't have posted under the "fiction" forum. This is not a poke at science either. I have simply offered a thought on the fact that much of modern science has been observed under presumptions that creation science is completely ludicrous. If anything, I am upholding a true scientific mindset by ruling in all variables and possibilities; maybe it's not quite so astronomically impossible to believe that the intricate world around us was created. Raptor's comment fits perfectly with my story; try comparing a watch to our infinitely dynamic universe and all of the little things that just so happened to fall perfectly into place for life on Earth.

As with any piece of art though, there can be many interpretations. I enjoy the fact that there are many different views here about communication between teacher and student. Thank you everyone, for the input.

j.w.olson
January 4th, 2012, 01:01 AM
Well done. You kept my interest, but the story is a little too obviously about setting up a strawman and then knocking it over. Portraying an ignorant teacher (and it is good to point out the ignorance and biases of professionals) is not adequate method of refuting scientific theories.

I would enjoy it more, whichever side of the issue you take, if you draw out the conversation more, make the teacher a bit more believable (perhaps watch this (http://www.khanacademy.org/video/big-bang-introduction?playlist=Cosmology+and+Astronomy), if it helps) and turn the piece into an example of a backfiring socratic dialogue.

egpenny
January 4th, 2012, 01:02 AM
I thought it was satire. It surprised me when some people took it seriously and I wondered if I was wrong. I read it again and still couldn't understand why any teacher would be so dumb on purpose, especially when using the watch peices in a box thing.

SeaBee1
January 4th, 2012, 01:52 AM
SeaBee, you nailed it on the head. What I've written here isn't a research paper including everything you need to know about the creationist vs. evolutionist argument. If it were, I wouldn't have posted under the "fiction" forum. This is not a poke at science either. I have simply offered a thought on the fact that much of modern science has been observed under presumptions that creation science is completely ludicrous. If anything, I am upholding a true scientific mindset by ruling in all variables and possibilities; maybe it's not quite so astronomically impossible to believe that the intricate world around us was created. Raptor's comment fits perfectly with my story; try comparing a watch to our infinitely dynamic universe and all of the little things that just so happened to fall perfectly into place for life on Earth.

As with any piece of art though, there can be many interpretations. I enjoy the fact that there are many different views here about communication between teacher and student. Thank you everyone, for the input.

Thanks for the reply, Isaiah. I did hope I wasn't putting words in your mouth, so to speak. I too, am a creationist, but maybe not in the classic sense. I do think there is room for a modified theory of evolution (actually adaptation, in my opinion) within the creationist viewpoint, but most people of creationist belief are just as loathe to accept any idea of evolution as the evolutionists are to accept the idea of a God. There really is no middle ground.

Well, it keeps things entertaining, anyway.

Best regards

CB

Chirios
January 4th, 2012, 02:09 AM
This is not a poke at science either.

It kind of is. From a purely writing craft point of view this is quite well written, the problem comes when you actually look at what it states. You've quite badly misrepresented a lot of what physicists say, as well as what biologists say for the sake of the "satire", the result is well, strawman argument, you've created a fictional argument and then set it up as "science". And saying that with art there are many interpretations is basically a way to shield what you've written from criticism on the basis of fact, which is, quite frankly, intellectually dishonest.

If this wasn't satire, if this was say, sff, I'd hold it to different standards. The only rule in SFF is that the world you create be internally consistent, however satire works by pointing out the logical fallacies in real world arguments, which you haven't done. Again, mechanically this story is pretty much fine, the details however are almost completely wrong.

Walkio
January 4th, 2012, 11:27 AM
According to the big bang theory, in the beginning there wasn't 'nothing'. The universe was squashed down into a high-energy, super-small (possibly point singularity) 'ball'. It's erranous to think of the big bang as an explosion; think of it more as a sudden, rapid expansion. And of course the soup of gases came after the big bang when it had expanded and cooled. Two main pieces of evidence for the big bang: we know that the universe is expanding (from the Doppler effect), and so logically we can assume that the further we go back in time the smaller the universe was. Also, the background radiation is constant, which supports the theory that the universe was originally very small, dense, and high energy.

(I'd also like to point out that the cleverest people in the world have come to accept this theory as the most probable explanation for the beginning of our universe.)

You're right that the first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed - it just changes from one form to another (and so is in effect eternal). Over the years many people have put forward that energy must therefore be 'God'. So, yes, of course energy is eternal. But in no way does this prove the existence of a supernatural being who answers prayers, heals the sick, and demands ancient Arabs sacrifice their infant sons.

We know Earth was 'created' about 4.5 billion years ago, when molten rock came together under gravity and then cooled. It was captured by the sun's gravity and began orbiting, just like billions of other planets around billions of other stars in the universe. And yes, it just happened to be in the right place to sustain life - but that isn't so hard to believe now, is it? We know that there are billions and billions of planets orbiting stars out there - is it really so hard to believe that one of those planets (ours) happened to be in the right position to sustain life? No, of course not.

And then the good old watch analogy. I'm surprised you didn't opt for the whirwind in the junkyard making a jumbo jet - I think that's a little more famous. Completely wrong, though. Evolution is an extremely gradual process of some mutations being beneficial, and therefore likely to pass on to future generations through genes. It is not a massive leap to 'voila, we have a new animal!' I recommend you actually read some books on evolution.

Walkio
January 4th, 2012, 11:46 AM
I decided to make my own imaginary conversation. This time Jimmy is a creationist, and the teacher actually understands what he's talking about.

"But, sir, it's not very believable is it? This big bang thing."
"I understand where you're coming from, Jimmy, but as I said before there's a lot of evidence for the big bang."
"I think it's more believable that God created the universe."
"Mmmm... not actually sure it is. You see, what does God create on day 1?"
"He said 'Let there be light' and created day and night."
"Ok, Jimmy, and how exactly do we get day and night? What happens at sunrise for the day to start?"
"The sun comes out."
"Yes - so most people would accept that day and night comes about from the Earth spinning as it orbits the sun. However, God didn't create the sun and the stars until day 4. So how could he create day and night before the sun?"
"Hmmm..."
"Jimmy?"
"You said the Earth goes round the sun, but that's not true. The sun goes round the Earth. In the bible Joshua commanded the sun to stop in the sky. He didn't command the Earth to stop moving."
"Jimmy, I honestly don't think that happened."
"It's in the bible."
"But what about the sky being a second sea? Or the land rising up out of the sea? I mean, we went through the water cycle last week..."
"All true. And we're not descended from the monkey men, either. God created man in his image."
"I figure it's the other way round."
"And God created Eve out of Adam's rib."
"Men and women have the same number of ribs, Jimmy. And anyway, the theory of evolution is substantiated as much as the theory of gravity. Genetic mutations occur, and usually they're detrimental. However sometimes they're beneficial to the organism, who is more likely to survive and reproduce, passing on their mutated genes. This organism can still reproduce with others in its species - evolution is so gradual that you couldn't tell the difference between a parent and its mutant offspring..."
"It's not true. God created all the animals at the same time."
"So there were dogs and cats running around with the dinosaurs?"
"Yes. And hamsters. And He made humans last of all."
"But what about all the fossils of our early-human ancestors? The fossil record is probably the greatest evidence of evolution - because not one fossil has ever been found that is older than it should be. We've never found the fossil of a wolf in amongst the trilobites, for instance."
"Fossils are put in the ground by the devil. Everyone knows that."