A friend and I got into a minor squabble today about evolution, because we were talking about the recent passage of House Bill 368 here in Tennessee. It hasn't passed the senate or been signed by the governor, so it's not a law yet, but if it becomes one then the general interpretation of it is that teachers can feel free to teach intelligent design as a facet of the "scientific controversy" over evolution. My friend and I disagree over whether there is any controversy, since I believe in science, and evolution is science. My friend believes in intelligent design, and claims that it is also science.
To me, intelligent design is just creationism in a pseudoscientific package. Once you start trying to define the "intelligence" behind intelligent design, it starts sounding an awful lot like God, and God and science don't exactly go hand in hand. My friend disagrees, and then went on to say that, "Evolution is just a theory, anyway. Why not teach more than one theory?"
Rather than argue that my friend validates the theory of evolution every year by insisting on a new flu shot, I've decided instead that they're right: why not teach more than one theory? My friend Justin, who is pretty smart (I used to be smart, but I spent my twenties drowning my intellect in fried cheese and fruity drinks in gigantic glasses; now I'm sometimes confused by mirrors and often think that prime numbers have something to do with cuts of beef), explained this once by pointing out that in the same way that you should not bake muffins in gym class you should not discuss religion in science class because they have nothing to do with each other. I tend to agree, but where's the fun in that?
Instead, I want Tennessee to fully embrace this law by teaching multiple theories of evolution and the origin of life. I want the Darwinian model, of course, but would also like for them to cover intelligent design, spontaneous generation, Prometheus fashioning men from clay, twin brother hero-gods crafting the first men from maize and chili peppers, the Flying Spaghetti Monster touching Earth with his Noodly Appendage, the Great Egg splitting open and spilling forth All That Is Known, Earth-Woman falling from the sky to land on the back of a giant turtle, and Adventure Comics #333:
Our story opens with Superboy visiting his friends, the Legion of Superheroes, in their native time period of 30th Century Earth. There aren't any Sun Eaters or sentient buildings that need attention, so the Legion is working on an archeology project when they make a shocking discovery:
A strange metal tablet, you say? Let's check it out, with some science!
Radio carbon dating is real, adding further validity to this story. Anyway, the team decides to use their time bubbles to investigate this mysterious war between Krypton and Earth, so half of them go to ancient Krypton while the other half goes to ancient Earth.
Team Krypton runs into a little trouble, in that Krypton is a primitive planet with no scientists around, which makes it a little difficult to commit interstellar war. Saturn Girl may have a solution, though:
Superboy, by the way, is a total dick here.
"That's impossible, but even though you're probably wrong we'll go ahead and check out your lead, anyway."
At least he doesn't add that they're just humoring her because she's a girl. It wouldn't be at all surprising, given how rough women had it in Silver Age comics, but instead Superboy's reasons for being a dick in this particular case go unspoken. So does his apology for doubting her when they actually do run into a scientist:
It turns out that Krypton hates scientists because they accidentally obliterated a city through a nuclear accident, so the government banned all science in response, adhering to their campaign slogan of "Babies Shouldn't Be In Bathwater, Anyway!" The scientists are slowly constructing a space ark, so that they can go colonize prehistoric Earth, so the Legion decides to help:
Wait, did he just say they were bringing giant lizards?
Yeah, he did.
Meanwhile, back on prehistoric Earth, Brainiac 5's team makes a shocking discovery:
They found Atlantis:
They also found Leta Lal, complaining about the air quality.
Now, for those who don't know Silver Age comics, this girl might as well have a sign over her head that says "love interest", because you just know Superboy is going to fall for her. Superboy, and later Superman, continuously and consistently falls for the LL combo: Lana Lang, Lois Lane, Lori Lemaris, Luma Lynai, Lyla Lerrol, Lola-La, Lex Luthor... wait, that last one only happened in my imagination while I was watching "Smallville". Anyway, sure enough, the minute they set eyes on each other, sparks fly:
Unfortunately, Saturn Girl and Brainiac 5 immediately start bickering:
Two important things about that panel:
1) Superboy looks so irritated. "Guys, I'm trying to, you know, hit on this prehistoric alien chick over here. Could you keep it down?" Given that this is a Silver Age comic, they're lucky he didn't turn them into hags or force them both to marry Jimmy Olson just to teach them a lesson.
2) The Legion just started the war that they came back in time to investigate. By the end of the story, one of them will probably end up being their own grandfather.
There are several pages of fighting as the Kryptonian scientists battle the Vruunian colonists, aided by the Legionnaire instigators who, instead of being heroic, instead allow the hostilities to escalate to the point that the Kryptonians, who have been shunned on their own world for unleashing nuclear armageddon, decide that the best course of action is to unleash nuclear armageddon:
Saturn Girl, recognizing that the Kryptonian missle launch behind her is more important than the Kryptonian missle that Superboy's trying to launch over in Atlantis with Leta Lal, heads off disaster, and then Brainiac 5 makes a shocking discovery:
and suggests an even more shocking solution:
So, to sum things up, the Legion brings dinosaurs to Earth, starts a war, helps a bunch of people kill each other, stops the war that wouldn't have happened in the first place, and then invents Atlantis. As for those Kryptonian scientists, well:
It turns out that they got Jurassic Park-ed by their allegedly tame helper lizards.
So, what's the moral of the story?
Who cares? Morality has no place in high school Biology, where I'm going to lobby my local school board to be sure that "Adventure Comics" #333 is taught.