Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.
~ Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791 ~

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Meanwhile, on board the "HMS Christadelphia" ...

We join the scene as the Captain and First Mate are having a discussion about a recent incident on board the ship...

First Mate: What was all that commotion about?
Captain: (sigh) It’s the Lookout. He keeps shouting that we’re headed for the rocks if we don’t change course.
First Mate: Are we?
Captain: I keep telling him our map doesn’t say that, but he keeps telling me I’d better see for myself and also to learn how to read maps properly.
First Mate: Sounds a bit arrogant.
Captain: Exactly. But it doesn’t matter now. We sorted it all out.
First Mate: Great, so you reached an agreement?
Captain: Kind of. We made him walk the plank. He refused to jump but seemed to agree to being pushed.

First Mate: (brief pause) So you pushed him overboard just because he said we were headed for the rocks?
Captain: No. He also said other things we didn’t like.
First Mate: Such as?
Captain: Well, he didn’t agree with our interpretation of the map, for one. He dared to suggest that our map might have been written by people who only had a primitive knowledge of these waters, and that other sailors have made new discoveries since then. He also kept going on and on about evidence and how he could actually see the rocks through his telescope.
First Mate: Whoa, that is dangerous talk!
Captain: Exactly! Such a blatant disregard for the map and its firm tradition. Everyone on this ship knows the map was delivered to us by the gods.
First Mate: Indeed! It is the pristine word of the gods. Anyone who disagrees should walk the plank.
Captain: Well, he didn’t exactly disagree with that part.
First Mate: Really? Well if he agreed that the map came from the gods, then what did he mean?
Captain: He suggested that the map wasn’t intended to be used the way we are using it.
First Mate: Blasphemy! How dare he question our authority?
Captain: Exactly. And that’s why we got rid of him. Just imagine if everyone listened to him! How would we reach our destination?
First Mate: Good point! Our way of reading the map is the only way that leads to the lost treasure. If we cross out one part, we’ll have to cross out the whole thing! We should keep in the tradition of our ancestors, John Thomson and Thomas Thompson.
Captain: Actually, that’s another thing the Lookout said. He said he and his team were following that tradition more closely than we are.
First Mate: Nonsense! We are the chosen ones to carry forth the tradition. Our ancestors specifically rejected this modern Theory of Evaluation! Is he suggesting we give the word of other sailors higher authority than the word of the gods?!
Captain: That’s exactly what we told him. But he claimed that even our great ancestors incorporated new discoveries into their interpretation of the map. He said that we’ve managed to avoid shipwreck before because of the innovative ways our ancestors taught us to read the map. He also said that some other ships are now heading into treacherous waters because their maps were not compatible with these new discoveries.
First Mate: If the gods wanted us to know about such “new discoveries”, they would have put them right here on the map.
Captain: That’s what I said! This arrogant Lookout thought he knew better than the gods. He even thought he knew better than us!

(The discussion continues for several more minutes. Finally...)

First Mate: Well, I’m glad he’s gone. One less trouble-maker on board means we’re safer and more likely to reach the treasure.
Captain: Hmm, there’s a rumour that he didn’t drown but was rescued by a small-but-growing team of sailors, known as the ‘Barrier Team’, who are supportive of his views. People are saying that the whole “walk the plank” fiasco actually gave them greater publicity. Many of the sailors in the Barrier Team are still on board this very ship!
First Mate: Well then they all need to face the same fate! Let’s search the ship...
Captain: Not so fast. We’re afraid of the rest of the crew. Some of them believe that members of this Barrier Team are a profit.
First Mate: Then we’ll plan together to entrap them with their own words.
Captain: Yes! It’s mutiny. They must be stopped. We need to alert the crew and instil fear into all of them. Fear is our best weapon against this modern tide of reason and evidence. It has worked wonders in the past.
First Mate: Good idea! If we don’t take immediate action, this Barrier Team will end up undermining the authority of our map, and even undermining our authority too!
Captain: We can’t let that happen. If people start distrusting our map and thinking for themselves, they’ll become atheists!
First Mate: (gasp!) Atheists? No way! Are you saying they'll leave the ship and go out into the big, scary world?
Captain: It’s true. I spoke to some atheists, former sailors of this ship actually, just the other day. The threat they pose to our treasure hunt is enormous!
First Mate: Really? What did they say?
Captain: They reckon that our map is just one of a number of man-made maps and that ours just happens to have been preserved while others have been lost in the sands of history. They reckon there is probably no treasure, and that our story about the magical lost treasure is probably just a placebo that gives us hope and lets us pretend we’re doing something constructive and meaningful with our lives. Then they had the nerve to point out that our ship isn’t even in the water, and is so far from the water it’s completely irrelevant to modern life!
First Mate: Tell them about the story of Noah! He built a ship a long way from water too...
Captain: I did. Then I also tried to threaten them by reminding them that they’ll never find the lost treasure and that they’ll be weeping and gnashing when we find it, but I couldn’t get a word in.
First Mate: Why not?
Captain: They were laughing too hard.