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The Tentacle


December 15, 2005

A Message From Above

Chris Patterson

The world of marketing, or should I say "re-marketing," has re-invented the beginning of the universe.

Intelligent design is the new term for Creation - the belief that a higher power - God or whomever you prefer - created the universe. It argues that the universe and everything in it is too complex and perfect to have been the result of an accident or evolution.

It is clear that the commonly used label for Creation has been changed in an effort to make the biblical rendition of the beginnings of the universe into something more scientific than just a miraculous event.

Of course, re-inventing terminology to give a more positive connotation is not a new marketing technique.

Consider BMW's "Certified Pre-Owned" cars, formerly known as "used" cars.

Or second-hand clothes now marketed as "gently worn."

Don't you feel better about that '94 Chevy knowing it is a "pre-owned" car rather than just "used?"

And one of my favorite reinventions was the infamous use of "Pro-Choice" instead of "Pro-Abortion;" and "Pro-Life" instead of "Anti-Abortion." The word abortion had such a negative connotation that both groups abandoned the use of it.

Pro-Choice and Pro-Life sound so positive and uplifting, don't they? Of course, neither term in any way tells you what the subject matter is.

Pro-Choice could be an argument for the option to super size or not to super size your fast food meal. And Pro-Life could be an argument against capital punishment.

Frankly, Intelligent Design just sounds like the name of a new show on the Home and Garden channel.

Now, if you haven't been following this movement to rename Creation, you may have missed the damning of the people of Dover, PA, by evangelist, television broadcaster, and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson in early November.

The whole matter is a long story but The Reader's Digest version is that the Dover school board members tried to require that biology students be read a statement explaining there were problems or gaps in the theory of evolution and that "Intelligent Design" was another theory on the subject. The statement recommended that students read about the theory.

That was roughly a year ago and their decision erupted into a lawsuit that was heard in a Harrisburg court about six weeks ago. No telling how that will turn out.

But the future of the school board members who tried to introduce Intelligent Design into the curriculum is much more certain. Every one of them was voted out of office in November and that's what prompted Mr. Robertson's warning on a broadcast of his program The 700 Club.

It went like this, according to two reputable media outlets:

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover - if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just ejected him from your city."

He continued: "And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do just remember you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because He might not be there."

Okay! There are so many problems with this that it's hard to know where to start.

Number 1: Just to clarify: There is no, none, zip, nada, not one iota of difference between Creation and Intelligent Design. It's a marketing ploy. Got it?

Number 2: Any attempt to try and sell people on an argument that Intelligent Design is a scientific and not religious argument is at best disingenuous and at worst a downright lie. Mr. Robertson's statement proves that point.

Number 3: And this is directed to Mr. Robertson: If there is a God, and I'm not saying there is, but, if there is one, I can tell you with absolute certainty that He or She is not going to ignore all the people of Dover because of a hand full of registered voters (probably about 20 or 25 percent) voted the school board out of office. I mean, really. If He or She is looking at numbers, there are likely more than 50 percent of the residents there who are big supporters of God and just didn't make it out to vote. Will the Creator or Intelligent Designer abandon them?

I think not.

Remember, Pastor Robertson is the man who was widely criticized last summer for using his public position to call for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, well known as a sharp critic of the Bush administration. Sure Mr. Robertson later apologized but the damage was already done and his true heart already exposed.

Now, just months later, having clearly learned nothing from the Chavez fiasco, he has once again stuffed his foot in his mouth by damning the community of Dover and all the innocents in it.

Pat Robertson is a dangerous man to his cause and does more harm than good to Christians everywhere. He gives credence to the fears of every non-Christian who believes Christians in America are planning to take over the country and force everyone to their will.

Hopefully, the Intelligent Designer will soon have a few words with Mr. Robertson.

I'm imagining that conversation going something like this:

"Pat, I'm going to be doing a little marketing and image work in the coming months and years. You remember Priceline.com did those ads that joked about replacing William Shatner as their spokesperson? That was a funny bit. I couldn't stop laughing when I saw Leonard Nimoy behind that hotel door. That was just hilarious. But I digress. Here's the thing, I'm actually thinking seriously of looking for a new spokesperson to replace you because you've been working so hard and it's probably time for you to get a break. So, tell me, what do you think about Pope Benedict XVI"?



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