Sunday, July 24, 2005

My Conversation With Herbert


"I am not Herbert."


In April of this year, my manager informed me that my position was being eliminated. I work for a medium sized software company, and we have development teams all over the world. Even though I work out of the Atlanta office, I reported to London. Someone decided that it wasn’t cost effective for an American to report to London. It was great traveling to England on the company dime. I loved working with the English developers, and they liked me because most of the Americans they met watched Fox News. “You’re alright mate. You can take the piss like the rest of us and you don’t like George Bush!”

Anyway.

The development manager in the Atlanta office told me: “Don’t worry, Viscount. There is a hiring freeze at the moment and we are already under-staffed so I’m sure we will find you something to do here.” How’s that for irony? The words didn't comfort me, because like the government, corporations tell you what serves their agenda; truth is a luxury not to be enjoyed by all. Not that the gentleman is one of them. He doesn’t even fancy himself one of them. His words were genuine. He went on to tell me about a position that he wanted to get approval to offer to me.

I wanted that position, but since it was not official decided I’d better hedge my bets and look elsewhere within the organization. I went to speak to one of the other managers to see what he had. Let’s call him Herbert. [Click the “rigid” wav. I was unable to link to it directly.] He described a position that sounded appealing. Any position would have sounded appealing, because there are precious few jobs to be had, and at my age and salary range it is even more difficult to find something. Apart from that, the position sounded like a good opportunity for me because they had incentives for certifications on new technologies and this would have been good for my career.

I never worked with him before, but I knew him personally. We have this little company “band” that plays once or twice a year at picnics etc., and he is in the band. He plays guitar and keyboards and sings. Very nice guy.

BUT.

I had heard that shortly after President Gump took office, (before I even worked here) Herbert was heard saying in the break-room: “Isn’t great to have a Christian in the Whitehouse, doing the Lord’s work?” He also at one time had a picture of President Gump and Governor Ahnold on the wall of his office, which I had seen, but has since mysteriously disappeared. I don’t want to ask him what happened to it, because I am afraid of the conversation that this question might prompt.

I tried NOT to think about these things in my dealings with him. After one of our many discussions regarding me joining his team, Herbert looked out the window and said: “Isn’t the world beautiful? Look at the trees. How could anyone look at that and not believe in an intelligent designer?”

Don’t say it! Walk away! Sarcasm alert. This guy has your future in the palm of his hand. So what if they stuck a sticker on your kid’s science book that says, “evolution is a theory…!” So what if he is one of them?

I remember the conversation going something like this:


Viscount: “Intelligent design theory? Sounds like you don’t believe in evolution?”

Herbert: “Evolution is a lie.”

Viscount: “I was raised a Catholic [before this], and we were taught that God created life through evolution. Evolution need not be anti-God.”

Unsaid: “I am now an Agnostic, which does not mean I haven’t made up my mind. It does mean that I require evidence to believe in something. Since there is no observable evidence of any supernatural beings, I do not believe in any.” The Viscountess, who was raised an atheist does not like the label of “agnostic.” I do because most Christians won't hassle me as they don't understand the concept. They figure that I am going to hell, but I’m not apt to bring anyone else with me who otherwise wouldn't be going anyway.

Herbert: “Evolution is a lie made-up by the secular movement to destroy people’s belief in God. The Bible is the word of God.”

Unsaid: “Oh Yeah? Then how come God didn’t say, ‘Slaves? YOU CAN’T OWN PEOPLE!’ ” I really need this job, oh do I need this job!

Viscount: “Do you think God cares more about your belief in the mechanism of how life got here, or how we treat each other on a daily basis?

Herbert: Pause, as if he never really thought about it. “Well, I think he cares more about how we treat each other, but I don’t want them teaching a lie in school as truth!”

Unsaid: Be careful. What you say now…

Viscount: “That is one possibility. Here is another: There is an agenda by the richest people to keep as much money as they can. One sore spot with them is that they have to pay school taxes based on their property values, and they send their kids to private schools. They hate school taxes. They figured out that if they could convince a lot of people that evolution is a lie and that there is an evil agenda behind that lie, then those people will pull their kids out of public schools, and then they won’t want to pay school taxes either. When a lot of regular people don't want to pay school taxes anymore, maybe those taxes will be repealed, and then rich people won't have to pay for the great unwashed's education."

Unsaid: Doh!

Herbert: Looking at me like I was speaking in some obscure foreign language that he couldn’t possibly understand. “I’ll have to think about that. I need to get back to work.”

***

To his credit, he is still on friendly terms with me, and did seem like he still wanted me to work for him, but the other position was officially offered and I gladly accepted it.

10 Comments:

Blogger M.T. Vanus said...

Viscount,

Darwin is an anagram for Inward.

M.T. Vanus

2:56 PM  
Blogger Manny Festo said...

You are a bolder man than I.

It is probably not readily apparent, given my normal preoccupation with boobies and b-movies, that I have, in fact, been trained as an evolutionary ecologist. That I myself am a product of evolution, however, my lowbrow obsessions make glarily obvious. Slave to the hormone body and soul, as Neil would say.

Nevertheless, I have learned not to bother discussing science, particularly evolutionary theory, with most of the people that I encounter. The average American does not have the training or the capacity to grasp the nature of complex systems, or to begin to contemplate the way in which the universe works.

If I see the hand of God in anything on this toilet Earth, it is in things like damselflies, or even, well, Kaitlyn Ashley. But I do not need to invoke special effects in order to move toward an understanding of these things. Nor are special effects required to support or reinforce my faith. Agnostic is a good word, but I will not argue atheism either. Too often, atheism is merely the inverse of religious fundamentalism. Besides, I don't believe in atheists.

Deferring to an intelligent designer, while appealing and reassuring, is not only bad science, but a failure of human reason (which is, presumably, a God given talent). It contributes nothing to understanding and staunches further inquiry.

Your efforts were valiant; however, Herbert is ignorant, and the battle is a losing one.

"To fail to speak to a man who is capable of benefitting is to waste a man. To speak to a man who is incapable of benefitting is to waste one's words. The gentleman wastes neither words nor men."
-Confucius

Good day, Viscount.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Sticky said...

I woulda cut the bastard!

9:26 AM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:46 AM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

Manny,

Good comments. I like the confucious quote. I just wanted to tell the story, and in fact my friend is a decent person who means well.

VL

6:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find some criticisms of evolution helpful in getting me to research and understand the complexities of the competing elements involved in evolution. A side from explaining some not so easy problems with evolution it is of little help. It is almost imposable to change a creationist mind. This issue has been there way to deal with and discount the last 140 years. Most Southern Baptist for example are descendants of people who have had there land invaded there culture destroyed they wealth taken (they would say stolen) and there way of life demonized. They have used alternate history and the internet as a way to fight back at an enemy they deeply resent and feel, but really no longer exist. With the world quickly changing around them they using creationism as a means of focusing there efforts to protect there faith and means influence of there local state and hopefully federal Gov. It does not matter if creationism is a lie or not true or half true (most completely believe in it) if it helps them keep control of there governments they feel they are safer from farther abuse from (evil Yankee outsiders and foreigners who only want to abuse them like the last 140 years). They truly believe ageist all evidence they are a good and honorable people who have been wronged slandered by the powerful city people from up north. This is not unlike holocausts deniers in Germany. The more you get upset with them the more they can punch holes in the official story and get people to question the true reality. When this happens they love it, to them it is a very sweet payback. I know this sounds f**Ked up but this is as it have seen it.

Sincerely
Big Torque

4:33 PM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

Anonymous,

A lot of truth in your comments. Thanks so much for stopping by and reading.

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Bob Dwire said...

Choice conversation; thanks for doing all the voices. But in many ways I'm with Manny. I just cannot have these chats any more. I have things to do, like watch paint dry.

3:41 AM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

Bob,

I understand. Intellectually I do know better, but like the hapless alcoholic I do fall off the wagon every-once-in-awhile. It reminds me of the Lewis Black bit:

"I used to argue with Creationists, but no more. You know why? BECAUSE THEY'RE IDIOTS!"

Thanks for stopping by.

6:31 AM  
Anonymous Mars Magnus said...

GOD is the only truth, and the Bible -- GOD's Word -- the only law.

Try to remember that as you look at all the other monkeys -- the Bible thumping ones in particular -- who are lost in the desert with you and are all staring at the last glass of water ...

3:08 PM  

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