Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Oblique joke

From here, but in general circulation.
A helicopter was flying around above Seattle yesterday when an electrical malfunction disabled all of the aircraft's electronic navigation and communications equipment. Due to the clouds and haze, the pilot could not determine the helicopter's position and course to steer to the airport.

The pilot saw a tall building, flew toward it, circled, drew a handwritten sign, and held it in the helicopter's window. The pilot's sign said ''WHERE AM I?'' in large letters.

People in the tall building quickly responded to the aircraft, drew a large sign, and held it in a building window. Their sign said ''YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER.''

The pilot smiled, waved, looked at his map, determined the course to steer to SEATAC airport, and landed safely.

After they were on the ground, the co-pilot asked the pilot how the ''YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER'' sign helped determine their position.

The pilot responded ''I knew that had to be the MICROSOFT building because, similar to their help-lines, they gave me a technically correct but completely useless answer.''
The reason for quoting this relates to the evolution/creation/ID debate. Biologically, we are naked apes. Our genetic material is startlingly similar to that of chimpanzees. This message has been drummed into us for at least the last forty years or more. And animals themselves are no more than devices which have developed to ensure the survival of genes.

This may be a very accurate description of what we are. But it is almost completely useless. It tells us little even about love, birth, death and families, and nothing of any use about music, art, cornflakes, the Eiffel Tower, nuclear weapons, Sartre, town planning, Doctor Who, Nectar points or philosophy. And if the light it casts on such matters is so dim, then its value as part of a metanarrative must be considered limited.