Q on Next Generation can do it, right?

"I'm staunch catholic." He said. "I know that I don't come off as being religious because I cuss and stuff but I never say goddamn. My belief is strong." He raised a beer can toward his bulging lower lip (which made him look like he'd been punched in the face) and spit into it. His spit was the color and consistancy of baby shit but it smelled like wintergreen. I wanted to ask him why he used staunch as an adjective, but changed my mind. He probably didn't know why and if he did, I didn't care.

"Yea? I gotta be honest with ya, Jim. I'd never have guessed. You hide it well."

"Well, I don't push my faith on others if that's what you mean."

"No, it isn't. But tell me this: Do you believe the bible is an interesting collection of allegories handed down to guide people or do you take everything in it literally?"

"The bible is all true."

"Everything?"

"Yep." Another thick brown drool entered the can.

"We definitely see things differently. Since I believe it's mostly allegory, do you mind if I ask you some specific questions about it?" Jim shrugged. The four Budweisers and his dip of Skoal must be causing a measurable degree of fuckit. "Do you believe that Adam and Eve were the first people on earth and that they had two sons Cain and Able?"

"Sure."

"Then, can you explain how Cain and Able had kids?"

"The bible doesn't say. God could have made a women for Cain to marry. Just because it doesn't say, doesn't mean it didn't happen. It doesn't say how or when he made lots of things."

"Ok. There's a portion of the Bible that lists all the people who begat, beginning with Adam, and I've read where someone added all those people until they came to some person that they could date with some accuracy, which indicated the earth is four to six thousand years old. Are you familiar with this?" He was nodding half way through my question, so I added the are-you-familiar part of my question just to be polite.

"It really is around four thousand years old."

"What about fossilized dinosaur bones?"

"God put them under the ground."

"What?"

"He wants humans to discover these things." He used his fingers to make air-quotes when he said the word discover. "He wants us to be able to come up with theories and to become scientists and archeologists and shit. He put all those fossils and diamonds and oil and other energy sources like uranium inside the earth for us to find."

"So you don't believe that millions of years ago those bones were actually the skeletons of live animals? And that oil and coal is formed by billions of years of heat and pressure exerted on organic material?" My voice was getting higher. I was either closing on him or losing him. I couldn't tell.

"God put all that stuff in the earth when he made it. Maybe he wanted us to think the earth was billions of years old."

Losing him; I decided to try a different tactic. "Do you agree that there are tectonic plates that move the continents around? Maybe a half-inch a year or so?"

"Yea, I guess so." He sounded skeptically unfamiliar so got up and brought us two more beers. I decided I needed more details.

"Earthquakes are caused by these plates bumping and shifting. Agreed?"

"Sure."

"If you back-track all the half-inch movements for hundreds of millions of half-inches. The east coast of South America and the west coast of Africa line up almost perfectly. Which, clearly, indicates the earth is old-old and not only a couple thousand years."

"Unless God made everything move apart really fast on the day he made the earth."

With logic like that, why was I even having this conversation? Oh. Because of free beer and because I was unable to converse about hunting, WWF, TV, or Sports. The only other thing to do was engage this wonderfully foolish redneck in some type of verbal poker.

I took another sip from my can and folded my invisible hand.

It takes all kinds. If everyone thought like me, I wouldn't have anyone to banter with, bitch at, disagree with, or despise. Boring peaceful banality would rule until I found some way to disagree with myself.

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