© 2006 Tim Simmons
Most people know that a light year is not a measurement of time but a measurement of distance. It is the distance light would travel if it was allowed to travel unabated for a year. Even grade school children learn these types of things by the sixth grade but apparently science wasn’t one of Johnny Hart’s favorite subjects in school.
In a recent cartoon, he exposes his complete ignorance (and apparent disdain) for science by having a flower pop up from the ground and ask a rock, “Hi! How many light-years old are you?” Then he goes on to belittle the scientific community and its desire to explore the universe in which we find ourselves.
Much like any other Christian writer, he writes things so as to misrepresent the “opponent’s” stance and thereby attacks merely a strawman. He has a preacher in the cartoon ask a doctor why scientists are always looking for life elsewhere in the universe. Then, in classic Christian fashion, he puts words in the scientist’s mouth that completely misrepresents the issue. The doctor says, “It’s a big universe, I fear we could be alone in it.”
Well, that certainly explains why scientists explore their surroundings! They are afraid! It has nothing to do with the desire to learn more about one’s surroundings. It has nothing at all to do with learning and discovering truth. Hart goes on to preach and offers the scenario of discovering alien life forms who may not be as friendly and loving as humans – as if that is reason enough to not look for life elsewhere. Let sleeping aliens lie, in other words. That sounds a lot like the fear tactics of old where an eternal torment of fire was the motivation for not disbelieving in God.
Then the good preacher says, “It’s showtime, doc. Let’s finish this inside.” Off they walk toward the church to hear a sermon entitled “God is love.”
But don’t you love the juicy irony? In a cartoon strip intended to attack science and evolution, Hart doesn’t even know what a light-year is! Furthermore, he apparently doesn’t care enough to make sure he doesn’t slip up. He could have looked in any dictionary or encyclopedia and caught his error before it went to press. But then, he’d be acting too much like the scientists at whom he flings his arrogance and ignorance.