WHY ARE WE HERE?  WHAT’S OUR PURPOSE?  WHAT’S THE POINT? 

Great questions!  We’re glad you asked.  Besides getting to know Why, gettingtoknowwhy.com is here for the purpose of archiving and exhibiting the fruit of several writing projects, the focal point of which is Getting to Know Why: a monthly column that considers the great questions of meaning by agonizing over the intellectual development of yours truly, “Dr. Why.”  The primary author/editor of the series is my long-time mentor and friend, “Dr. X”; but I also contribute quite a lot.  Getting to Know Why is first published in the Norton-Lakeshore Examiner under the direction of visionary editor Cynthia Price before it is republished here with my assistance.

Unlike most blogs and newspaper columns, Getting to Know Why is a serial: each installment builds on the one that precedes it and leads into the one that follows it.  Maybe that’s the only reason Editor Price classes it with works by Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Herman Melville.  In any event, because it’s a serial, Getting to Know Why installments are best read in the order in which they appeared, and they’re numbered for just this reason.  If you’re a newcomer trying to decide whether Getting to Know Why is worth getting to know, however, then I recommend you start with installments #2 and #3.  You can go back to #1 later if you decide you’re interested. Continue reading

#1: Introduction
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* Why, it’s for you! *

Greetings from Firenze, Italy—also known as “Florence.” I’m in a café drinking cappuccino at the moment. It might seem strangely forward of me to start off reporting on my circumstances like this, as we don’t yet know each other; but since this is to be the first in a series of columns, and since you are my target audience, I hope to change that. So please allow me to introduce myself: I’m Dr. X.

Continue reading

#2: Introduction Continued
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* For Our Parents *

Warm groeten from Amsterdam.  I’m in town for a conference—always a good excuse to have some fun.  I enjoyed dinner, conversation, and a tour all at the same time last night on one of the city’s many canal-boat restaurants.  The boat was motorized, but my hosts said that it used to be drawn through these very canals by horses.  Gezellig!

If you read last month’s installment, you know that I’m “Dr. X” and that this is a sort of critical intellectual biography of my friend and dialogue partner, “Dr. Why.”  Rather than bore you with an orderly procession of all the significant moments in Why’s life, however, I’ll share something of his current intellectual position and then zig back and zag forth from that in subsequent installments.  I will thereby prepare the ground from which to examine some of Why’s other—shall we say, more interesting—ideas. Continue reading

#3: The Dead-Head-Eve Scenario
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* For The Dead *

Jerry Garcia w purple skin and background TO USE 3

HAPPY 50TH ANNIVERSARY TO THE DEAD! (Click to view image credits.)

Hello everyone.  I’m “Dr. X,” and you’re reading the third installment of a serial biography I’m writing about my good friend and dialogue partner “Dr. Why,” who has some very interesting things to say about science, religion, and their relations—among other things.  Why surprised us with a visit last time, and I’m pleased to report that he’s returned once again to continue our conversation.

We were discussing the importance of founding hypotheses when we concluded our last installment.  Why had illustrated his belief that the historical sciences reason in circles against interventionist theism by pointing out that uniformitarian geological methods assume rather than prove that no God has intervened in Earth history.

Welcome back, Dr. Why.  Is that a fair synopsis?

Y:  Glad to be back, Dr. X.  Fair enough, except what I last remember is discovering the gender-bending implications of your suggestion that creationists can’t think male nipples were useless back in Eden.  Continue reading

#4: Critique of the Dead-Head-Eve Scenario
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* For Rent: To rent a GTKW dedication line, please contact Dr. X.*

If you’ve never joined us before, welcome.  If you have joined us before, welcome back.  I’m “Dr. X,” and the subject and star of this column is my good friend and fellow traveler, “Dr. Why,” who has many very interesting ideas to share with us.

Why has been telling me for years that inquiry of all sorts builds on “founding hypotheses” that may always be doubted and may often be replaced, sometimes with grandly surprising results—conceivably even creationist results.  So last time—challenged by me to render belief in Adam and Eve “even remotely plausible” while accommodating the historical sciences—Why donned his comedian hat and shared an entertaining rendition of the so-called Fall-of-Man story of Genesis 3.  By interpreting the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge as an hallucinogenic mushroom, Why created a scenario showing that the experience of any one person—no matter how much science it includes—is compatible with the hypothesis that s/he’s really Eve dying of a drug overdose in Eden. Continue reading

#5: Caricature of Young-Earth Creationism
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* For Ann Reid and Eugenie Scott *

Hello everyone.  I’m “Dr. X,” editor and principal author of this rather unorthodox biography you’re reading about my friend and colleague, “Dr. Why.”  I wrote this paragraph while relaxing in an evergreen-forest campground dotted with electrical boxes disguised as giant  Christmas mushrooms.  Given Why’s appeal to psychoactive fungi in his comedic rendition of the “Fall of Man” story two conversations ago, I couldn’t help but wonder if I really am Eve dying of an overdose in Eden!

(Click to read Dr. Why’s comedic rendition of the “Fall of Man” story in GTKW #3!)

We’ve been recounting Why’s past to explicate his present thinking on science and religion—a topic about which he has some valuable things to say.  Why is unavailable at the moment, however, so I’ve decided to introduce you to an old friend from his formative years, nicknamed Yec.  Why’s dealings with Yec were mostly extra-curricular, as Yec was expelled from Why’s school when they were both quite young.  The school said the expulsion was justified by Yec’s irrepressible tendency to blurt out ridiculous nonsense in class, and the government concurred with a statement that cited constitutional limits on free speech.  But Yec’s supporters attributed it to a sort of bigotry inspired by Yec’s gross deformities and bizarre mannerisms.  And Yec really is grossly deformed, so I won’t ask you to shake its hand during this introduction, only to stare at it long enough to get a sense of what we’re talking about.  Yec’s full name, after all, is young-Earth creationism. Continue reading

#6: On Miracles in Young-Earth-Creationist Method
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* For John Whitmore *

Back in the Precambrian several thousand years ago, coveting culinary adventures beyond the provisions of Paradise and talked by a walking snake into eating the only fruit God strenuously warned them against, our Greatest Great-Grandparents traded everlasting nudist bliss—theirs and ours—for leathers and harsh discipline by a neophyte Grim Reaper, who, mere generations later, in a Flood higher than Everest and a Grave deeper than Grand Canyon, overzealously drowned and then buried everything that breathed save the fortunate residents of a floating zoo called Ark.  Or so we heard last time from an old friend of my usual guest.

Overzealous, Neophyte Grim Reaper

Continue reading

7-12: Transition to Chapter 2
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*Forgive the mess!*

Dear Friends:

Those of you who followed Getting to Know Why as it unfolded online prior to the appearance of installment 20 may have noticed that ten installments—numbers 7 through 12 (previously of Chapter 2) plus the four entertainingly argumentative “comments” known collectively as The Mythic-Man-Breasts Subseries—have disappeared from GettingtoknowWhy.com.  They disappeared because we took them down.  What you are currently reading is intended to fill the gap they left behind. Continue reading

#13: Dr. X’s First Encounter with Why, Part 1
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*For Pat McManus*

 I really hope you’ll lend me your ears today, dear readers.  I can promise to repay you by earning your interest, as I’ve a memory that will grow fonder if you fondle it: a memory of my first meeting with the fit subject of this serial, my dear friend and colleague, the hefty-yet-quick—the Olympic—Dr. Why.

I’d like to keep the details of when and where to myself, so I’ll start like this: Once upon a time . . .

I was reclining on the chaise longue in my comfortable office library, on a great campus of a greater university in the middle of everywhere the modern Academy can take you.  The term was done, the students were home, and my staff was gone at last.  I had no task at hand, no plans afoot, neither gleaming typewriter nor blinking computer in sight, and only nothing on my mind.  It was a rare and precious and consummate moment.  I hoped at heart to keep it and resolved to try as I relaxed there—on my long chair, in the great midst—into nix . . . .

But then, as if possessed, my office door spoke to me:

“Knock, knock,” it joked. Continue reading

#17: Grandma and The King
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* For Grandma and The King *

When the man on the radio announced the bad news, my mother, who had been inducting me into The King’s biggest-fan club ever since I was old enough to listen, paused a moment from her work in the kitchen to wipe my face and tell me sadly that he was gone for good.  I was impressed by my mother’s sadness, so I quietly asked questions and felt distressed by what I understood.  And when Grandma came over for dessert that evening, I paused in the middle of an ice-cream headache to tell her that The King was now with Jesus.

“It means no more records or movies or live specials on TV,” I informed her, sadly. Continue reading

#18: On Lima Beans
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Boiled mixed vegetables: flaccid wax beans, puckered peas, rubbery carrots, passable corn, and just-plain-evil Lima beans.

For all I know, it really is true that Lima beans (properly pronounced Leemah beans) arrived in Europe back in the mid-16th century as a gift sent to the Dutch Royal Family by a notoriously prodigal, second-born usurper of the rightful child-king of Peru.  I doubt that’s true, but if it is, I know why the kid sent them.

Boil them a little while and Lima beans feel chalky and taste of dust.  Boil them a little longer, and they feel mushy and chalky and taste of dust.  I hate Lima beans.  And I’ll bet that little tut-tut of Peru did too.

“No Mother,” I can hear him say in the affected tones of a twelve-year old boy fully convinced of his mother’s love and the divine right of kings, “I will not eat my beans.  In fact, neither I nor any of my good subjects shall ever eat these horrid beans ever again.  I order you—no, not you, Mama; I’m talking to the Admiral—get these revolting things out of my kingdom immediately!  Round up every nasty little bean in Lima, load them onto my three fastest ships, and send them with whomever grows them to The Netherlands; they’ll eat them gladly there if anyone will.  Feed whatever’s left to my royal piglets.  Not my royal ponies!  Or burn them to ash, for all I care.  Only do not boil or bury them or I’ll have your head!  Is this clear?” Continue reading

#19: Out Fishing
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*For Dad*

God knows what we had to do to get them sometimes, but we tried hard nonetheless.  After sleepy, rushed breakfasts on foggy, blue-moonlit mornings and dark, rain-clouded mornings and even mornings when we only hoped the rain would pass, slicing in an aluminum craft toward a far shore through insect-rippled glass or battering along atop rolling, broad chop full of weeds and cold and God knows what: we two boys and Dad, a bag of Mom’s sandwiches, three tackle boxes, four rods and a bucket of live bait, out fishing. Continue reading

#22: All I Wanted for My Birthday, Part 2
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*For Mom*

(Continued from #21)

I realized eventually that I was probably being unreasonable.  Her pleading commands and exasperated gape said it clearly.  Her staunch inflexibility modeled it perfectly.  But we were nonetheless deep into a screaming fit before I got the point: You can’t resist this like vegetables, protest it like Sunday mornings, avoid it like hot ovens, or expel it like shit: Aging is unstoppable as sleeping. Continue reading

#23: For the Record
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* For the record *

‘Dr. X’:  Your story has one thing wrong—but it really doesn’t matter much.  I have a photo album that shows that your 4th birthday cake was a Mickey Mouse cake….  But oh well, so stories go.  Did you REALLY ask for a spanking?!?!   

                                         -Dr. Why’s Mother, Dec. 2016 Continue reading

#24: Do You Want Children? by Dr. Why
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* For the Children *

In this installment, Dr. Why shares some of the back story to #15: “Last Valentine’s Day.”  Enjoy!                             

-Dr. X

We’d been having such a good time together, and I was so thoroughly enamored with her, that I wanted to ask her some serious questions (despite having only just met her).  I decided to jump right in.

“Do you want to have children?” I began.

She looked away to stifle a grin.  “No,” she said, plainly, “I don’t.”

“I don’t mean now,” I clarified, “or with me.  I mean ever.  You never want children?”

“No, no children,” she said again.  “I want a career.”

I wondered why she couldn’t have a career and children but didn’t want to suggest the possibility. “Really?” I pressed.

“Really,” she insisted, narrowing her eyes.  “Everyone has children.  I want to do something different with my life.  Is that so hard to believe?”

She sounded both certain and sincere, but something in her answer made me wonder whose it was.  So I continued.

“Ok, but come on,” I provoked, “do you really even know if you want children?  Can you?  I mean, you’re what?  Twenty-seven?”

“Thirty-one,” she retorted, raising her chin.

“Thirty-one,” I repeated, thinking that might be old enough but wanting to know it.  “Which means your biological clock will strike alarm in just a few years, and then you’ll start demanding children immediately.”

She blushed at me and sat back a moment, then rocked forward again and stabbed a finger in my face.  “Look here!” she preached: “I’m a person, not a machine!  I don’t have a biological clock!  I make decisions!  And I decide no children ever!”

For my part, I had known for over a decade that I didn’t want children.  I wanted them once but had found the prospect terrifying ever since my first great heartbreak at nineteen.  Then I studied the Holocaust in college and learned that the world is no place for children.  And I imagined that I was to have some heroic career that would preclude children.  And when I started to lose my childhood fundamentalism against my will, I condemned anyone who thought their children might burn in Hell one day (as my mother and I then feared I might) but went ahead and made them anyway.  This last reason had sorta burned itself out, but the others remained, more or less.  And besides, everyone has children, and I wanted to do something different with my life.

So I was impressed by her answers, even if they did seem studied.  She had clearly thought the matter through, and she was old enough to know, or close.  She didn’t want children!  But those curves sure needed to nurture somebody.

She’s the one for me, I thought.

So I let myself fall in love with her, planned a future with her, and invested several years through thick but mostly thin.  And then one day four-ish years ago, seven years or so since we met, she put a finger to her face, rocked forward, sat back, blanched, and said, in effect,

“I’m a machine after all!  With a biological clock!  And it says, Give me children immediately!

To rent a dedication line or to comment, write to Dr. X at contactdr.x@gmail.com or to Dr. Why at contact.dr.why@gmail.com.

All rights retained by the authors.