08 September, 2005

The day the sun stood still

Apparently, some fundamentalists have managed to sneak it into school curriculums in Texas that NASA research supports the Biblical account of the sun standing still in the sky (Joshua 10:11-14) at the behest of Hebrew ass-whupper Joshua. NASA actually has a page about this.*

Anyway, Majikthise was on this shit fully a month ago. I just caught up via Hedwig, who had a panel of the comic "Slowpoke" posted mentioning this travesty. Jen, creator of Slowpoke spells it out in detail.

Since I'm clearly in the dust on this one, I'll employ this opportunity to point out that not just Christian fundamentalists spout such hooey. My mom does, too!

My parents publish a newsletter that goes out to the New England Hindu community, and I've drawn a small one-panel comic for this for many years, usually religiously-themed, often inspired by Hindu mythology. One particular comic was based on a story about Hanuman, the son of the wind ("monkey god" to you uneducated rubes). In his youth, the young Hanuman looked up one day and saw the orb of the sun in the sky. Imagining it to be a ball that he might use as a plaything, he leapt up and took it in his mouth, plunging the world into darkness. The various demi-gods, alarmed, intervened and encouraged the boy to cough up the sun. Then they cursed him to forget his powers for good measure, perhaps telling him he was a very naughty monkey.

Anywho, being the humorless empiricist that I am, I lampooned this story by depicting Hanuman looking up at the sun and telling a bystander, "Well, I was going to swallow it, but then I realized that my mouth wasn't wide enough by 870,000 miles." Ha ha!

Later I discovered that the official censors (my parents) had edited my comic and replaced my punch-line with the limpid "What a nice ball! Why don't I find you a different one?" (voiced by the bystander). I was about as outraged as I could be about something so ridiculous and unimportant, but since my name didn't ever actually appear on the comic I couldn't demand to be divorced from it. So instead I argued it out with my parents, who told me that my comic had been "wrong", because Hanuman had, in fact, swallowed the sun. All my best efforts to point out how absurd this was, including the likely catastrophic effects on the Earth ecosystem of even a momentary blip in solar input, the concomitant change in mass required by Hanuman and its disruption of gravitation in the solar system, etc., were met with patient insistence that I was wrong. My parents are smart folks, but their adherence to dogma (in this case, the notion that the Ramayana is absolutely historically accurate) sometimes leads them to espouse ideas that are not so smart at all.

* Rotational energy of the Earth, incidentally, is 2 x 1029 J. What happened to all that energy in the intervening hours while the Earth wasn't rotating is a mystery. Also a mystery is why Joshua says, "Sun, stand still," instead of "Earth, stop rotating." It's almost like he believed the Sun traveled around the Earth! Fortunately, it's called Biblical inerrancy, not Joshuaic inerrancy.


Yeah, the revised punchline was lame-o. But I don't think they actually beleive that Hanuman Swallowed the Sun. I think their objection is something along the lines of "You're changing the story!"

Because all your other cartoons adhere strictly to the Puranic texts. 

Posted by DearDarlingDidi

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