Imagine two people sitting on a porch in front of a road in rural Texas. There is a telephone repair truck sitting in front of the porch, but the telephone repairman is nowhere to be seen.
Suddenly, a car, with California license plates, crashes into the back of the telephone repair truck at roughly sixty miles per hour.
The crash is spectacular, but, somehow, the driver of the car manages to survive with only minor apparent injuries. Unfortunately, the driver has no memory of anything before the crash, and seems to be quite confused.
Shortly thereafter, the telephone repairman returns, and wants to know what happened.
One of the people sitting on the porch asserts that the car (and driver) materialized out of thin air, and crashed into the telephone truck.
The other person says that the first account is hogwash, and that it would appear that some foolish Californian crashed into the back of the truck, and is very lucky to be alive and only suffering amnesia. They go on to speculate that the driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel, especially given the rumpled state of their clothes, which suggests that they may have been driving, more or less non-stop, from California.
The first person is now very irritated, and begins protesting, at great volume, that since nobody witnessed the car prior to the accident, there is no reason to believe that the car did anything but materialize from thin air.
The second person now asks the first how he can possibly believe something as preposterous as a car and driver materializing from nowhere. The first fires back, accusing the second of believing in a long chain of events (the trip from California) for which there is no direct knowledge, which seems more complex than a car appearing from mid-air.
The repairman says that he needs to file a report, and he would really like to know if the car appeared from thin air, because that would be an act of God, and would affect the insurance claim. The skeptical porch sitter wonders if an analysis of the car might help support the claim that it had not materialized from thin air. Upon inspecting the car, he finds that the gas tank is nearly full (and luckily unruptured). Knowing that there is only one gas station anywhere near, in the direction the car seemed to be traveling in, he calls the gas station (using the repairman’s cell phone, because the land line is still down) to see if they saw the car. The gas station attendant says that a car matching the description of the crashed car, and bearing out of state plates, was in no more than 45 minutes ago, and left heading the right direction.
The skeptic is now quite confident, but the first porch sitter quickly dismisses this evidence, noting that there is nothing to conclusively tie the two cars together, and that it could be a coincidence, and that he suspects the gas station attendant of being a dope fiend, and thus his testimony is of questionable reliability.
The skeptic, reluctantly admitting that the attendant could conceivably be wrong (although maintaining that it is highly unlikely), decides to look for more evidence. He searches the driver this time, and finds a California drivers license. He calls information (still using the repairman’s cell phone) and asks for the town listed on the license, and then gives the operator the name. After a few rings, a woman answers the phone, and after a brief conversation, in which she says that her husband went missing a couple days prior, asks to talk to the driver. She talks to the driver for a while, and then the driver hands the phone back to the skeptic. The woman says that the voice does indeed sound like her husband, but that he does not seem to recognize her. The skeptic tells her that the driver appears to be suffering from amnesia, so that is not altogether surprising. The woman procedes to get worried, and asks the skeptic to call an ambulance, and get her husband to the hospital, in case he has internal bleeding or something.
The skeptic hangs up, and calls emergency services. As he starts to request an ambulance, the first porch sitter angrily snatches the phone from his hand, and hangs up. The skeptic is now shocked beyond belief, and declares that the driver should be deliverd to a hospital ASAP. The first porch sitter informs the skeptic, that while he has been on the phone, he has been talking to the driver, and the driver apparently is seeing a variety of colorful patterns and other phenomena which nobody else can see. This, the first porch sitter asserts, is proof that the driver and car appeared from mid air, and furthermore, the best way to learn more about this appearance is to question the driver about his visions, and attempt to interpret them.
The skeptic is now furious, and begins, with no shortage of harsh languague, to demand that the the driver be sent to the hospital as quickly as possible. The first porch sitter is unshaken, however, and points out that there are plenty of holes in the trip theory. For instance, it should not take 45 minutes to get from the gas station to their porch, if traveling at sixty miles an hour. The skeptic throws up his hands in exasperation, and asks the repairman for help, claiming that, although he might not know every last detail, he is certain, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the driver and car did not appear out of thin air, and that if they don’t get the driver to a hospital soon, he might die or suffer permanent injury.
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Ok, so maybe I shouldn’t give up my day job to become a parable writer. Still, I think the point is obvious. Given the crime scene that is our corner of the universe, some of us keep trying to construct an image of what happened that fits the observable facts. As our observations change, we revise our theories. Others, however, are sticking to a timeline that was established thousands of years ago. When new facts arise which might cast doubts on this story, they spend their time looking for possible flaws in the evidence gathering methods, or in the interpretation of the evidence.
The stakes are high here, but let’s cut the crap. The car didn’t materialize from thin air, and even though we don’t know every last stop it made, we do know that it came from California.