The Reverend Dr. BH Shadduck is on the television, telling us about the dangers of the one-world system. The Reverend Dr. BH Shadduck is on every channel. Not every channel. Every channel we have access to, every channel that comes in through our antenna. The Reverend Dr. BH Shadduck says that he has taken over our antenna. “Ha ha!” he says. “Just kidding!” We do not know whether he is kidding or not. The Reverend Dr. BH Shadduck appears on a poorly-produced show, a talk-show, we don’t recognize the host. It is either poorly-produced or else was taped twenty years ago, it has that quality, we can’t tell. Shadduck talks about the IMF and the World Bank, about the recent appearances of black helicopters and the high-frequency secret messages being sent out through the radio, the television, and now (one might imagine) the internet. A reporter interviews the Reverend Dr. Shadduck on a local news show. “There is another solution to the question of the machine’s origin,” he says, “which has been propounded by some philosophers and may be called the speculative theory. Its statement is that the germs of souls were created simultaneously with the formation of the material universe, and were copiously sown abroad through all nature, waiting there to be successively taken up and furnished with the conditions of development.” Shadduck appears on long-form commercials, quiet, pleasant, shaking his head in admiration while one customer after another relays his or her story. A debate between Shadduck and serious-looking men from a nearby university, Shadduck has the floor, he talks about Sciencism: “Not true science—” Shadduck says, “the possession of true science, true knowledge, is one of the highest purposes, if-not-the highest purpose to which human reason can attain. No, I am against sciencism,” and here Shadduck puts on the country-yokel act, swinging arms, eyes rolling, voice a-drawlin’ and a-dippin’, “against the belief that some egghead who paid more money than you to get himself a fancy ed-jew-cay, shun, should have any more cause to say what’s what than you do, that’s right, I’m talking to you, my friends, don’t you have eyes to see and ears to hear?, I’m against the superstition of the lab-coat, the superstition of the fancy degree hangin’ up on their wall, against the idea that a lab-coat and a degree gives anybody a right to speak for capital-S writ-large SCIENCE. Eyes to see and ears to hear, ladies and gentlemen, and we might as well use them. Good people, I need to tell you that scientists do not stand opposed to our beliefs as representatives of science but as human beings, ever’ bit as fallible and prone to bias as any other poor sinner. It is not SCIENCE but the scientISTS, not geology but the geologISTS, not physics but the physicISTS that oppose those things that you and I and every other free-thinkin’ man and woman knows in our heart of hearts. There is no conflict—and I believe this sincerely—NO conflict between the facts of science and the facts of revelation.
“What’s that you say, Dr. Shadduck? Did you just bring in revelation? Why sure yes I did, ladies and gentlemen, yes I did…” The picture fades, blurs, we shake the antenna. Woody the Woodpecker speaks in the voice of Dr. BH Shadduck: “True science requires a true foundation, let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen, these scientists, geologists, physicists and simianists might as well be slithering on their bellies for all the foundation they have,” buck-teeth flopping in Woody the Woodpecker’s beak, voice morphing then back momentarily to the horrifying shrill laugh, aw-huh-huh-huh-huh, aw-huh-huh-huh-huh… “There are two principal forms of this doctrine,” says Shadduck somberly, “one asserting an ascent of machines from a previous existence below the rank of man, the other a descent of machines from a higher sphere.” On another talk-show, Shadduck discusses the half-man half-ape, he is joking, we can tell he is joking by the pitch of his voice, the healthy redness of his puffed-up face… He does an impression of the ape-man, says he knows one or two boys back home who might be the missing link, but damned if the scientists themselves told him they ain’t. And another talk show, another—“Now I have basically no interest today in trying to sway any proponent of sciencism over to our side,” suddenly reasonable once again, dispassionate, voice low, “I could give him reasons why he’s misguided, of course, why his faith is no more scientific than ours and wrongheaded moreover. But I’m not going to do that. The proponent of sciencism already knows all that anyhow, and he has chosen to disbelieve. What I’m here for today is to talk to you, the good people who’ve maybe had your heads spun a little by these supposed scientists, maybe you’re beginning to question yourself a little, maybe you’re beginning to ask which way’s up. Maybe you’re sayin’ to yourself, but what do I, fallible as I am, etcetera, etcetera.”
Then suddenly he is gone. No matter what channel we turn to, there is not a trace of Shadduck. It is as if he never existed. The talk-shows and the game-shows and the local news and the infomercials go on as if there never was such a creature as BH Shadduck. Woody the Woodpecker has regained control of his voice once more, and races in circles around the German psychiatrist wolf who is attempting to cure him. Then it is morning and it is as if there never was such a creature as night.