“Four periods down and no major incidents!” Elijah thought to himself as he walked down the hall to science class.
Most of the school knew he was back now. Almost everyone he saw these days said hello or welcomed him back. The attention felt a little odd. Before the visions, most of them wouldn’t even had noticed he existed. Several classmates had even approached him to hear more about the vision, but there was little time between classes. Elijah encouraged them to come to the morning prayer group meetings and he would do his best to talk more about the visions then. He would run it by Jonathan to make sure he was cool with it when he got to the classroom, providing he made it there before the bell.
He also hoped Ben would be there. They sat beside each other and it would give Elijah a chance to try to get him to come to prayer group the next morning. Ben seemed a little standoffish since the visions and Elijah didn’t want to seem like he was forcing him to come. Ben had been his best friend for years and he didn’t want to ruin it. Talking about religion and visions may not be Ben’s thing, but Elijah knew he’d at least get a laugh when he heard the number of students that had asked him for lotto numbers that morning.
The increase in Elijah’s popularity had indeed made him late for class. He could hear that Mr. Herkimer had already started taking attendance as he approached the doorway. His distinct nasally voice was unmistakable. Although stern compared to most of his other teachers, Elijah enjoyed Mr. Herkimer’s class. He was only a few minutes late and shouldn’t get into much trouble, but he expected there would be at least some comment, as Mr. Herkimer seemed to enjoy giving late students a tough time. Lacking any better alternative, Elijah ducked his head in anticipation and burst through the doorway.
“Ah! Mr. Abbot, so nice of you to join us,” echoed Mr. Herkimer’s patronizing voice throughout the room. “If it’s not too inconvenient, could you please take a seat so we can start?”
Elijah’s face reddened and he quickened his pace to his seat. “Oh, don’t let me interrupt you. Please continue,” Elijah said hoping it would keep him from looking like a total geek.
“Just sit down, Mr. Abbot. We have a lot to cover today. Most of which should be of particular interest to you.” Mr. Herkimer sneered. This was the typical welcome for all latecomers to science class. The sarcastic remarks and condescending tone was all part of Mr. Herkimer’s appeal. It never bothered Elijah even when on the receiving end of it. Coupled with the teacher’s tall, thin stature, frizzy, uncombed hair, and out of date wardrobe he had a kind of Ichabod Crane meets Albert Einstein look. Somehow the look boosted his credibility as a science uber geek.
Something bothered Elijah about the comment that the class would be of particular interest to him, though. It reminded him of Miss Freeds’ note with his history homework that Becca brought home. She thought he would find that interesting, too. Something about the way Mr. Herkimer said it made him think that what was about to be discussed was going to hold his attention much more than Cortes and the Aztecs, whether he liked it or not.
“Smooth entrance,” whispered Ben. “Real smooth!”
Elijah didn’t bother to look.
“Now class,” Mr. Herkimer said loudly to get everyone’s attention. “Today I have decided to veer off from our current topic to cover something that, in light of recent events, has begun to directly affect my teaching.”
Mr. Herkimer got up and stepped around his desk, holding up a paper in front of his face. He stopped in front of his desk and leaned back on the edge of it. “It has been proposed to the school board by a petition signed by a list of ‘concerned’ parents that the following change be made to the science curriculum.” Raising the paper closer to his face he read aloud, “We, the concerned parents of the children attending this school, propose that Intelligent Design be added as part of the science curriculum. Increasing evidence has shed light on the possibility that the universe is too complex to have been created by accident or a series of unlikely events. Blah, blah, blah and so forth.
“I can only assume that the recent events these concerned parents are speaking of would be the world-wide phenomena of the visions. Many have taken these visions as evidence that some god exists and is trying to talk to us, but I would like to propose that a supreme being is not the only possibility here. Several other options that come to mind are a sort of mass hypnosis or hysteria. Perhaps some government experiment using subliminal messages passed through T.V. or radio. Maybe this was someone’s idea of a fun ‘smart mob’ collaboration. Perhaps Mr. Abbot here may be able to help shed some light for us?” Mr. Herkimer’s voice trailed off as he dropped the paper to his desk and looked at Elijah.
It took Elijah several seconds to process what Mr. Herkimer was saying. “Is he accusing me of making this up? Playing along with some international prank?” he thought to himself. Totally caught off, guard Elijah stood up from his seat, “What I saw was as real to me as standing here in this room. It wasn’t my imagination or a wild dream. And, if I were planning on taking part in some kind of grandiose joke, I certainly wouldn’t have chosen something that would make my life screwier than it already was.”
Mr. Herkimer continued to stare at Elijah, as if scanning him for an opening. “Mr. Abbot, I’m not accusing you of anything. I’m merely stating some alternative possibilities for these so-called visions.”
Before either of them could say another word, Jonathan spoke from his seat across the room. “Excuse me, but you left out one possibility, Mr. Herkimer. The one that God might actually exist.”
“Although that might be true, Mr. Moore, as with all things spiritual, there is no proof,” retorted Mr. Herkimer. “Personally, I need something with a little more physical evidence than a bunch of dreams.”
Jonathan rose from his seat. Elijah could see he wore the same expression on his face that was there during his confrontation with Mark. “You talk like there’s proof for evolution. You teach it like it was a fact, yet there is no proof for that, either. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be called the ‘THEORY’ of evolution.”
“Well, there is certainly more proof than just saying that some unseen magical being did it,” Mr. Herkimer replied, his voice becoming louder and higher pitched. “How can a god expect us to believe in him if there’s no proof?”
“Funny,” scoffed Jonathan, “but the only proof I’ve ever heard for evolution only supports micro-evolution. The fossil findings don’t support evolution between species at all. You tell us that science is constantly learning, that scientists once thought the earth was flat, that the sun revolved around it; but with scientific advancements we found the truth. Yet after all this time you still cling to a theory that the evidence doesn’t support.”
Elijah could see that this conversation was only going to go down hill from here. Both sides demanded proof, but neither side had any tangible evidence. Why, he wondered? Why don’t we have proof he thought? Then, as suddenly as before, he felt it. The voice spoke again. He strained a harder to hear it. “Faith” it whispered.
“That’s it!” Elijah exclaimed aloud. As everyone turned towards him, he realized that he’d meant to think, “that’s it,” but unconsciously it had actually come out. He looked at Jonathan and then Mr. Herkimer. “Listen, what it all boils down to is that neither of you have definite proof for either side of the argument. Faith isn’t about having physical evidence. You both have faith in what you’ve been taught, not what you’ve seen.”
Elijah stepped back from his desk and looked around the room. “There’s a reason for faith. This life is a test. A test to see if we will follow God. If He constantly stepped in and forced us do everything, the test would be pointless.”
Elijah turned his focus to Mr. Herkimer and continued, “It’s like if you never taught us anything, just gave us pop quizzes and forced us to put down the correct answers. What would be the point? We wouldn’t learn anything for ourselves. We have to learn and make choices in this life. If God forced us to always make the right decision, we’d never learn anything.”
“That’s enough!” demanded Mr. Herkimer. “I will not have my class turned into a mockery of scientific progress. Both of you to the principal’s office!”
“You can’t do that,” said a voice that Elijah knew by heart, but he couldn’t believe had just spoken those words. Ben was now standing. “You can’t send them to the office for defending their sides of an argument that you started.”
“On the contrary, Mr. Kennedy, not only can I send the two of them to the principal’s office. All three of you can go. Now please leave my class.”
[Home] [Chapter 14] [Chapter 16]