The Truth, Mainly - 12/05/2005

Divine Intervention in KU games?
by Leon Satterfield

I don't want this to get around, but I've got a confession to make: when Cornhusker athletic teams go up against Jayhawk athletic teams, I'm more likely to be humming "I'm a jay jay jay jay Jayhawk from down in Lawrence on the Kaw," instead of whatever it is that Husker fans hum.

It's because when I was at an age when we form jockstrap allegiances, I lived in Kansas. I was growing up when KU had basketball players like Clyde Lovellette and B.H. Born and Wilt Chamberlain. They whomped the Huskers much more often than not.

But while the Jayhawks routinely won the basketball games the Huskers routinely humiliated what passed for the KU football team. I got over that after 20 years or so and just accepted it as The Way Things Are.

Then suddenly it was 2005 and the football score was 40-14.

KU had the 40. Nebraska had the 14.

I suspected Divine Intervention. You know why?

Because the Kansas Board of Education voted—just days before the game (don't tell me it wasn't planned that way)—in favor of requiring the state's public schools to teach Creationism in science classes, and, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, to tell the students they had to decide between belief in the Bible and belief in evolution.

Tell me that's not the origin of the 40-14 score. When God calls the plays, there's not much doubt about the outcome, is there?

Anyway, I thought I had good news for Cornhusker fans: I was going to announce that the KU dominance over the Huskers was a one-time thing in football, and that the Huskers were about to start another long string of football—and basketball!—wins over the Jayhawks. I was even going to predict that the Husker basketball team was on the cusp of whomping the Jayhawks by 30 points in Lincoln and by 40 points in Lawrence.

I was going to argue that the eastward flow of the Kaw River was going to get miraculously reversed and magically connected to the Kansas City sewage system. And that Mount Oread—the site of the KU campus—was about to turn into an extremely active volcano.

And even more bizarre, I was going to predict that the Jayhawk basketball team was going to finish dead last in the conference.

Why, you're probably asking, did I think all that was about to happen?

And my answer would be that certain KU faculty had unknowingly asked for it. And the most guilty, I was going to tell you, was the faculty in the Religious Studies department.

Here's why: the department was planning to offer a spring semester course called "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism, and Other Religious Mythologies."

It was that last word that was going to cause the thunderbolts.

I thought that because I took it seriously when Steve Adams, chair of the Kansas Board of Education, said Kansans had to decide between belief in the Bible and belief in evolution. And I believed the chair of KUs Religious Studies Department, Prof. Paul Mirecki, really meant it when he said this in response to Adams:

"The KU faculty has had enough….Creationism is mythology. Intelligent Design is mythology. It's not science. They try to make it sound like science. It clearly is not".

And that's when the doodoo hit the fan. Made me want to head for the storm cellar, but we don't have one.

Prof. Mirecki seemed to have administration support.

The KU provost, David Shulenburger, said "It is unfortunate that the course title's reference to mythologies has been misconstrued. The terms 'myth' and 'mythology' are common in the academic study of religion and not an affront."

The KU chancellor, Robert Hemenway, said that evolution is "the unifying principle of modern biology."

So I figured that talk like that was surely going to result in some kind of Divine punishment of KU, and that the campus would be riddled by thunderbolts.

And most important of all, the KU athletic teams would not only be playing against Nebraska. They'd be playing against God. And that would be good news for the Huskers.

But then in Friday's Journal-Star, all my forecasts of KU's athletic and academic disasters went down the tube.

Prof. Mirecki announced that his class in "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism, and Other Religious Mythologies" had been cancelled—even though 25 students had already signed up to take the spring semester course.

The cancellation is good news for KU's athletic department—who wants to play against God?—but maybe bad news for Nebraska and the rest of the conference.

We'll just have to wait and see. If the Jayhawks whomp Nebraska in their basketball encounters, it may be a sign that the Deity has forgiven KU.

Or it may mean that She just doesn't give much of a damn.


Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail address is:

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