Once upon a time there was a small school in the middle of the Zoo, it was a popular zoo and all the animals of the zoo sent their children there, be they kittens or puppies or cubs or piglets or cygnets or little baby echidna.
To make life easier for everybody the classes were separated by letter, so the Antelopes sat with the Aardvarks and the Arctic foxes and they learned about Androids and Artichokes and Anaesthesia. The Pumas shared a class with the Penguins and the Puffins and they learned a lot about Performing, Poinsettias and Piccalilli. However the Zebu and the Zebra got a lot of room to spread out but they did learn a heck of a lot about Zoology.
Now today was a very special day in the zoo, and Miss Echo was about to teach her class about a very special subject. She had taught her class all about Exoskeletons and Enemas and Egypt and Electrons, but today she had to teach her class all about Evolution.
Evolution was a very large subject, so she had spent a long time with books and the internet learning as much as she could so that she could tell the children as much as she could and answer all of their questions.
That morning, she had all of her class ready at their desks and eager to learn. Eagerness was something they learned very early on and they had promised to be Eager at all things as often as they could. The biggest animals were sat at the back, starting with Esteban the Elephant and Elvis the Elephant Seal, right through to the smallest at the front, with Eloise the Emperor Penguin and Esterhase the Electric Eel. Erika the Earwig and Eloise the Earthworm were so small they sat directly on Miss Echo’s desk.
Miss echo started the day with a question. “Before we begin, children, can anybody tell me what Evolution actually is?”
Esteban the Elephant raised his trunk and answered “Is it about how animals change?”
Edward the Echidna decided to add his voice “Is it genetic mutation to suit adaptive environments?”
“It’s a shameful lie that denies the existence of a loving god” said Eva the Eagle.
“Why would you say such a thing like that?” said Miss Echo.
“Because that’s what my mum and dad told me, and it’s in the bible.” said Eva the Eagle, who felt that she had been insulted to be asked.
“Well that’s a very interesting point, and we can discuss it in a minute, but for now we’ll be talking about evolution and how it has affected all of us.” said Miss Echo.
“If you’re going to talk about evolution being a FACT then I’m not going to listen to you because it’s a violation of my religious views and so I’m going to sit with my wings over my ears and hum to myself.” Said Eva the eagle.
Miss Echo was a little upset about this, and she didn’t approve of Eva the Eagle being so disruptive in her class, but Eva the Eagle was right and didn’t have to learn about things that she believed was wrong.
However Miss Echo didn’t believe that Eva the Eagle should be able to disrupt her class in such a way and so got her to sit at the back of the class out of the way, and even behind Esteban the Elephant where her humming wouldn’t be so distracting to everyone else.
After she had moved Eva the Eagle, Miss Echo turned to her class and carried on talking about Evolution.
“You see, children, Esteban the Elephant and Edward the Echidna are both right with what they say, but to put it simply. Evolution is the process by which creatures and species change over time to suit their environment and situation.”
Esterhase the Electric Eel raised his tail to ask a question.
Miss Echo paused to a moment. “Yes, Esteban?”
“What about the Flying Spaghetti Monster and all his Noodley ways, Miss?” asked Esterhase the Electric Eel.
Miss Echo sighed. “We can talk about the Flying Spaghetti Monster later.”
“What about all his noodley ways?” asked Esterhase the Electric Eel.
“Yes, and all his noodley ways. Or would you like to sit behind Esteban the Elephant with Eva the Eagle?” asked Miss Echo.
Esterhase the Electric Eel didn’t want to sit at the back of the class and so he put his tail down and paid attention.
Miss Echo got back to her lesson. “Now, let’s take Esteban the Elephant as an example, shall we? Now, can anybody tell me why he has such large tusks? And can anybody tell me why he is so much larger than anybody else?”
Erika the Earwig raised an antenna. “Is it because being big is the best way for an elephant to survive?”
Miss Echo clapped. “Yes, that’s absolutely tight, Erika. The best way for any animal to survive is to adapt to its environment. So carnivores get faster and bigger teeth and claws, where herbivores get better defenses, get even faster and the ability to camouflage themselves against an environment.”
“Miss, I know why elephants and rhinos have such big wrinkly skins” said Eloise the Emperor Penguin
Miss Echo was suitably impressed. “Would you like to share that information with the class?”
“Yes miss” said Eloise the Emperor Penguin, “Long long ago, Rhino and Elephant had taken off their skins and went into the river for a bath, and when they did the aborigine boy rubbed sand into their skins and so when they came out of the water to get dressed they were all itchy, and so they kept rubbing themselves against trees until their skins got all wrinkly and saggy.”
Miss Echo smiled, because she had heard this story before. “And where did you hear this story, Eloise?”
“I got it from Mister Kipling, Miss” said Eloise the Emperor Penguin.
“Well that just proves it’s bollocks, miss” Interrupted Elaine the Earthworm “Mister Kipling makes cakes, what does he know about Evolution.”
Miss Echo felt it was time to take charge again. “Well, in her own way, Elaine the Earthworm is correct. That is actually a story from long ago when people didn’t know much about evolution and so had to come up with stories about why things are just so. They’re called Just So Stories. In reality Evolution isn’t something that happens in an afternoon. It takes place over many millions of years.”
“That’s not what the bible says.” Said a voice from up above them.
All the class looked up, and do you know what they saw? They saw Eva the Eagle looking down on them from the rafters rather than sitting at the back of the class where she had been asked to sit.
“The bible says that the world is no more than a few thousand years old, and if you say otherwise then you’re saying the bible is lying.” Said Eva the Eagle from her high perch.
Miss Echo sighed. “Very well, we might as well have this discussion now. Eva, you’ll have to come down from there and take a perch at the front of the class, and you can tell us what you believe.”
Esterhase the Electric Eel raised his tail again. “If we’re going to talk about evolution and God, then shouldn’t we also acknowledge the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and all his noodley ways?”
Miss Echo had to agree that all viewpoints should be given time to have their opinions heard. “Absolutely Esterhase, if we just bring your bucket up to the front alongside Eva the Eagle’s perch then we can begin. Eva, where would you like to start?”
Eva the Eagle shrugged her wings and stood proud on her perch. “Absolutely right. Well, God made everything in six days, including all the animals, just as they are right now, so there can be no discussion about anything adapting over time, because God made us all perfect as the way we are right now.”
“If god made us all perfect,” asked Eric the Emu, “then how come he was unimpressed enough in some animals to let them die out in floods and things, like the dragon, the unicorn, the dodo and the dinosaur?”
Eva the Eagle wasn’t impressed, and looked a little offended. “None of those animals existed, they were all made up”
Miss Echo didn’t feel that this was a statement that could stand. “It might be possible to agree with you that the unicorn and the dragon are fictional, but there’s thousands of skeletons of dinosaurs that have been found across the world, and there are even a couple of museums that have dodos in them.”
“Those things are only there to test the faith of the true believers” said Eva the Eagle.
“Which makes total sense coming from a truly loving and forgiving god” said Elvis the Elephant Seal, who had been busy up until this point picking fluff from his bellybutton with a coathanger.
“Esterhase, would you know what the Flying Spaghetti monster has to say on the subject of Evolution?” asked Miss Echo
Esterhase the Electric Eel smiled at his classmates and took a breath. “The Flying Spaghetti Monster, and bless his mysterious noodley ways, does not believe in waiting for evolution to happen, and watches all things. When he sees a situation that could be improved, like a bird with a beak that’s too big, then he will poke holes in the walls and use his infinitely extendable noodles to switch out the old beak and put a new one on”
Miss Echo smiled and resumed control of her class. “And as interesting as both of those ideas are, there is only one theory that is backed by any sort of physical evidence and proof so since this is a science lesson and not a theology class that’s what we will go with.
Eva the Eagle raised her wing to ask a question. “Miss? Can we at least discuss why Evolution is only a theory and not a fact?”
Miss Echo took a breath before answering. “Well, that is also an interesting question, and there are a couple of answers. The first answer being that a ‘Theory’ is actually the name for a series of facts put together in explanation for a phenomena and implies nothing in the realm of uncertainty. The second being that Gravity is also a theory, and I don’t see many people flying about willy nilly. Thirdly, and most importantly, shut the hell up.”
Eva the Eagle flapped her wings and launched herself into the air and flapped a couple of times around the room before landing back at her desk. She turned to Miss Echo and said. “Gravity is also bollocks.”
The bell rang to signal the end of the lesson, and Miss Echo felt relief because a tricky subject had been handled with tact and care and with a minimal amount of swearing, which was normal for lessons in class.
As the animals filed out, she called out to them. “Don’t forget to bring in the supplies I told you about, because tomorrow we’ll be learning how to cook Ecstasy.”
And thus ended another school day.