My kitchen sink has a problem. Something has broken inside the Moen faucet, so that the handle is loose and only marginally effective. I’m thinking I should run down to the hardware store and get a new faucet assembly, and get under the sink with a pipe wrench. It shouldn’t be too difficult.
Right away, I run into an obstacle. I get down to the basement to fetch my wrench, and there’s one of the local ministers sitting on the toolbox. “Have you tried the incredible power of prayer yet, son?” he asked. I said no, of course not. I’m trying to fix a broken faucet. And then he gave me one of those pitying looks and tried to convince me that not only could Jesus fix my faucet, he would give me wine on tap. So I told him to get his fat ass off my toolbox and out of my house, and he stomped off.
By the time I got upstairs, the phone was ringing. It was Phil Johnson. “You’re assuming that wrench is the only way to fix that faucet, aren’t you? You’ve completely closed your mind to the possibility of alternative methodologies.”
“Pipe wrenches have always worked well for me, and it kinda makes sense that if you want to fix a faucet, you use a plumbing tool,” I said. “If you’ve got a better way, I’d be happy to hear it.”
“Oh, no, I’m not going to endorse a particular tool, that might divide the community. I just want you to admit that you have an a priori commitment to wrenches and faucets that precludes even considering immaterial methods.”
I hung up on the senile old fart.
Next stop, the hardware store. The local school board is standing in front of the door, trying to block my entry. When I asked why they were interfering with me, one said, “Two thousand years ago, someone died on a cross. Can’t someone take a stand for him?” I had no idea that Jesus died for plumbing, but I didn’t care, either. I went on in.
There were more members of the community haranguing the clerk. I just wanted to buy a new faucet and get home, but these other people were insisting he had to tell me all about alternative theories of plumbing, and recommend that I find other useful home repair ideas at the local church. He refused. So, instead, a group of protesters chanted a story about how maybe ghosts or aliens could fix my pipes while I made my purchase.
I came home to more interruptions. A whole cottage industry had sprung up on the internet, decrying godless plumbing paradigms, and my computer was beeping at all the incoming mail. The arguments were mind-boggling. There were people complaining that I couldn’t install the faucet, because I hadn’t seen the metal it was made from being smelted. There were others telling me there was a far superior brand I ought to put in, but they couldn’t tell me the name, and I really didn’t need to know it anyway in order to throw the one I’d just bought in the garbage.
I’m looking at the sink, the tools, my new faucet, and I’m thinking this all looks straightforward. Are these people idiots, or what?
The phone rings again. It’s Michael Behe. A nice guy. Friendly. He actually talks to me about plumbing, unlike the parade of bozos so far, who haven’t had a clue.
“Think about it, Paul. Inside that faucet, there is a whole series of valves and bushings and joints, all designed to regulate and restrict the flow of water under pressure. Water under pressure. When you remove the old faucet, there will be nothing to restrict the flow of water. There will be water surging out of that pipe, and you will not be able to install your new faucet. Here, let me send you a Farside cartoon by Gary Larson that illustrates your dilemma.”
“Umm, Mike, I’m going to turn off the water at the main valve first.”
There was an uncomfortable silence on the other end of the line.
“Paul, have you ever thought about how that water main got there? It has to cope with water under even higher pressure than what’s coming out of any one faucet. That main valve is a miracle of complexity and precision…”
Click. Geez. That guy knows just enough plumbing to give the whole field a bad name.
I still haven’t fixed the faucet.
But I have figured out that those other guys are all right on the money—there is an alternative to pipe wrenches and plumbing. I’ll just blog about it, and hope that some faith-based payola will come my way. It won’t fix the faucet, but that’ll keep me in Evian and champaign, which beats Morris city tap water any day.