It Crawled from the Swamp

Andy Norman

It emerged from the swamp”ooze
And crawled onto land;
Began swinging through trees,
And hunting in bands.

It evolved a big brain,
Shed its fur, stood upright;
Crafted hand”axes, spears,
And from fire, coaxed light.

It bred plants and livestock,
Built cities and roads;
Made up gods to enforce its
Behavioral codes.

To these simple creatures
But little made sense;
Good conduct, it seemed, was
Just o”be-di-ence.

Then along came a thinker
In old Athens, Greece,
He asked probing questions—
That “disturbed the peace.”

“What makes good things good?” he
Asked, seeking insight;
“They’re good ‘cuz God says so?—
No, that can’t be right.”

So they made him drink hemlock
—And that was his end—
But his questions live on:
‘Fact they started a trend!

Aping Socrates, people
Kept asking “What’s best?”
And as they sought knowledge
—Surprise!—We progressed!

Moral knowledge, of course
Is fruit God forbade;
Eve ate of this fruit,
And God? He got mad.

He banished his children
From their paradise—
Even Eve’s great”great-grandkids:
Come now, was that nice?

The honest among us,
Keep singing this song:
“Can’t we please just get real
About right and wrong?”

It just ain’t a matter of
“Reap what you sow”:
Of getting what’s due you
In Life 2.0.

And it sure ain’t a matter
Of chapter and verse;
Of stubborn adherence
Through better or worse.

And if faith helps some
(‘Cuz it gives hope and binds)
It also excuses
The closing of minds.

Prayer, it does nothing
—The studies are clear—
But breed superstition,
Nonsense, and fear.

It just doesn’t help to
Believe things that ain’t;
A dead guy’s your savior?
Really? How quaint!

And why would pretending
To know what ain’t real
Please the Almighty?
Is pleased what you’d feel?

The truth is much simpler:
We’ve but one life to live,
A short time to laugh
Love each other, and give.

Andy Norman

Andy Norman is professor of philosophy at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and director of CMU’s Humanist Initiative. He is working on a book titled Unhinged: Faith, Ideology, and the Ethics of Belief, Boosting Mental Immune Response in the Ideological Animal.


It emerged from the swamp”ooze / And crawled onto land;

This article is available to subscribers only.
Subscribe now or log in to read this article.