My barber, Frank, is the world’s most talkative human being. He is a tall, skinny man with straight blonde hair, big ears, almost no chin, and the bluest eyes you’ll ever see.

Frank is smart, forthright with opinions on an endless variety of subjects, and unburdened by the handicap of a formal education. When you sit down in a chair in his shop, you never know what else you are going to get in addition to a haircut. Last week it was a lecture on Intelligent Design.

“I get a kick out of these religious folks,” Frank offered after he had draped me with an apron and wet and combed my hair. “Trying to sneak God into the schools by the back door.”

“I’ve been reading about that in the newspaper,” I said. “I heard that the President put in his two cents worth on the subject yesterday.”

“Yes,” Frank said. “Did you read the story about it in the [I]Chronicle[/I] today?” he asked.

“No,” I said.

“You know what the folks in the Department of Education in Sacramento call Intelligent Design?” Frank asked.

I confessed that I did not, which pleased Frank no end.

“‘Creationism Lite,'” he said. I could see his reflection in the wall mirror, and he was grinning from ear to ear.

“It’s not that I think it’s a dumb idea; I don’t. There’s got to be something out there running the show. It’s just that I think God could have done a better job. I mean, why did he have to make two headed cows and babies joined at the hip? Why did he make Republicans?”

“Well, you’ve got a point there,” I said.

“I mean, they should call it ‘Design for Dummies.’ That would make more sense.”

“So you really think there’s something to it? Creationism, or whatever else they’re calling it now?”

“I do,” said Frank. “I’m not a Christian. I don’t go to church. Natural selection makes sense to me. I just think that somebody or something had to start the ball rolling. I don’t care what you call it. God, Allah, The Great Spirit, The Big Enchilada–it makes no difference to me. What gets me is the feud that’s going on. The Darwinists and the Creationists calling each other names. Is there anything that makes less sense than a couple of experts with Ph.D.’s arguing with each other?”

I didn’t answer, but that didn’t put an end to Frank’s harangue. He was on a roll.

“You know what Ph.D. stands for, don’t you?” he asked.

“Doctor of Philosophy,” I said.

“Piled higher and deeper,” Frank said.

“Seriously,” Frank continued, “why can’t they just say look, science is science and the Bible is poetry, beautiful words and a hell of a good message, and let it go at that? Nobody really knows what’s what, so why not stop fighting and get to work on doing what we’re supposed to be doing, making this a better world.”

“Frank,” I said, “You’re a philosopher.”

“Damn right,” he said. “I mean, does anybody really know what happens when we die? Is there a heaven or a hell? I don’t know. Do you?”

“No,” I said.

“Did you hear the one about the priest who died and went to heaven?” Frank asked.

“I don’t think so,” I replied.

“Well, he opened his eyes and looked around, and the first thing he said was, ‘My God! It really is true!’ The guy who told me that story is a priest.”

“I don’t know, Frank,” I said. “I think I have to go along with Darwin on this one.”

“Let me tell you a story,” Frank said. “I know a guy who’s in A.A. He’s one of my customers. He said when he first got into the program, he was one of those, whadayacallit, not an atheist, somebody who doesn’t believe in God but doesn’t disbelieve either?”

“An agnostic,” I said.

“Right,” said Frank. “Well, anyway, this guy said he knew he was in trouble when he joined AA because they told him that to quit drinking, he had to believe in a Higher Power. Somebody or something had to remove the obsession to drink because nobody could do it by himself.”

“Is that how it works?” I asked.

“Yes,” Frank said. “That’s what this guy told me. Well, he hemmed and hawed around for awhile, and then he had an idea. ‘What happens if I cut myself?’ he asked, and he told himself that he could put a bandage on the cut, or if it was bad, he could go to a doctor and he would put in a couple of stitches. Now, in a week’s time or maybe a little more he could take off the bandage and the cut would be healed. Did he do that? The doctor? No. There was a healing force, some kind of process of nature, which enabled him to recover from the injury.

“So this guy said he reasoned that if there was a healing force for wounds, maybe that force could also cure him of his alcoholism. So that became his Higher Power. And you know what? It worked. The guy was into the shop the other day, and he told me that the day before he had celebrated his AA birthday. He has been sober for fifteen years.

“So some unseen power cured him?” I asked.

Frank nodded. “It was pretty strange,” he said. “One day all he could think about was having a drink, and the next day the obsession was gone. It was a miracle,” he said.

I asked Frank if he thought his friend was telling the truth, and he said oh, yes. No doubt about it. “I believe in miracles,” Frank said. “Don’t you?”

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