I’ve posted before about my dad’s unusual theories on the origins of mankind and the universe. His is, I’m certain, not completely unoriginal given the vast number of crackpots to be found on the internets. However, his ever-changing ideas have some rather bizarre aspects to be bringing into the day-to-day conversations. He laments feeling isolated in his social interactions with people, and if he’s been sharing these ideas with people other than me, it really is no wonder that people would regard him with some degree of guarded caution.
I should preface that he never felt so strongly about these theories until after he survived his bout with a serious cancer. For nearly a year, he ignored a large tumor that was developing in one of his kidneys, bleeding him to death slowly. By the time he could be convinced to see a doctor, and they could determine what was wrong, he had only about six weeks left to live. That was, of course, unless the tumor ruptured, spilling its toxic black mess inside his chest and effectively poisoning him in what would have been a horribly painful death.
Instead, the doctors found the necrotic growth, which had engulfed his entire kidney by that point, bled him to a shadow of a man almost half his body weight. The first inkling this wasn’t a psycho-somatic or mental health related issue was when he went for a simple blood draw and passed out on the table. Until that point, the exhaustion and weight loss had been chalked up to depression and he had been pumped full of anti-depressants. While he was out on the table, he claimed to have an out-of-body experience, which became the foundation for his newfound theory on the universe.
He extrapolated his theory out to reject the currently accepted theories in science which, among other things, postulate that humanity evolved from existing humanoid type species found in the fossil record. He instead believes in “star children” or alien life forms that set down on the planet and either bred with the existing species, or replaced them with their own prototypes. This hybrid cobbling together of history channel “Ancient Aliens” and L. Ron Hubbard-esque theories was the basis for him rejecting modern Christianity’s teachings. Instead of believing that the Holy Spirit was a divine, omnipotent god, he instead felt that the biblical teachings could be traced back to an alien race, whose powers could command things that early man simple could not.
He uses this theory to justify any number of things, from rejecting vaccinations (Star Children like him are somehow immune to viruses – although he got cancer just fine, coped with malaria contracted during his time in Viet Nam, and suffered with cold sores that my mother gave him like a boss) to racism and anti-Semitism (Star Children have the genetic variations for different hair and eye colors, so the “lower species” who have the same color hair or eyes are somehow beneath him). His latest theory on the Europeans developing varied hair and eye color was something he unleashed over the weekend, and was followed by a rant of how he “rejects” the modern fossil record and current body of scientific knowledge about how we descended from apes and share DNA with them.
In fact, knowing nothing beyond his rudimentary cobbled theory, he has no real factual understanding of how DNA works. (Not that I’m an expert, but I’ve paid enough attention in science class to understand the basics.) Like most crackpots, anything that doesn’t fit in with his pre-determined biased worldview is rejected, in spite of all evidence to the contrary. I cringe to think how he’ll explain these theories to his grandson in the coming years and how I’ll have to sit down with my son before and afterward to gently explain that grandpa’s a bit touched in the brain and not to take anything he says seriously.
What was most amusing from this now rather frustrating pattern of conversation that my father and I have fallen into was how he ended it. In the past, I used to fight for an opportunity to speak and make my own opinion known, or at least refute some of the thinly veiled racism that was being spouted. However, knowing that my father won’t change his mind, and that I’d only be wasting my increasingly frustrated breath trying to get a word in edgewise, these days I simply remain silent until he’s done his ranting. Then he says, “I miss our talks,” as though a talk was what actually was taking place. No, more accurately, this was a situation of being “talked at” for 30-40 minutes by a crazy person.
He might miss having a captive audience with me, as he did when I lived at home or was foolish enough to make more of an effort to be in contact, but with each conversation, I end up feeling more and more like I’m encouraging bad behavior by giving such vitriol an outlet. With the baby coming any day now, I’ll have an ironclad excuse to get off the phone, so perhaps I won’t have to deal with this as much. Until he decides to publish a book or books himself on the Discovery Channel, that is.