You wake up in the middle of a cornfield.
You sit up and rub your eyes, and then you look around. Instinctively, you stand up and start walking. As you push your way through thousands of stalks you suddenly find yourself in a small clearing, a row of flattened corn stalks. Considering you’ve been navigating through fully grown, standing stalks, as far as you’re concerned this clearing is nothing short of odd. You continue on past the clearing, back into the stalks, and a minute later you find yourself in another clearing, this one sort of curved. After a half hour of regularly entering and exiting clearings of varying shapes and sizes, you chance across a man in overalls with a large paper and a pencil. He looks up at you and smiles, saying, “Ho, son. You’ve found your way through Mars!” “Mars…” you repeat, looking at the man a little sideways. “What are you talking about?” He walks over to you and displays the paper he’s been scribbling on, revealing a large map with what looks to be the Solar System with all its planets. He explains that he’s drawing the Solar System in his cornfield, and the various clearings you’ve been walking through are fine details of that large picture.
He looks at you, expecting you to be impressed. You grimace in thought, and then retort, “No, no that can’t be right. The stalks I saw were pushed flat into the ground. Some of them were broken. If you were trying to make a picture, you would’ve…well you wouldn’t’ve done it that way, that’s for sure. Clearly something must’ve fallen from the sky and made those cornstalks lie down. Just look how unevenly oriented they are!” Puzzled, he says to you, “Are you some kind of-…” then his face lights up. “You know what? Follow me.” He takes you back to his house and has you accompany him in his small Cessna for a flyover of his farm. You both take your seats, and take off. Once he’s climbed to a suitable altitude, he tells you to look out the window on your right. As you peer down at his field, squinty-eyed, you see what looks almost exactly like the picture on the man’s paper from earlier. “Hmm,” you say aloud. He looks over at you, expectantly. “I was right!” His face sags. The man shakes his head and tries to explain, “Ok, no, I drew it out, and then I went down there and flattened them things. Can’t you see that?”
You smile warmly, and lovingly explain, “Listen, I appreciate what you’re saying, but we can’t just assume someone made this.” The man stares, mouth agape. “But I’m giving you my word,” he says, “as the very person who drew this and went down there and physically pushed the stalks over with my own hands.” You nod and reply, “Yes, I can see how that would be an explanation. But I’m a rational man. As a rational man, I weigh every option, reasonably, and rationally, and logically. I can’t just take the word of some – no offense – illiterate farmer. Why invoke some type of design, when a natural explanation will do?” Frustrated, he begins to reply, “Well, because I-…” Patting him on the back, you reassure him, “Ok, you know what, here’s the number for a good friend of mine who’s a psychiatrist. Mental illness should be taken seriously. I do hope you feel better.” The man sighs in agitated disappointment.
If only you’d packed a parachute.
A few moments later, you wake up in the middle of a cornfield…