Buford was a’settin’ under the tree down by th’ crick, wonderin’ where Abner done disappeared to, when he heard this almighty racket in the bushes. ‘Abner! What in tarnation ya doin’? These fish ain’t never gonna bite now!’
Abner came up with another feller. ‘How many you catched?’
Buford looked a mite shamefaced at that. ‘None yet.’
Abner nodded. ‘Thisyere’s Hiram, you ‘member him?’
Buford squinched up his eyes and tried, but he couldn’. ‘Cain’t rightly say as I do, Abner.’
‘He wus at school with usns, but he upped and lef’ when the teacher ran away with Mary Lou. He wen’ all the way t’ Nashville an’ got hisself a High School Graduation. Then he went on t’ college an’ got hisself a degree, so he’s got book larnin’ comin’ out his ears!’
‘You mean he’s got more than that preacher fella?’ Buford asked, mighty impressed. ‘That preacher fella shore is good. I can’t understand half a whut he says, he uses sech big words.’
Abner looked at Hiram. ‘You got as much book larnin’ as the preacher?’
Hiram looked mighty smart, with them store bought clothes, but he din’ lay nothin’ on them. He said t’ them. ‘That there preacher, he got a different eddication, but he also went t’ college.’
‘So what did you larn, then,’ asked Abner.
‘What in tarnation is ph’losophy?’ asked Buford.
‘That’s college stuff, stupid,’ said Abner.
‘Hey, don’ you go callin’ me stupid! I got a right to ask a question!’
‘Sorry, Buford, you’re right. I had no call doin’ that. I ‘pologise.’
Buford, he looked a bit grumpy and sulked a mite, but then he said to Hiram. ‘So what is ph’losophy?’
‘Ph’losophy’s askin’ thangs like, why we’all here, whut we doin’ here, where we goin, you know, questions ‘bout life.’ Now Hiram wus keepin’ it simple, cause these two wusn’t that smart.
‘They teach you ‘bout eevolution?’ asked Buford.
‘Why you askin’ him that?’ said Abner, mighty peeved. ‘I a’ready ‘splained that to you!’
‘Yeah, but you din’ go t’ college: he did!’
Hiram looked a mite thoughtful at that, you could see he wus thinkin’ real hard. ‘We din’ study evolution, as sech,’ he said. ‘That’s whut they call quasi-science.’
Buford wus so impressed it looked like his eyes wus gonna pop clear outa his head. These wus words like the preacher used; big ones!
‘What in tarnation is quasi-science?’ asked Abner.
‘It’s like pretend science. Whut they do is this: they say sech and sech happened, then they try find evidence to fit whut they say.’ Hiram looked at them earnest like. He could see they wus strugglin’ with this idea.
‘Science is when you discover thangs, or sech. If you poin’ a telescope up at the sky, you discover stars and galaxies and sechlike. If’n you go in a laboratory and you put somethin’ in a test tube and you mark down whut happens, they call that discovery. An’ science means you look for stuff, then see whut the evidence says, b’fore you make up your mind about the answer.’
‘Whut quasi-science is, you make up your min’ ‘bout somethin’, then you get th’ pieces t’ fit.’ He wus gatherin’ up a good head a steam now, an’ those boys was looking mighty impressed. This was book larnin’, and then some!
'Y’see boys, some o’ them city folks are atheists.’ Them boys looked mighty puzzled, he could see that. ‘Atheists’re people who don’t b’lieve in no God.’
Buford’s eyes nearly popped clear outa his skull, then. “Whu-u-u-ut? People in the city sayin’ there ain’t no God?!’
‘Yup,’ said Hiram, jest a might smug. ‘Fact, these people don’ on’y say it, they be tellin other people they stupid if’n they believe in God.’
Buford scrathed his head then; he wus gettin’ bald fum all the head scratchin. ‘I’m shore glad I don’ live in no city, no sirree!’
Hiram said, ‘Why, in 2004, a guy fum England, Anthony Flew, bad atheist, that man, said that maybe he wus wrong, and that there maybe wus a God. Fact is, he even writ a book, ‘There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.’
‘Whut’s notorious?’ asked Buford.
‘It’s when you make notes, Buford, don’ you listen to nothin’?’ asked Abner in exasperation. He wanted to hear more, and Buford kep’ interruptin’.
‘That ain’t zackly right, Abner,’ Said Hiram. ‘Notorious means famous in a bad way. Like Jim Ketchum, the revenuer who catched so many moonshiners? Ev’buddy knew him, so he was notorious.’
‘Anyways, thisyer Flew feller, he done changed his mind, cause he examined the ev’dence, and seed that there must be a God, and then later, he said that the on’y one makes any goldarned sense, wus Jesus.’
‘But I coulda told him that!’ said Buford. ‘Eve’body knows it’s true!’
‘Lotsa city folk thank it’s a fairytale, Buford. Lotsa them.’
‘Ain’t they got eyes?
‘They got eyes, a’right, they jest see thinkgs a mite different fum us foks,’ said Hiram.
‘So thisyer Flew feller, he ain’t atheist no more?’
‘I don’t thank so, Buford. His book don’t say he became a Christian, or nothin’ like that, but his book did say that Jesus wus the on’y one that made any sense.’
‘But whut about eevolution, and the Cambrian Explosion, and all that stuff,’ asked Buford. ‘That true?’
‘Some people say it is, Buford, some people say it ain’t. Me, I don’ b’lieve it, but I ain’t no scientist, I tol’ you. I’m a ph’losopher. So I agree with that Flew feller. I cain’t see no reason God gonna create, he gonna throw meebas and stuff in swamps an’ wait t’see whut comes out. God got more brains than alla us put together, why would He do sumpin dumbass like that?’
Buford and Abner nodded like. This they could unnerstand!
‘So that stuff with the meebas annna flat eyes and usn’s comin’ fum monkeys: that ain’t true?’ asked Buford.
‘I cain’t rightly tell, Buford, ‘cause I ain’t no scientist, but I don’t thank so, ‘cause they don’t follow no scientific method, an’ if’n you don’t do that, you cain’t be no scientist.’
Abner leaned back agin a tree an’ slid down till he was settin’. ‘Man, Hiram, when I listen t’you, I wisht I’d finished my schoolin’.’