Well, now I’m completely pissed off. And what I’m pissed off at is that no one else seems to be pissed off about this.
I imagine you’ve already seen or heard the story of Fofo the gorilla, since it’s all over the media today. In case you didn’t know, Fofo is the daughter of the famous Koko. Koko, as everyone knows, understands approximately 2,000 English words, can sign more than 1,000 of them, and even invents her own compounds (for instance: “finger” + “bracelet” for “ring”). That’s better than most fundies do with the language.
So Fofo was “lent” — whatever that means — to the Nonoverlapping Magisteria Foundation, the mission of which, according to its literature, is to “reconcile science and religion.” In order to work for the foundation, a researcher must be both a recognized scientist in his or her field and a person who believes in a god.
That requirement alone should set off alarms in your head. But the Fofo project is funded by some mysterious shadow organization called “Answers in Gorillas.” Here’s what the Foundation’s literature has to say about its research: “Through our work with one of humankind’s allegedly closest evolutionary ancestors, we expect to demonstrate conclusively that a God-gene was placed by the Creator into the brains of every living creature on Earth.”
This is from the AP story:
Linguists at the NMF have been working with Fofo for several years, and are now satisfied that she not only understands the concept of God, but believes in Him, as well.Those so-called scientists have taught her a number of signs for “religious” feelings. Get this: when she points upward and smiles “beatifically” [NOTE: AP’s word, not mine], she's saying “god.” And when she scrunches up her face in pain and stretches her arms out from her shoulders, she's saying “Jesus.” She has even, according to Dr. Enrico Bonzoni, who heads the project, invented a sign for “Christian.” Here’s the AP again:
Bonzoni began to notice that Fofo would make the signs for “me,” “love,” and “Jesus.” Through some simple exchanges, Bonzoni made her understand that he, too, loves Jesus. He says, “Then I showed her the gold cross I wear around my neck, and she seemed eager to have it. So I put it on her.”Great work, NMF. Fofo is now the world’s first anti-Semitic gorilla.
Other researchers followed suit, each ultimately contributing a cross for Fofo’s collection. She now wears twelve crosses, and refuses to take them off. According to Dr. Bonzoni, Fofo “now sees that she is part of a worldwide community of the saved.”
About a year ago, there was an unfortunate incident with Dr. Chaim Nogoyim, who is of the Jewish faith. He wears a Star of David, rather than a cross, so Fofo offered him one of hers. Trying to make Fofo realize that there are many paths to the same God, Nogoyim signed “God,” then “no” (or “not”), and “Jesus.” Since then, Fofo has refused to “speak” with him any longer.
But here’s the part of the story that really got me up in arms. An unidentified researcher has complained that all is not as it appears. Fofo is being threatened whenever she misbehaves.
“If she acts up,” an anonymous researcher on the project claims, “she’s shown the sign for hell, which is a forefinger repeatedly pointed downward, a tortured expression that looks something like the 'Scream' painting, and a little dance as if the signer is walking on hot coals. Fofo has become terrified of that word and will do almost everything to avoid seeing it or signing it herself. However, about two months ago, she started using it whenever Dr. Nogoyim happened to pass in front of her enclosure. And now, she uses it every time she notices one of our interns wearing a mini-skirt.”It’s clear to me that Fofo is being abused. Atheist organizations should join hands with animal rights groups to put an end to this outrageous exploitation. But it may already be too late to stop the madness from spreading. The last paragraph of the AP report is infuriating:
Under the auspices of yet another clandestine benefactor known as the Parroty Institute, the NMF has already begun research on the existence of the God-gene in African Greys. In the first experiment, three birds have been taught to distinguish linguistically between two similar objects. When asked “Who was responsible for 9/11?” they respond “progressive secularists.” But when asked “Who was responsible for Hurricane Katrina?” they respond “secular progressives.” Lately, the religious scientists, themselves, have been astounded by the parrots’ progress. When the researchers recently added a third question, “Who’s responsible for global warming?,” they tried to teach the test subjects the answer, “What global warming?” Instead one of the birds replied, “Dr. Nogoyim.”