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Documentary Review: The Way of the Master by Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron

There’s a new creationist documentary distributed by The Way of The Master intended to ‘slug atheists over the head’ with its anti-evolution message. I had the chance to see it recently and I found it more than a little insulting, both to my intellect and my Christian worldview.

I won’t bore you with all the straw men and creationist duplicity employed (is there a straw man labor union?) in attempts to fool us, but I will touch on a couple. As usual, there is an almost allergic avoidance of anything that would come close to an honest discussion on the mechanics of evolution or creation. There is however, an abundance of, and oversimplification to the point of reductio ad absurdum, on the nature of things that we do know about evolution. And of course, there are plenty of quotes by the likes of Darwin, Gould, Einstein, and others that are taken way out of context or used in a very literalistic sense when originally meant to be illustrative.

The modus operandi of the evolution debunking most often takes the form of a rather contemptible method for artificially defeating the evolutionist position while falsely elevating their own. They interview average persons-on-the street, asking broad, sometimes vague and irrelevant questions about evolution, and then proceed to tear down the theory based on those wobbly and awkward answers.

One example among moronic myriad:
Q: “Do you believe we could have evolved from apes?”
A: “I think so.”
Q: “Could we have evolved from horses too?”
A: “Probably.”

(See! These crazy blasphemous evolutionists think we came from horses… And not only that, they respond with ‘maybe’ and ‘probably’ and ‘I think so.’ Sound like lily-livered flip floppers to me…)

Keep in mind, these are questions asked not of evolutionary biologist, not of scientists or paleontologists, but rather of random (sometimes self-admittedly uneducated) individuals pulled off the street. It’s like a Conan bit. I half expected Triumph the Insult Comic Dog to jump in with “Criticizing people who believe in evolution is like booing at the Special Olympics.”

Clearly this is a flawed method for judging a scientific theory and proves nothing (other than the fact that we need better public education). It’s like saying Okinawa doesn’t exist simply because some guy on the street couldn’t point it out on a map.

I do have to admit I was a little uncomfortable at how effective a propaganda tool this technique can at least appear, especially if you’re one of those who would have trouble defending the theory in front of a hostile camera. Fortunately, that effectiveness is somewhat offset by the on-screen teleprompting and glossy tag team action of Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort. (Boner has got to feel seriously left out.) Think amazing floor squeegee infomercial.

At one point in the film, even Southwest Airline’s animal transportation policy is enlisted as ‘common-sense-evidence’ that humans aren’t related to chimps. The implication is that if we really were relatives of chimpanzees, then Southwest would allow our ‘relatives’ to fly with us in the cabin of the plane. Since the airline does not allow primates in the cabin, they must not actually be relatives at all. Oh snap!

All the logical fallacies and blatant disregard for the scientific method aside, I found the tenor and implications of the film very un-Christ-like. Laced through the entirety is a subtle yet persistent message that Christianity, or theism of any sort, is entirely incompatible with evolution. Putting forth this argument in which you have an either/or, black/white, evolutionist/Christian scenario does nothing but detract from the strengths of inclusiveness in the very teachings of Jesus our hosts claim to represent.

All the effort and money spent dividing via anti-intellectual ‘think’ tanks and Hollywood style graphics could certainly be better spent. Creating tools and resources for relating to the many theories and schools of thought (that evolution and faith can sit on comfortable and amiable planes) would be a nice start. Think the Vatican Observatory or Augustine-style laws of natural evolution.

Next Week: Alan Thicke takes on the theory of gravity.

About Ben

  • http://www.theopinionmill.com Steven Hart

    Crooks and Liars posted a bit of this video yesterday and I had trouble believing it wasn’t a put-on.

    The biggest barrier to arguing with creationists is the intelligence gap. A person of average intelligence would need to have three quarters of his brain removed simply to think in creationist terms.

  • http://nonobjective.typepad.com Benjamin Glasgow

    I agree, there are intelligence deficiencies at play here – but I would venture to say that many of our counterparts on the creationist side are quite intelligent. To underestimate them has been one of out oft repeated mistakes.

    Often, the problems boil down to issues of:
    A.) Pride
    2.) Political Maneuvering &
    D.) Worldview Intolerance

    Motives of the purely scientific or spiritual variety make only a rare cameo in the public spectacle of Creation/Evolution debates.

    And you’re right, the whole film smacks of foolery.

  • David S Thorpe

    Well said, Ben. It was an effort to finish watching the whole segment, but I felt at the end the same as I felt after the “banana” proof. Sick in mind and spirt that people are so brainwashed, so intellectually crippled as to swallow this tripe whole and unchewed. There is much truth in what you say about an underlying intelligence, quite canny and devious, to the creationism fiasco. There are of course empires to build and protect, not to mention very nice comfortable (dare we say “luxurious”?) livelihoods to sustain. But I digress. Surely this was a put-up job by the Atheist International Dirty Tricks Department? For after watching this effort, doubtless everyone (with a pulse) would conclude that creationism is a farce.

  • Kemo

    The course engaged me with its straight forward delivery of the ten commandments and God’s law defined in cannonized scripture measured against my personal behavior. I came up wanting. For real science and science theology information; however, you will need to look further. One place to start might be the CalTech scientists at Reasons to Believe.

  • Created

    I have watched most of the video series and I you have totally missed the point. You have an emphasis on their lack of an “honest discussion on the mechanics of evolution or creation”. If you honestly listened to their method, they teach to avoid the intellectual discussion and focus on the conscience of a person. Intellectual ideas have been debated since the world was created but the conscience is that voice deep down that tells us what is right and wrong. Now I can’t intellectually prove that the man Jesus was God on earth but after almost 150 years of scientific study we have yet to prove the “Theory” of evolution. In fact with the scientific discoveries made since Darwin’s theory was published, his ideas no longer meet the technical criteria of a “Scientific Theory”. There are too many disproven and unproven ideas. Again I can’t “Intellectually” prove creationism but the scientific community already has disproven the theory evolution as published by Darwin.

  • Zeb Zynda

    It is so odd to me that you blast intelligence of Creationists…Creationism isn’t really even something that arose from churches, but arose in a similar way to the 9/11 truth movement, IMO. Some folks looked at the evidence and arguments and saw that a couple of things don’t fit into the overall model or hypothesis for evolutionary theory, and without any other way to understand what they were looking at, have decided that it is far less likely that these systems (planetary or biological) could have happened in the manner described in the hypothesis. They simply formed another hypothesis and began testing it. People who are simply uneducated or have no interest in see evidence either way (and you really can’t fault anyone for not being interested in a subject. I find classical literature mundane and am constantly faulted for that.) and these are people who always end up being interviewed. I’d really rather see real journalism venturing out to the “experts” in both fields and asking the real questions and getting them answered and not circumvented. IMO which theory you subscribe to has essentially no impact on the scientific body. I have many reasons for saying this, but the main would be that the study of planetary bodies, space, physics, and medicine would not be hindered with the absense of both theories. A hypothesis would be made, samples tested or observed, and a new hypothesis or understanding would arise. The expansion of this knowledge is not dependent on the context of a universal view of the origions of existence. If you think it does, then you are subscribing to religion and not science.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Oh look, two comments in a row from people who don’t believe in Evolution but can’t come up with anything that even makes sense, let alone challenges it. I wonder what their motivation could be?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    The strains of being the comment geek at BC are showing, Chris.

    You know how the refrain from the Beatles song goes, “let it be.”

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet

    When innocent children are irresponsibly taught to believe in myth instead of science, we all lose Ruvy.

    The trouble is you know in your heart of hearts that that’s fact, and yet you still push 2000 year old wise tales and morality plays as being more up to date than what you can see with your own eyes.

    What scares me most is that once you’re taught it as a child, you believe it whether it’s true or not.

    The United States is falling far behind most nations of the world in scientific achievment because of a bunch of religious nuts.

    THE BIBLE AS A TEXT BOOK IS OVER TWO THOUSAND FUCKING GOD-DAMNED YEARS OLD!… But people like you just keep putting more and more “intelligent” meanings on its verses that aren’t really there and putting your own words in God’s mouth.

    Since you claim that you’re speaking in God’s name and on his behalf, less intelligent people will revere you and your shallow words. All because of the “what if” factor. (well, there’s a two-thousand to one chance, God IS speaking to him, but what if it’s true? Maybe we better not risk it.)

    GOD IS NOT SOMEONE YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO FEAR!!!!

    I swear, I’m not an athiest, but overzealous religion freaks are pushing me farther and farther from the beliefs of my youth.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Yeah, Ruvy, it’s always a good idea to do nothing whilst ignorant, superstitious or plain silly people babble. Just look at all the positivity and hope you offer…

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Jet,

    This is a two year old thread with two fools who believe in creationism having posted in the last couple of days. And Chris has the responsibilty to read and monitor every damned comment that gets posted. I’ve seen some of the shit on the other threads – dumb kids who can barely spell, much less compose a whole sentence.

    I’m not pushing anything. I don’t think “creationism” – particularly the gibberish the young earth types push – should be taught anywhere.

    If you weren’t so pissed off at me all the time, you’d realize that.

    But it strikes me that the strain of having to go through all the garbage that he does is getting to Chris.

    He doesn’t have to march on every comment he sees. I meant exactly what I said – and NO MORE!!

    I’m not pushing YOU to believe anything either, Jet.

    I’m not pushing the two thousand year old falsehoods of Christianity, nor am I pushing the dogmatic idiocy of some of the less than overbright Hassidic rabbis who can quote Maimonides by heart – but refuse to understand what he says.

    How many times have I written that the universe is 15 billion years old? How many times have I tried to point out the convergence of religion and science? How many times have I pointed out that science can tell you the how, what and when of the universe, but not the why or wherefore? And how many times must I point to corroborating evidence proving significant events described in the Bible?

    It was your preacher who said “he who will not look will not see; he who will not listen will not hear.” Why don’t you pay attention to that advice? It’s as sound as a gold $5 coin!

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Yes, that’s right, Ruvy. The “stress” of comment editing is getting to me. Or, I am just simply rebutting the incoherent and fearful nonsense that you and other equally superstitious silly billies keep posting here.

    The first step for therapists is to undergo therapy themselves, so I’d strongly suggest you concentrate on sorting out your own twisted psyche before offering advice to anybody else.

    Try to keep up now, there is no convergence of science and religion whatsoever; there is no “why or wherefore”, which is just another pointless philosophical exercise; even if there is some real world evidence that corroborates certain parts of the Bible, it doesn’t mean the Bible (nor the equally interesting and equally flawed Quran and Torah) is right in everything written in it.

    Finally, it is yourself that needs to take on board the old saying “he who will not look will not see; he who will not listen will not hear”.

    You’re the poor schmuck that is left looking foolish and rather a little pathetic every time you spout either the superstitious mystical nonsense or the self-serving hate-filled nastiness you post here without a shred of embarrassment that it has no foundation whatsoever.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Chris,

    I have no dog in this race. I could give a shit. I haven’t even read the article all the way through! It’s trash! The two comments you went after were nonsense! All I said was that the strain of having to read all of this garbage was getting to you.

    You are the comments geek after all, and it is your responsibility.

    Now, if you want to holler out “March On Atheist Soldier” while you trample on the words of fools, be my guest. It’s not my problem. I just hope the English don’t hear you on Britannia as you roar your verses all the way from the Isle of Wight, though. There may be complaints at the constabulary. Inquiries may be made….