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?”
(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.