I once sat through an entire Kirk Cameron DVD. Twenty four hours later, I was still dead inside and it took almost six weeks to regain the lost IQ points. I figured I would review this production of “Word of the Master Ministries,” out of Bellflower, California. This particular nugget of batshittery also featured everyone’s favorite fundy, Ray Comfort. I actually still have this DVD. I cut it in half to use as little shovels when I take my dog out for a good shitting. Hope you enjoy the review, but be warned, it is very long.
The purpose of this DVD is to prove that science and common sense defy evolution and support the bible. It does not meet this goal. In fact, it misses the mark by a long shot. There are areas where the limits of one’s knowledge or ability to understand a concept should be observed, and “Evolutionary Biology according to Mike Seaver” is one of those areas.
The DVD starts off with Kirk Cameron and his trusty sidekick, Ray Comfort, setting up the first scene. We are told under no uncertain terms that the problem with people who try to prove evolution consistently use terms that we, the viewer, should watch out for. Terms such as “I don’t know” or “I surmise” or “It’s possible” or “Probably“. I was sitting in my living room, pen in hand, waiting to write down the names of the renowned scientists who were clearly going to make complete fools out of themselves when asked the probing questions of Kirk and Ray, proving, once and for all, that those stuffy scientists don’t know what they are talking about.
I was going to write letters to each and every one of them, chastising them for leaving us evolutionists out in the cold, unaided by intellectual representation. They even used fancy production graphics that made said phrases we are to watch out for fade in and out on various areas of the screen. Very high-tech stuff.
Fade to scene…
OK, so I guess in Mr. Cameron’s and Mr. Comfort’s mind, high school students are an appropriate control group to interview about the science of evolutionary biology. Of course these kids are going to say, “I don’t know,” “It’s possible” or “Probably.” They say that when you ask them if they have to use the bathroom. Given the sad condition that our education system is in, it’s surprising that they don’t think “evolution” is an old Beatles song that their parents listen to.
Unfortunately, this set the tone for the rest of the DVD, which did a poor job in trying to explain why creationism is the truth and evolution is a product of Satan. The definition that Cameron gives of evolution was base, vague and on a third-grade comprehension level. Right out of the gate he made an incorrect statement when he said that the problem with evolution is that there are huge gaps in the fossil records and no transitional forms on record because they don’t exist, and if they did, we’d find animals in the middle of the change process, like birds with one wing, etc.
Well, sorry Captain Kirk, there are many transitional fossils. But in true form, and ignoring the evidence completely, Cameron redefined “transitional” as referring to a fossil that is a direct ancestor of one organism and a direct descendant of another. However, direct lineages are not required; they could not be verified even if found. In keeping with what the theory of evolution, a transitional fossil is one that shows a mosaic of features from an older and more recent organism. As well, transitional fossils may coexist with gaps.
It is not expected to find finely detailed sequences of fossils lasting for millions of years. Nevertheless, there are many examples of fine gradations of fossils between species and genera, and there are many other sequences between higher taxa that are still very well filled out. There are also many fossils of human ancestors, and the differences between species are so gradual that it is not always clear where to draw the lines between them. Within the animal kingdom there are fossils of a primitive marine snake with well-developed hind limbs.
The jaws of mososaurs are also intermediate between snakes and lizards. Like the snake’s stretchable jaws, they have highly flexible lower jaws, but unlike snakes, they do not have highly flexible upper jaws. The number of this type of evidence is overwhelming and Mr. Cameron has accomplished the feat of making a fool out of himself within the first five minutes of the DVD.
Only 56 minutes to go…
For good measure, they threw in a picture from an ancient “TIME Magazine,” showing the evolutionary progress of primates. Mr. Cameron told us this was a picture of an evolutionary ladder, which we know is a misconception. It is a tree, not a ladder, and that depiction of the “small ape to human” was not progressive within the lineage, but the species. A simple foray into any decent scientific encyclopedia would have revealed that.
One of the funnier parts was a clip of Kirk Cameron standing sideways against a wall with his left arm up in a Hitleresque pose, and a small monkey behind him, whom he is emulating. His statement was that all science has are humans and monkeys. That there are no transitional forms and no evidence linking apes to humans. Well, we already touched on the transitional forms above.
There is abundant genetic evidence for the relatedness between humans and other apes. Humans have twenty-three chromosome pairs; apes have twenty-four. Twenty-two of the pairs are similar between humans and apes. The remaining two ape chromosomes appear to have joined; they are similar to each half of the remaining human chromosome. The ends of chromosomes have repetitious telomeric sequences and a distinctive pretelomeric region.
Such sequences are found in the middle of human chromosome 2, just as one would expect if two chromosomes joined. A centromere-like region of human chromosome 2 corresponds with the centromere of the ape chromosome. Humans and chimpanzees have innumerable sequence similarities, including shared pseudogenes such as genetic material from ERV’s. That is the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps Mr. Cameron and Mr. Comfort should have consulted with a geneticist and a genealogist before saying, “Cut, Print, It’s a wrap!”
Then came the predicted references to the hoax fossils. He brought up “Lucy,” and said “it was found” to be only a three-foot-tall ape. Found by who? Lucy was never, ever claimed to be homo sapiens sapiens. Discovered by Donald Johanson and Tom Gray in 1974 at Hadar in Ethiopia, Lucy’s age is about 3.2 million years. Lucy was an adult female of about 25 years and was assigned to the species Australopithecus afarensis.
About 40% of her skeleton was found, and her pelvis, femur, and tibia show her to have been bipedal. She was about 3’6″ tall (small for her species) and about 62 lbs in weight. The humerofemoral ratio, or length of humorous divided by length of femur, is 84.6 for Lucy, compared to 71.8 for humans, and 97.8 and 101.6 for the two species of chimpanzee (all these figures have a standard deviation of between 2.0 and 3.0). In other words, humans have much shorter arms compared to their legs than chimpanzees do, and Lucy falls roughly in the middle.
Then he brought up the “Nebraska Man,” stating that an entire skeleton was constructed of one tooth, and then that tooth was found to be a pigs tooth. The fact is that the tooth was never held in high regard by scientists. Those who described it were unsure from the very start whether it came from a hominid or from another kind of ape, and others were skeptical that it even belonged to a primate. The illustration was done for a popular publication and was clearly labeled as highly imaginative.
Fact is that “Nebraska Man” is an example of science working well. An intriguing discovery was made that could have important implications. The discoverer announced the discovery and sent casts of it to several other experts. Scientists were initially skeptical. More evidence was gathered, ultimately showing that the initial interpretation was wrong. Finally, a retraction was prominently published. At least science can admit when it is wrong.
Piltdown man was brought up and stated that it was found only to be an ape. This is true. In 1912, Charles Dawson (not Darwin) and Arthur Smith Woodward announced the discovery of a mandible and part of a skull from a gravel pit near Piltdown, England. The mandible was apelike except for humanlike wear on the teeth; the skull was like a modern human. These bones became the basis for Eoanthropus dawsoni, commonly known as Piltdown Man, interpreted as a 500,000-year-old British ape-man.
But in the early 1950s it was found that the jawbone was stained and filed down to give its appearance and that the skull was a recent human fossil. In short, Piltdown Man was a fraud. British scientists believed it because they wanted to. The failure to expose it sooner shows that scientists tend to be guided by their preconceptions.
Although Piltdown man was exposed by scientists, it is no shining example that it took forty years. Nevertheless, it does show that science corrects errors. Preconceptions are an unavoidable problem in just about any investigation, but they are less so in science because first, different scientists often have different preconceptions, and second, the physical evidence must always be accounted for. Many scientists from America and Europe did not accept Piltdown Man uncritically, and the hoax unraveled when the fossils could not be reconciled with other hominid fossil finds.
Even so, one hoax cannot indicate the inferiority of conventional archeology, because creationists have several of their own, including Paluxy footprints, the Calaveras skull, Moab and Malachite Man, and others. More telling is how people deal with these hoaxes. When Piltdown was exposed, it stopped being used as evidence. The creationist hoaxes, however, can still be found cited as if they were real. Piltdown has been over and done with for decades, but the dishonesty of creationist hoaxes continues.
Finally, they referred to “Neanderthal Man” and claimed that it was just a man with arthritis. This is ludicrous. An early stereotype of Neanderthals was that they were stooped, very hairy, and had divergent big toes. Straus and Cave (1957) showed that they were fully human in posture. However, Neanderthals do have distinctive features that distinguish them from modern humans (Straus and Cave 1957). Some of these features - powerful bones and muscles, in particular - cannot plausibly be attributed to pathology or injury. Neanderthals are known from many specimens. It is extremely unlikely that all of them would be suffering from exactly the same illness.
The “Kirk and Ray” show offered up a handful of questionable finds, two of which they had bad research on, and would like us to believe that these few examples are indicative of a science that has tens of thousands of similar, indisputable, proven fossilized examples to draw from. Nice try, guys..
Then came the first of several out-of-context or misquotes from famous scientists that seem to discredit evolution, but we will touch on that later. What was really funny was the example they used to prove intelligent design being the only logical reason as to why an orangutan can smile, frown, kiss, stick its fingers in its ears and make other humanlike facial expressions. I had to laugh out loud at this not just because it was an imbicillic hypothesis, but also that it was followed up by a comparative of humans and apes to a biplane to a jet, stating that they are similar but different. Apparently god used the help of a set of blueprints and made some minor modifications to the apes and came up with humans. Too bad the bible teaches that the humans are made in the image of god. Perhaps he forgot to shave the day he made the apes.
This was capped off by Kirk Cameron proudly stating that this proves humans didn’t evolve from apes and we are not primates. Too bad that the concept of humans evolving from apes is not a part of evolutionary thought and training, and, oh, by the way, go check your Britannica, Kirk… We ARE primates. A simple foray into a third grade science book will tell you that a primate is any member of the biological order Primates, a group that contains all lemurs, monkeys, apes, and humans.
Colin Groves lists about 350 species of primates in Primate Taxonomy. All primates have five fingers, a generalized dental pattern, and a primitive body plan. Another distinguishing feature of primates is fingernails. Opposing thumbs are also a characteristic primate feature. In primates, the combination of opposing thumbs, short fingernails and long, inward-closing fingers is a relic of the ancestral practice of brachiating through trees. Another characteristic is forward-facing color binocular vision, and even those that lack the features typical of other primates (like lorises), share eye orbit characteristics, such as a postorbital bar, that distinguish them from other taxonomic orders. Finally, primates have two breasts with one nipple each. We are primates. No getting around it, Kirk.
The Friendly Skies…
Then it was back to the airplanes.. Well, actually, the airlines, for some scientific proof that we are not related to apes. They called a few airlines and asked if a relative could fly with them, to which the airline said yes. When they said the relative was an orangutan, then the airline said no. Ray said that the universities teach that apes are relatives so why can’t they fly with us? There’s your proof, people. The evidence is in. Orangutans cannot fly on Delta, so that proves creationism. Who’d of thought it possible?
One of the funniest parts was when they brought an orangutan in a restaurant. It behaved much as you would expect a wild animal to behave when you put a plate of food in front of it. This, of course, proves that orangutans are not as intelligent as humans, so therefore, can not be related to us. Nice work, Einstein…
So, this is about the point when they ran out of their scientific evidence and reverted back to the old fundamental standby when it comes to the lack of verifiable, evidential and empirical proof of some off-the-wall claim. They attack the character of one of the proponents of whatever cause they are against. It less than a half an hour for this to happen. Gotta give them credit for a swift strike, and what a target they picked Charles Darwin, himself…
This is actually where it really gets funny in a sad sort of way. Hypocrisy rears its ugly head here in such a way that I had to rewind the DVD because I was left staring at the screen with my mouth hanging agape, drooling, completely dumbfounded by the words that were coming out of Kirk Cameron’s mouth. I am sure Christians the world over were equally embarrassed.
First, Kirk states, in front of the whole world, that Darwin was a male chauvinists pig. He cited a quote that stated men will attain a higher eminence in what he does over women. He reads this and says, “Ladies, did you hear that?” Even if we dismiss the highly likely explanation that Darwin was referring to the male sex generally being physically stronger and more dexterous throughout the entire animal kingdom and not that man is better than woman, it would not be an unheard of view on women in the late 1800′s. Not that an individuals social perceptions of women have anything whatsoever to do with their professional abilities. I had a dentist once that was a complete asshole, but he was a damned good dentist.
Now, if you REALLY want to read a book that treats women like property, tells them to shut up until they are permitted to speak, are routinely sold as sex slaves and offered up as sacrifices, then go no further than your local Christian bookstore. The bible comes in many different translations, so you can read about how the men treat the women in several different styles of writing.
Second, Kirk states, in front of the whole world, that Darwin was a racist. He misquoted Darwin regarding whites being more evolved than blacks. Now, again, even if we dismiss the likely explanation that Darwin was referring to the fact that the human race as we know it originated culturally in Africa, where the climate requires that humans have dark skin and kinky hair to protect them from harmful solar radiation, and that the humans who moved north, away from the sun, evolved further to adapt to a colder and windier climate, if Darwin WAS a racist, his or anyone else’s views are irrelevant to the fact of evolution.
Evolution is based on evidence, not on people’s opinions. Just so you are aware, the mention of “favoured races” in the subtitle of Origin of Species merely refers to variations within species which survive to leave more offspring. It does not imply racism. Darwin was, in fact, in staunch opposition to slavery, and he contributed to missionary work to better the condition of the native Tierra del Fuegans. He treated people of all races with compassion.
Then came the “experts.” This gave Kirk and Ray an opportunity to misquote several more prominent scientists, even though these quotes can easily be proven either out-of-context or tongue-in-cheek.
The first prominent scientist quoted was Ernst B. Chain, 1906-1979. The quote used was
“I would rather believe in fairies than in such wild speculation.“
This was taken out of the context of the entire quote, which is,
“So, too, with Darwin’s theory that evolution was the result of, among other processes, the survival of the fittest, a belief qualified rather than destroyed by the development of genetics and biochemistry. Only one theory has been advanced to make an attempt to understand the development of life, the Darwin-Wallace theory of evolution,’ he said as late as 1972, ‘and a very feeble attempt it is, based on such flimsy assumptions, mainly of morphological-anatomical nature that it can hardly be called a theory.’ And after dealing with certain evolutionary examples he added, with a vigour that would do credit to a modern Creationist rather than an accomplished scientist. ‘I would rather believe in fairies than in such wild speculation.’”
The only problem with this reference is that Ernst B. Chain was not an expert in evolutionary science. His doctorate and field of study was Chemistry. He worked on snake venoms, tumor metabolism, the mechanism of lysozyme action and the invention and development of methods for biochemical microanalysis. His best known work was the reinvestigation of penicillin as well as carbohydrate-amino acid relationship in nervous tissue, a study of the mode of action of insulin, fermentation technology, and, among other things, the isolation of new fungal metabolites. A smart guy, indeed, but that still doesn’t explain why he was quoted as an evolutionary biologist.
The second prominent scientist quoted was Sir Arthur Keith, 1866 – 1955. The quote used was,
“Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it only because the only alternative is special creation, and that is unthinkable”
This is just one part of the quote, which, in its entirety, is,
“Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it only because the only alternative is special creation and that is unthinkable. The course of human history is determined, not by what happens in the skies, but by what takes place in our hearts. The Bible remained for me a book of books, still divine — but divine in the sense that all great books are divine which teach men how to live righteously. The German Führer, as I have consistently maintained, is an evolutionist; he has consciously sought to make the practice of Germany conform to the theory of evolution. Evolution is unproved and is unprovable. We believe in it because Creation is unthinkable. Surely man is part of a great whole. Design is manifest everywhere. The darkness in which the final secret of the Universe lies hid is part of the Great Design. The anthropomorphic God of the Hebrews cannot meet our modern needs. Human nature has a dual constitution; to hate as well as to love are parts of it; and conscience may enforce hate as a duty just as it enforces the duty of love. The conscience of a soldier is his duty to save and protect his own people and equally to destroy their enemies. Conscience serves both codes of group behavior.”
Sir Keith appears to be a deist, not a Christian. He has maintained throughout his career that he is agnostic. The rest of the quote states that the course of human history is determined not by what happens in the skies, but by what takes place in the heart. He puts the bible as divine in the sense that any book that teaches men how to live righteously is divine. The reference to Hitler is a little unnerving, and his reference to creation being unthinkable was reflectional of a scientific principle.
The fact that he believes man is part of a great whole and that the god of the Hebrews cannot meet modern needs makes Sir Keith a poor choice for Christians to use as a quote to support their cause. Still, Sir Arthur Keith studied the human anatomy, as this was apparently most fascinating for him. He wrote in excess of 500 publications regarding this subject on human anatomy, evolution, etc. Perhaps Sir Arthur Keith was most noted for his support of Darwin’s theory of man’s evolution.
The third prominent “scientist” quoted was Malcolm Muggeridge, 1903 – 2003. The quote used was,
“I, myself, am convinced that the theory of evolution, especially to the extend to which it has been applied, will be one of the greatest jokes in the history books of the future”
Malcolm Muggeridge is another unusual choice for an evangelical Christian to choose to defend their cause. True, about 50 years ago he was an agnostic known for making statements that “Christianity is a load of rubbish”, but his main claim to fame is not being a scientist, because he wasn’t. He was a journalist and converted to orthodox Catholicism. In fact, Muggeridge was the “discoverer” of Mother Teresa, whom he first met in London in 1968. He told the world about her deeds through a book called Something Beautiful for God. Why Kirk and Ray would use him is a mystery. There are plenty of other, better known Christians who don’t believe in evolution he could have quoted. Of course, then the mystery would be gone and people wouldn’t be led to believe that this man with a strange name was no scientist, but a writer.
At this point, Ray was out and about interviewing more kids, which we’ve already discussed was pretty useless. He asked the kid if he’s ever seen transitional forms showing one animal changing into another animal, which, of course, we know is not evolution, but the “ladder” misconception taught by the church as a means of propaganda. Many creationists ask questions like, “What good is half a wing?” Well, half a wing can have any of several uses. In insects, half a wing is useful for skimming rapidly across the surface of water. In larger animals, half a wing is useful for gliding. Airfoils for gliding appear in several different forms in many different animals.
In fact, structures and organs function quite well when they are not fully developed. Six-year-olds may not have the strength and agility of adults, but their arms, legs, and so forth function well enough to do a great deal. “Fully developed” is not even well-defined. Human eyes do not have the acuity of hawks, the dark sight ability of owls, the color discrimination of some fish, or the bee’s ability to see in ultraviolet. With so much more potential possible for the human eye, how can one claim that our own eyes are fully developed?
Then, of course, was one of the stupidest questions on the whole DVD, when Ray asked the kid, “How can science make a parrot?” This was segued into a clip of an effeminate man with a parrot on his shoulder trying to answer a deliberately confusing question for the sole purpose of advancing the hidden agenda that evolutionists and homosexuality somehow go hand-in-hand. Shameful.
The last person to be interviewed had a blurb on the bottom of the screen that said “PhD in Biology.” He was bulldogged into a question about “First Cause,” which is a disputed issue in evolutionary biology. First Cause is a study unto itself and consists of much speculation on both sides, and most people know this. However, the dispute is not about what happened, but how it happened. Either god created man out of the dust, fully evolved and speaking a language (Adam & Eve), or life was spontaneously generated from a chemical-electric spark. We don’t even know what kind of a biologist he was. Molecular? Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Developmental Biology, Human Biology… There are many disciplines of biology, evolutionary biology being only one, and it stands to reason that a PhD in Developmental Biology is probably not up to snuff on all the other disciplines.
This is where their “scientific approach” ends and the ignorance comes in. Not ignorance as in stupidity, but ignoring scientific facts. Ignoring proper and proven explanations and facts in lieu of emotions. Kirk comes back on and says that when he is witnessing he never brings up evolution because, as he says if you speak to the heart, the mind responds. He says the subject disappears and is a non-issue. Wow, for a non-issue, it sure does spark a lot of debate. He further states that it is not a requirement to be an “expert” in evolution to explain why it is not true. I suppose you don’t really NEED to be well read on a subject to debate it, but if you are not, then you had better be prepared to be handed your ass on the debate floor.
Then comes the part I was not only waiting for, but that I fully expected.
The Sales Pitch…
You can’t have a good, ol’ fashioned evangelical message without passing the hat, can you? The product that he is selling is called “The Evidence Bible,” which allegedly has proof that evolution is unscientific and based on blind faith and that true science and common sense support the bible. All this for only $26.95. What a deal. I read a lot of this bible online and it contains much of the same poor science as the DVD does. It is isn’t actually a DVD, but a one-hour infomercial.
Then came the “invitation” part, where Ray asks the question, “What is the purpose of the church on earth?” What followed was the usual. Glorify god, lead lost sinners to the savior, know the day of judgment is coming and the we will all be accountable to the christian god. Blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda….
Then came the third and final reference to airplanes. Kirk must be a frustrated pilot. There was an analogy of one dude on a plane talking to another dude on the plane trying to tell him that he will need a parachute because any second now he will be required to jump out of the plane 25,000 feet to the surface and without the parachute he will surely die. Oh, my god, the end is near…
He gave one example of how to handle this by stating that the maker of the plane was Boeing and the emergency card was from Boeing and if you believe the plane is made by Boeing then surely the card with Boeing’s name on it was reliable, right? I don’t need to continue here, because we all know where this is going….
Another Sales Pitch…
The end result is the same. Ignore all facts and proofs and logic and reason and evidence that creation is a myth. Ignore the multitude of errors that are in the bible that have been proven to be errors by thousands of people over hundreds of years. Just ignore it all and scare the hell out of people by preaching that if they don’t “accept christ” they will burn forever in torment in the lake of fire and will be in constant, miserable pain for eternity.
I’ve said it once, and I will say it again. Organized religion is like organized crime. It preys on peoples’ weakness, generates huge profits for its operators and is almost impossible to eradicate. This is, as expected, a complete waste of time or money, unless you need a couple of really expensive shit shovels..
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