In the opening scene, shot in black-and-white, Kirk is meant to resemble Rod Serling and delivers a modified version of Serling's traditional Twilight Zone introduction:
"You've traveled to another dimension, a dimension not only of contradiction and speculation but also one that defies logic and is based on blind faith. A journey into a nebulous land whose limits are that of imagination. You've just crossed over into, The Evolution Zone."
This introduction lays the groundwork for the case against evolution presented in this episode. Kirk's assertions are that evolution is:
replete with contradictions
rooted in speculation
based on blind faith
the result of an active imagination
In using the Twilight Zone imagery, they intend to represent evolutionary theory as being more science fiction than science.
As the particular objections he raises are usually attributed to creationism, this is the intellectual equivalent of "I know you are, but what am I?" This is an attempt to muddy the issue by making evolutionary theory appear to be, at a minimum, equally subject to the criticisms of creationism and support the idea that, lacking absolute knowledge, we should "teach the controversy."
This notion, popular with the Intelligent Design movement, establishes a false dilemma (by ignoring other creation myths) and relies on a general ignorance of scientific theories and methods in the hopes that public opinion, rather than evidence, will be sufficient to raise the status of their claims to a level which can compete openly with established scientific explanations.
(0:53 - 2:21)
Kirk, "What you're about to see, was not planned. There was no script, there were no writers, there were no cameras, no production crew, no lighting, no graphic artists and no editors. The entire program 'just happened' ... there was a big bang in our production studio...and here we are."
Ray, "Could you believe that? Of course you couldn't. No one in their right mind could. And yet many evolutionists would have us believe that, in the name of science."
Ray and Kirk are fond of analogies which completely misrepresent the current scientific explanations they mean to denounce. Here they're combining big bang cosmology, abiogenesis and evolution into one theory. This false oversimplification isn't remotely accurate and any scientist who made such an elementary mistake would lose all credibility. In science, those theories are completely separate and in very different states. The Big bang is explained by physics whereas evolution deals with biology.
Evolutionary theory is wholly unconcerned with the big bang and abiogenesis. Regardless of how the universe was created or how life began, evolution (descent with modification) does occur. This is a simple, scientific observation...a fact which requires an explanation (later discovered to be errors in DNA replication) and can be used within theories to explain other things. Evolutionary theory holds that the process of natural selection determines which of these changes (mutations) survive and which die off. Over long periods of time, this process is responsible for speciation (another observed fact) and it seems to be a reasonably sufficient explanation for the diversity of life.
Ray, "There was no creator. No space, no energy, no matter, there was nothing. And then there was this big bang and out came the sea and the land...the birds and flowers and trees and elephants and giraffes and horses and cats and dogs and, of course man and woman...and this took countless millions of years."
This program, which purports to be a critique of evolution, has started off with a lot of criticism of big bang cosmology and abiogenesis, which have absolutely nothing to do with evolution. Ray's statement seems absurd, because it is...yet it doesn't accurately represent any scientific theory.
His objection is structured in such a way that it implies that all of these things were directly produced by a big bang and he completely ignores the very thing he wants to argue against - evolutionary theory. The only portion of his statement which remotely correlates to evolutionary theory is his dismissive remark that, "...this took countless millions of years." Presented as an afterthought, it's meant to appear as absurd as the rest of his remarks.
Ray, "We're now gonna look closely at some of the believers of the theory of evolution and we want you to listen very closely to the type of language they use. True believers use, what we call, the language of speculation. They'll start off sounding like an expert, but because there's such a lack of factual evidence for the theory, they're forced to use words like, "we surmise", "we believe", "perhaps", "maybe", "could've" and "possibly." And then they'll end up saying things like, well, "I really don't know", "I'm not an expert." So watch for these phrases and these words."
As if misrepresenting the theory of evolution was not enough, Ray prepares us for an incredibly dishonest adventure. Instead of speaking to actual experts who could provide scientific explanations, they're heading out to accost individuals on the street. This isn't an attempt to provide a scientific objection to evolutionary theory, it's a cheap theatric. It's a weak argument from incredulity which asserts that if these individuals don't have a good explanation, none exists and the theory is just wild speculation. If we were to use their methodology, no scientific theory would stand up. Most people cannot give an accurate explanation for many fields of science, such as quantum physics, meteorology, biochemistry, and such.
Unlike Ray and Kirk, the people being interviewed are being honest in their explanations. The "language of speculation" that Ray wants us to watch for is, in fact, honesty. Instead of acknowledging that these non-experts willingly admitted they weren't experts, he seeks to use this admission as an indictment against the theory. It's hardly surprising, given Ray's gross misunderstanding of evolutionary theory, that he would avoid experts and seek out lay people.
Ray falsely asserts that the individuals are forced to use words like "maybe" and "possibly" because of the lack of factual evidence for the theory. This is logically unsound. The fact that a lay person may not be aware of or able to explain the factual evidence for the theory does not mean that the evidence doesn't exist. If Ray were really interested in discovering factual evidence, he should have sought out experts. The fact that he did not do this, betrays his true motives and demonstrates the weakness of his position.
Finally, even if Ray had sought out experts, we might still have heard many of the words he mentions, because science doesn't assert absolutes. Science is concerned with discovering the most reasonable, most likely explanation based on the available evidence.
The honesty of scientists and the integrity of the scientific method is often taken advantage of by apologists like Ray. Any admission to a lack of absolute certainty is perceived as a gap into which the apologist can insert their own assertion that "god did it." Ray, and his ilk, assert absolute answers with no supporting evidence, while science presents sound explanations based on the available evidence.
Final note, calling people who accept evolution as "believers" is another dishonest attempt on Ray's part. Belief necessitates faith; faith is the utter lack of evidence. In science, faith is not acceptable. Evidence is demanded for every claim. Second of all, nobody "believes" in gravity because we can observe it, and we can do the same for Darwin's theory of evolution.
(2:22 - 6:52)
First, Ray asks a man on a plane if he believes in the theory of evolution? The man says yes.
Ray is trying to portray evolution as a belief system, similar to religion. This is a poorly veiled form of begging the question.
Ray asks several individuals, "Do you believe man evolved from apes?"
While each of the individuals affirmed that they believe this, Ray's question doesn't accurately reflect evolutionary theory in any sense beyond the colloquial. Evolutionary theory claims that man and ape evolved from a common ancestor, not that man evolved from apes, as we classify them today.
Ray asks a young woman to be more specific about the evidence which supports evolutionary theory. She gives a brief explanation which begins with the formation of the earth and quickly mentions that single-cell organisms eventually developed and, over time, evolved into humans.
The Big Bang theory and abiogenesis are not aspects of evolution. This lady either made an honest mistake or is rather well ill -informed. And typical Ray, uses this to his advantage.
Ray asks a young man, "How did it begin? His response is, "I don't know. Probably the big bang theory."
The man's honest admissions that he doesn't know the answer, but accepts that the current scientific explanation is probable, are highlighted with graphics as two of the phrases ("I don't know." and "probably") Ray wants us to watch for. Admitting one's ignorance is not always an easy thing to do. In the face of a question which does not have the absolute answer Ray is seeking, this individual's response is the only honest answer and Ray despicably exploits his honesty as an indictment on evolutionary theory. This is particularly dishonest given the nature of the question asked. Shame on Ray Comfort for this continual dishonest juvenile behavior.
The response should have continued, "...and you don't know, either."
Ray's response is, "What caused the big bang?"
The young man's answer is fundamentally impossible ("probably an asteroid from another planet"), if Ray wanted good answers he should ask professional or even amateur astronomers who understand that the big bang is nothing to do with asteroids. Of course Ray Comfort is not after accurate answers, he is after answers that make science look worse than it is. Ray is beginning to use the cosmological argument but one fundamental flaw in this line of reasoning is that the apologists' answer, 'God is the uncaused first cause', denies the initial premise that nothing can exist without a cause.
Back to the man on the plane, who is explaining several evidences for evolution: homological structures, analogical structures, vestigial organs... The scene switches.
These are all examples of morphological evidences that support evolutionary biology. And how typical of Ray Comfort, when the guy is presenting a list of evidences, Ray has the camera turn away from it in a "la-la-la-God-did-it-la-la-la" fashion. Throughout this program, neither Ray or Kirk delve into this list of evidences provided. Their juvenile behavior of simply ignoring the evidence and asserting it does not exist is all creationists do; it's dishonest, shameful, and really the best their faith provides them.
Ray asks a young woman about life emerging from the sea. She accepts that life originated in the sea, because it could support life. Ray asks her "when life came out of the sea, was their air?" The lady responds there was air, but it took awhile to break down the molecules.
While the lady does not fully explain the process, she is leading in the proper direction. The early atmosphere, "air" according to Ray Comfort, was vastly different from the current atmosphere. Evidence suggests that the earliest atmosphere was a reducing atmosphere with high levels of hydrogen. Later the atmosphere became rich with CO2 due to volcanic activity. It was this atmosphere that allowed the first photosynthetic organisms to thrive. Gradually, photosynthetic organisms increased the O2 content in the atmosphere - this allowed other organisms to thrive in the new conditions.
Ray asks the young woman about life emerging from the oceans, "When they came out, what came out of the ocean?" She responds, "I don't know, you tell me."
Ray's answer, if any was given, wasn't included and the clip cuts to the next interview.
Ray continues asking questions which, when answered honestly (especially by a lay person) must lead to the particular "language of speculation" responses he's looking for. Rays not only continues to exploit a persons honesty, but flees from providing an answer of his own; keeping his views from being examined - which his faith demands, to keep him in the dark an ignorant.
Back to the man on the plane, Ray asks him if we were originally fish? The man says "it's possible" and the camera cuts him off there.
Straw man - Modern tetrapods and fish diverged away from each other.
Ray asks a man if the life that came out of the waters was a dog? The man says "probably not, probably was not a mammal at all. Probably came out as a reptile and evolved that way."
He is really not that far off, but Ray Comfort seeks to exploit this honest man at every opportunity.
Back to the man on the plane, Ray asks him "so you think we lived under water?" The man says "Its possible at some point." Ray responds When we were under the water, did we have lungs or gills?" The man's response is not provided (surprise, surprise!)
Comfort continues to revel in this man's honest responses.
switch back to Ray and the two ladies. Ray says, "Cause I'm trying to think...here is this sort of animal who's coming out of the ocean without lungs, so he comes out with gills, goes [gasping noises] runs back to water and just keeps coming out until lungs develop?" The lady says "yep."
Comfort is now using a straw man against Lamarckian evolution, not Darwin's theory of evolution. Lamarck's concept pre-dated Darwin. Under Lamarckian evolution, physical traits were passed from parent to offspring (i.e. the muscles of your left arm were particularly strong from constant weight lifting, therefore your offspring will have a more muscular left arm).
Fossil evidence and the swim bladders of some modern fish support evolutionary theory regarding the evolution from gills and gill-like features to lungs in the earliest amphibians. Modern amphibians still posses many of these traits, though modified. Ray, in attempting to make this sound as absurd as possible, relies on our inherent inability to properly conceive of large spans of time, portraying one individual creature, at one point in time. This oversimplification of speciation doesn't accurately reflect scientific explanations.
Continuing Ray's interview with the two young ladies"Well, this animal that came out, without lungs, and breathed and went back in, was he male or female?" However, the scene is cut before the ladies can give a response. The scene cuts to Ray asking the same question to another fella, who responds that they might have been amphibious and had to evolve from gills.
Gills pre-date lungs; however, several fish are able to modified gills to exchange atmospheric gases. One such group is commonly referred to as lungfishes. Several transitional fossils possess four pseudo-limbs, lungs, and internal gills.
Back to the plane interview, Ray asks him "So do you think we may have come from birds?" The man answers "It's possible."
The common ancestor shared by mammals and birds occurred in early tetrapods.
Ray asks a man "The first life that came out as a reptile, whatever it was, from an amoeba that was from under water, whether it had gills and developed lungs and came out upon the land as a reptile, was it male or female?" The man answers "probably unisex."
Ray comforts question is riddled with straw man arguments, mischaracterizations, and completely incorrect statements.
Jump to ray asking a student "When did it, and why did it, change from asexual to bisexual, meaning male or female." The man replies with a lot of maybes, but finally says "well, you know, meiosis between a male and female..." Scene ends there.
In biology, a bisexual organism is hermaphroditic. Ray Comfort CLEARLY has no understanding of biology.
While Ray Comfort's question demonstrated a profound lack of understanding, this teenager is actually correct. The key innovation of sexual reproduction (meiosis) led to bisexual organisms.
Jump back to Ray interviewing the previous man. Ray asks, "So the first reptile was under the sea as an ameoba, his lungs develop under the water, crawled up onto the land, was unisex?" The man answers. "Probably. I can't say for sure."
Ray Comfort's shame and depth of his dishonest seems to know no bounds. Here he repeats his straw man and mischaracterization riddled questions.
Unisex is not hermaphroditism; unisex is used to describe organisms which display only one sexual characteristic (i.e. male and female are separate).
Ray asks the teenage student, "Was it a male or female that came out of the change?" He says "Maybe it could've been both. It could've been hermaphroditic."
The teenager is basically correct. Hermaphroditism predates gonochorism (separate genders determined by genetics). An interesting example is Pseudoobiceros hanockanus (marine flat hermaphroditic worms). Bearing offspring requires additional resources; therefore it is beneficial to provide the sperm but not the eggs. Evolutionary biology predicts adaptions of this sort.. and it was correct, again.
Ray asks the man on the plane "Do you think we could've evolved from horses?" The man replies, (in not full certainty) "sure" but the camera cuts him off there.
The most recent common ancestor for Perissodactyla (horses) and Primate (human) occurred in early Eutheria (placentals). Ray Comforts understanding of evolution is just as poor as the man being interviewed. At least, the interviewee admits his ignorance.
Ray goes back to the two young ladies, asking the same question "we he male or female?" She says she does not know, but says he could have been a hermaphrodite. Ray asks "And he was alone?" She says "I don't know, could've been." Ray then asks "So how did he reproduce?" She replies "I don't know. Asexually?" Ray responds "He split in two?" to which the lady replies "he could have." The ladies start laughing, but Ray declares, "See, this is the evidence that your teacher gave you?" She replies "his was a lot more in-depth, but I don't remember it all. Sorry."
Ray continues to repeat his straw man and his disingenuous behavior when faced with honesty. He also mis-characterizes biology yet again; asexual reproduction can result in speciation.
These questions betray Ray's misunderstanding of evolutionary theory and speciation. Asexual and hermaphroditic species can, sometimes, form new species but among sexually reproducing species, we wouldn't see one spontaneous jump to a new species, we'd see gradual changes which allow reproduction but still represent a fundamental change from the ancestor. These changes, eventually, result in the rise of a new species.
Basically there were species where both males and females sometimes came out and went back in again, they reproduced normally and over very long periods of time evolved to spend more time on land. While lungs were evolving animals used gills as well as lungs, they did not stay out of water long enough to get out of breath. Evolving lungs enabled an animal to stay out of water longer than competitors without lungs or with less evolved lungs so animals with more efficient lungs could get resources that less evolved animals could not reach. Alternatively lungs could have developed before fishes became land animals. Fishes with evolving lungs could have lived in water with low oxygen content where less evolved competitors could not survive. Again, in the early stages of evolution partly developed lungs would supplement effective gills. Over very long periods of evolution lungs would become progressively more important and gills less important.
Evolutionary theory, like the individuals responding to Ray's questions, doesn't purport to have an absolute explanation for every aspect of origins. It is a continuing field of research, yet the fundamentals of evolutionary theory are the very basis of all modern biology. For answers to these questions, and many others, visit the talk origins website.
Jump back to Ray and the man on the plane. The man simply says "I really have no idea, I'm not an expert on that subject." The scene then jumps back to the teenager, who says "I'll let you know, I am not an authoritative" to which Ray replies "you are not an authoritative on evolution?" The teenager points out he does not have a major or degree.
Ray knows that none of his interviewees are "experts" they are just lay people, and they are honest enough to tell him up front. And yet, Ray continues to exploit their honesty at every turn. this is incredibly shameful.
The interview segment concludes with the question, "Do you think God had anything to do with this?" The response is, "That's an area I've never explored but it's hard not to believe that, sometimes."
The camera freezes on his face and the still shot slowly zooms in on his face, as if this were some ominous admission that his lack of knowledge is support for the claim that God is responsible. Even if we were to discover that evolutionary theory is completely wrong, that still isn't evidence for the hypothesis that a god exists and is responsible for creating the universe. That hypothesis requires its own supporting evidence and testing. Something which has yet to prove fruitful, though Ray and other apologists would prefer to avoid that and simply proclaim that it is true.
This ominous zoom is an implied argument from ignorance. Ray's implication is that these answers are unknown to all believers in evolution and that the "real" answers are known to believers in creationism. Is it necessary to repeat yet again that scientists who study evolution know far more than easily perplexed lay people Ray interviews in the street?
Episode 21 - Evolution
(6:53 - 8:55)
Kirk, "Ok, here's a simple lesson on evolution. The theory of evolution basically teaches that every living creature, like you and me, evolved from a single cell, billions of years ago. So that means that every animal supposedly transformed into another kind of animal, over time."
This is certainly a very simple lesson on evolution and, judging only the intent of Kirk's words, it's fairly accurate - except for the creationist term "kind" which constantly remains undefined. Common ancestry is a foundational principle of the biological evolution of all life on Earth.
Kirk, "Now, the big problem evolutionists have is that they're finding a huge gap in the fossil record. In other words, when archaeologists dig up the bones of these dead animals, they don't find these transitional forms that helped one animal transform into another animal. And if you don't have those bones, you can't prove evolution ever happened."
Kirk makes three claims here,
Scientists find huge gaps in the fossil record
Scientists don't find transitional forms
Transitional fossils are required to prove evolution occurred
The first is true, though 'huge' may make the statement misleading. Paleontologists know that there are gaps in the fossil record, but the term "huge" is very subjective.
The second is false, transitional forms are commonly found. Just one example is Archaeopteryx which is usually considered a bird that resembled a dinosaur though this definition is controversial, see Archaeopteryx. Slightly earlier Xiaotingia was similar to archaeopteryx but more certainly a bird like dinosaur.
Anyway Kirk runs with this false statement...to the extreme. A decade ago, Kathleen Hunt, a zoologist with the University of Washington, produced a list of a few hundred of the more dramatic transitional species known so far, all of which definitely fit every criteria required of the most restrictive definition. Myriad transitional species have been, and still are being, discovered; so many in fact that lots of biologists and paleontologists now consider that list “innumerable” especially since the tally of definite transitionals keeps growing so fast! Several lineages are now virtually complete, including our own.
The third statement is simply false, as even without any fossils at all there would still be enough evidence to "prove" evolution occurred. All fields of genetics, phylogeny, taxonomy, embryology, paleontology, biogeography, and many other fields not only support evolution, they confirm evolution in great detail.
Kirk, "That's what they're calling, 'The Missing Link' and there's not just one, there would have to be thousands and thousands of those transitional forms. The truth is, they're not missing at all, they never existed in the first place."
Kirk makes two claims in this piece,
There should be thousands of transitional fossils
There are zero transitional fossils discovered, because they do not exist.
Both of Kirk's claims aren't supported by evidence and conveniently dismisses the bulk of scientific evidence which contradicts it. First of all, there are indeed literally thousands of thousands of transitional fossils that have been discovered. Kirk's high number demand has been met. However, he often extends this number to thee billions of intermediates between species. When something dies, it is usually disassembled, digested, and decomposed. Only rarely is anything ever fossilized, and even fewer things are very well-preserved. Because the conditions required for that process are so particular, the fossil record can only represent a tiny fraction of everything that has ever lived. Darwin provided many environmental dynamics explaining why no single quarry could ever provide a continuous record of biological events, and why it would be impossible to find all the fossilized ancestors of every lineage. But despite this, he predicted that future generations, -having the benefit of better understanding- would discover a substantial number of fossil species which he called “intermediate” or “transitional” between what we see alive today and their taxonomic ancestors at successive levels in paleontological history. In fact, in the century-and-a-half since then, we’ve found millions of evolutionary intermediaries in the fossil record, much more than Darwin said he could reasonably hope for. There are three different types of transitional forms and we have ample examples of each. But creationists still insist that we’ve never found a single one, because what they usually ask us to present are impossible parodies which evolution would neither produce nor permit (like Kirk Cameron's Crocoduck).
The "Missing Link" amongst humans and apes hasn’t been missing for a long time now. There was a missing link in 1859 when there were only two species of humans yet known in the fossil record, and no intermediate fossils to link them with any of the other apes we knew of at that time. Since then, we’ve found the fossils of thousands of individuals of dozens of hominid species, many of which provide a definite link to the other apes. But there were two particular pieces predicted to complete the puzzle:
First, it was never supposed that we evolved from any ape species still alive today. Instead the theory held that chimpanzees and humans were sibling species, daughters of the same mother. So the first link we needed to find was an ancient ape apparently basal to either of us –to prove there was a potential progenitor of both groups. We had already found that link in Europe five years before Darwin went public. So we already had an evident “chain” of transitional species from which only one more “link” was needed.
The theory then required that another extinct hominid be found in strata chronologically between the Miocene Dryopithecus fontana and the earliest known human species, which from 1891 to 1961, was Homo erectus. We’ve found lots of candidates, as many as fifty species of apes which are now all extinct. But more than that, the theory also demanded that we find one “half-way” between humans and other apes in terms of morphology. We found exactly that too way back in 1974. Australopithecus afarensis proved to be a fully bi-pedal ape who’s hands, feet, teeth, pelvis, skull, and other physical details were exactly what creationists challenged us to find, yet they’re still pretending we never found it.
But worse than that, we didn’t just find that one. In 1977, three years after we discovered the no-longer-missing link in the human evolutionary lineage, Harvard paleontologist, Stephen J. Gould mentioned an “extreme rarity” of other clear transitions persistent in the fossil record ‘til that time, and his comment, -taken out of context- remains a favorite of creationist quote-miners to this day. But in the more than 30 years since then, there has been a paleontological boom such that we now have way more transitional species in many more lineages than we ever needed or hoped for.
Now the problem for evolution is that there are too many contenders, while a compounding problem for creationists is that not even one of them should exist if their story was true. And yet they do –by the bushelful! Despite their complaints to the contrary, the intermediate gradations in the human evolutionary line are now so fine that paleoanthropologists can’t agree whether they’re all different species or merely mildly modified varieties of the same ones, such that there are no more links needed for human evolution anymore.
But creationists still say we’ve never found anything that was “half-ape and half-human”. Adhering always to black or white absolutes, and being thus unwilling to admit any degree of variance other than 100% or zero, they make sure to divide every find into one of two boxes even when they can’t make up their minds which side of that imaginary partition each one belongs to.
Demanding an “ape-man” is actually just as silly as asking to see a mammal-man, or a half-human, half-vertebrate. How about a half dachshund, half dog? It’s the same thing. One may as well insist on seeing a town half way between Los Angeles and California. Because the problem with bridging the gap between humans and apes is that there is no gap because humans ARE apes –definitely and definitively. The word, “ape” doesn’t refer to a species, but to a parent category of collective species, and we’re included. This is no arbitrary classification like the creationists use. It was first determined via meticulous physical analysis by Christian scientists a century before Darwin, and has been confirmed in recent years with new revelations in genetics. Furthermore, it is impossible to define all the characters exclusively indicative of every known member of the family of apes without describing our own genera as one among them. Consequently, we can and have proven that humans are apes in exactly the same way that lions are cats, and iguanas are lizards, and whales are mammals. So where is the proof that humans descend from apes? How about the fact that we’re still apes right now!
Kirk, "Now, maybe you're asking 'what about the proof?' I mean, what about those science teachers that showed us those drawings of apes, all hunched over and then eventually straightening themselves up and becoming very 'man-like'? Well, remember, those are just drawings, that's not proof."
Kirk is correct, drawings aren't proof. In fact, many of the drawings of extinct species are simply artistic interpretations based on the available evidence, especially in the areas of soft-tissue and coloration.
However, those drawings are not just pulled out of thin air. They are based on actual skeletal remains, carefully studied by taxonimists to accurately portray how the creature may have appeared to the best degree possible. What Kirk and Ray are both completely denying is the existence the fossils the drawings are based on.
Kirk, "The real proof is in what we can find in the fossil record. The bones that we dig up. And that's what's missing, the actual proof."
Kirk is partially correct that the 'real proof' is in the fossil record, though he completely denies the existence of this evidence, but evidence for evolution can be found in other fields like genetics, phylogeny, taxonomy, biogeography, and much more (that all CONFIRM evolution). The skeletal structures (the basis for the drawings he objects to) exist for a variety of species, including transitional forms. In denying the available evidence and relying on bad information, Kirk takes a real issue, an incomplete fossil record, and exaggerates it to claim that there's no fossil record.
Kirk, "In reality, this is what scientists actually have: [cut to Kirk and a chimp standing against a wall] me...and the monkey. Apes and humans. The supposed transitional forms are what are known as the 'missing links'. But the truth is, there is no missing link. There's nothing to link apes to humans. The 'supposed' transitional forms simply don't exist...except in the imagination of evolutionists who want to justify their theory."
Essentially, he's claiming that the bulk of the scientific community is delusional and portraying fictional evidence in order to support their theory. This accusation takes all of the fossil evidence, all of the DNA evidence, all observations of genetic change, all observations of speciation, all of the reliable, consistent predictions of the theory which serve as the cornerstone for all of modern biology...and tosses them aside in favor of the idea that scientists are imagining that the evidence fits the theory.
To further display their lack of understanding of biology and evolution, orangutans are not monkeys. Fail on Cameron and Comforts part. They should have gotten a chimpanzee, our most closest relative. Kirk further demonstrates his lack of understanding by saying that there is a gap between "apes and humans." The thing is: HUMANS ARE APES. There is no "gap" between man and ape. that would be like saying there is a gap between a tiger and a cat. Kirk claims "there's nothing to link apes to humans" well apparently Kirk must have never heard of genetics. By definition, humans are indeed apes - which is so concrete that we cannot provide a detailed example of apes unless we include ourselves.
Kirk Cameron is simply wrong that the 'missing links' do not exist. Over 150 years of research, scientists have discovered more intermediate fossils than Darwin could have reasonably hoped for.
Kirk's pseudo-conspiracy theory is supported only by accusations, not evidence. Intelligent Design creationists often attempt to exploit "gaps" in evolutionary theory (the Discovery Institute's infamous Wedge Document is clear evidence of this) and most of their objections center around assertions that 'evolution isn't a sufficient explanation' or direct denial of the validity of evidence supporting evolution. The complete lack of evidenciary support for their own ideas prevents them from offering viable alternate explanations to challenge evolutionary theory and the easiest tactic is to simply misrepresent or deny the evidence which supports the theory of evolution.
The only thing that exists in the imagination of a group wishing to justify their beliefs are creationists and, frankly, theists.
Ancient hominids and hoaxes
(8:56 - 9:45)
Kirk provides four examples for us to consider...
Lucy - (Australopithecus afarensis)
Kirk's claim: "...nearly all experts agree that Lucy was just the skeleton of a 3-foot-tall chimpanzee"
This is simply not true. This claim has been made by a variety of creationists and makes an appearance in the Big Daddy? tract by Jack Chick. Australopithecines were the subject of much study and debate (as any scientific discovery should be). While many, like Sir Arthur Keith, initially proclaimed that Lucy was possibly a chimpanzee and, at a minimum, more ape-like than man-like, the consensus view by 1950 was that australopithecines were far more similar to humans than chimpanzees. Sir Keith retracted his initial position:
"I was one of those who took the point of view that when the adult form was discovered it would prove to be near akin to the living African anthropoids—the gorilla and chimpanzee. Like Prof. Le Gros Clark, I am now convinced, on the evidence submitted by Dr. Robert Broom, that Prof. Dart was right and that I was wrong; the Australopithecinae are in or near the line which culminated in the human form." - Arthur Keith, (Nature March 15, 1947)
The consensus opinion among experts remains and Kirk's claims that "nearly all experts" agree that Lucy was a chimp is without basis.
Kirk's claim: "...they created an entire skeleton with arms, legs, feet, hands, even facial features when all they really had was one tooth which, later, was found to be the tooth of an extinct pig."
The TalkOrigins Archive has a discussion about Nebraska man. In short, Nebraska man was an error, which was quickly corrected. The image to which Kirk is referring appeared in Illustrated London News (Smith 1922) and was drawn by Amedee Forestier. The image was accompanied by the following text, which was repeated in the article:
"Mr. Forestier has made a remarkable sketch to convey some idea of the possibilities suggested by this discovery. As we know nothing of the creature's form, his reconstruction is merely the expression of an artist's brilliant imaginative genius. But if, as the peculiarities of the tooth suggest, Hesperopithecus was a primitive forerunner of Pithecanthropus, he may have been a creature such as Mr. Forestier has depicted." - (Smith 1922)
Mr. Henry Osborn, the curator who described the tooth as possibly belonging to an ape, was outraged over the publication and called it "only a figment of the imagination."
Most scientists were skeptical of the discovery and few, if any, reputable scientists made any bold assertions that this was a confirmed human ancestor. Since the discovery of the error, Nebraska man's only significant mention is in creationist literature that hopes to discredit evolution by exploiting a mistake - a mistake which was discovered and exposed by scientists.
Kirk's claim: "...the jawbone turned out to belong to a modern ape."
Piltdown man was a hoax, which was exposed by science. This is significant not only because it demonstrates the self-correcting methods of science but because the evidence which exposed the hoax supports evolutionary theory. The bulk of evidence regarding ancient hominids formed a clear evolutionary pattern and Piltdown man remained an anomaly - it didn't fit the pattern.
A single hoax does not disprove a theory and, in this case, exposing the hoax actually demonstrates the veracity of the theory. Piltdown man, once exposed as a hoax, was no longer used as evidence for evolutionary theory, yet continues to be referenced by creationists as evidence against evolution.
Interestingly, there are a number of Creationist hoaxes which continue to be used to support creationist arguments.
Neanderthal man - (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis)
Kirk's claim: " ...whose famous skeleton, found in France over 50 years ago, was that of an old man who suffered from arthritis."
Kirk begins by reducing Neanderthal man to a single skeleton when, in fact, many specimens have been discovered. While some of them have exhibited symptoms of arthritis or other diseases, neither arthritis nor rickets (the other common claim) explain the the distinct features of Neanderthals. Additionally, these diseases do not result in similar features in modern humans.
(9:46 - 10:04)
Ray invites us to "listen to what the famous Harvard evolutionary biologist, Stephen Jay Gould said about the fossil record..."Template:Quote-source
Despite the misspelling of 'paleontology' (and the amusement that their spelling includes the word 'lie' - pa-lie-ntology), the quote is technically accurate. The context in which they frame this quote, however, completely misrepresents Gould's position...and still doesn't support their claim. Kirk's claim is that "transitional forms don't exist" yet Gould's quote refers to them as 'rare' not 'non-existent'.
More quotes from Gould on this subject:
"Transitions are often found in the fossil record. Preserved transitions are not common -- and should not be, according to our understanding of evolution ... but they are not entirely wanting, as creationists often claim." - Stephen Jay Gould, "Evolution as Fact and Theory" (1983)
"But paleontologists have discovered several superb examples of intermediary forms and sequences, more than enough to convince any fair-minded skeptic about the reality of life's physical genealogy." - Stephen Jay Gould, Natural History, May 1994
(10:05 - 12:04)
Kirk, "Have you ever been mystified as to why human beings and apes have so many similar features? After all, compare our hands to the hands of apes - they're very similar - and our feet are a lot the same. In fact, we can make many of the same facial expressions and other things that apes can do. To prove this point we hired an orangutan for the day and had some fun. Check this out..." [cut to a vignette of Kirk and the orangutan making similar facial expressions]
Kirk makes a number of expressions which are "aped" by the orangutan (which, incidentally, is derived from the Malay for man of the forest). He begins each one by describing an emotional condition and displaying the corresponding expression; happiness, embarrassment, disagreement, agreement and others.
This is not proof against evolution. It is, however, proof that the orangutan is the best actor in this entire program.
Kirk, "Does this prove that men evolved from apes? No, not at all."
Agreed, this sort of similarity alone does not prove common ancestry and evolutionary theory isn't based on facile observations like this one. One possible description of the scientific method is; observation leads to an hypothesis which leads to evidence gathering, testing and falsification which leads to the development of a theory. The theory, if it holds, should be useful, and continually subject to revision (based on evidence) while making predictions which should be verified by evidence. Kirk is declaring that the observation of similarity doesn't prove anything - and he's right. The observed similarities he noted, and others, are the starting point, not the proof.
Kirk, and those who share his views, reject or ignore the evidence and consistently reliable predictions which support the theory.
Kirk, "Think of it like this; think of the bi-plane and the 747 jumbo jet. They're both very similar. After all, they both have wings, they both have landing gear, cockpits...does that mean that the jet evolved from the little bi-plane? Not at all...it just means they have a common designer. The designer used a similar blueprint for each one."
Actually, it may be fair to say that the 747 did evolve from the bi-plane. While we're obviously not talking about biological evolution, the designs did evolve - with the guidance of the human mind. It's doubtful that a 747 could have been invented without relying on the early invention of the bi-plane. Creationists, like Kirk, will immediately point out that this claim of evolution necessarily requires a guiding intelligence - and they're correct. However, they've failed to consider why this process requires intelligence and the answer is remarkably simple: external intelligent guidance is required because planes are not biological organisms - they have no method of self-replication, no mechanism for changes in this replication and no selection filter to determine the results. A guiding intelligence is required to fill those roles.
Life, human and otherwise, includes the ability to self-replicate and this imperfect replication is filtered by natural selection. There's no evidence to support the idea of an intelligent designer and no reason to posit one in the first place.
Kirk, "It's the same with us. God, the creator of the world and the universe, is our common designer. He simply used a similar blueprint when creating the hands and feet and facial expressions of men and apes."
This ad hoc explanation for the similarity between man and ape is without justification or evidence. Evolution doesn't deny that life was “designed”, it just recognizes that natural selection is the “designer”. Similarities between species is explainable by purely natural means and Kirk is completely correct - there is a blueprint for life... it's called DNA. Speciation is an observed fact.
Lunch with an orangutan
(12:05 - 17:00)
Ray, "Despite the fact that there is no evidence when it comes to the theory of evolution, we're continually told that primates are our relatives. So we decided, we'd have a little fun and call a number of airlines and ask if we could have a 'relative' fly on the plane with us."
This adventure in absurdity is a cheap theatric to ridicule evolutionary theory. A thinly veiled equivocation fallacy, they rely on the common understanding of 'relative' while arguing against a very different meaning of the word. It also is very un-courteous to the airline employees with this nonsense.
Ray, talking to various airlines, "I'm flying with a friend, um, and I'd like to take a relative with us. He works in the movie industry so he'll have two managers with him and the reason for the managers is he's a little slow intellectually and he's also got physical problems with underdeveloped feet. He can't stand upright. Uh, his name is Bam Bam, he's actually an orangutan and what we want to do is take him on the flight, with two managers, is it possible to do that?"
Airline representative, '"No sir, we can't transport animals..."
Ray goes on to question the airline representatives about whether or not they believe that we "came from apes", though none were willing to address the question.
Ray, "Despite the fact that airlines won't allow primates on planes, for obvious reasons, there are some scientists who'd have us believe that primates are just about as intelligent as human beings."
Intelligence is irrelevant to whether or not airlines will allow primates on planes just as whether or not airlines allow them on planes is irrelevant to whether or not we're related and all respected scientists accept that modern apes have smaller brains and are less intelligent than humans.
Ray, "So Kirk and I took an orangutan to lunch to see if it [claims of ape intelligence] was true."
Another asinine demonstration. Ray spends the next few minutes pointing out all of the stupid things that the ape does, like sucking on their tracts, demonstrating a lack of etiquette, stuffing his mouth like an untrained beast. Incidentally badly neglected human children who have never been taught culturally acceptable ways of eating can be similarly uncouth and chimpanzees can be trained to eat in a fairly human way, see chimpanzee tea party.
Ray also notes that the ape also broke the 10th Commandment (coveting Ray and Kirk's lunches - though one might think this is an argument for intelligence and desires similar to humans, Ray apparently doesn't notice) and used a fork (though Ray was fearful that he would be stabbed).
This entire exercise is a red herring and while Ray may shrug it off as a bit of fun, the fact remains that rather than addressing evolutionary theory they're attacking straw man after straw man. While they're both quick to claim that there's no evidence for evolution, they have yet to demonstrate an understanding of the theory or seriously address any of its claims.
Ray, "The incident reinforced the fact that the primate is limited when it comes to the unique ability, the human ability, to reason, to invent, to appreciate the sound of music."
Ray's real objection is one of "sophistication". His examples are also flawed in that he's comparing two modern species without regard to the divergent variation which has occurred since the time of our last common ancestor. The current mental state of either species is completely irrelevant to their evolutionary ties. Ray's understanding of evolution seems to be more similar to the ladder-view, complete with goals and value judgments. Evolutionary theory is better represented by a tree-view. Also, when Ray says "the primate" he may be referring to the orangutan, otherwise humans are the primates Ray is looking for who appreciate things like music. And for that matter, does Ray really know that all primates (excluding us) don't appreciate music? We do know that other primates share many things with humans, such as a sense of morality, empathy, tool use, communication, community, affection, and such.
By way of analogy, Ray's objections about the ape could be made of a human with severe mental retardation. Would Ray be willing to claim that this was reasonable evidence to claim that such an individual is not related to humans?
Ray, "You see you don't get orangutans forming themselves into an orchestra. You don't get them forming themselves into a court system to mete out justice to its fellow creatures. This isn't because he's a prehistoric man who's less evolved than us, but it's because he's another species."
Ray is absolutely correct and clearly, if he thinks this is a valid argument against evolution, he not only has no concept of evolution but he is also borderline retarded to think this argument holds any weight.
Evolutionary theory doesn't claim that modern apes are less evolved than humans (the ladder-view), it doesn't claim that they're prehistoric men...evolution claims that modern apes and modern humans (which are scientifically classified as apes) are descendants of a common ancestor. Evolution has no intended goal, such as making musical animals.
Ray's spent so much time arguing against his straw man version of evolution that he's failed to notice that his final sentence completely negates every single objection he's just raised. This means that Ray knew fully well that he was being dishonest the whole time - which means he broke the "Thou Shall Not Lie" Commandment numerous times without a second thought.
(17:00 - 18:17)
Kirk, "The revered father of evolution, the man who really made the theory popular is Charles Darwin."
charles Darwin was no "revered" as religious zealots 'revere' their deity. He was 'revered' to the same extent as Nodel laureates.
Kirk, "He [Darwin] wrote Origin of Species and the Descent of Man. Ladies, listen to what he had to say about women.."
Kirk, "Did you hear that?! He's saying that man has evolved to a higher eminence over women in, basically, anything he decides to do. Whether it requires reason, imagination or deep thought. Darwinian evolution, at its core is not only male chauvinistic but it's also very racist. Charles Darwin wants us to believe that black people are less evolved than whites."
Hey ladies, did you know that Leviticus 15:19-30 says that you are filthy and pollute people you touch or make contact with. But that is the author of Leviticus's view, not the personal views of the deity.
Kirk "Darwinian evolution, at its core, is not only male chauvinistic, but it is also very racist. Charles Darwin wants us to believe that black people are less evolved than whites."
Darwin's personal views on race, the sexes and even evolution are completely irrelevant to the assessment of whether or not evolutionary theory is true. This is an ad hominem attack, and a particularly weak one. This is just as irrelevant as the false claims that Darwin recanted on his death bed. Ray and Kirk cannot even provide a single reference that Darwin even wanted us to accept that blacks were less evolved than whites. Anywhere. Rather, there are many cases that Christian clergy and theologians argued that blacks were not even human beings altogether, many others who accepted them as humans considered them inferior because the Bible states that blacks are cursed by god. Slavery is also endorsed in the Bible (both in the Old and New Testament).
As Ray and Kirk are unable to provide any reasonable criticism of evolutionary theory they are forced to resort to flawed arguments and irrelevant commentary in an attempt to make evolution distasteful. Unfortunately the truth, however distasteful, isn't threatened by such tricks. Evolutionary theory isn't sexist or racist, science deals with facts not opinions.
It's a bit ironic, however, that they chose to attack Darwin's views on women. One wonders if they've read their own Bible which not only denigrates women but supports slavery.
(18:18 - 19:10)
Ray, "If we can't convince you of how unscientific the theory of evolution is, perhaps these following experts can.."
Ernst Chain (1906-1979), Nobel prize winner in medicine said, in reference to the theory of evolution, "I would rather believe in fairies than in such wild speculation."
Chain was not alone. Other knowledgeable scientists have objected to evolutionary theory, for a variety of reason. However, the truth of the theory is not dependent on the opinions or preferences of any individual.
Chain's primary objection (that the probability of the origin of DNA molecules by sheer chance is too small to be seriously considered) is an outdated objection to abiogenesis, not evolution. Additionally, his objection is an argument from ignorance - even if we were to discover that the true probability was enormously small, that has no bearing on whether or not it actually occurred because 'unlikely' does not equate to 'impossible'.
Modern theories refute Chain's objection by noting that it's based on fundamentally flawed assumptions. The first 'life' forms need not resemble modern proteins, they could have been single, self-replicating molecules or any number of other simple living things. The formation of these simple polymers is a natural function of chemistry and the element of 'sheer chance' is limited.
Sir Arthur Keith (1866-1955) Physical anthropologist who "wrote the forward to Darwin's Origin of the Species, 100th anniversary edition" said, "Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it only because the only alternative is special creation, and that is unthinkable."
This quote, cited by a number of creationists, appears to be completely fraudulent. Firstly, Sir Keith died in 1955 and couldn't have written the forward to the 100th edition of Origin of Species in 1959. He did write an introduction to an edition of Origin of Species but in 1928, over 30 years prior to the centennial. The quote attributed to him does not appear in that edition or in any other known work.
The quote is designed to make it appear as though Keith's acceptance of evolution was a reaction to his rejection of special creation. Sir Keith's writings make it clear that the opposite is true...he accepted evolution as the best explanation based on evidence and rejected special creation based on a lack of evidence and its inability to explain observations. Writing about Darwin's observations of different species on the Galapagos Islands...
"And why should each of the islands have its own peculiar creations? Special creation could not explain such things."
"The Origin of Species is still the book which contains the most complete demonstration that the law of evolution is true."
Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-2003) British journalist and philosopher said, "I myself am convinced that the theory of evolution, especially the extent to which it's been applied, will be one of the great jokes in history books in the future."
An obviously flawed argument from authority, this quote from Muggeridge (a non-scientist, fundamentalist Christian who was never involved in scientific research) does nothing to further Ray's stated goal of demonstrating that the theory of evolution is 'unscientific'. What is unscientific is Ray's attempt to discredit evolution.
The opinion of any individual, philosopher or scientist, has no bearing on whether a proposition is true or false.
Rejection of the Bible
(19:11 - 19:20)
Kirk, "A wise man once said, man will believe anything as long as it's not in the Bible."
This quote is commonly attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte, though we've been unable to identify the source. While this is meant as an amusing indictment of man's visceral rejection of God, it's actually an interesting point to ponder. In truth, whether consciously or subconsciously, rejections of Biblical claims are justified. We have no autographs and no reliable evidence to support the claim that it is divine in origin.
One might propose an alternate version, directed at fundamentalists, "Some people will believe anything as long as it's in the Bible."
Every claim, whether from an ancient book or a close friend, must be critically examined before belief or rejection can be justified. If a single source makes numerous claims, its reliability can be evaluated by looking for clarity, consistency and correlation to known facts. If it is found to be self-contradictory, confusing, or in contradiction to known facts, it is reasonable to doubt or reject its validity. If it promotes values commonly considered immoral while proclaiming that these are moral absolutes, it is worthy of ridicule and opposition.
Street Interviews 2
(19:22 - 21:29)
Ray and his crew head back out into the streets to ask lay people (and one PhD biologist) questions about evolution..
Question (apparently asked of a lay person): "Can you give me any example of a transitional form, going from one kind of animal to another kind?"
Response: "I can't think of anything right off the moment."
We've already addressed the absurdity of asking random people to answer scientific questions. If they don't know the answer or get it wrong, you've proved nothing. The fact that this individual couldn't think of a transitional form is completely irrelevant to the question of whether or not they exist. The following list is a small sample of transitional forms which connect birds and reptiles, reptiles and mammals as well as apes and humans...feel free to investigate:
Eoraptor, Herrerasauras, Allosauraus, Archaeopteryx, Cryptovolans pauli, Sinornithosaurus, Pelycosauria, Therapsida, Australopithecus africanus, Homo hablis, Homo rudolfensis, Homo erectus, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.
Creator vs. Nature
Ray, "The parrot that's on your arm, God created. How could any, how could science make a parrot?"
Man with parrot, "Science? Nature made it."
Ray, "Nature made itself?"
Ray deliberately redirects the man's response by lodging yet another objection to abiogenesis. He's perfectly happy to accept that his God always existed, yet the idea that matter might have always existed is rejected and replaced with this concept of 'making itself'. It's a way to hide the special pleading behind his own beliefs. The gentleman seems to miss this idea about nature making itself and continues referring to the parrot in his answers.
Man with parrot, "Yes, absolutely..."
Ray, "So it made the parrot..."
Man with parrot, "...evolution."
Ray, "So, evolution made it?"
Man with parrot, "Mm hmm"
Ray, "So you don't believe God created things?"
Man with parrot, "Well, I don't know what you're referring to as God."
This is a very valid point. Ray presumes, as so many do, that his concept of God is clearly understood by everyone else. God is an esoteric and ill-defined term, even among people who share common beliefs. Well over 1000 denominations of Christians in addition to the multitude of other religions attest to this fact. Asking Ray to define what he means by 'God' is essential to answering this question correctly. In casual conversation, it may be reasonable to presume a generic concept of God and, in many cases, it may be reasonable to assume a generalized 'Christian' definition - but when confronted in this fashion, asking for specific definitions is critical.
Ray, "The Creator."
Man with parrot, "To me, evolution, nature, is God."
Ray gives an incredibly narrow definition of his concept of God, designed to assume the very thing he's arguing for - creation. The interview ends here, in a not-so-subtle attempt to abuse the equivocation fallacy - relying on his intended audience's concept of God to make it appear as though evolutionists 'worship' evolution. The truth is that this man's answer is reasonable. If your definition of 'god' is, essentially, 'that which is responsible for the current state of every living thing' - evolution and nature fit the bill.
What convinced you evolution was right?
Ray, "When it comes to evolution, what was the scientific fact that convinced you that it was right?"
Young woman, "Um, I would say, how it all got started, like...explaining how we have elements that were brought to Earth by, you know, like, let's say, meteorites, or whatever. That it all got started in the ocean and um, organisms grew and, you know, people evolved from there.."
Ray, "Do you believe in the Bible?"
Young woman, "Uh, yes I do."
Ray, "Do you believe in Adam and Eve?"
Young woman, laughing, "Yes I do."
Some may suspect that her laughter indicates that she doesn't 'really' believe the Adam and Eve story. An alternate view is that she's aware of the contradictions that Ray is about to present and hasn't found a satisfactory way to reconcile her Biblical beliefs with the scientific answers she accepts and that this is nervous laughter. While there are plenty of Christians who accept evolution, it requires a rejection of the literal acceptance of Biblical claims in favor of a more allegorical view.
Ray, '"Did Adam used to be an ape?"
Ray's misunderstanding and misrepresentation of evolutionary theory rears its ugly head again. By presenting an absurd straw man of evolution, he hopes to exploit the confused nature of this individual to convince her, and others, that evolution is unsupported.
If Ray Comfort believes that Adam was the first man, then yes he was an ape; just as Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, Jesus Christ, Mary, Paul, as well as every human on earth are all apes. Period.
Young woman, "No."
Ray, "Did he crawl up out of slime?"
Young woman, laughing, "No."
He Could have, but then again this all boils down to personal belief. Take note that the woman did not say that she believed that the elements from the meteorites came from slime.
Ray, "So which are you gonna go? Did God create man in his own image and tell him to bring forth after his own kind, or did he begin as some slime from a meteorite from outer space?"
Young woman laughs, uncomfortably. Her response isn't shown.
This is basically a false dichotomy, as well as a vile misrepresentation of abiogenesis. Besides, what does the image of God even mean? Since the image of God has no clear definition (let alone any single evidence) then to subscribe to that belief that you are made in some unknowable image - then you have no idea who you really are.
A real expert
Ray begins to question a young man as text on the bottom of the screen informs us that he is an evolutionary biologist with a PhD in Biology..
Biologist, "Non-random changes come about as a result of selection. Ok?"
Ray, "Who's doing the selecting?"
Biologist, "Selecting is being done by the ecosystem..."
Ray, interrupting, "And where did this come from?"
Biologist, "...it's being done by predators..."
Ray, interrupting, "Where did it come from?"
Biologist, "...it's being done by geological processes. Well here..." [acknowledges Ray's interruption] "This is the big question, this is where atheists and theists both have a problem, ok? And I'm going to admit to it, ok? The problem we have is at the beginning."
The camera freezes and zooms in on the biologist's face as his final sentence is echoed. "In the beginning... God created the heavens and the earth" is dramatically displayed.
It's unfortunate, though predictable, that the one potential expert they interviewed was cut off in order to misrepresent his case as an admission of the failure of evolution. As noted previously, this program is supposed to be about evolution, yet many of the objections address abiogenesis. This biologist points out that neither atheists nor theists can know, for certain, what happened at the beginning. What he's not allowed to point out is that the various scientific explanations, despite the fact that they aren't conclusively proved, have a distinct advantage over the theists proposition that God created everything in that they don't rely on unproven supernatural causes or rely on blind faith in ancient texts.
Ray, when presented with an explanation (natural selection) that he cannot argue against, falls back on the common practice of pointing to a gap, or unanswered question, and implying that the absence of absolute knowledge about the process somehow negates the knowledge we do possess. As if that wasn't bad enough, he further implies that it's acceptable to plug God into those gaps. This god of the gaps tactic is popular among Intelligent Design creationists as it sounds very good to those who already believe and may convince the uninformed. However, even if evolutionary theory proved to be incorrect, this still doesn't stand as sufficient evidence to justify their claim of an intelligent designer.
Turn off your brain
(21:30 - 23:04)
Kirk, "Here's a very interesting fact; in the last couple of dozen times that I've witnessed to someone, I can honestly say that the subject of evolution has not come up, even once. Why? Because I didn't bring it up. I didn't have to. And it doesn't come up on its own because it's often a non-issue."
Kirk is essentially correct, though his reasons may not be. Evolution is a non-issue, to many, because it's a scientific fact. Debating evolutionary theory is as absurd, to some, as debating theories about gravity, sexual reproduction or relativity. Evolution is a non-issue, to others, because they realize they're not experts. It's unfair to imply that the subject doesn't come up because people subconsciously reject it, secretly know that God really created everything or are afraid to evaluate the merits of the theory.
Kirk, "When you learn how to speak to a person's conscience, and circumnavigate the intellect, the subject of evolution seems to disappear."
When you circumnavigate the intellect, a lot of subjects seem to disappear: such as the complete loss of your rational and critical thinking. Basically, Kirk is asking for you to forfeit the main thing that separates you from all the other animals. Appealing to someone's emotion or conscience may be an effective way to get them to accept supernatural claims, but it has no effect on whether or not those claims are actually true. If one's goal is to discover truth, and not simply accept propositions that feel good, circumnavigating the intellect is counterproductive.
Ray, "Now this is real good news for people like me. It means I don't have to become an expert in the 'fossil record'. And it also means I don't have to learn words like 'Rhinorhondothackasaurus'."
Basically this translates to "Ignorance is Bliss." This idea that voluntary ignorance is preferable to critical thought is a common theme in their ministry and for all creationists. They begin with the flawed assumption that their beliefs are true until proven false, they proceed to misrepresent the subject they wish to criticize and then after making a very weak attempt at attacking the intellectual issues by way of attacks on straw men, they conclude with an appeal which amounts to; Those pesky scientists with all of their 'facts' are just confused and attempting to confuse you, ignore that stuff and go with what you 'feel'.
Kirk, "Now, are we trying to be anti-intellectual or avoid talking about the subject of evolution? Of course not."
Most definitely. As we've demonstrated throughout this response, they've completely avoided talking about evolution by misrepresenting it, objecting to abiogenesis (which isn't part of evolutionary theory), seeking the opinions of lay people, dangling red herrings, attacking straw men and misrepresenting experts.
You cannot, say, speak to a person's conscience and circumnavigate the intellect and expect an immediate claim that you're not being anti-intellectual to carry any weight. It's as if, at the end of this response, we were to add, Now, are we trying to say that Ray and Kirk are wrong? Of course not. You cannot also claim that you are not trying to avoid talking about the subject of evolution, when this review clearly shows dozens of instances when the camera cuts off interviewees from providing a response or explanation. Ray and Kirk are most definitely trying to avoid talking about evolution, because in doing so will reveal that their fragile beliefs are demonstrably false. Instead of having the decency to examine the evidence, Ray and Kirk have zero honesty to admit when and where they are wrong.
Buy the book
Kirk, "That's why we have The Evidence Bible. And this is packed full of teaching on the subject and includes quotes from teachings from Charles Darwin, Stephen Jay Gould and William Huxley."
The Bible isn't a demonstrably reliable authority on anything and filling it with quotes from scientists and philosophers doesn't change that - especially as we've already witnessed how dishonest and unreliable their selected quotes are. If the quotes and 'evidence' presented in the various episodes of this program are an example of the quality of their 'Evidence Bible' they may have actually made the Bible less reliable. An impressive feat, to be sure.
Kirk, "And it will show you that the theory of evolution is unscientific, that it's based on blind faith; so that you don't need to panic and upset yourself every time you read in the newspaper or see something on the news that talks about man evolving from apes."
Concepts and facts which contradict your personal beliefs can be very uncomfortable and abandoning deeply held beliefs, like religion, when presented with evidence and rational argument, isn't always a pleasant process. Realizing this, Ray and Kirk are hoping to spare their viewers the anxiety and agony of discovering that their views might be incorrect. It's clear that they are true proponents of the 'ignorance is bliss' camp.
Rather than encourage everyone to investigate claims on their own, Ray and Kirk are essentially saying, We've done the work for you, so you don't have to think about this stuff. With their new 'Evidence Bible', creationists are presented with a very comforting over-abundance of arguments from authority.
Kirk, "You can have confidence in God's word that we are made in God's image. And true science, even our common sense, supports the Bible and not the theory of evolution."
The assertion that science supports the Bible and not the theory of evolution is completely without support, which might be why they immediately move on to another subject. It may be a comforting assertion for believers, but that doesn't make it true.
The Purpose of the Church
(23:05 - 25:19)
Ray, "Let's look at the church and ask, 'what is the purpose of the church on Earth?' Well, we're here primarily to glorify God and to lead lost sinners to the savior. We know, there's gonna be a day of judgment and we have to present every man and every woman perfect before a perfect God and a perfect law they must face on Judgment Day. We want them to 'put on' the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved from the wrath that's to come."
This perfect God and his perfect law, according to Christian dogma, created imperfect beings who are incapable of living up to his law and has decided to punish them for this failing. In order to rectify this conundrum, this perfect God decided to create a loophole by which his imperfect creations can be granted salvation. By taking human form, he sacrificed himself, to himself, to circumvent a law he created.
Why would a perfect God create imperfection? How can a law be considered perfect if it punishes people for things beyond their control - the imperfections of their very essence? How can a law be considered perfect if it includes infinite torture for finite crimes? Why would a perfect God need to create a loophole in a perfect law and how could a truly perfect law need to be circumvented by such a loophole? How is the punishment of one person for the crimes of another, perfect? How can 'sins' be inherited and why is that considered just?
Put on Your Parachute
Kirk, "Let's look at an analogy that's going to make a very important point. Let's say, you're on an airplane and you're trying to convince another passenger to put on a parachute because you know at any moment he's gonna have to jump 25,000 feet out of the plane. You have two lines of reasoning. The first is; you try to convince him that the plane was made by Boeing. Now, this is important because it will give credibility to the emergency card which will tell him about the parachute. So, you point out the fact that the maker's name is written all over the plane. He doesn't buy it, he thinks the plane happened by accident. Then, you tell him that it's a relatively new plane. He thinks it's an old plane. You say you have proof, so does he...and as long as you disagree, he ignores the emergency card and you find yourself in a frustrating and perilous situation."
Ray, "The second line of reasoning is much easier. All you do is you tell him about the law of gravity and you say what it will do to him if he jumps. 25,000 feet on his frail body. His eyes widen with fear and he says, 'Hey, would you pass me that emergency card, thing...I want to check it out?'"
All analogies fail, on some level, but this analogy barely gets out of the gate. The initial premise is that you're trying to convince someone to put on a parachute because you know that he's going to have to jump at any moment. The second line of 'reasoning' is simply a fear tactic, a threat...and it's just a veiled version of Pascal's wager. They establish this as a reasonable option because their first line of reasoning failed.
Looking at the first example, why did their first line of reasoning fail? Because at 25,000 feet you are already dead. HALO military jumps are carried are carried out with highly specialized equipment at 23,000 feet. Sadly, several military personnel die every year due to accidents. Another big problem is that neither Ray or Kirk provide a single reason to justify putting on the parachute in the first place. The maker of the plane, the emergency card and the age of the plane are all completely irrelevant when trying to explain why someone should put on a parachute. One could be on a new, Boeing plane, complete with emergency cards and still not have any good reason for putting on a parachute.
Their analogy is just as much a straw man as the 'arguments' they've made against evolution in this episode and it's filled with even more flaws. In their analogy, Boeing is God, the emergency card is the Bible and the parachute is Jesus. A more accurate analogy might go something like...
You're on an airplane and you're trying to convince someone to put on a parachute because you know they're going to have to jump out of the plane and fall 25,000 feet. First, you try to convince him that the plane was made by Boeing. Now, this is relevant because you're convinced that Boeing is going to force everyone to jump out of the plane, parachute or not. So you point to the carefully woven fabric on the seat in front of you and claim that it has Boeing's name written all over it. He points out that it doesn't say Boeing anywhere on the seat. You reply that it doesn't 'literally' say Boeing, but only Boeing orders fabric like that. He's unconvinced, as he's seen similar fabric before. You then explain that this plane wasn't manufactured like other planes, it was secretly modified to cause seatbelts to malfunction and the side of the plane is rigged to explode at 25,000 feet. He's convinced this is, most likely, an airplane like any other. You say you have evidence, he asks to see it. You pull out the emergency card, and show him Boeing's name, a description of the imminent calamity and instructions for putting on the parachute. He points out that there are mistakes on the card and that other people have different emergency cards with names other than Boeing, some of which don't mention parachutes or calamities. You claim that those are fakes and you have the 'real' emergency card. He's skeptical and asks how you know yours is true. You point out that the emergency card says it's true. He looks under the seat for a parachute and doesn't find one. You explain that he has go up to the cockpit and ask for a parachute by saying the secret phrase, 'I've been a bad boy and need a spanking.' He tries this and is met with blank stares and confusion. You tell him that he didn't try hard enough...He asks the flight attendant if he can move to another seat
Ray, "Now, you and I want to convince sinners to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. We can talk to them about God and his existence, we can talk to them about the age of the Earth and how old it is our how young it is and this leads to all sorts of discussions which often end in arguments. Or, we can tell them about the jump - that he has to pass through the door of death, and face a holy God and a holy law, whether he believes in God or not, on the day of judgment. We show him the Ten Commandments, stir the conscience and bring the knowledge of sin. He realizes his danger and sees his need to put on the Lord Jesus Christ."
Reason bad, guilt-trips good. Got it. Ray is wise to recommend that his viewers avoid arguing about troublesome facts and focus on emotions like guilt and fear by threatening them with hell. He certainly hasn't equipped them to do anything else, though it's unclear whether anything more is possible.
The Atheist Test
(25:20 - 27:08)
A short interview is shown, featuring a teenager from a previous episode and demonstrates the 'atheist test', in action.
(27:09 - )
Kirk encourages those who are looking for more information on evolution and evangelism to visit their website, purchase their 'Evidence Bible', their 'Way of the Master' book (Ray claims that is their most important book - wow, Ray puts more value on that book over the Bible), their 'Foundation course' which many churches are using to "train up" their people.
For those who are seriously looking for more information on evolution, invest in an evolutionary textbook, enroll in an evolution class, visit a library, talk to a teacher or professor, search the web through scientific and scholarly journals, or visit one of the sites listed below. What you should NOT DO is give these charlatans your money.