Monday, September 29, 2014

Kirk Cameron you so crazy


Can I just say how thankful and proud I am to work at an institution that sees scientific evidence as absolutely no threat to its faith?

I wish more people in religion were like that.

A few years ago, Kirk Cameron let everyone know just what his problem was with evolution.  Cameron, best known for his portrayal of Mike Seaver on the sitcom Growing Pains of the distant 1980s as well as a simply tour-de-force performance in Left Behind, has become quite the Christian fundy.  In an appearance on Fox News (where else?), Mikey Seaver claimed, drawing on what is no doubt years of studying biology at the graduate level, that evolution is a fraud as there are no transitional fossils.  Why are there not more hybrid organisms?  Why don't we have, as he put it, a "crocoduck?"

That's right.  An animal that is half crocodile, half duck.

Kirk Cameron thought he was quite amusing.  So much so that he went on to film a mockumentary about the search for such an elusive crocoduck.  None was found.  Why had nature not immixed these two animals through evolution?  Naturally, the absence of any such creature was proof-positive that Charles Darwin had it all wrong.

Fortunately, renowned atheist Richard Dawkins weighed in on the matter:

 "Why doesn't the fossil record contain a fronkey?' Well, of course, monkeys are not descended from frogs. No sane evolutionist ever said they were, or that ducks are descended from crocodiles or vice versa. Monkeys and frogs share an ancestor, which certainly looked nothing like a frog and nothing like a monkey. Maybe it looked a bit like a salamander, and we do indeed have salamander-like fossils dating from the right time. But that is not the point. Every one of the millions of species of animals shares an ancestor with every other one. If your understanding of evolution is so warped that you think we should expect to see a fronkey and a crocoduck, you should also wax sarcastic about the absence of a doggypotamus and an elephanzee. Indeed, why limit yourself to mammals? Why not a kangaroach (intermediate between kangaroo and cockroach), or an octopard (intermediate between octopus and leopard)? There's an infinite number of animal names you can string together in that way."

And by the way, fundies, there are plenty of transitional fossils in lines of descent.

Dawkins' eloquent smackdown of the less-than-informed views on evolution is sufficient in and of itself.  Recent events, however, have added a new and delicious irony to the fundy fail that is the "crocoduck." Fossils for a new species of dinosaur named Spinosaurus debuted in the September edition of Science.  What is significant about this species is that it the first semi-aquatic dinosaur found.  As Dr. Paul Sereno, faculty at the University of Chicago and one of the world's foremost paleontologists, puts it:

"It was a chimera: half duck, half crocodile. We don't have anything alive that looks like this today,"

Awesome.

Now while the Spinosaurus was not an actual crocoduck, it still showcases the adaptations present in the process of evolution...and it nicely digs at Kirk Cameron's ridiculous spoof.

I understand that evolution can be jarring, even world-ending to a few people.  Once after teaching about Charles Darwin, a young student stayed behind in the classroom.  She just sat there, staring forward and appearing to gradually lose all equanimity.  I feared that she had been offended by the class discussion so I went over to make sure she was all right.

"I'm fine," she whispered.  "I had just never heard any of that before."

Her only knowledge of how the world came to be up until that point was limited strictly to the mythological account presented in Genesis.  I told her that she was exactly where her thinking needed to be and that she should take a while longer and think everything over to decide what she believes.

That I understand.  Questioning is fine.  When, however, that questioning turns to disbelief in the face of glaring evidence so massive that it amounts to fact, that is detrimental to all of society.  That is when religion becomes such a powerful force that it can override the scientific method in the public's eyes.  "Who cares what the evidence says?  It's not what god says."  That line of thinking scares me like you wouldn't believe as it should be nowhere near the making of public policy.

But it is.

Wow.  Between the "crocoduck" fossil, this op ed piece in the New York Times, and Stephen Hawking's statement to the press, it's been a bad month to be a fundy.






Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

2 comments:

  1. On Facebook, Bernard said: "Dude this is awesome. Right now, I'm directing Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People, and in the first act there's a character who ridicules a doctor for "tiny invisible creatures no one can see but you." "They're bacteria," says the doctor. Mike Seaver would fit right in."

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  2. On Facebook, Melissa said: "The only good thing to come from Growing Pains was Robin Thicke! Now THAT'S evolution!"

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