September 25, 2009
The Adventures of Banana Man and Crocoduck
(My new book God vs. Darwin: The War Between Evolution and Creationism in the Classroom is now available through the usual outlets. You can order it from the publishers Rowman & Littlefield for $34.95, from Amazon for $31.65, from Barnes and Noble for $26.21 ($23.58 for members), and also through your local bookstores. For more on the book, see here.)
Those two mighty warriors for Jesus, evangelist Ray Comfort and his trusty sidekick the aging Boy Wonder Kirk Cameron, have come up with a new scheme for fighting the evil theory of evolution which they, along with many religious people, think is threatening to bring about the end of civilization as we know it. Two days before the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species on November 21, they plan to distribute 50,000 free copies of the book at 50 prominent universities. The catch? They have added a 50-page introduction where Comfort will point out all the flaws in the theory. They can do this because the copyright has expired on Darwin's book.
Here is Cameron's and Comfort's plug for the plan:
Hoo-boy, I can't wait.
In the following video, a young woman (from Romania?) makes fun of the whole idea. She seems to have a solid grasp of the science, religion, law, and politics in the US, and also exposes the outright distortions that Cameron makes. (Language advisory)
Does this effort by Comfort and Cameron require a response? Various ideas have been put forward. Some are suggesting that we pick up the free copies, tear out the introduction, and then give the books away. I must say that I don't like this idea. I am not in favor of mutilating any books for any reason. Such an action would also merely give more publicity to this venture and open us up to charges that we are trying to censor alternative views.
My suggestion is to let Comfort and Cameron go through with this plan unobstructed because I think it will boomerang on its creators. Origins is, after all, a classic work of science, very readable for the non-scientist, that should belong in every home and be read by everyone. It is a remarkable book and anyone who reads it cannot fail to be impressed by Darwin's careful and painstaking marshalling of evidence and argument, both for and against his theory, and the way he draws his conclusions. It reveals the workings of the mind of a true scholar, doggedly pursuing evidence towards the truth, wherever it might lead.
Unfortunately, most religious people in the US will not even touch this great book or even want to be seen reading it because it has been so absurdly demonized, and Darwin portrayed as an anti-god zealot. But we know that religious people are strongly attracted to things that are forbidden or labeled as sinful. So some religious people who pick up this religiously approved copy because of this campaign may be tempted to actually read at least part of Origins and perhaps realize that they have been hoodwinked, that the book is not an anti-god rant by the anti-Christ.
In addition, an argument between Darwin on one side and Comfort and Cameron on the other is frankly a no-contest. Comfort has already become a YouTube legend, a worldwide laughingstock for his argument that the banana is "the atheist's nightmare" because it proves the existence of god. I never tire of watching his video about it.
In fact, I think that Comfort should give away a banana with each book, to sweeten the offer. No need to thank me for this suggestion, Ray.
But Cameron is no slouch either when it comes to stupid arguments. Who can forget his "proof" that the theory of evolution must be false because we do not see transitional forms. It is true that transitional forms are an important part of the theory of evolution, because species evolve in time, changing under the pressure of natural selection. But the idea that no transitional fossils have been unearthed is laughable. Almost all fossils of extinct species are either transitional forms or the end of their line, and we have many of them. Tiktaalik is a superb and dramatic recent example.
But Cameron seems to have this bizarre notion that a transitional form consists of a crude hybrid of two currently existing species. Cameron gives as an example that, since we currently have ducks and crocodiles, Darwin's theory predicts the existence of an organism that should have the body of a duck and the head of a crocodile. Since we do not see such an animal, which he cleverly calls a 'crocoduck', that means that evolution is false and god exists. No really, that's his argument.
Perhaps many of you are thinking at this point that I must be exaggerating. Surely, nobody could be that ignorant and stupid? Well, let's go to the video:
Cameron is really proud of this argument, having also trotted it out in a debate with atheists from the Rational Response Squad, as can be seen in the next video. Cameron's crocoduck argument starts at 3:45, and he then adds 'bull frog' and 'sheep dog' as similar ridiculous hybrids. He must really think this is a clever argument to put so much effort into creating those drawings.
I have been recently praising the online comic strip Jesus and Mo. If I had any cartooning talent at all (which I don't) and also a better developed sense of humor, I would start a comic strip similar to that called The Adventures of Banana Man and Crocoduck, based on the antics of Comfort and Cameron.
One can think of several directions in which to take it. My preference would be to have them be like Batman and Robin, where Comfort and Cameron have ordinary everyday identities. But whenever they encounter evil in the form of atheist science (which is everywhere), they change into their secret identities as Banana Man and Crocoduck (complete with appropriate costumes), and venture out to fight it in the name of religion, making fools of themselves in the process.
Comfort's introduction of their edition of Origins should provide more than enough material to work with.
POST SCRIPT: Religious people can't handle the truth about Darwin and evolution
It seems as if a critically acclaimed feature film called Creation dealing with the life of Charles Darwin (played by Paul Bettany) cannot find a distributor in the US, because they think the subject is too controversial!
Creation was developed by BBC Films and the UK Film Council, and stars Bettany's real-life wife Jennifer Connelly as Darwin's deeply religious wife, Emma. It is based on the book, Annie's Box, by Darwin's great-great-grandson, Randal Keynes, and portrays the naturalist as a family man tormented by the death in 1851 of Annie, his favourite child. She is played in the film by 10-year-old newcomer Martha West, the daughter of The Wire star Dominic West.
Early reviews have raved about the film. The Hollywood Reporter said: "It would be a great shame if those with religious convictions spurned the film out of hand as they will find it even-handed and wise."
Maybe a film called The Adventures of Banana Man and Crocoduck could be made instead. I am open to offers from Hollywood. Have their people call my people and we'll do lunch.