Many Christians who criticize evolution are criticizing a caricature of evolution, presented by their preacher and not by a scientist. They don’t even understand the basics of the theory they claim to be debunking, and their efforts to disprove evolution illustrate this with painful clarity.
Recently, when I stopped for coffee, I found a Chick Tract about evolution. I knew what I would find inside, but I couldn’t help but read it out of curiosity.
It was filled with such a ridiculous presentation of evolutionary theory that I found it difficult to believe that anyone who wasn’t already convinced could be convinced through such a simplistic, silly presentation.
The most basic assumption anti-evolutionist Christians make about evolution is that it proposes a linear, step-by-step evolution from lower to higher creatures. They insist that evolution teaches that humans come from monkeys. This particular tract begins with just such a time line.
“If we come from monkeys,” creationists ask, “Why don’t we see any half-monkey, half-humans?” Indeed, if evolutionary theory supported such an idea, that would be a legitimate question. Yet any evolutionary biologist will tell you that the theory of evolution suggests no such thing. Instead, evolutionary theory postulates that primates come from a common ancestor. In other words, we had the same great9,393,393-grandparents, but our lines split somewhere along the way.
Another common tactic is to associate evolutionary theory with religion. That was the tract’s next step:
I have never heard anyone refer to evolution as his or her “religion.” Further, very few people blindly trust their professors because any professor worth his or her keep wouldn’t expect it. Further, science doesn’t work that way. Science doesn’t seek blind faith like the tract’s mother illustrates. It discourages it, in fact.
What’s most amusing, though, is the illustration the mother is holding in the second panel. With its illustration of a cave man battling a dinosaur, it is more fitting for a creationist. After all, the creationist museum in Kentucky has a diorama that includes humans with dinosaurs. (Before the fall, T-Rex used those massive teeth for breaking open coconuts, as all creatures were vegetarians before the Fall.)
In most arguments, it’s a short step from “evolution says we’re all descended from monkeys” to “that means I’m equal to god.” It’s an illogical step, because God doesn’t come into the picture with evolution. That’s the point: it’s about observable, testable, measurable data. God isn’t easy to measure or convince to come into the lab for tests. That’s why evolutionary theory is agnostic, and why intelligent design is not science: both are claims that science cannot test.
Still, creationists somehow make the connection, and Chick does a finely amusing job of illustrating this:
The answer to little Johnny’s question is, “Nothing, really.” And that’s not because there is no God and therefore Johnny can place himself on a pedestal. It’s because people willingly make gods (of other people, stones, abstract ideas) all by themselves, and with a little convincing and hocus pocus, individuals convince others to turn them into gods. Priests and televangelists do it all the time. Watch Benny Hinn’s performance: while he says he’s a conduit for the Holy Spirit, it’s clear there’s something else going on in that ego of his.
Yet this notion that evolution does away with morality is ridiculous. Most moral codes are very practical: they protect us from others “lying, cheating” and becoming mini-gods. It’s only an anything-goes situation if people are willing to live in chaos. Most people don’t care for chaos, so we curb our desires for the good of all, including ourselves. If we’re unable or unwilling to curb those desires, the state curbs them for us. (A very Hobbesian view, I realize.)
At this point, the tract takes an unexpected turn. It’s not the proselytizing that’s unexpected; it’s the theology that’s a bit odd.
This “special blood” theology is something very new to me. It sounds, quite honestly, very primitive. It suggests the notion of blood brothers: mix your blood with another person and it somehow makes you qualitatively different. It makes me think of the old notion that somehow your essence, the core of your being — be that good or evil — can be transmitted through your blood.
It also makes God quite literally a blood-thirsty being. But then again, Jack Chick’s tracts were never about creating an image of a god that any rational, compassionate person would like to have anything to do with.
Chick’s god is little more than a small child, focusing the sun’s beams on an ant, grimly smiling as the ant writhes in pain.
If I treated my daughter the way Chick’s god treats humans, I’d be very rightly locked up for child abuse.