Comfort Food: A Movie Review
STORY BY James Sullivan
Published: August 26, 2013
So out of morbid curiosity, I decided to check out the viral video Evolution Vs. God – currently circulating throughout the internet as the latest documentary by the notorious Christian apologist Ray Comfort, coming with the warning in its spoken tagline: “Prepare to have your faith shaken.” I suppose it was, but not in the way he intended, nor did it register particularly high on the Richter or whatever scale they measure those sorts of tremors with.
Before continuing further, let it be said I've long accepted evolutionary theory, and I never quite understood what so much of the fuss was about. The key word here is 'accept', or 'understood,' and not 'believe.' With that out of the way, the very premise of Comfort's “documentary” falls to pieces. The premise of this feature (which only has a running time of 38 minutes and is available for free online viewing), is that it takes a tremendous leap of faith for one to “believe” in evolution.
Evolution, according to Comfort, is some sort of strange religion that only approximately 99.9% of the world's scientists use to explain the massive diversity of life on this planet – although, I can only indirectly attribute the first part of this sentence to Comfort because he doesn't cite numbers or show much particular interest in them. Although something like 93% of American scientists either identify themselves as agnostic or atheistic, this cult of Darwinism manages to dominate the world's science, the media (Fox News included), as well as our daily programming – yet, its also a theory in trouble that these scientists hotly debate (sarcasm ends here).
I suppose the best aspects of this “documentary” - which I continue to put in quotes as it has the feel of a laundry detergent infomercial with its approach of catching random people off the street with brisk questions and sloppily edited interviews that constitute the overwhelming majority of the video – were the things that Comfort failed to include. For a documentary that was supposed to be so “faith-shattering” to the so-called evolutionists, there's no science to speak of, aside from refuting the argument that the human coccyx is proof of evolution popping up like movie theater trivia – and in doing so, relying on the evolutionist explanation for its function.
The hallmarks of a creationist agenda are strangely but pleasantly absent – no attempt to explain how a Bronze Age text accounts for the world to happen in six 24-hour days – although said days according to this logic would have been required to happen before the sun even existed. No attempts to explain Noah's flood and how a ship built with dimensions impossible for sailing fared a whole year. For good measure, there are also no attempts at trying to explain the bombardier beetle's irreducible complexity, how man and dinosaur could live side by side, and no accusations of Charles Darwin being a lazy, drunken plagiarist. These (or their lack of) are all good things, perhaps suggesting Comfort had no desire to stir up arguments long disproved.
Some might call me elitist for commenting on the extremely poor production quality – which by comparison makes Ben Stein's (poorly lit) Expelled look likeI Am Cuba. I've got news for you. Regardless of whatever budget Ray had, I've seen film students with less money, on projects with much smaller crews who did a better job at getting their message across – students perhaps not unlike the ones featured in this film. In this case, the video work was not only atrocious, but unsettling – as in each interview the camera rattles away as Ray thrusts a microphone (and only a microphone) into their faces with each question that only further proves his own astounding ignorance of evolutionary theory and scientific thought in general.
To an irritating degree, Comfort continuously asks about 'the kinds.' Rightly, students and faculty alike fail to grasp what the hell he's talking about. The modern system of taxonomy (which, by the way was developed by a creationist named Carl von Linne in the eighteenth century – just so we're clear that it's not another part of the so-called Darwinian conspiracy), makes no use of the word 'kind,' animals are either of the same species, genus, family, or order if you really want to get broad, and believe me, he does. Over and over the cry, “But they're still fish! Still birds!”...and so forth. Rather, he's explicitly speaking in religious terms – the kinds, two of every species, (save seven of each kosher animal – depending on which version) are specified in Genesis that were taken aboard the ark. Speciation occurs among populations, not individuals, which divide and when said populations can no longer interbreed and produce fertile offspring with each others' descendants, which occurs several generations later.
Transitional forms he again pulls off with classic ignorance, as each interviewee he asks if they will just describe one. Yet another trap. Comfort and sidekick Kirk Cameron (who he probably could have spoken to with getting better equipment to film this debacle with), have for the past decade made fools of themselves by claiming that a transitional form proving Darwin's theory would have to be some chimera half-crocodile, half-duck. The reality is that we not only have an abundance of transitional forms in the fossil record, but that an abundance of transitional forms are required to answer this question – that gradually one population leads to the development of another with several steps, minor improvements along the way in each successive generation – the tiktaalik fish first adapting to walking on land and being a precursor of all modern amphibians. (Basic biology lessons end here.)
I've seen creationists and design proponents explain or admit that adaptations occur among animals, but never any new species – which also begs the question, if God is this great, personal entity, why didn't He give them all the features they needed in the first place? That's not to play into the logic that Comfort is getting at, in which evolution and theism are incompatible – how else does one explain cell biologist and devout Catholic Ken Miller, physicist Fr. Stanley Jaki, astronomers Fr. George Coyne, Fr. Georges Lemaitre, Pentecostal minister and paleontologist Robert Bakker, or even geneticist and Orthodox Christian Theodosius Dobzhansky, who proclaimed (correctly) that nothing in biology makes sense without evolution? The overwhelming majority of established churches have long accepted evolution, agreeing that it is not in conflict with their teachings. In the video, Comfort even admits that Darwin was not an atheist – making the title of his film slightly less absurd than Buddhism v. God.
Essentially, this is just Comfort up to old apologetic tricks – but tossing them out like old antiques that shatter apart as he brings them up. Yes, he brings up that evolution was responsible for Hitler, again (if it were, then Hitler would have misunderstood evolution right off the bat, as diverse populations work best for gene flow. I suppose if I had to choose someone to be surprised by in this film it would be PZ Myers, the biologist blogger and outspoken atheist who admitted he believed in evolution. Were he to have said no, it's a good possibility that this rubbish would never have come into being, as he was the only reputable scientist in the film. To his defense, he is long accustomed to Comfort's tactics, and had every right to expect some sort of misrepresentation. Ultimately, the movie comes up not even making a case against evolution at all, and perhaps, with its manipulative questions, succeeds in making creationism look bad, perhaps more so than Bill Maher's Religulous.
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