A few months ago the British film company Renegade Pictures flew me to Arizona, where I was to take on five British fundamentalist creationists (four Christians, one Muslim) as part of the “Conspiracy Road Trip” t.v. series. Three of these hour-long episodes have appeared or will appear on BBC3 television: one on UFOs (to come), one on the London 7/7 bombings, and the show I helped with—the one on creationism.
I was part of a group of scientists, including Don Prothero, Gregg Wilkerson, Michael Russell, and Tim White, chosen to participate in “Conspiracy Road Trip: Creationism.” The hope was, I guess, to try to change the mind of these diehard British creationists (Brits, if you don’t think they exist in Old Blighty, just watch this hour-long episode!) and bring them around to accepting evolution.
When I was asked to participate, I replied there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of real young-earth creationists coming around to Darwinism, but I went along for the fun of it.
My assigned task was to debunk the myth of Noah’s Ark, which I was supposed to do while floating on a boat on Lake Powell. That would seem to be an easy task, but not if you’re facing five people whose whole worldview would crumble if they didn’t see the entire Bible (or, for Abdul, the Qur’an) as literally true.
Anyway, the host, Irish comedian Andrew Maxwell, was an engaging guy with a deep respect for science as well as the ability to move things along and get a group of the faithful with a chip on their shoulders to talk to a group of deeply suspicious scientists. Here’s the Renegade Pictures blurb:
Comedian Andrew Maxwell takes 5 British Creationists to the West Coast of America, to try to convince them that evolution is true and their ideas are, well, crackers. Stuck on a bus across 2,000 miles of dustbowl roads with these religious fundamentalists, Maxwell tackles some mind-boggling ideas. Could the Earth be only 6,000 years old, did humans and T-Rex live side by side? It’s a bumpy ride, as he’s confronted with some very unchristian behaviour along the way, but by the end could he possibly win over any of the Bible-bashers with hard scientific fact…. And keep a straight face?
I think I posted on this before the program came out, but this is just the second day the program’s been available, and the first time I’ve seen it. Enjoy the video below (I appear about 12 minutes in):
(I’m told that Brits can’t access this, but maybe there’s another link that a reader can find. Maybe this one will work.)
Young-earth creationists are almost all intransigent, be they British or American. It’s just ineffably sad to see a group of intelligent young people so readily reject the evidence of their senses. And note this as well—who are the militant ones here: the creationists or the scientists?
Andrew started this trip with high hopes, but you can see his increasing frustration, and his abandonment of “objectivity”, as the program proceeds. I could have predicted that.
After watching this show, I see it more as a sociological document—as a collision between incompatible cultures—than as a show about evolution. If you maintain that science and faith are compatible, you’ll have to rule out these five creationists as practicing “true” religion. That’s what Steve Gould had to do to prop up his NOMA hypothesis that true religion is compatible with true science.
To see the real creationist mindset and the cognitive dissonance it inspires, listen to the dialogue between JoJo and Bronwyn starting at 47 minutes in.
In the end, JoJo, with whom I had a really nice one-on-one conversation on the boat (I’m sending her my book), was the only person who budged even a millimeter when given the evidence for evolution. If you can face the row of skulls that Tim White set up, and pretend that they don’t show evolution, you’re hopeless. (Look at Abdul’s ridiculous response.)
h/t: Several readers