ICR Cult and the interview of Professor Richard Dawkins.

Skeptic Magazine
Post Office Box 338
Altadena, California

March 28, 1999 CE

On September 25 and 26 1998 I had the odious chore of listening to nine hours and forty-five minutes of Reverends John Morris and Doug Phillips (of the "Institute for Creation ‘Research’" cult engaging in a distort-the- truth-athon during one of their "Back to Genesis" spectacles. This occurred at Reverend "Chuck" Smith’s Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa at 3800 South Fairview Road, Santa Ana California. Even though I knew what to expect before attending, I was still shocked, dismayed, and at times outraged at the deliberate falsehoods presented as "fact."

Chief among those falsehoods was the constant misrepresentation of science and scientists. The Reverends Morris and Phillips consistently presented false "straw men" of what they wish others to believe evolution is and what evolutionary theory states, and then they set fire to those scarecrows (scarecrows designed to frighten the ignorant). They do this, I believe, because they know that the positions they thus attack are NOT DEFENDED by scientists and are therefore easily defeated. To a very great extent, "Scientific Creationism" is anti-intellectual masturbation; I was embarrassed for their sake when watching Reverends Morris and Phillips behave as they did.

What prompted this letter is that the day-long circus act included a showing of the video "From a Frog to a Prince," which was mentioned in Volume 6 Number 4 of Skeptic. I have therefore seen the interview of Professor Richard Dawkins. Indeed, I tape recorded the event, including the introduction of the video by Reverend Morris---- he graciously allowed the audience to make copies and distribute the cult’s materials as longs as "they are not sold."

My opinion of the Dawkins interview? He did not spend eleven seconds (or "30 seconds or so" as Reverend Morris claims) furiously trying to think of "any evidence for evolution." Anyone viewing the video should have been able to see Professor Dawkins, during those eleven seconds, going through a series of emotional reactions as he realized he was being set up by Creationists. I’m just an average judge of facial expressions, so my opinion may not carry much weight compared to a trained observer, but my interpretation of Dawkins’ facial expression and body language is:

First, surprise at the level of ignorance displayed by the question asked. It was the surprise I would parallel with being asked for evidence that the Earth orbits the Sun; that gravity exists and is attractive; that eight tiny reindeer cannot fly at Yule.

Second, anger when he realized that he was being interviewed by Creationists. Given the long and sullied history of Creationists deliberately misrepresenting scientists, anger seems like an appropriate response to me.

Third, it appeared to me as if Professor Dawkins was struggling mightily to regain his composure at being deceived; he knew the camera was running, and Richard Dawkins appears to pride himself on his poise and amiability (I’ve very briefly met him thrice for autographs, and each time he oozed affability and politeness).

While this was being shown at the "Back to Genesis" carnival, the audience hooted, turned to each other with smug, superior looks, giggled, and laughed. They believed what Reverend Morris had told them to believe: that Professor Dawkins could not answer such a basic question.

Reverend Morris admitted that "It looks like a staged thing." I’ve got that admission on tape. He also denied that the video was edited inappropriately. In my opinion it looks and sounds to all the world as if one of Dawkins’ answers to a undisclosed question was later appended to the question that the viewer does hear--- though of course I could be wrong: only Professor Dawkins and the Creationists who deceived him know for sure. For me, given the knowledge that part of being a Creationists includes the willingness to lie "for god," I believe Dawkins’ account. We will never know for sure.

During the eleven seconds Professor Dawkins paused, I thought of a few examples of evolutionary processes that have been observed to "create new functional information at the genetic level." I am no match for Professor Dawkins’ often-demonstrated superior intellect, so to my mind it is fundamentally impossible for Dawkins to have been (to paraphrase Reverend Morris) thinking furiously for an answer to the question and unable to answer it.

Mutation adds information "at the genetic level." So does recombination. Natural selection "examines" this new information and selects what works and discards what does not.

So now Professor Dawkins has learned to check the credentials of people whom he considers granting an interview. In my opinion deceiving Dawkins did no harm: Creationists have been laughing at their intellectual and ethical superiors for decades; they will continue to do so for many more decades. The ICR cult is still selling propaganda that they know to be false (such as the "Have You Been Brainwashed" booklet’s claim that "...the theory of evolution contradicts the universally accepted laws of thermodynamics"): any attempt by Professor Dawkins to correct the record will be futile.