Environment

Washed-Up Actor Leads Cause to Distribute Christianized Version of Darwin's Evolution Theory

Attempting to subvert the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin's groundbreaking 'Origin of the Species,' 50,000 copies will be handed out.

Last year comic actor Ben Stein bamboozled evolutionists with his anti-evolution movie "Expelled!". He hoodwinked evolutionists, even Richard Dawkins, into appearing in a movie that attacked them.

Now Kirk Cameron -- Mike Seaver in the 80s sitcom Growing Pains -- is lending some star power to the vocally anti-evolution ranks with a plan to distribute 50,000 copies [on Nov. 22] of Charles Darwin's "Origin of Species" modified to fit his Christian beliefs and subvert the 150th anniversary of its publication.

Both Stein and Cameron invoke the dishonest and inaccurate suggestion that Darwin inspired Hitler. Both are celebrities playing the lead role for the anti-evolution forces. And both will elicit the same response from the world of science: thousands of furious, hateful comments on the science blogs crying foul -- and in both cases, all that ranting and rage won’t compete with the anti-evolution messaging.

There are only three options for the science world in dealing with this new phenomenon of the very vocal and savvy anti-science movement: repression, cooperation or competition.

Repression is out, though some scientists don't seem to realize it. We live in an open society. Other nations have tried to shut down debate and some even created gulags to deal with those who speak out against the orthodoxy. We don't want that, and it's simply not going to happen.

Cooperation is ultimately distasteful and futile. Most creationists are nice folks, at least at first. But after a while they are criticizing things they don't know about with an irrational passion. I don't know that joining them in a search for a common ground is possible. There is no compromise position on science. Facts are facts. And as Lewis Black said long ago on behalf of evolutionists, "We have the fossils, we win!"

In the end, there is only one option: the anti-evolutionists need to be out-competed in the open arena of mass communication. How to do this? It starts by coming out of the ivory tower and understanding that broad communication to the general public is not the same as college lectures. There are some basic rules that matter, starting with popularity -- a concept that is anathema to scientists.

Carl Sagan, the last great mass communicator of science in America, knew this. He appreciated the need to sit on Johnny Carson's couch and make light banter, the need to restrain the hyper-critical instinct that made him a great scientist and present a persona that was "likable," to tell great stories (he wrote a bestselling novel!), and even bring in celebrities as a means of capturing the attention of the broader, less innately science-interested public.

If watching Kirk Cameron expound on the “crockoduck” made you angry or laugh out loud, Kirk is not talking to you. He’s got another audience in mind, and we ought to have that audience in mind, too, because it’s most of America.

Dealing with communication challenges, such as celebrity spokespersons, is not an impossible task for the science world. The National Academy of Science is working with Hollywood through their new Science and Entertainment Exchange.

And I am up to my neck in working with Hollywood to communicate cutting edge science -- this week we are releasing a public service announcement with Pierce Brosnan, John C. McGinley and other celebrities supporting the new science of Marine Protected Areas for the oceans (www.mpaswork.org).

These changes are happening, and the science world does not have to sit by idly being out-communicated by Kirk Cameron, Ben Stein or anyone else trying to drag us backwards. It simply needs to follow a phenomenon scientists have documented so well -- it needs to evolve.
 

Randy Olson is the author of "Don't Be Such a Scientist."
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