Saturday, August 27, 2011

Uncle Arthur Lies About Science

When I saw a hilariously terrible bit of scientific misinformation called "Did Charlie make a monkey out of you?" over on Scotteriology, it reminded me of my very first encounter with the Theory of Evolution.  When I was a wee toddler my parents used to read to me from a delightfully traumatizing series called "Oom Attie se Slaaptyd-stories" (better known to the rest of the world as "Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories") by the Seventh Day Adventist author Arthur S Maxwell.  To say that this left me with a slightly incorrect impression of what evolution actually claimed would be a massive understatement.  I remember that even as a five year old, I was stunned that people could believe something as utterly ridiculous as evolution!  Since teaching evolution was a taboo under the state run Christian National Education in the Old South Africa I was a committed young earth creationists until deep into my grownup years.  In my defense though, I went all those years hearing only the version of the Theory of Evolution as told by Christian Apologists - so really I had no idea what evolution was really all about.  To may shame it took me almost three decades before I actually bothered to look it up for myself and found out what science actually had to say without the filter of fundamentalist Christianity blocking my reception. 

So for nostalgia's sake I decided to dig up the story and read it again.  I have to say, it was worse than I remembered!  When it comes to accurately portraying the theory of evolution, Uncle Arthur makes Kent Hovind look like Richard Dawkins!  I can't describe to you just how incredibly dishonest it is because if I tried you would think I'm making things up.  So instead I decided to just post the entire story right here.  Now I admit I'm not up to speed on copyright law but I'm fairly certain one is allowed to post someone else's work provided you cite it properly and don't claim it as your own.  If I'm wrong about that, please do correct me.  Also, since I only have the Afrikaans copy of the story and was unable to find the original English online I had to translate it myself.  So then what follows is not the original words of Arthur S Maxwell but rather the Afrikaans translation by C. van der M. van Wyk translated back into English by me.  The original story ('n Storie Wat Nie Waar Is Nie) appears on page 71 - 75 of book 5 of the Bedtime stories series.  Sit down when reading this, don't drink anything that will burn your sinus cavities if you snort it by accident or ruin your computer if you spit it.  I promise that I translated this as accurately and as close to the original text as possible, keeping the grammar, punctuation and sentence structure as far as possible.  It may appear at times that I tweaked it to make it sound more ridiculous but I assure you I took no such liberties - this is the exact story I heard as a child. 

BTW, if anyone can get me the original text of this story I would very much appreciate it!
Not even kidding!

"A story that isn’t true
copyright Arthur S Maxwell

I don’t mean that my story isn’t true.  On the contrary, it’s very reliable.  See, I know the boy who told it to me, and he wouldn’t tell a lie to save his life.  I’m going to call him “David” to protect his true identity.

David came back from school one day and told his dad the story he heard that day.  It went like this:

In the history class the teacher wanted to tell start right from the very beginning of things and so he told this funny little story.  He said that life on earth began as a little bit of slime in the ocean.  This bit of slime grew and grew and eventually broke up into little pieces.  One piece decided to become a fish, another piece a plant, and another crawled out on land and decided to become a worm.

From this first fish, first plant and first worm came all other fishes, plants and animals.  At least that’s what the teacher said.  Then he tried to follow the history of the worm until, billions and billions of years later, it became an animal with legs!  How ridiculous!  This worm, he said, started crawling until he grew a wart on his belly.  This wart later became a leg.  Some worms got four warts and so grew four legs.  Others got many warts and they turned into centipedes.

Animals got eyes, he said, because the light of the sun shone on them.  The sun burned a freckle on them and the freckle later became an eye.

Then as millions of years went by, some of the worms whose warts became legs turned into dogs, some into cats, some into leopards and lions and tigers and giraffes and so on.  The teacher then told them that one group of worms later developed arms and legs and became monkeys.  The most advanced of the monkeys were playing with sticks one day.  By chance they happened to rub the sticks together and made a spark.  That is how they learned to make fire and the warmth of the fire caused their hair to fall out and they became people.

So then, this is the story that David’s teacher told him that day.  It’s a story that is told to children the world over.  But, it is not a true story.  Do not believe it!

It’s not true, because God tells us in the Bible that He made all things.  They didn’t “evolve” over millions and billions of years from a speck of slime in the ocean.  He made everything Himself through His wisdom and Omnipotence.  We read in the Psalms:  “By the Word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of His mouth. … For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm.” (Ps 33:6,9).  Regarding mankind we read:  “So God created mankind in His own Image, in the Image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” (Gen 1:27). 

See just how ridiculous this untrue story sounds that’s being told to so many boys and girls today?  If you just think about it you may just burst out laughing!  That first speck of slime in the ocean, who put it there?  Who made the sea so that it could grow there?  Who made the land upon which the first worm crawled when it became tired of the ocean?

And just think of all those poor worms with the warts under their bellies.  How did the warts form on just the right places so that legs could form on a spot where they would be useful?  And why didn’t they get more warts on their legs so they could stick out in all directions?

Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it?  And just think about those eyes!  Oh dear!  The sun shone on the freckle until an eye formed they say.  But why did the sun have to pick a freckle right next to the nose?  And then again another freckle right on the other side of the nose as well?  Why not a freckle on the back of his head, on one of his legs or maybe on his tail?  Why didn’t eyes grow all over the body?

Also, if it really was the light of the sun that changed the freckles into eyes, why didn’t it make them strong enough to look into the sun?  Why did these same sunbeams have to go and make eyelids to keep the light out?  Finally, what about those poor monkeys who supposedly changed into people.  They lost their hair because they invented fire and didn’t need hair to keep them warm?  No way!  Why didn’t they lose the hair on their heads as well then?  And why don’t cats lose their hair today if they sleep in front of the fireplace?  And why do monkeys in warm climates still have their hair?

No children, this story isn’t just untrue but it also sounds like nonsense.  It was thought up by people who didn’t love the Bible and tried to find a different explanation for the origins of things.  If you ask me I think their story is a thousand times harder to believe than the simple Biblical story of creation."

Have you ever in your life seen a strawman brutalized quite like this?  It's like Uncle Arthur is actually an Atheist missionary in disguise!  It would be pure genius actually, because if you want kids to realize that their religious leaders are lying to them/don't know what they are talking about/are ridiculously ignorant about things they claim to be knowledgeable about, then tell them a story as ridiculously false as this that can be easily demolished with but a handful of actual facts.  I can promise you, they will never trust their church again.

To be read ironically by adults, never seriously to children!


GumbyTheCat said...

You're just rejecting that true story because you hate Jesus!!! When you're burning in the gasoline section of HELL with all the other evolution-loving Darwin-worshiper atheists, I bet you wont be laughing then! HA!

Seriously, that's whack, even by fundie standards. I assume the author was trying to simplify it for his young readers, but really, is it even possible to simplify creationist propaganda that's already irreducibly retarded?

Makes me think that the piece of slime that decided to evolve into a Christian fundie chose that route because it was lazy and didn't want to evolve that much. Evolving's hard work, you know.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad I found this delightful blog. I remember reading these books as a child and they actually contributed to my early rejection of religion. That religion still has a place in our advanced society and that people still reject evolution shows that we are still a very simple-minded species.

Anonymous said...

I will pray for you all in the love that only comes for He who created us.
God's Love and Mine x

Anonymous said...

Allow me to correct myself:

I will pray for you all in the love that ony comes from He who created us.

God's Love and mine x

Anonymous said...

Allow me to correct myself:

I will pray for you all in the love that ony comes from He who created us.

God's Love and mine x