Creationists use fraud to film professor of religion

It’s a familiar sounding story: College professor agrees to let a film crew in to hear him talk about his specialty. Film comes out later spouting creationist views, quite contrary to the professor’s views; much of what the professor did say is left on the cutting room floor.

A couple of years ago, I welcomed a camera crew into my office for some interviews about Old Testament stories. The crew went away and I never heard from them again, until I e-mailed the production company last week to find out what ever became of the footage. A representative of that company promptly e-mailed me back and kindly sent out a screener of the DVD that is scheduled to release in October.

I am not happy with the end result.

This time, however, it’s a professor of Christian religion complaining about the creationists doing to him what they do to biologists with unfortunate frequency. Chris Heard is an associate professor of religion at Pepperdine. Heard said:

. . . I’m a bit upset—no, incensed—at being threaded into a production that sets out to prove a whole bunch of stuff that I don’t agree with, much of which is demonstrably wrong. I suppose I have noone and nothing to blame but my own naïvete, in failing to ask the right questions before saying “Yes” to the camera crew.

The story sounds so familiar because hoodwinking biology profs about the film is old hat — the late D. James Kennedy got Francis Collins to do a long interview about his faith, and then inserted it into Kennedy’s scurrilous and false claims attempting to link Darwin to the horrors of the Holocaust. Collins is famous enough that they yanked his segment when he complained. Dawkins tells a famous story of a crew taping him under false pretenses, and then having the gall to claim Dawkins didn’t know his subject, when Dawkins realized what was going on, and on camera, called an end to the farce. And P. Z. Myers was recently victimized by a group working with Ben Stein for a bizarre farce against academic freedom and science accuracy.

Now we know just how low creationists will stoop in deceit for these films: They’ll lie to a professor of religion, and then they get the religious material wrong.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Pharyngula. And while you’re over at Heard’s blog, Higgaion, take a look around — it’s got some good stuff, including this post on his commentary on the Poseidon Adventure; the film-makers of the commentary on the fictional film got right what Prof. Heard said about Biblical themes. Oh, the irony of Hollywood — the fiction people get the Bible right, the creationists get it wrong. O tempora, O mores.

6 Responses to Creationists use fraud to film professor of religion

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Also, don’t confuse creation with creationism. Creation is a fact of existence, the material world. Creationism is about how reality came to be, and creationism prefers to say reality is a magical work rather than a natural work. There’s a lot of subtle stuff there that creationists frequently confuse.

    Creationism could stand on its merits, if it had any. Alas, this is not an isolated instance of creationists using deception to get scientists to say things that may appear to endorse creationism when out of context, even before official agencies, or get scientists to say things that can be edited to make it appear to say something else. There is an entire section at Talk.Origins on “quote mining” by creationists.

    Creationists are refusing to pull the erroneous segments from the Ben Stein movie, “Expelled.” Kennedy refused to pull several other erroneous segments — I think they may have pulled the Collins line because Collins is a federal employee and was offering an interview that could be in the line of his work, and the way it was edited could have been a criminal offense.

    Creationists generally defend error, especially errors against the Bible, in my experience.

    So the question I have is this: Since creationism so often leads otherwise good Christians to lie, cheat and steal, shouldn’t we wonder about the moral roots of creationism and why it’s so often destructive?


  2. lowerleavell says:

    If this is true, I would totally say that Dr. Kennedy was in the wrong for being deceptive. My only caution would be to not take this to a fallacious conclusion to believe that since one “creationist” did this then “creationism” is wrong. Creation stands on the merits of the veracity of the Bible, not on the tactics of those who would hold to it. To their credit, you did say that they pulled the segment. So, if he’s wrong, he’s wrong and I don’t think creationists should feel they need to defend it. Whether creation is accurate according to the Bible is another discussion.


  3. Elmer says:

    I’ve always wondered why fundamentalists spend so much time in the first chapter of Genesis and the book of Revelation. It’s almost like they read the first chapter of the first book of the Bible and then skipped to the end, sort of like I did with Gone With The Wind years ago.

    I’m devout Roman Catholic so I’ve been under attack from these same types. I don’t really care about the creation story one way or the other. I believe in God and have no doubt that He was responsible for creation of the planet and the universe. How He did it is beyond my comprehension, and I don’t really need to know to believe. I accept that science tells us what we know, but can’t begin to explain that which we don’t know. Either way is fine. The real meat in the Bible can be found in the first four books of the New Testament, a place most fundies never get to, except of course for John 3:16.


  4. Ed Darrell says:

    Actually, I’m complaining as a journalist. Generally, if you cannot rely upon people to give you the goods, one of the two sides is engages in criminal or immoral activity. In this case, it’s the creationists.

    I’ve complained about such tactics when others have used them. Dawkins didn’t do any ambushes of which I’m aware on that series — no one has complained. But I’ve also not seen it.

    I doubt that Carville endorsed such tactics, too. I’ll wager you can’t produce a citation to his statement.


  5. Who ya kiddin?

    Fundie Atheists like Richard Dawkins use the same tactics in his Root of All Evil series.

    I didn’t hear the atheists complaining then.

    Why use such tactics? As the Democrat Goebbels…James CARVILLE…said when asked that question” “Because they work!”



  6. drchrisheard says:

    Thanks for the notice! I would just add that I give ample blame to my own naïveté in not asking the right questions of the production staff beforehand. (Also, one of your italic tags is not closed quite properly.)


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