Last week, in a fit of late-night restlessness, I rented a low-budget movie through Amazon Instant Video—a movie that I would normally never watch but was cheaper than some of Amazon’s other a-la-carte video offerings. The movie is titled Random Acts of Violence (Charmed?) and consists of glib banter punctuated by gratuitous homicide. The main character named Malcolm is played by writer/director Ashley Cahill. I liken the experience of watching this movie to playing Grand Theft Auto for two hours and dubbing game play with a running commentary from Robert Webb.
But the violence itself didn’t bother me as much the dialogue and its absurdity/pontification—after all, I live in the United States and am used to watching someone taking a slug to the head onscreen. For instance, at one point in the movie, a character named Sofia managed to articulate the silliest creationist argument that I’ve ever heard. She asserted that because God wanted to remain hidden, he created the fossil record to cover his tracks and truly did create all life anew. (In an effort to save an additional $3.99 and risk death by boredom, I’m recounting the argument from memory
without watching the movie again.)
Anybody with the most basic understanding of philosophy or logic can easily poke a hole in such an argument. Specifically, this explanation lacks both parsimony and succinctness. Let’s consider the law of parsimony or Ockham’s Razor. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “The principle gives precedence to simplicity; of two competing theories, the simpler explanation of an entity is to be preferred. The principle is also expressed as ‘Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity.’” In other words, according to Ockham's Razor, the simplest explanation is most likely true.
So we have Explanation A: Evolution did exist and the fossil record is evidence. And Explanation B: God created man and every other living being, and God went to the extreme effort of fabricating the fossil record in order to trick humans and remain “hidden.” Furthermore, God thinks like human beings and has the human desire to remain hidden in the first place. Which explanation is simpler?
By way of analogy, let’s consider another example: A woman walks into a store and steals a cookie—puts it in her pocket as a snack for later. Here’s an alternative explanation that accounts for why the cookie ended up in the woman’s pocket: A woman walks into a store, and the cookie, which is a sentient being with mind control, wills its way into her pocket. (Maybe O.J. should have made a similar argument when he was allegedly caught stealing cookies from the prison chow line.)
On a final note, when considering the explanation for creationism presented in the movie, I can think of a slightly different take that may better gel with a monotheistic sensibility. Instead of desiring to remain hidden, God could have created the fossil record to test the faith of his believers. Either way, the explanation is far more complicated that accepting the reality that evolution existed.
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