Proper Gander: The Magic and History Tour

FIVE CREATIONISTS must have thought their prayers had been answered when they were offered a free holiday – a road trip across the west coast of America, from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The catch was that on the way they would meet with heathen scientists to dispute their wacky views, and that they would risk humiliation by a BBC3 camera crew. Creationism: Conspiracy Road Trip began with the five fundamentalists being taken ‘on a wing and a prayer’ in a plane above the Grand Canyon. There, they met with a geologist who explained how the canyon was carved out over millions of years, and not a mere
4,000 years ago when ‘the Great Flood’ receded. Next, their coach took them to Lake Powell in Utah, where another scientist described how it would be impossible to squeeze 16,000 animals (presumably including dinosaurs) on Noah’s Ark and still make it float. Driving on to the University of California in Berkeley, the prickly question of incest in Adam and Eve’s immediate family was met with blank looks and feeble responses.

Unfortunately, the debate between creationism and science isn’t about objectively weighing-up the evidence for opposing beliefs. As some of the less blinkered creationists recognised, having faith is usually like holding up a ‘no entry’ sign to scientifi c evidence, however persuasive. One of the programme’s own ‘experts’ – a Christian palaeontologist – realised that you can’t reconcile the view that humans co-existed with dinosaurs with the fact that their fossilised remains have never been found together. Believing in creationism is like believing that The Flintstones was a fly-on-the-wall documentary. So, many creationists hang on to their views by just refusing to accept the evidence.

Being confronted by this caused one or two of those on the road trip to be driven up the wall. This made for an increasingly bumpy ride, with TV-friendly tears and awkward accusations of bullying. Suspecting a set-up, steely-faced participant Phil challenged the director, engineered a split among the others and became paranoid about the motives of even the Christians they met on the journey. As a reasonable discussion of differing views, this road trip stalled and then spluttered to a halt.

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