Can Anyone Convince These Five Creationists That They’re Deluded?

Enjoy this episode of a BBC series called “Conspiracy Road Trip” focused on Creationism. The premise is that five Creationists are taken to America to be convinced of evolution by people who know something about it (including Jerry Coyne):

Great line at the 47:28 mark:

“I don’t want to be the person that’s like… nothing you show me is gonna change my mind… but then, at the same time, I’m like, it can’t… It really can’t… Because the faith that I have, if I start accepting all of this [evolution], I’ve got to accept that everything else is a pile of crap…”

Yep. That’s kind of the idea…

(Thanks to Richard for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • pete084

    The nail has been hit firmly on the head, can’t accept that their lifelong delusion might be wrong, and all that time was wasted.

  • Don_Gwinn

    Yes. Except that often the first step toward doing something is getting through however much “but I can’t, because then” you have to. It sounds like closing the door to learning anything new, but it could just be his first step.

  • Neil Rickert

    There was an extensive discussion of this video at evcforum (a creation vs. evolution debate site).

  • Rich Wilson

    another good moment 19:45ish they meet some Tea Partiers and we get a short discussion on atheism and moral guides.

    I would like to have seen Francis Collins on there as well (or Ken Miller) but I can understand being hesitant. And busy.

  • Rain

    If they aren’t unconformable with their god changing physics whenever it feels like it so that they can be right all the time, then they ain’t changing their minds. Some other thing would have to change their minds. Science ain’t gonna do it by itself.

  • corps_suk

    You can see that the Phil guy is not stupid and doubt was creeping into his head so he got grumpy, malcontnet, and shut down intellectually…assimilatinfpg new information depends on that, but he ran away.
    A very basic psychology class totally explains each of their behaviors. The one brunette girl is ok with the the struggle Phil cowered from but wants to discover it on her own.
    The bearded guy latched onto Phil as hos faith was weak but he craved guidence which explains his faith to begin with.
    The muslim thought he was above it, and watching true christian ignorance gave him an out as he didn’t have to accept that level of ignorance but he didnt have to accept evolution either.
    The blonde girl was exposed to the both the evidence of reality and the ignorance of closed minded belief, her life experience deterred her from the closed mindedness of Phil which allowed her accept the evidence without conspiracy.
    And Phil…his affective filter went up as soon as he poored the bucket and realized his beliefs dnt match reality…so he blocked reality.

  • Kellen Conner

    If the faith that you have can’t share space in your brain with fact, than it’s bad faith. Also, I love that he goes straight to “everything else is a pile of crap.” Like, there is literally not one aspect of his Christian values that could survive if there wasn’t a god. I wish I could see the look on his face when he realizes that he doesn’t believe in god anymore, then looks around and realizes that nothing has changed.

  • viaten

    Great video. The geology and evolution were well done, but I wish they could have included astronomy. The creationists all seemed quite honest or showed their colors well. I’d love to see a follow up on these people.

    The 47:28 remark and 27:40 “being half and half … just doesn’t make sense … evolution? then Jesus?” These remarks seem to suggest that some fundamentalists have a sort of wisdom beyond what moderate and liberal believers have that they’re not aware of. They sort of know it has to be “all or nothing” over “half and half”. In a sense, I’d agree. And I think Phil, not wanting to even admit it’s all or nothing, knows what he’s up against, perhaps more so than the others.

    I find it odd is that no creationists (that I’m aware of) say the grand canyon was created the way it is now. Were all canyons and other drastic geological features created by the flood? How do they know which were?

    41:25 It’s always slim possibilities that are “totally totally possible”. The more “totally”s, the slimmer.

    15:20 It seems when someone mentions the dictionary, the word games have started. I wish Coyne wasn’t so quick the counter the creationists statements. Don’t give them a chance to play an interruption “offense” card.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    Conclusion: Phil is a giant asshole.

  • jdm8

    “Also, I love that he goes straight to “everything else is a pile of crap.” ”

    That’s basically the Ken Ham motto, he can’t bend on creationism, where he feels you can’t be a Christian and believe anything other than Young Earth Creationism – at least for very long.

  • Question Everything

    Gotta love his personification of ‘christian love’ when they go.. to a church around 36…

  • SeekerLancer

    This was my reading of Phil too. As soon as he realized the professionals he was talking to weren’t going to flinch at his beliefs and were a lot more knowledgeable than he was, he started growing more and more belligerent. You could almost see it in his eyes after the bucket demonstration eloquently destroyed the argument that had been pounded into his head by other apologists.

    When none of his stock apologist explanations, which probably got him places in arguments with other people, weren’t working his only choice was to erect walls around himself and get angry. Suddenly he was treating everyone who didn’t think the way he did about everything as the enemy, going as far as trying to silence the more liberal people about their opinions on anything not pertaining to evolution, the one they all agreed on.

    It was really telling when he got annoyed that they weren’t talking to any creation science people (seeming to miss the reason he was on this trip in the first place, to have his beliefs challenged not echoed) and when he was questioning the church people, getting paranoid that he was being set up in some way.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    He asked if it was gay church because he said the producers kept trying to set him up. The others where tolerable but I wanted to punch Phil several times.

  • SeekerLancer

    He certainly fit the “Conspiracy Road Trip” title well. He thought the entire program was out to get him simply because his beliefs were being thrown into question. I wonder what he thought was going to happen when he signed up for this?

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    Judging from his smugness I think he knew damn well what he was getting into and thought he would be able to sway others to his side and when that didn’t work he became an asshole.

  • McFidget

    Phil’s a professional. He works for creation ministries international. I’ve seen him do a few interviews on the subject here in Northern Ireland. He’s the sort so deep in intellectual dishonesty that he’s never going to change his mind.

  • ravenlynne

    That oughta tell him something about his beliefs, if he’s afraid to hear anything that might show him his faith system is a pile of crap.

  • Lisa

    Watching this made me want to rage-punch the telly repeatedly! I got so frustrated with their unwillingness to question ANYTHING!

  • ravenlynne

    At the same time I have sympathy. Imagine being brainwashed your entire life by everyone you love and care about. Then having to mentally come to terms with the fact that it’s all bullshit and they’ve all been lying to you. The easier, painless route would certainly be to basically put your hands over your ears and sing “lalalala”

  • David S.

    Have you ever seen the 9/11 Road Trip? One of our conspiracy theorists drops the conspiracy, but the other four dig in, and one of them gets really aggressive about it.

  • Kellen Conner

    Libby Anne on “Love, Joy, Feminism” described the same upbringing. Where faith is a house of cards and if you take one thing away the whole thing falls down.

  • Kellen Conner

    Okay, I’ve actually got the video to play, and that should read “SHE goes.” I thought at first from all the comments that it was one of Phil’s quotes. Now I know better. Sorry.

  • Karl Priest

    is more impossible than the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and the Headless Horseman.
    for a list of bluffing evolutionists.

  • Rich Wilson

    See Kitzmiller v. Dover for an actual unbiased examination of the competing evidence.


  • Charles Honeycutt

    And yet magically no one can counter the evidence for it. Funny, huh?

    Jesus you people are incompetent. DOGS are irrefutable evidence for Evolutionary Theory, just domesticated dogs in your neighborhood.

  • RobMcCune

    Even if that were true you believe in things more impossible than the tooth fairy, santa, and the headless horseman put together.

  • Mick

    Don’t forget that videos like this are created in the editing room. For example, once they notice that Phil had a tendency towards aggression, the editors would have gone searching for every snippet where he was, in fact, aggressive, and they would have discarded scenes that portrayed him differently. The other characters would have been treated the same way.

    There would have also been a lot of prompting behind the scenes in the hotel rooms while the cameras were off. “Wow Phil, I admire your tenacity. It’s good to see that you are prepared to argue with the evolutionists. Keep up the good work.” And Phil strives even harder the next day to “keep up the good work”.

    Sure, the characters said what they said, and it is possible that none of them were quoted out of context, but I’ll bet they were stunned when they saw the way they were portrayed in the final video.

  • Jaimie Bell

    This. I read his quote before watching the video and thought it to be quite insightful and even prophetic. He is closest to the truth in my opinion. Yes, his behavior was questionable, but….
    I have a confession to make. I was an a-hole right at the end too. Big time. My world and everything I believed was coming apart and I wanted to save my faith. For me it was less a house of cards and more like a Jenga game. I removed some of the rods and the structure still held, but there came a point when I knew it was coming down. It was a terrible, horrible point in my life.
    Then it collapsed and everything was fine. Like Kellen said, I looked around and nothing had changed. Except that everything made more sense.
    So I think I’m going to give Phil a pass and give him my very best wishes for what will probably be a bumpy ride out.

  • Rich Wilson

    btw, Karl Priest’s mission is:

    Karl currently is the West Virginia State Coordinator for ExodusMandate which encourages the rescue of children from government
    schools to the safety of home or truly Christian schools.

  • Schol-R-LEA;2

    “Can Anyone Convince These Five Creationists That They’re Deluded?” In a word, no, for reasons completely unrelated to their specific beliefs. Human thought processes are based on pattern matching, and once a pattern is ‘seen’, evidence that the original pattern was incorrect is invariably discarded *unless* the viewer has already chosen to discard their Belief System itself, at which poin the brain begins seeking out a new set of patterns.

    Unfortunately, because the world is not actually a set of coherent patterns – no matter how much both the Fundamentalists and the Rationalists want it to be – this process will never result in a truly coherent BS. It is the unfortunate tendency of Rationalists fnord to expect both other human beings and the world at large to be sd rational as they believe themselves to be, which is tragic, because the one thing that can be counted upon is that neither of them ever will be.

    Rev. 1st Speaker Schol-R-LEA;2, Last Eristic Church of Finagle and Holy Bisexuality

  • Cary Whitman

    I’m disappointed that they didn’t get into the question of where Cain and Abel’s wives came from when they were discussing Adam and Eve. It really seemed like they were heading that way when one of them pointed out Adam and Eve only had sons, so who did their sons have children with? Eve? That’s pretty discusting, but they would have had no other choice since there were no other women.

    Unless you believe “Science made Stupid”:

  • Goonies

    This was on ABC2 in Australia just a couple of weeks ago. It was very rage inducing to say the least. I think the 2 moments I liked best were idiot Phil demanding to know where the ‘creationist geologists’ were and later on when he tells the same geologist ‘sounds like 1, 2 miss a few 99, 100′ and he was told to ‘write a paper about that.’
    I honestly found Phil a little frightening in some parts, especially when he bailed up the Director / Camera man and gave his bully speech.
    Every episode in this conspiracy series hurt my brain and my heart so much :|

  • Ubi Dubium

    What galled me about Phil was the incident where he complained to the crew that the others were being bullied into talking about subjects Phil didn’t approve of. Then he went right over to the others and told them they weren’t allowed to discuss certain topics. The hypocrisy and arrogance of that just galled me. Phil was the biggest bully of the bunch.
    I saw a lot of the backfire effect here, and it’s really hard to get past that. When someone has wrapped their whole self-identity around belief in an idea, and then is presented with facts that contradict that idea, instead of changing their minds they dig in harder than before. Only one of the five had managed to overcome this problem by the end.

  • nkrishna

    Only about 10 minutes in, but so far this is very well done. I’d never heard of this show, but I’m really interested in the persistence of conspiracy theories, so I’d be interested to see what other topics they tackle.

  • eonL5

    Wow. A Cultist.

  • allein

    On the lack of credible “creationist geologist,” I couldn’t help but think…”shouldn’t that tell you something?!

  • Gus Snarp

    One can’t help but wonder if it was a good idea to bring him along. Maybe they thought it made for better television. Maybe it did. But maybe it also gave the others someone to rally around to reinforce their faith. Someone who would always help them to find an out when the cognitive dissonance was too much. I wonder how views would have changed without Phil on the trip.

  • nude0007

    What is more infuriating to me is the Muslim guy saying he liked science, but then refuses to acknowledge any of it, then claiming Islam rose above any of the facts presented to him. To me, he was more blind than Phil. I kept wondering why none of the hosts or scientists truly challenged them on their beliefs or explained WHY science is true, HOW it reaches its conclusions. It seems to me the reason they dismiss science is that they relegate it to “their opinion”. I get that a lot. “I’ve god god and you’ve got your opinion”. They don’t see how science is validated and the work and research that goes into it. Phil should have been presented with WHY the gaps are unimportant. The muslim kept saying there was no evidence. I’d ask him to explain that, and show what evidence he has, then shoot that down. In other words I think they were entirely too gentle. They failed to really challenge their thought process or their belief system.

  • baal

    We have the answer in the bible. They came from the Land of Nod. Don’t ask me what tribes of people were doing wandering around outside of the Garden and how that really screws up the narrative. Or how a rich guy may have set up a garden with sequestered kids for founding a ‘pure’ people or somesuch and how that effort could have been the basis for several thousands of years of a game of telephone.

  • Gus Snarp

    So I thought, during the section about Adam and Eve, about how far the first couple were from the flood. How many people did God wipe out with the flood, and where would those people have been? And animals for that matter. When creationists use “kinds” to justify the ark, it leads to the problem that those kinds would have to give rise to so many kinds of life in only 6000 years…but wasn’t it really much less than that? Maybe like 4000 years? So I had a look at the wiki page for a Biblical timeline and, of course, there’s disagreement, but somewhere between 1000 and 2000 years between Adam and the flood. So how many people and animals did God wipe out in the flood? How far had they dispersed from the garden in 2000 years? Did he really need to flood North America, or would a flood covering the Middle East have sufficed? I guess they have to have dispersed widely to explain the fossil evidence in terms of the flood, but how likely is global dispersion of a wide variety of species given 2000 years?

  • Spuddie

    Creationism is dishonesty incarnate. Creationists don’t actually believe in what they say or accept the ideas it pretends to stand for.

    Creationism posits the notion that Fundamentalist Christian dogma concerning Genesis Chapter 1 can be proven to be true by objective collection and analysis of evidence.

    There are two problems with this:
    1. It doesn’t. Creationists always attack methods of obtaining and analyzing objective evidence since they have none to provide themselves.

    2. To accept such an idea also means you would have to accept the notion that Fundamentalist Christian dogma can be disproven by the same methods. No Creationist will ever admit to the idea that their religious dogma can be disproven by objective evidence.

    In order to accept something as proof, you have to be willing to accept something as disproof as well. Otherwise you are just lying.

    Karl, you are a liar.

  • Rich Wilson

    Adam and Eve started in the garden, but I think everything else started globally. Perhaps even those souless people from ‘Nod’.

  • Gus Snarp

    That’s the more sensible explanation, but is that what YECs believe? Certainly not Phil, as he thinks Cain and Abel shagged their sisters (or maybe even their mum). It always seemed to me to make much more sense if there were other people outside the garden. Heck, it even makes sense if the other people were souless, surely that explains everything that follows better then just eating a bad pomegranate.

  • Jordan Sugarman

    With regard to all or nothing theology, I think it’s the assumption that without a literal Genesis, there’s no original sin, and no need for Jesus. If we’re all products of a natural process, then there’s nothing special about us. We’re just really smart animals.

  • Jordan Sugarman

    There’s a really telling scene at 43 minutes in where they’re talking to the Berkeley professor and Sam is trying to describe the Adam and Eve story. He’s looking directly at Phil for approval, like he’s afraid he’ll say something Phil doesn’t agree with. Then he tries to cover by looking around saying he wants to “make sure he isn’t making any errors.”

  • Gus Snarp

    I think that most YECs don’t believe that, though. I think what they believe, and what Phil was arguing, is that Adam and Eve also had daughters and Cain and Abel had children with their sisters.

    Let’s face it, it wouldn’t be at all unlikely for the authors of the Bible to leave out the female children as unimportant.

    I do wonder how they reconcile that with the clear statements that there were other people about, which make perfect sense if its a cobbled together bunch of creation myths from a few particular tribal groups instead of the infallible word of god.

  • Gus Snarp

    Oh BBC, how I love you. Why can’t I just replace any of the faux educational channels on American TV with you? How much do Brits pay in their TV tax? I’ll pay it if I can just watch BBC TV and listen to BBC radio in real time without messing around with VPNs and proxies and what not.

  • Mariève Lapierre

    Adam and Eve are said to have had daughters at the beginning of Genesis 5 (although it sounds a bit like retconning to me).

  • Mariève Lapierre

    I wouldn’t say he’s afraid; it’s more like he’s looking to Phil for support, because deep down he knows just how nonsensical his founding myth is.

  • Shoe

    Hah, fnords. I guess I’m not the only one who’s read some Illuminatus Trilogy.

  • Blacksheep

    I’m a science-minded Christian, and I have no problem believing that the earth was formed over millions of years (Nor do I have a problem with thousands of years – since it’s God we’re talking about). In the Grand Canyon part of the video, they point out the Christians crazy belief that it could have formed 6000 years ago. One thing that has always fascinated me are rapid natural transformations. One event is a pretty significant gorge that formed virtually overnight due to floodwaters. If scientists had stumbled upon it 1000 years later, I have no doubt that they would have dated it in the “millions of years ago” time frame.

    “In their 2010 study, Michael Lamb of the California Institute of Technology and Mark Fonstad of Texas State University documented the dramatic transformation of a section of the Guadalupe River Valley landscape into a steep-walled bedrock canyon in just three days.”

  • Rich Wilson

    I’m a science-minded Christian

    I don’t mean this personally Blasksheep, but I’m beginning to think that ‘loving science’ is one of those things like “I’m a critical thinker”. Everyone thinks they’re science minded, it’s just that most of us love some science a little bit (or a lot) less. I know a lot of people who will flip out if you mention “GMO”, regardless of the nature of the particular genetic modification in question, or whether they really understand it. On the other hand, they love the idea of curing AIDS by engineering a different virus that inoculates someone against HIV. Just don’t say the words “genetically modified”.

    I have no problem believing that the earth was formed over millions of years

    Billions. Which is quite a bit more than millions.

    (Nor do I have a problem with thousands of years – since it’s God we’re talking about)

    Sure. If you exist outside the rules, you can do anything. But then God created a world that looks exactly like it’s 4.3 billion years old.

    If scientists had stumbled upon it 1000 years later, I have no doubt that they would have dated it in the “millions of years ago” time frame.

    Why? If I understand correctly, it’s a straight gorge, unlike the Grand Canyon which twists and turns. The evidence for the age of the Grand Canyon isn’t just how deep it is, but the twisting patterns. As they pointed out in the video (but didn’t go into a lot of detail) the meandering patterns that rivers take over time is well understood, with mathematical models to explain it.

    (Edit to fix a really mangled sentence about liking some science less than other science)

  • Rich Wilson

    But because many of the geological formations of Canyon Lake Gorge are virtually indistinguishable from other formations which have been attributed to long term (slower) processes

    I should have read more carefully. I’d still doubt they’d date the Grand Canyon to 1000s of years based on this. And of course the Grand Canyon isn’t actually seen as evidence for how old the earth is. It is presented by YECs as evidence that it we could have had a global flood. There are many more reasons besides the Grand Canyon to know that we didn’t have a global flood. Or, you know, if we did, then God set things up to look exactly like we didn’t.