On Oct. 25, a man named Jonathan Sarfati came to speak in Newton Hall. As I wasn't paying attention to the beginning of his presentation, I assumed he was a comedian doing a routine about creationism. I was in stitches the entire time.
Among his jokes was the notion that evolutionary biologists are constantly forcing their irrational beliefs with no scientific basis onto the public, unlike Young Earth Creationists who are fighting the indoctrination of children through the use of sound evidence from unbiased sources. He argued that the Dark Ages were a time of learning and growth in Europe, as proven by inventions such as gunpowder, the compass and the ability to print – inventions which in fact all had origins much earlier in places outside Europe.
All three of those advancements came after centuries of deplorable intellectual, social and political conditions and they may not have happened at all without the genocides known as the Crusades. Gunpowder was then used in the Spanish Reconquista, which spread the Inquisition, both of which were initiatives designed to find and expel non-Christian from supposedly Christian lands.
All this talk of Christians murdering people brings me to another claim made by Sarfati: The Bible is the basis of morality. It's hard to see how this can be squared with the numerous versions and translations of the Bible that allow for any number of moral codes, the fact that the Bible and Christianity have been used to justify some of the most horrific crimes in history or the implication that only people who have read the Bible and believe in Christianity (less than one-third of the world's population) can be moral.
This last possibility is made even more ridiculous when a 2009 study by Phil Zuckerman of Pitzer College concluded that, "Within America, the states with the highest murder rates tend to be the highly religious, such as Louisiana and Alabama, but the states with the lowest murder rates tend to be the among the least religious in the country, such as Vermont and Oregon."
But the central theme of Sarfati's talk was creationism and the belief that the Earth was created 6,000 years ago in seven days. Following those seven days, Adam and Eve spent several years in the Garden of Eden living with dinosaurs; then, a while after that, God wiped out all the animals on Earth save one pair of each species which somehow all fit on the same ark.
It is worth noting that this all allegedly happened in less than 1,000 years, yet historians believe some Egyptian artifacts to be approximately 5,000 years old. This bemusing belief fails to explain how humans came to be in the Americas if not by crossing the Bering Strait land-bridge, which happened more than 11,000 years ago. The overwhelming amount of data from radiometric dating using any number of isotopic comparisons and relativistic rock data using comparable strata also contradict everything Sarfati insists is true.
Sadly, Jonathan Sarfati is not a comedian and has a Ph.D. in chemistry. He sincerely believes that evolution is a myth propagated by immoral evolutionary biologists who have a vendetta against Christianity. Somehow a man holding these unscientific beliefs is permitted to speak on a campus dedicated to learning, in the same lecture hall where science classes and presentations are held. Perhaps, then, Sarfati is a comedian and the joke is on us.