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Meditation 206
Ignorance, Lies, and Jack T. Chick
Deconstructing Chick's Comics

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At chick.com you can find a section called tracts, which are really crude fundamentalist propaganda comics. There's one called "Apes, Lies, and Ms Henn" which supposedly rebuts the teaching of evolution.

I'd just like to take you through this misleading document and you can see how reality is distorted.

In the opening frames of the comic, Ms. Henn is introduced as a substitute teacher. As the author is using her to promote his straw man version of evolution, he immediately demonizes her. She is the substitute teacher, and unknown to the children unlike the regular teacher; she is given an unfortunate name, and a disagreeable appearance. And even more demonizing to Chick's fundamentalist audience, she is a Ms. unlike the regular teacher who is a Mrs. and who is away because she is having twins. And by the fourth frame, Ms. Henn is shown to be authoritarian. "... As long as you do what I say."

She then proceeds to introduce the children to evolution, not the real theory of evolution, but a straw man theory. She is made to say "But it took millions of years to change from apes into humans." And when a student asks "Ms. Henn, did we really come from monkeys?" she replies "Yes, scientists have PROVEN it."

So what's wrong here? Simply, it is not evolution that she is teaching.

Evolution does not claim we are descended from apes. Nor does it claim we have descended from monkeys - which are different from apes. And no reputable scientist will claim to have proven this. Rather, the theory of evolution indicates we have a common ancestor with apes, and we also have a common ancestor with monkeys. Now that is quite a different statement.

Further, the teaching of evolution is not supported by the flat assertion that scientists have proven it. Rather, when it is taught, then nature of the supporting evidence is discussed, and the methods by which evolution proceeds are also discussed.

Back to the comic strip: When Ms. Henn is challenged on evolution by one of the students, rather than discussing the issue, she loses her temper, thereby further demonizing her and undermining her credibility.

So, in addition to the deliberately false view of evolution, a deliberately false view of those teachers who teach evolution is being presented. It's pure propaganda, deliberate misrepresentation, just an attempt to make what follows palatable.

Then the comic continues with the girl who challenged Ms. Henn providing the correct view of the world in line with Chick's interpretation of the bible.

We get told God made the first dinosaur and are given a reference to Genesis 1:24-28 as authority. Yet nowhere in this verse nor anywhere in the bible is the word dinosaur mentioned, nor are any of the other animals or plant life which coexisted with the dinosaurs mentioned. It is pure fantasy that Genesis refers to the creation of dinosaurs.

Then we get on to a discussion of sin and how most people go to hell for sin, and that Ms. Henn's teaching of evolution gets us in trouble with God. We are told that evolution is a lie created by the devil to keep kids out of heaven. No authority is given for this blatant scare tactic.

In spite of God sending most people to hell, we are then given a message of "Jesus loves you."

And the whole thing closes with "If YOU believe in evolution instead of Jesus, you'll end up in hell." A statement which implies the concepts are mutually exclusive.

Ultimately, in spite of demonizing evolution and demonizing its teacher, the comic's author still feels it necessary to use scare tactics - the threat of eternal hell - to frighten the reader into rejecting evolution. Why? Because he does not have a sound argument against evolution. He does not have a logical argument against it. All he has is lies and threats. He is a crude propagandist.

It's interesting that Chick falsely presents the teacher of evolution as an ugly old authoritarian who talks of having fun with kids, yet she is unjust and she teaches through assertion rather than evidence. And he uses her as the straw man caricature, so he can convince us to follow the ugly old authoritarian god who talks of love, yet is mercilessly unjust, and who rules through assertion without a scintilla of evidence.

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