Partial Transcript of Nightline Face-Off: Does God Exist Part II

Martin Bashir: Kirk, in Victor Stenger’s book God: The Failed Hypothesis, he says, “Evolution, by natural selection, is accepted as an observed fact by the great majority of biologists and scientists in related fields and is utilized in every aspect of modern science, including medicine.”

How do you account for the fact that evolution is now the dominant philosophical understanding for so many of the sciences?

Kirk Cameron: Well, that’s a very good question and it is pervasive in society. I think that the number one reason that many people don’t believe in the existence of God is because of evolution. And we’ve been taught that evolution is how we got here. Therefore, because it’s assumed that it’s a scientific fact, therefore, God does not exist.

So, let’s look at the theory for a moment: we start with nothing, there’s an explosion and that produces everything over billions and billions of years–the birds and the trees, the flowers, the moon the sun, the stars, elephants, human beings, everything we’ve got and this happens by random chance, natural selection over billions of years.

Charles Darwin said that, in order for his theory to be true, there must be millions of in-between stages–transitional forms–in the fossil record and that, if, within a hundred years, we don’t find those transitional forms, that his theory should be discarded. Well, more than a hundred years has gone by and those missing links, those transitional forms, those in-between stages, are still missing.

They thought they found some of them. One of them was back in 1999. If you do the research, you’ll find that a Chinese farmer glued together the head of a bird and parts of a reptile and completely fooled the worldwide scientific community, including National Geographic with what they thought was a transitional form–it was called “Archaeoraptor.” Smithsonian Institution actually accused National Geographic of engaging in sensationalistic tabloid journalism. It was a hoax.

Now, there is something called “microevolution.” This is very different. Microevolution is evolution within a species. Look at dogs: you’ve got the tiny Chihuahua and the Great Dane–they’re very different, but they’re both dogs. Or, horses: you’ve got zebras and donkeys. You’ve got the dwarf pony and the draft horse. Very different, but they’re horses. Horses produce horses and dogs produce dogs. Adaptation within a species is totally different than man evolving from an entirely different species. Science has never found a genuine transitional form that is one kind of animal crossing over into another kind, either living or in the fossil record. And there’re supposed to be billions of them.

Now, what I’m about to show you does not exist. These were actually created by our graphic artists. But, I want you to keep your eye out for this because this is what evolutionists have been searching for for hundreds of years. Alright? And if you find one of these, you could become rich and famous. So here’re some transitional forms.

[holds up picture of composite animal with duck body and crocodile head]

This is called the “crockoduck.” Can you see this?

[holds up picture of frog with horns]

This is the “bull-frog.” Half bull half frog.

[holds up picture of sheep with dog’s head]

Or, of course, the “sheep-dog.”

And, you’re laughing. Of course! Now, some of you might be saying, now, wait a minute, look at the platypus: there is a mammal with hair and a bill like a duck. Well, yeah, it’s a strange one. And that’s exactly how God made it. And there’s plenty of strange animals like that.

Nature is observable proof that every animal brings forth after its own kind. No one has ever seen a horse produce a non-horse or a bird produce anything but another bird. Even the famous fossil Archaeopteryx, said to be a reptile transitioning into a bird–if you do the research, you’ll find out it has been shown to be fully bird–a perching bird, it has feathers.

We even have a web site. It’s called It offers $10,000 to anyone who can present a genuine, living transitional form.

Charles Darwin said, “…often a cold shudder has run through me, and I have asked myself whether I may not have devoted my life to a phantasy.”

Time Magazine: “Scientists concede that their most cherished theories are based on embarrassingly few fossil fragments and that huge gaps exist in the fossil record.”

Newsweek: “The more scientists have searched for the transitional forms that lie between species, the more they’ve been frustrated.”

And scientist Ernst Chain, Nobel Prize winner for developing penicillin, said, “I would rather believe in fairy tales than in such wild speculation.”

Nature is proof–observable proof–that God made us to produce after our own kind. Man did not evolve from amoebas.

Martin Bashir: Okay. Hold it there. [looks to Kelly and Paul] Can I ask you to explain the gaps in the fossil record as just rehearsed by Kirk.

Brian Sapient: Yeah, I want to start actually–

Martin Bashir: Why don’t you answer that question first?

Brian Sapient: Well, the gaps are too easy to answer. I mean every single person in here is a transitional form. Every single fossil that has ever been found is a transitional fossil. To say anything otherwise is to show the person to be extremely ignorant about the topic of evolutionary science.

Martin Bashir: Let me just put to you, though, the argument that they were putting which is that there is no evidence–this is what they’re asserting–there’s no evidence for a transitional creature.

Brian Sapient: What I’m saying is that every single person alive, every animal that has ever lived is a transitional fossil.

Martin Bashir: What do you mean by that?

Brian Sapient: You can see a–

Martin Bashir: When you were born, you weren’t transitioning from monkey for the first five years to human being for the next ten.

Brian Sapient: Correct. However, you can look back at what I transitioned from. You can look at fossils like Australopithecus afarensis–

Martin Bashir: The argument you’re making–sorry Brian–the argument you just made was that everybody in this room is a transitional creature.

Brian Sapient: All life is constantly evolving–

Martin Bashir: And, what I’m asking you is–explain to the audience what they were when they were born which is different to what they are now.

Brian Sapient: No, that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that people evolve over time–all animals evolve over time. The claim that there have never been any transitional fossils found. I talked to the American Museum of Natural History this week. They were, unfortunately, unable to bring fossils here. Anybody can go to the exhibit. They have plenty fossils there to show Kirk and Ray, I will get you free tickets, I’ll pay for the tickets. You need to go and see the exhibits. There are plenty of transitional fossils there. Hundreds and thousands have been found.

We put together–I figured you would say this because I know this is your stock–

Ray Comfort: Could you give us one now, a transitional form? Just be specific–just one.

Brian Sapient: Australopithecus afarensis.

Ray Comfort: That’s the transitional form from what?

Brian Sapient: From a previous, other ape-like creature to the, you know, what we have today. Australopithecus afarensis lived about 7 million years ago. There are plenty of transitional–

Ray Comfort: How do you know that, Brian?

Brian Sapient: Because you can date it.

Ray Comfort: How can it be dated?

Brian Sapient: With [turns to Kelly] what is it?

Kelly O’Connor: Radiometric dating.

Ray Comfort: And you believe that?

Kelly O’Connor: Okay we’re not going to get into where we’re all believing this on faith.

Briant Sapient: Let me go back for one moment. You can expose the sort of and I don’t mean offense Kirk, I really like you, when I use the word ignorance, but, um, when you say that evolution says we start with nothing, and that was how you opened your statement, you actually show that you have no understanding of evolution. That’s actually the theory of abiogenesis. That’s how all things started, okay? That’s how life started on earth. Evolution happens after we were already here, after life started.

You spoke about an example where the chicken head and then the Smithsoian exposed it as a fraud–that’s a good example of how science works. We learn from our mistakes. Yeah, they got tricked–they figured it out. We now change that to accept what was the fact.

Kirk Cameron: Until you find out that that was maybe wrong and you have to scrap the theory again and come up with the next one.

Kelly O’Connor: And it’ll happen over and over.

Brian Sapient: It’s just one fossil out of the hundreds and thousands that are available. You spoke about microevolution and how we have that but not macroevolution. I ask you: how can you not walk a mile taking one step at a time? Microevolution is one step at a time. Macro- is when you get to the end of that mile. How can you not walk a mile taking one step at a time?

Martin Bashir: Brian’s position was that he heard you say that there are gaps in the record. His argument is, “If you go to the Museum of Natural History, there are fossils and there’s evidence, and, second, that transition occurs over very large lengths of time”–

Kirk Cameron: –And a mile’s accomplished by taking one step at a time–

Martin Bashir: Correct.

Kirk Cameron: As far as I understand, any fossil that you find at your museum is a fully formed creature. There is not something in there that is halfway between one animal and between another animal that you can observe to be so. Your assumption is that evolution is true from the outset–that’s your presupposition–and therefore you say that you and I are transitional forms–we’re constantly changing into the next thing. That’s based on your presupposition that evolution is true. But the observable evidence is that you’ve got animals that are fully formed. You’ve got adaptation within a species, but you’ve never seen any animal produce anything other than–

Brian Sapient: Because that’s not how evolution works–

Kirk Cameraon: –over time, it’ll turn into else, but you’ve never seen it happen, no one’s ever seen it happen and that is called macroevolution. You cannot extrapolate microevolution over time and equal macro evolution. No one’s ever seen it demonstrated.

Kelly O’Connor: [to audience] The reason Kirk isn’t seeing the kind of missing link that he wants to see is because mutations must necessarily be small enough to allow for the survival and reproduction of that creature. You’re not going to find a half-duck, half-crocodile because what would that mate with? That wouldn’t be to anything’s evolutionary advantage. But, even if there were no fossils, no transitional forms, evolution is still soundly supported by biology, by genetic information, by cosmological information, all of the fields of science unanimously agree and support it. So, even if there was not a single fossil on this planet, it wouldn’t matter. We are all only this year’s model of humanity and we are constantly changing.

Martin Bashir: One of the arguments that Christians use is to say, “Okay, if you want evidence, what about the existence, the life, the birth, the death, and, some would argue, the resurrection of Christ Himself?

Was he not evidence that he existed? What about what he said? How do you deal with that?

Kelly O’Connor: First of all, there’s actually no historical evidence that isn’t a hotly disputed item within the field of history to prove that he ever was even a man much less the Son of God.

First of all, First Century Palestine is a very well-recorded era of history. We’ve got dozens of historians who kept accurate and detailed records of hundreds of supposed savior gods–they were looming around every corner. Funny thing is, they never mentioned this Jesus. Even if there was an historical person that that story was based on that it was mythologized out of, he could not possibly have gone into the temple at Jerusalem on Passover and started a riot without even being mentioned one time–not once–by a contemporaneous historian. You’re looking, earliest dating for anything about this guy to be a hundred years or so after his death?

Brian Sapient: 60. 60, 70.

Ray Comfort: That’s just not true. Josephus spoke of Jesus very clearly.

Brian Sapient: And it’s a forgery and not contemporaneous.

Ray Comfort: You have got so much faith in history books. You quote history books like they’re gospel and you ignore the Gospel Record.

Kelly O’Connor: Do you believe in George Washington?

Kirk Cameron: ….I want to quote Richard Dawkins who wrote The God Delusion. He said, “Even if there was no actual evidence in favor of the Darwinian theory, we should still be justified in preferring it over all rival theories.” Did you hear that? He said even if there is no actual evidence, we should still believe it over the other theories. Even in light of what can be presented to justify those theories. That is unreasonable and it’s unscientific. That is the definition of blind faith: “I believe something even though there is not evidence to support it.”

As of 5/20/2010, I can find no evidence that Darwin ever said or wrote this. This attribution to Darwin may be related to this one.
To say that the “worldwide scientific community” was “completely fooled” is, at best, an exaggeration. As this article shows, many scientists expressed reservations about the fossil early on.
The University of California Museum of Paleontology says the following: “Unlike all living birds, Archaeopteryx had a full set of teeth, a rather flat sternum (“breastbone”), a long, bony tail, gastralia (“belly ribs”), and three claws on the wing which could have still been used to grasp prey (or maybe trees). However, its feathers, wings, furcula (“wishbone”) and reduced fingers are all characteristics of modern birds.”*
Here is the full letter, from Project Gutenberg’s Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume 2:

Ilkley Wells, Yorkshire,
November 23 [1859].

My dear Lyell,

You seemed to have worked admirably on the species question; there could not have been a better plan than reading up on the opposite side. I rejoice profoundly that you intend admitting the doctrine of modification in your new edition*; nothing, I am convinced, could be more important for its success. I honour you most sincerely. To have maintained in the position of a master, one side of a question for thirty years, and then deliberately give it up, is a fact to which I much doubt whether the records of science offer a parallel. For myself, also, I rejoice profoundly; for, thinking of so many cases of men pursuing an illusion for years, often and often a cold shudder has run through me, and I have asked myself whether I may not have devoted my life to a phantasy.

Now I look at it as morally impossible that investigators of truth, like you and Hooker, can be wholly wrong, and therefore I rest in peace. Thank you for criticisms, which, if there be a second edition, I will attend to.

I have been thinking that if I am much execrated as an atheist, etc., whether the admission of the doctrine of natural selection could injure your works; but I hope and think not, for as far as I can remember, the virulence of bigotry is expended on the first offender, and those who adopt his views are only pitied as deluded, by the wise and cheerful bigots.

I cannot help thinking that you overrate the importance of the multiple origin of dogs. The only difference is, that in the case of single origins, all difference of the races has originated since man domesticated the species. In the case of multiple origins part of the difference was produced under natural conditions. I should INFINITELY prefer the theory of single origin in all cases, if facts would permit its reception. But there seems to me some a priori improbability (seeing how fond savages are of taming animals), that throughout all times, and throughout all the world, that man should have domesticated one single species alone, of the widely distributed genus Canis. Besides this, the close resemblance of at least three kinds of American domestic dogs to wild species still inhabiting the countries where they are now domesticated, seem to almost compel admission that more than one wild Canis has been domesticated by man.

I thank you cordially for all the generous zeal and interest you have shown about my book, and I remain, my dear Lyell,

Your affectionate friend and disciple,
Charles Darwin.

Sir J. Herschel, to whom I sent a copy, is going to read my book. He says he leans to the side opposed to me. If you should meet him after he has read me, pray find out what he thinks, for, of course, he will not write; and I should excessively like to hear whether I produce any effect on such a mind.

*(It appears from Sir Charles Lyell’s published letters that he intended to admit the doctrine of evolution in a new edition of the ‘Manual,’ but this was not published till 1865. He was, however, at work on the ‘Antiquity of Man’ in 1860, and had already determined to discuss the ‘Origin’ at the end of the book.)

This is from the cover story article “Puzzling Out Man’s Ascent” in the Monday, Nov. 07, 1977 issue of Time. The article is about 5,800 words long. Two-thirds of the article is devoted to laying out the rationale among archeologists for their support of evolution despite the fact that they had (in 1977), “embarrassingly few fossil fragments.”
This is from the article “Is Man a Subtle Accident?,” Newsweek, November 3, 1980. I haven’t yet been able to find the complete article to put the quote in context.
Yes, Chain said this.
This is a fuller quotation taken from page 287 of the 1996 edition of The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design: “My argument will be that Darwinism is the only known theory that is in principle capable of explaining certain aspects of life. If I am right it means that, even if there were no actual evidence in favour of the Darwinian theory (there is, of course) we should still be justified in preferring it over all rival theories.”

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