Pharyngula

Roger Ebert: hacked or poor satire?

There is a very peculiar article at Roger Ebert’s movie review site. It may not last long, so I’ve put a copy below the fold. It’s a straight-faced recitation of creationist claims, all nonsensical, all typical, presented as if they were Ebert’s opinion. It could be an exercise in Poe’s Law, I suppose, or it could be the consequence of a little web hacking.

Questions and answers on Creationism, which should be discussed in schools as an alternative to the theory of evolution:

Q. When was the earth created?

A. Archbishop James Usher, working out a chronology from the Bible, calculated in 1654 that the earth was created on the night of October 23, 4004 B.C. Other timetables reach back as far as 10,000 years.

Q. What about oil and coal, which seem to have been generated from ancient forests millions of years ago?

A. They are evidence of a Great Flood about 4,400 years ago, which laid down all the layers of sediment at once. They are nowhere near as old as evolutionists and archeologists say. A fossil claimed to be 200 million years old, found in Nevada in 1917, shows a shoe print. [See photograph]

Q. What about bones representing such species as Cro-Magnon Man and Neanderthal Man?

A. Created at the same time as man. They did not survive. In fact, all surviving species and many others were created fully formed at the same time. At that moment they were of various ages and in varying degrees of health. Some individuals died an instant later, others within seconds, minutes or hours.

Q. Were there ice ages lasting millions of years?

A. No, but a recent and catastrophic Ice Epoch.

Q. Did the Colorado River carve out the mile-deep Grand Canyon over eons?

A. It was the result of Ice Epochs, the Great Flood and other catastrophes within the last 64 to 100 centuries.

Q. Was there a Noah, and did he have an Ark?

A. Certainly. There are many unverified reports of a massive wooden vessel on Mount Ararat. The Arc contained eight people, from whom we are all descended. It also contained two of each kind of animal. Since living species were obviously not created through an evolutionary process, every surviving land-based mammal species (about 5,400) had both ancestors on the Arc.

Q: What about dinosaurs?

A. They walked the earth at the same time as man, but were wiped out by the Flood, whose turbulence buried their bones in non-sequential sediments.

Q. What did the creatures on the Ark eat?

A. Food on board, fish, and possibly trapped sea birds.

Q. How long did the Great Flood last?

A. We know that Noah was 600 years, two months and 17 days old when he sailed. Using that as a starting point and counting forward, Genesis tells us it lasted for 40, 150, 253, 314 or 370 days.

Q. Since the earth was completely covered, even to the highest mountains, where did the waters go?

A. This is explained in Psalm 104, verses 6 and 7: “Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains. At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.”

Q. What about such cosmic phenomena as the rings of Saturn?

A. Evidence of a catastrophic collision between Saturn and another object within the same 10,000-year span.

Q. Why would God create such an absurd creature as a moose?

A. In charity, we must observe that the moose probably does not seem absurd to itself.

So, you be the judge.

Comments

  1. #1 Andrew Campbell
    September 22, 2008

    Hrmm… I thought I read somewhere that Ebert was an atheist

  2. #2 Hedgefundguy
    September 22, 2008

    Ebert was quite an entertaining reviewer, his terminal illness must be getting worse. No other way to justify this wackiness, especially “..Some individuals died an instant later, others within seconds, minutes or hours.”

  3. #3 Glen Davidson
    September 22, 2008

    So the topic of the panel Roger Ebert was on today was, “Creationism Versus Evolution” held in the big Macky Auditorium on the CU campus. Can you imagine? The other three on the panel were unknowns and rookies at CWA. I did know the moderator, a wonderful anthropology professor at CU, Paul Shankman. But Roger Ebert on evolution? Would he be the creationist on the panel?

    Turns out there wasn’t one although two of the panelists were warmed over pop psych and new age types trying to find something non-evolutionary that wasn’t creationism (creationism is religious dogma trying to hide under the guise of scientific theory — the latest version is called “intelligent design”). Ebert led off and just blew me away. I felt like I could leave. There was nothing more to say.

    Turns out he knows evolutionary science inside and out and could not only quote it but could explain it in an organized fashion that was as if Carl Sagan or Stephen Jay Gould had come back to life. He would have none of the other panelist’s namby-pamby fuzziness or non-scientific terminology and definitions. He followed the trail up to what creationism really is and identified the problem as religious belief that is actually insulting to a god even if there is one behind the universe. He even told the story of Stephen Hawking’s reply to a questioner who was certain the universe is on the back of a cosmic turtle.

    homepage.mac.com/drreptile/blogwavestudio/LH20050110165055/LHA20050404220512/index.html

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  4. #4 bootsy
    September 22, 2008

    Yep. That’s weird. Can’t but imagine it’s some weird hack, from what I remember of Ebert. (He didn’t even bother to review Expelled.) Who woulda’ thunk creationists could use computers, with their monkey hands and all.

  5. #5 tristero
    September 22, 2008

    It truly is hard to believe these are Ebert’s views. I’ve read some of his books. This doesn’t sound like him at all.

  6. #6 Geral
    September 22, 2008

    I really want to say, for his sake, it was hacked on there. There is no reason whatsoever for Ebert to put his personal opinions up there and it seems to be just randomly up on his page.

    However, the very fact it hasn’t been removed yet AND I did a Google search for his answers and no exact results came up.

    Therefore,I think he can judge movies fine but he can’t judge science with a damn.

  7. #7 Greg Esres
    September 22, 2008

    I read Ebert’s reviews all the time and I would be very surprised to find he was a creationist. He’s very liberal otherwise, and his wife is black, something you wouldn’t expect from a right wing religious nut.

  8. #8 pharma girl
    September 22, 2008

    He considers himself an agnostic, I believe.

  9. #9 Randy
    September 22, 2008

    For what this is worth, my knee-jerk opinion, (which, of course, is all we liberal atheists have – am I right fellas?), is “I call bullshit.”
    It’s so wacky it can’t be real.

    Of course, when I’m proved wrong I’ll swear I never said this.

  10. #10 Martin
    September 22, 2008

    Folks, this is definitely a hack. And I bet it’s by a creationist pissed off at the fact that in the website’s letter column, Ebert responded to a reader who asked if he was “too politically correct” to review Expelled by saying, “Last I heard, it wasn’t politically correct to agree with Darwin. It’s more like, oh, intelligent.” Ebert, while Catholic, accepts evolution, fear not.

  11. #11 Robert
    September 22, 2008

    Ebert’s three-year old post http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050328/COMMENTARY/503280301
    clearly shows Ebert is not a creationist.

  12. #12 marty
    September 22, 2008

    It has to be a hack. This is a real quote from Roger Ebert:

    “An industry has grown up around the “science” supporting the “argument for intelligent design.” It refuses the possibility that evolution itself is the most elegant and plausible argument for those who wish to believe in intelligent design. If you are interested, you might want to go to http://www.talkorigins.org, where the errors of creationist science are patiently explained.”

    That was taken from a movie review for “Job vs. the Volcano” he did in 2005. Read the entire review here:

    http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050328/COMMENTARY/503280301

  13. #13 marty
    September 22, 2008

    Great minds, Robert. Great minds.

  14. #14 bootsy
    September 22, 2008

    Has anyone sent the site administrator an email about their site being hacked? They might not check every entry…

  15. #15 Danio
    September 22, 2008

    This is so inconsistent with Ebert’s writing style, not to mention what I know of his views on religion/politics, etc. His review of ‘March of the Penguins’, e.g. makes a number of overt references to natural selection, Darwin, etc.

    It seems highly unlikely that these creationist Q&As are really his words.

  16. #16 Jason S
    September 22, 2008

    According to Wikipedia he’s an agnostic – “However, Ebert identifies himself as an agnostic.” – a claim sourced to http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/December-2005/A-Life-in-the-Movies/index.php?cp=2&si=1#artanc

  17. #17 patrickhenry
    September 22, 2008

    Darn! His brilliant arguments had me convinced!

  18. #18 JoshL
    September 22, 2008

    Hacked, no satire.

  19. #19 Matt7895
    September 22, 2008

    Roger Ebert is most definitely NOT a creationist.

    In a Q&A on his official website, he was asked why he did not bother to review ‘Expelled’.

    http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbc … 80311/1023

    “Movie Answer Man

    BY ROGER EBERT FILM CRITIC / May 8, 2008

    Q. Readers want to know if the Movie Answer Man is too PC to review “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”?
    Ruddy Spencer, Tucson, Ariz.

    A. The last I heard, it is not considered Politically Correct to agree with Darwin. I think it is more like, oh, intelligent.”

    Incidentally, Ebert is not an atheist either, he’s Catholic. But I think he is more of a Catholic agnostic. He follows Catholic morality and traditions, but I don’t think he actually believes in god.

  20. #20 BlueIndependent
    September 22, 2008

    Yeah, I don’t think this is real at all. I can swear I heard somewhere he ripped Expelled a new one. The links posted above also provide some proof.

  21. #21 Andrés Diplotti
    September 22, 2008

    I think it has to be either a hack, or a soon to be fired webmaster.

  22. #22 DamianPL
    September 22, 2008

    It must be hacked or something. I believe these are his views:

    http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050328/COMMENTARY/503280301

  23. #23 tsg
    September 22, 2008

    It looks as though the “By Roger Ebert” byline is a default unless something else is there. From the page source:

    <!–if category is glossary or critical debate, don’t print byline or pubdate, otherwise, print the byline that’s there (or BY ROGER EBERT if it’s not.)–>

    Perhaps someone with better html skills can confirm.

  24. #24 ThirdMonkey
    September 22, 2008

    It is most certainly a hack.
    A quick look at his other commentary articles makes it clear that this one does not follow his normal format nor does it match his normal writing styles.
    For one, Ebert would have been thorough enough to describe the situation of the Q&A, who the interviewer was, etc.

    By the way, if you look at some of his recent commentaries you’ll see that a complete copy of Metropolis has been found!!! OMG!!!

  25. #25 B8ovin
    September 22, 2008

    This is definitely Poe. By answering these questions precisely like Creationists he is showing his disdain for them. If he had posted the questions and given intelligent answers he would be preaching to the choir. By doing it this way he communicates to the undecideds exactly how ridiculous teaching ID or creationism is. In fact, precisely because he frames the exercise as “Questions and answers on Creationism, which should be discussed in schools as an alternative to the theory of evolution:” he is mocking the whole idea by showing the silliness.

  26. #26 Metro
    September 22, 2008

    Well we loved the creative story, and the willingness to suspend disbelief. But overall we had to give this one two thumbs down.

  27. #27 Holbach
    September 22, 2008

    I have been reading Ebert for years and he has given me no indication of a opinion or mind gone wrong with religious overtones. It appears to be a put up job by the religious scum to discredit his character. Good old religion, always ready and willing to crap on anything opposed to their mental quackery.

  28. #28 andyo
    September 22, 2008

    At least it’s good to know Man wore Timberlands when walking with the dinosaurs.

  29. #29 bootsy
    September 22, 2008

    Sent a message to the webmaster, citing Roger’s views on “Expelled” as reason to be suspicous of hacking.

    (Still think the physics of using computers and the physics of teh Bible do not match up, meaning that whatever creationist who hacked this page has just consigned themselves to eternal torment.)

  30. #30 SidBB
    September 22, 2008

    It’s definitely a bit of satire. I’ve seen Ebert write sly little things like this in the past with no commentary or explanation. Check out this article, seemingly a transcript of an MSNBC interview with “Ann Coultist”. The creationism article immediately reminded me of this. Relax, it’s just a joke.

    http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070703/COMMENTARY/70703001

  31. #31 tsg
    September 22, 2008

    The image of the fossil also appears to be the only image on the page not hosted on rogerebert.suntimes.com.

  32. #32 abeja
    September 22, 2008

    Maybe he’s being held hostage by one of those oh-so-peaceful creationists and was forced to write that crap.

    Probably not, but I agree with the other comments here that it certainly doesn’t sound like him at all.

  33. #33 Qwerty
    September 22, 2008

    I agree with the thought that Ebert was hacked, but I like the below Q and A. If you consider that YECers’ think the earth is 6,000 and Noah lived to the ripe age of 600; then, it’s amazing to think one person lived for 10% of the earth’s existence if you buy into a young earth! No wonder PZ thinks these people are Wackaloons!

    Q. How long did the Great Flood last?

    A. We know that Noah was 600 years, two months and 17 days old when he sailed. Using that as a starting point and counting forward, Genesis tells us it lasted for 40, 150, 253, 314 or 370 days.

  34. #34 Moses
    September 22, 2008

    Posted by: pharma girl | September 22, 2008 4:54 PM

    He considers himself an agnostic, I believe.

    He’s a Catholic. He’s even criticized films for not treating his faith the way he thinks it should be treated.

  35. #35 noncarborundum
    September 22, 2008

    Satire.

    I don’t think there’s any other way to explain this:

    Q. How long did the Great Flood last?

    A. We know that Noah was 600 years, two months and 17 days old when he sailed. Using that as a starting point and counting forward, Genesis tells us it lasted for 40, 150, 253, 314 or 370 days.

  36. #36 Travis McDermott
    September 22, 2008

    Perhaps it has something to do with the title of his latest “Great Movie” entry:

    Adaptation (R) (2002)
    Evolution is God’s intelligent design

  37. #37 lylebot
    September 22, 2008

    I agree with B8ovin; this is intentional and an example of Poe’s Law. He’s reciting all the creationist claims in the most direct possible way. The overall effect is to show just how ridiculous their answers to these questions are. To me the disdain for creationism is palpable.

  38. #38 bootsy
    September 22, 2008

    All right, I will feel dumb if it’s a joke, but I still think he would’ve provided a few more clues, besides just the closing bit about the moose. You’ll notice in that Ann Coultist and Chris Curveball joke he had a lot of jokey details.

    (I’m not saying creationism isn’t hilariously stupid even without elaboration, btw.)

  39. #39 HidariMak
    September 22, 2008

    For those who skipped the earlier posts for brevity sake, check out Glen Davidson’s excellent post (#3). It shows clearly that his page was simply hacked, and why Ebert was targeted.

    I saw Ebert’s earlier slamming of 9/11 conspiracy nuts in his letters section, which showed him to be too rational to be a creationalist. The latest “commentary by Ebert” is nothing other than creationalists showing how dishonest and desperate they can be. And I doubt that any of them will even mention the hack, outside of the “we’re right because Ebert agrees with us” approach.

  40. #40 Hael
    September 22, 2008

    Are you all serious? That is so blatantly satire. You people need to take a break from the internet. You’ve been talking to too many creationists.

  41. #41 Cody
    September 22, 2008

    “There are many unverified reports of a massive wooden vessel on Mount Ararat.”
    Read it again. That line alone makes me believe it’s a poe, by slipping in the un-.

  42. #42 Moses
    September 22, 2008

    It’s got to be satire:

    Q. What about bones representing such species as Cro-Magnon Man and Neanderthal Man?

    A. Created at the same time as man. They did not survive. In fact, all surviving species and many others were created fully formed at the same time. At that moment they were of various ages and in varying degrees of health. Some individuals died an instant later, others within seconds, minutes or hours.

  43. #43 Reginald Selkirk
    September 22, 2008

    OT: ‘Luther Decade’ kicks off in Wittenberg, Germany
    Apparently they’re celebrating the arrival at Wittenberg of the man who said, “But since the devil’s bride, Reason, that pretty whore, comes in and thinks she’s wise, and what she says, what she thinks, is from the Holy Spirit, who can help us, then? Not judges, not doctors, no king or emperor, because [reason] is the Devil’s greatest whore..”

  44. #44 ThirdMonkey
    September 22, 2008

    I’ve looked over the HTML. The image is hosted from the same location as the images in the other commentaries and the HTML of the content is consistant with the others as well. If this was a hack it was by someone who gained access to the Sun Times content management system.
    If this wasn’t a hack, then someone needs to explain Poe to Ebert so that he will know to include a ‘;)’ next time…

  45. #45 Brian D
    September 22, 2008

    I love the answer where this hacker quotes Psalm 104. It reminds me very much of a Penny Arcade Twisp & Catsby story.

    “Where did the waters go, Twisp?”
    Away.

    I honestly don’t know which is more surreal.

  46. #46 Rob Johnson
    September 22, 2008

    i think the moose comment is probably the giveaway. it’s almost douglas adamsian. ;)

  47. #47 PeteK
    September 22, 2008

    Sounds like the “Hovind theory” to me..

  48. #48 Travis McDermott
    September 22, 2008

    Also found this:

    http://tinyurl.com/3lrsyy

    Do a search for “creationism.”

    Seems to be an unfortunate bad joke.

  49. #49 noncarborundum
    September 22, 2008

    … a few more clues, besides just the closing bit about the moose …

    I do think that the answer about the length of the flood is a fairly obvious clue. He’s constrasting the extreme precision of Noah’s age (within 5/10,000 of a percent) with the extreme imprecision of the flood chronology itself.

    I don’t think a serious creationist would do such a thing, even out of stupidity.

  50. #50 Greg Peterson
    September 22, 2008

    Ebert has been a consistent and vibrant voice for science and reason and for humanistic values. I consider him a very trustworthy voice and if this is something he had actually posted, I would assume that his illness had gotten the better of him. That junk does not reflect what I’ve seem him write over the past 20 years in the least.

  51. #51 Brain Hertz
    September 22, 2008

    You know, I’m sure I’ve seen this particular list before; it’s circulating as a chain email IIRC…

    So I’m going for “hacked” (or, I should say, “cracked”). Somebody managed to put this up on the site after copy&pasting it from somewhere.

  52. #52 Jared
    September 22, 2008

    I vote this one is Poe’s Law in action…

  53. #53 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 22, 2008

    Were there ice ages lasting millions of years?

    Erm, no… no. Each ice age lasts a couple of tens of thousands of years.

    Genesis tells us it lasted for 40, 150, 253, 314 or 370 days.

    Obvious Poe.

    Q. Why would God create such an absurd creature as a moose?

    A. In charity, we must observe that the moose probably does not seem absurd to itself.

    As I just said.

    He even told the story of Stephen Hawking’s reply to a questioner who was certain the universe is on the back of a cosmic turtle.

    And what is that reply?

  54. #54 scooter
    September 22, 2008

    I perceived a satirical subtext on my reading.

    wiped out by the Flood, whose turbulence buried their bones in non-sequential sediments.

    and

    Genesis tells us it lasted for 40, 150, 253, 314 or 370 days.

    I think Roger is having a little fun

  55. #55 Pat McComb
    September 22, 2008

    This looks like Ebert’s pulling a prank. The final line about the moose sounds like him.

    Maybe he’s preparing us for his upcoming review of “Religulous.”

  56. #56 Chris Schoen
    September 22, 2008

    Take a breath, guys. This is obvious satire, and it’s not all that subtle.

  57. #57 zer0
    September 22, 2008

    Satire. Actually, by just laying out all the creationist answers like that, he succeeds in showing how inane they are. That’s pure win Roger!

  58. #58 Doo Shabag
    September 22, 2008

    As someone pointed out, the answer to the question about the length of the flood is:

    “Genesis tells us it lasted for 40, 150, 253, 314 or 370 days.”

    He is obviously pointing out that the Bible is self-contradictory.

  59. #59 Kerry Maxwell
    September 22, 2008

    A Siskel & Ebert bitch fight devolves into hilarious riffing on WASPs:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmnYCSwt2Js

  60. #60 Zombie
    September 22, 2008

    I kinda like the Moose answer…

  61. #61 Seb
    September 22, 2008

    Sounds like no one bothered to read the article Glen D quoted & linked to in comment #3 — If that’s the case, you should go and read it now, it pretty much answers the question.

  62. #62 Cujo359
    September 22, 2008

    Looks like it was hacked to me. Many of those sentences are just too clumsy to have been written by Ebert. Read his review of Ghost Town by way of comparison.

    There’s an entry for Ebert on the Celebrity Atheists site. They put him in the Ambiguous category.

  63. #63 The Chemist
    September 22, 2008

    There is no reason whatsoever for Ebert to put his personal opinions up there

    Are you not familiar with what he does for a living?[/facetious]

    That said, I REALLY doubt it’s him. Like others have noted, if you read his articles, books, or even just watch him on TV, it doesn’t sound like him. It’s not his style. He’s dynamic and direct, not encyclopedic and monotonous.

    The reason it’s probably still up is that he may not be much for computers. He’s, well- old. I think he’s used to fire-and-forget, and probably rarely checks his own website. Remember that it’s not a blog, there is no comments section (that I can see).

    I throw my hat in for the “massive hack” idea.

  64. #64 Arnosium Upinarum
    September 22, 2008

    Pat McComb #55:

    “Maybe he’s preparing us for his upcoming review of “Religulous.”

    It might BE the review for “Religulous.”

  65. #65 Aphrodine
    September 22, 2008

    While I think that this particular article is completely fabricated, the following is actually believed by creationists:

    ———-
    Q. Did the Colorado River carve out the mile-deep Grand Canyon over eons?

    A. It was the result of Ice Epochs, the Great Flood and other catastrophes within the last 64 to 100 centuries.
    ———-

    “The Grand Canyon could have been formed in FIVE MINUTES!” — VenomFangX

    You can hear it for yourself here: http://www.youtube.com/user/venomfangx?ob=4

    If watching a creationist videoblog makes you want to claw your own brain out, then you can hear it second hand here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BS5vid4GkEY

  66. #66 Cujo359
    September 22, 2008

    Read Eberts’ review of Star Trek: Nemesis for an idea of how he writes when he wants to make a satirical point.

  67. #67 Larry Ayers
    September 22, 2008

    “So what’s the turtle standing on?”

    “It’s turtles all the way down!”

    This is an apocryphal story originally attributed to a conversation between Thomas Huxley and an unidentified old woman, as I remember.

  68. #68 bRODIE
    September 22, 2008

    At least this part seems true:

    “we must observe that the moose probably does not seem absurd to itself.”

  69. #69 Pat McComb
    September 22, 2008

    Cujo359 #66

    Thanks for the link. That was a hoot!

  70. #70 rhr
    September 22, 2008

    Ebert obviously wrote this as anit-creationist satire, but he kind of failed to make it outlandish enough. Everything he says is completely ridiculous, but real creationists say such ridiculous things every day. You really can’t out-crazy them. It’s kind of sad.

  71. #71 spyderkl
    September 22, 2008

    It kind of raised my eyebrows, I’ll admit, until I read it the second time. The question about the moose clinched it – definitely satire.

    #70: I agree – he should have (could have) made it weirder.

  72. #72 Jason
    September 22, 2008

    #70: Hence, Poe’s Law.

  73. #73 Steve Ulven
    September 22, 2008

    I don’t know what’s going on here. As far as I know, Roger Ebert is agnostic.

  74. #74 Charlie Foxtrot
    September 22, 2008

    OT: PollCrash!

    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia:
    Should Catholic hospitals be forced to comply with the new abortion laws?
    (Victorian state government is close to passing a law to make abortions legal)
    Archbishop Hart : “Catholic hospitals cannot be part of any abortion. That has to be respected in the community…”
    Link

    (Reason seems to be prevailing at 66% Yes at the moment, but a few extra votes wouldn’t hurt, surely?)

  75. #75 ryanm
    September 22, 2008

    Satire. The ambiguity of the number of days the flood was on the earth gives it away. Creationists/literalists would never accept such wishy-washiness.

  76. #76 SEF
    September 22, 2008

    I don’t know the Roger Ebert person but the Q&A stuff reads like satire, not genuine creationist answers, by deliberately drawing attention to the flaws in such answers within the answers themselves. It was perhaps misguided satire but definitely satire. Actual creationist scholarship simply isn’t that good (ie they are generally incapable even of noticing the conflicting data when attempting to glean answers from their holy books, let alone given to waving it around).

  77. #77 BobC
    September 22, 2008

    Of course Ebert is not a brain-dead creationist.

    The link provided in #11 & #12 was interesting:

    IMAX theaters in several Southern cities have decided not to show a film on volcanoes out of concern that its references to evolution might offend those with fundamental religious beliefs. — Associated Press

    Ebert wrote “Not even a single protester needed to appear before the chilling effect of faith-based intolerance was felt.

    Notice this was only a problem in the Bible belt. This is more evidence for the idea that Christians are scum and are good for nothing but slowing down human progress.

    The fundamentalist assholes need the moderate Christians, so it’s fair to say the worthless Christian death cult has to go. Some way must be found to eradicate all Christian stupidity.

  78. #78 BobC
    September 22, 2008

    Roger Ebert also wrote: There is no conflict between a belief in Darwinism and a belief in God as the creator of the universe. Many scientists have no trouble with the idea that God was the creator of all that is. In evolution, they think they see the elegant way by which he caused suns and planets to form, matter to interact, and life to come into being; that over some 4 billion years, the Earth and the creatures on it gradually evolved into the world we occupy today.

    I don’t know if Ebert really believes this or if he is just sucking up to religious idiots. Ebert is imagining a sky fairy who lets nature do all the creating. That’s nice, but then what the heck is Mr. God needed for? Why bother believing in a worthless supernatural creature? I’m glad Ebert supports modern science, but why stick God in there? That’s just plain childish.

  79. #79 scooter
    September 22, 2008

    Thanks Kerry @ 59

    great clip

  80. #80 Spinoza
    September 22, 2008

    I didn’t read the preceding comments thoroughly enough to see whether anyone had said this already but this is interesting:

    Q. What about bones representing such species as Cro-Magnon Man and Neanderthal Man?

    A. Created at the same time as man. They did not survive. In fact, all surviving species and many others were created fully formed at the same time. At that moment they were of various ages and in varying degrees of health. Some individuals died an instant later, others within seconds, minutes or hours.

    I seem to recall reading somewhere that because there is only so much oxygen to go around, there can only be so many oxygen utilizing organisms on the planet at any given time… and this restricts the size and oxygen consumption and numbers of all extant species necessarily… the idea that EVERY species that has ever existed was around at the same time seems to contradict this directly, unless someone wants to calculate out how many of each species it would be possible to have exist on the earth in 4004 BC with the relevant amount of atmospheric and ocean oxygen levels… and then argue that that’s how many we started with, or something.

    Just way too ridiculous to even begin to consider seriously, for me anyway.

  81. #81 Hank Roberts
    September 22, 2008

    “Arc” and “Ark” in the same piece?

    I’m sure I’ve read that comment about the moose somewhere, probably way back when computers had doors, internal hallways, and blinkenlights.

  82. #82 Bryman
    September 22, 2008

    Could this be a clever way of giving a big “thumbs up” to Bill Mahers new movie Religulous?

  83. #83 Steven Dunlap
    September 22, 2008

    To the best of my knowledge Ebert has repeatedly lamented the demise of irony. Just an educated guess but I would vote satire rather than hack.

    This is also likely a sly put down to the Palin lunatic. She has mentioned a “human footprint within a dinosaur footprint” as proof of coexistence to a named source in an article about her in salon.com. Leading with a big picture of the hoax in question looks like a big neon sign flashing “satire” to me. I think Ebert has outdone himself this time.

  84. #84 bunnycatch3r
    September 22, 2008

    @65 I’m a Thunderf00t fan myself.
    His “Why do people laugh at Creationsist” series is as informative as it is entertaining.

  85. #85 tim
    September 22, 2008

    @3 nails it. As one of the volunteers for that particular conference, I can say without a doubt that Roger’s is a voice that comes out loud and clear against creationism and ID in all forms.

    One of my favorite Roger Ebert comments about ID can be summed up as (and I’m broadly paraphrasing) “just because you don’t understand how one creature evolves into another doesn’t mean that God had to do it. It just means that you’re stupid.”

  86. #86 bk
    September 22, 2008

    Roger has spent more time writing about things other than moview since he retired.

    He should stick to movies.

  87. #87 daveb
    September 22, 2008

    “Questions and answers on Creationism, which should be discussed in schools as an alternative to the theory of evolution:”

    I think the “which should be discussed in schools” bit is a giveaway. Like someone already said, he’s answering the questions exactly like a creationist to expose the stupidity of their views.

  88. #88 jeremy
    September 22, 2008

    It’s foolish to think that the hacker in question was a creationist. It’s no doubt, just some kid who thought it would be hilarious. Hackers are rarely motivated by political or ideological reasons.

  89. #89 JicamaEater
    September 22, 2008

    For quite a while I’ve considered Ebert one of the smarter people on the planet, having seen him speak several time and read a lot of what he’s written. Regardless of what the story here is (and he can’t be earnestly pushing these views), the Psalms quote is pretty funny.

  90. #90 Stwriley
    September 22, 2008

    Ebert has been very critical of Palin in several articles. It’s my guess that this is another piece in that line, but using a satirical take on her creationism as the hook for a follow-up on her religious nuttery.

    It’s the moose line that gives the whole thing away. That’s the ;) for his Poe.

  91. #91 Gregory Kusnick
    September 22, 2008

    Isn’t “obvious Poe” an oxymoron?

  92. #92 Chris A.
    September 22, 2008

    It’s Mr. Ebert’s satire

    Someone should tell him about Poe’s law

  93. #93 Michael Kremer
    September 22, 2008

    Seems to me the shoe is a dead give-away that this is satire.

  94. #94 Kel
    September 22, 2008

    Q. What about bones representing such species as Cro-Magnon Man and Neanderthal Man?

    A. Created at the same time as man. They did not survive. In fact, all surviving species and many others were created fully formed at the same time. At that moment they were of various ages and in varying degrees of health. Some individuals died an instant later, others within seconds, minutes or hours.

    The text in italics was a dead giveaway this was a joke.

  95. #95 Christopher Petroni
    September 22, 2008

    There is no way this is conscious satire. It doesn’t have any of the jokey touches that Ebert’s satire traditionally has, and none of the claims are any more ridiculous than anything I’ve heard real creationists espouse seriously.

    It seems to me that people who think this is satire have never met a real creationist, but then, I’ve fallen victim to Poes before…

  96. #96 Christopher Petroni
    September 22, 2008

    There is no way this is conscious satire.

    Never mind. After reading it again (especially the moose bit) I’m not too sure. It certainly makes good satire, but then, so does all creationist wingnuttery, so who can say?

  97. #97 Escuerd
    September 22, 2008

    Whether Ebert wrote it or not, I do not believe that the author intended that as an earnest defense of creationism.

    The Poe’s Law call seems right to me.

  98. #98 Jason
    September 22, 2008

    Yeah, I figured Ebert to be too smart to be a creationist.

  99. #99 Michael Kremer
    September 22, 2008

    the comments here: http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2008/09/critic_is_a_fourletter_word.html
    together with Ebert’s replies, are interesting reading. It is clearly satire.

    Here are the key moments:

    Dear Mr. Ebert,

    I’m just wondering why you posted an article pertaining to creationism on your website. Do you feel that it could interfere with your regular line of work?

    Ebert: Thought it might be interesting.It is all accurate

    One more question – what are the sources of your information?

    Ebert: Creationist web sites. Do I have anything wrong?

    …..

    May I ask why you have decided to believe in creationism and why you have decided to post it on your website today of all days (as opposed to yesterday, a year ago, or a year from tomorrow)?

    Ebert: What in the article leads you to think I believe in Creationism?

    …….

    It is not possible that you posted the absurd article defending equally absurd creationist claims, as you have made your agreement with evolutionary theory plain in past articles and reviews. Clearly your site has been hacked, quite possibly by someone dismayed by your dismissive response to a request to review the creationist propaganda film, “Expelled.”

    Ebert: My site was not hacked.
    …..

    Satire. That’s all.

  100. #100 Sleeping at the Console
    September 23, 2008

    Yeah that’s what I thought, some sort of deadpan satire.

  101. #101 Doo Shabag
    September 23, 2008

    By boiling the answers down to their essence it illustrates the absurdity of the creationist position. It’s not the funniest creation bashing I’ve ever read, but it might reach more people by not being blatantly anti-creation.

    I think he’s right, those answers SHOULD be taught in schools. We’d end up with a smarter population if everyone knew these justifications for creationism. They’d be a great lesson in a class on critical thinking.

  102. #102 Ron Sullivan
    September 23, 2008

    The deal is: Some things just autosatirize.

    And yeah, it gets hard to hear the nuances over the general din of stupidity on this sort of thing. But really, it’s just the principle that gets restated here every so often by people who came by their atheism by actually reading the Bible.

    I’m not implying there are limits to stupidity or any such thing. I just don’t think everyone in the world has an equal amount of it.

    Butbut, there have been some rude surprises about that over the past few years, haven’t there? Butbutbut I don’t think this is one of them.

    All right, I’ll stop doing this motorboat impression now.

  103. #103 Nick Gotts
    September 23, 2008

    OT: ‘Luther Decade’ kicks off in Wittenberg, Germany – Reginald Selkirk

    No doubt they will be republishing On the Jews and their Lies and Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants. Even the Catholic Church has few luminaries as loathsome as Luther.

  104. #104 Martin.au
    September 23, 2008

    Just a thought.

    Q. Why would God create such an absurd creature as a moose?

    A. In charity, we must observe that the moose probably does not seem absurd to itself.

    Ebert is a film critic and presumably knows the Python films well.
    A Møøse once bit my sister …

    I wonder if he’s calling the YEC’s the equivalent of the People’s Front of Judea.

  105. #105 Sigmund
    September 23, 2008

    Everytime I do a Poe I try to make it obvious enough so it won’t get passed on as real. I’m a molecular geneticist. I could easily write a few genetics arguments that would superficially seem to support creationism (although they don’t in reality) but I’d rather not give them any ammunition. If you leave things in any way ambiguous creationists will completely assume its real (or at least useful for their purposes) and proceed to incorporate it in their copy and paste arguments (and I really don’t want to be the source of something else that some poor high school biology teacher has to refute).
    Ebert might have good intentions for this post but he’s going to find himself listed as a creationist in future (by them).

  106. #106 Wowbagger
    September 23, 2008

    Just on the Ark thing; I’ve always felt that was dead giveaway for the non-omnipotence (is that then just ‘potence’?) of god at the point in the bible (’cause it does kind of fluctuate, what with the ‘being defeated by iron chariots’ thing) – since a truly all-powerful god could have just poofed all-new animals into existence after Noah & co. had had their boat ride.

    This, of course, begs the question of why any of it had to happen at all, and kind of leads anyone with a modicum of intelligence to realise that, what most likely happened was that there was huge flood in the middle east and people decided it’d make a nice story to scare the children into being good – but that’s not quite the same thing, is it?

    And Ebert’s cherry-picking obviously comes via a Genesis 2 supporter rather than a Genesis 7, since the latter has him take 7 pairs rather than one – according to the SAB page, anyway. Love that biblical infallibility!

  107. #107 Rob the Lurker FCD BMWCCA
    September 23, 2008

    As a long time reader of everything Ebert, I have agree with others here who have made the same point and say that this can only be the most subtle form of satire. I believe his intent is to point out the absurdity of creationist claims by merely shining a light on their beliefs.

    I, for one, applaud his unwillingness to use straw-man arguments to get across his point.

  108. #108 The Petey
    September 23, 2008

    @106

    Why didn’t God just poof out all the bad people? Why did he also need to cruely drown all the animals that weren’t on the ark when he could have killed the people as easily as created new animals? Having the rest of the population painfully turn to dust wouldn’t have been a good enough lesson, he had to flood the world? Why is God such a damned drama queen?

  109. #109 rob
    September 23, 2008

    > A. We know that Noah was 600 years, two months and 17 days old when he sailed. Using that as a starting point and counting forward, Genesis tells us it lasted for 40, 150, 253, 314 or 370 days.

    So that means the Flood lasted either 370 days or approx 112,781,610 years? (40,150,253,314 / 356)

    Someone has their math wrong…..
    or whitespace doesn’t count

  110. #110 Axe Diesel Palin
    September 23, 2008

    There is also a weird post on the ebert home page. Under “Great Movies” there is a picture and a descritpion of the movie “Adaptation” however the title says “Evolution is God’s Intelligent Design”. When you follow the link, there is a regular write up of “Adaptation”.

  111. #111 Claire
    September 23, 2008

    Q: What about dinosaurs?

    A. They walked the earth at the same time as man, but were wiped out by the Flood, whose turbulence buried their bones in non-sequential sediments.

    If there was turbulence, wouldn’t it have caused the bones of fossils to disarticulate and be in a complete in random mess. Oh wait, I’m sorry, that makes scientific sense. I sure hope this was a hack.

  112. #112 Jennifer Smith
    September 23, 2008

    I have no idea what he’s up to, but apparently it’s not a hack. From his blog:

    By Blake on September 21, 2008 9:13 PM

    Dear Mr. Ebert,

    I’m just wondering why you posted an article pertaining to creationism on your website. Do you feel that it could interfere with your regular line of work?

    Ebert: Thought it might be interesting.It is all accurate

    By Blake on September 21, 2008 11:17 PM

    One more question – what are the sources of your information?

    Ebert: Creationist web sites. Do I have anything wrong?

    By Blake on September 21, 2008 11:36 PM

    I wouldn’t know if you were right or wrong. I was taught evolution in school and I have taken no effort to understand creationism.

    May I ask why you have decided to believe in creationism and why you have decided to post it on your website today of all days (as opposed to yesterday, a year ago, or a year from tomorrow)?

    Ebert: What in the article leads you to think I believe in Creationism?

  113. #113 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 23, 2008

    Isn’t “obvious Poe” an oxymoron?

    Yes, I know. Emphasis on the oxy- part. =8-)

    So that means the Flood lasted either 370 days or approx 112,781,610 years? (40,150,253,314 / 356)
    Someone has their math wrong…..
    or whitespace doesn’t count

    What? When numbers are written with commas, whitespace must not be inserted. It would be wrong.

    There are rules in orthographies on where to put whitespace, you know!

  114. #114 eb
    September 23, 2008

    Oh, come on.

    That’s completely not Poe’s Law because (A) its hilarious and (B) there’s blatant humour and sarcasm right there.

    “Why would God create such an absurd creature as a moose?”

    Completely random non-sequitur in the form of a question? BLATANT HUMOUR.

    It was pretty close to Poe’s Law until the moose question. That said, this one was also stretching it a bit:

    Q. How long did the Great Flood last?

    A. We know that Noah was 600 years, two months and 17 days old when he sailed. Using that as a starting point and counting forward, Genesis tells us it lasted for 40, 150, 253, 314 or 370 days.

  115. #115 Rob the Lurker FCD BMWCCA
    September 23, 2008

    So that means the Flood lasted either 370 days or approx 112,781,610 years? (40,150,253,314 / 356)

    Someone has their math wrong…..

    rob,
    did they shorten the year by 9 days without telling me? To be more precise you should probably divide by 365.252198781 days. The correct answer would be a much shorter 109,927,750.539 years.

  116. #116 Don K.
    September 23, 2008

    I know we all now agree that he posted his ‘Creationist Q&A’ as satire, but I really liked this paragraph that he wrote in his blog enry about 3-D movies:

    “In common with most species, we have excellent perception of movement. The first rudimentary “eyes” evolved to sense the difference between light (the source of energy) and darkness (its absence). Very slowly those early cells developed an ability to sense motion. The notion that eyes had to be an example of “intelligent design” is flawed because it cannot imagine an eye evolving toward what it cannot conceive. But sight has evolved independently dozens of times on this planet, growing more complex not because it what it was evolving into, but because of what it was evolving away from: less perception of light and movement. Those few creatures who because of chance mutation gained an advantage were of course more likely to survive.”

  117. #117 Doo Shabag
    September 23, 2008

    > A. We know that Noah was 600 years, two months and 17 days old when he sailed. Using that as a starting point and counting forward, Genesis tells us it lasted for 40, 150, 253, 314 or 370 days.

    So that means the Flood lasted either 370 days or approx 112,781,610 years? (40,150,253,314 / 356)

    Someone has their math wrong…..
    or whitespace doesn’t count

    There are spaces after each of the commas, even in your copied/pasted version. Just not in your retyped version.

  118. #118 Andy Rush
    September 23, 2008

    Not hacked, and GREAT satire!

  119. #119 Doo Shabag
    September 23, 2008

    Sorry, messed up the HTML – should have looked like this:

    > A. We know that Noah was 600 years, two months and 17 days old when he sailed. Using that as a starting point and counting forward, Genesis tells us it lasted for 40, 150, 253, 314 or 370 days.

    So that means the Flood lasted either 370 days or approx 112,781,610 years? (40,150,253,314 / 356)

    Someone has their math wrong…..
    or whitespace doesn’t count

    There are spaces after each of the commas, even in your copied/pasted version. Just not in your retyped version.

  120. #120 Doo Shabag
    September 23, 2008

    Ugh, I give. Still bad HTML.

  121. #121 Martin
    September 23, 2008

    This entire thread is embarrassing – almost makes me want to say I am not an atheist. I think it is obvious that Roger took the route that the best way to debunk creationism was to simply describe it in its own terms. I cannot speculate why he did it at this time – maybe he just felt like it. The anguished posts that his site was surely hacked just made it clear that you did not read what Ebert had written. Disclosure: I know Mr. Ebert slightly – I took his film class 5 times. He is widely read on a range of subjects – not just film. He is a science and tech buff. His sense of humor is more sardonic than sarcastic. He does not suffer fools.

  122. #122 Ranson
    September 23, 2008

    I think this quote from his review of Life of Brian sums up his opinion quite nicely:

    If the film has a message, and it may, it’s that much of what passes in religion for truth is the result of centuries of opinion and speculation. Its version of the Brian legend is like a comic parallel to the theories of Christian history in The Da Vinci Code — itself a ripe target for Pythonizing. The difficulty with a literal interpretation of the Bible is that it is a translation of a translation of a translation of documents that were chosen by the early church from among a much larger cache of potential manuscripts. “You’ve all got to think for yourselves!” Brian exhorts his followers, who obediently repeat after him: “We’ve all got to think for ourselves!”

  123. #123 G Lloyd
    September 23, 2008

    The man’s not been doing well.

    Atheists… foxholes…

  124. #124 Vic
    September 23, 2008

    I’m sure this has been mentioned before (sorry I haven’t read the whole comment thread), but in reviews of real science movies like March of the Penguins and such he’s always shown a complete acceptance and admiration for evolution and the scientific method in general. This HAS to be a hack.

  125. #125 LightningRose
    September 23, 2008

    For what it’s worth, Athesistexperience is reporting it as a Poe, and I’m inclined to agree.

    http://atheistexperience.blogspot.com/2008/09/poed-by-roger-ebert.html

  126. #126 Ktesibios
    September 23, 2008

    Mynd you, mööse bites kan be pretty nästi…

  127. #127 Bookchronicle
    September 23, 2008

    No way that’s Ebert! As far as Ebert “finding god” since his illness, I’m sure it’s no more than similar claims (incorrectly) attributed to Pratchett after his alzheimer’s diagnosis.

  128. #128 Chris Swanson
    September 23, 2008

    Ebert commented on this briefly on his blog: http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2008/09/critic_is_a_fourletter_word.html

    From the Flood comment alone, I think it’s quite clear that this is rather dry satire, though I’ll admit I didn’t get that until I read carefully.

  129. #129 Tony Sidaway
    September 23, 2008

    The introduction reads: “Questions and answers on Creationism, which should be discussed in schools as an alternative to the theory of evolution.”

    From this I surmise that this is an attempt to present creationism in its full ludicrous form with intent to ridicule it. The attempt has apparently fallen victim to Poe’s Law.

  130. #130 tim
    September 23, 2008
  131. #131 Martin
    September 23, 2008

    It looks like Roger agreed with my sentiments (#121) -
    “The adventure with the Creationism article has been enlightening, and a little depressing. I expected better from evolutionists.”

    http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2008/09/this_is_the_dawning_of_the_age.html

  132. #132 Jason Marcel
    September 24, 2008

    Oh, man. Are people stupid or what? A Poe?! Are you people serious?!

    I know our culture is stricken with A.D.D., but didn’t any lightbulbs go off in anyone’s heads on the last question, where it was asked, “Why would God create such an absurd creature as a moose?”.

    I thought it was funny pretty much right off the top, and it also gives you an insight into a creationist’s viewpoint by using Poe’s law much of the way.

    It’s like we’re living in the age of mindless literalism or something. Must everything be explained?

    With “moose” being so much in the news recently too, I thought it also kind of read as a veiled attack on Gov.Palin as well. And in charity, we must observe that Gov.Palin probably does not seem absurd to herself.

  133. #133 Rob
    September 24, 2008

    Aren’t you people supposed to be highly intelligent beings? lol – Did you all just randomly miss post #3, explaining clearly that Ebert argues AGAINST creationism? The whole thing on his website is CLEARLY satire . . . Post #3 folks. Go back and read it – all together now . . .

  134. #134 Rod
    September 25, 2008

    ROFLOL. That is GREAT satire! I love the shoe print in the fossil line… and the deaths within seconds of creation….

  135. #135 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    September 25, 2008

    Rob, if you go back and read the two threads about this subject, you will find that no one accused Ebert of being a creationist. It was speculated the either it was a weak satire or that his site got hacked. The reason why it was a weak satire is because one cannot jokingly say something about creationism that some creationist already takes seriously. You are aware that there is a creationist museum that claims that the long teeth of a T Rex was to crack coconuts. How can a joke be more funny?

    We gave Ebert more credit for intelligence then you are giving us. Give your outrage a rest and save it for something more important

  136. #136 Mark
    September 26, 2008

    This is actually quite funny. His maintains an awkward faith based blasé attitude throughout..Hilarious satire.

  137. #137 Dawn
    September 26, 2008

    “Ebert might have good intentions for this post but he’s going to find himself listed as a creationist in future (by them).”

    Who will then Google him and his views and be exposed to his real views or start talking about Ebert the creationist to people like us and have to watch us crack up.

    Ebert delivered a stealth bullet. To creationists. To us. To all those in the middle who aren’t very informed on the matter. It’s just that most of us apparently aren’t as clever as we like to think and didn’t see it for what it was.