A Chimpanzee’s Grandson: Gene Cook on Evolution and Race
I’m beginning to wonder if the reason why so many people view Pastor Gene Cook as a self-righteous jerk is because his sense of humor is just so skewed from normality. It seems to be the same keen sense of comedy that produced his insulting “Real Men of Genius” parody of Reggie Finley that has spawned his new foray into creative apologetics.
This time around, the conceit is that Gene has called up a website (www.dinosaurdarwin.com- it doesn’t exist) that is selling bumper decals featuring a large outline of a Tyrannosaurus Rex eating a Christian “Truth fish” that itself is eating a “Darwin fish.” This decal does not, in fact, exist- the picture that Gene references is an obvious Photoshop job, although a similar decal is available, showing a Tyrannosaurus eating a generic Christian fish emblem, sold by Ring of Fire Enterprises. Although it’s impossible to tell whether Gene is in on the joke, the graphic he references was produced by The Holy Observer, a Christian satire website (run by Christians, interestingly).
At any rate, upon calling the proprietor of the website, Gene asks for an interview about the dinosaur-fish emblem, which is immediately amenable to the employee (surprise, surprise). It’s around this point that whatever comedy had been infused initially begins to fall flat. After explaining the rationale behind the dinosaur-eating-the jesus-fish imagery (no Christian response can trump it), the employee (hereafter referred to as DD) mentions that he hopes to be able to sell the decals on the Infidel Guy’s website. Gene tells the guy the he knows Reggie also, which is apparently enough information for DD to realize that Gene was the creative force behind the aforementioned parody. DD admits that it was funny (of course he does- he was the backup singer), but chides Gene about one of the insults.
DD: That was messed up when you said, “You think your grandfather was a gorilla.”Irony unbound. Only in self-parody can Gene accurately recognize the fact that he’s engaging a strawman of evolution, not the real thing. Certainly, as Gene says, “if you believe that you came from gorillas,” then the insult is well-placed. But evolution does not teach this- instead, we find from countless molecular evidences as well as fossil evidence that humans and gorillas (as well as all of the great apes) are related by common descent, not from direct lineage. There are no extant species of which humans are descended. But even if Gene could grasp this concept, he’s still way off the mark- the closest related species to humans are chimpanzees, not gorillas. But Gene isn’t content with this double-fault- he’s going for a bigger score.
Gene: Why is that messed up? He believes in evolution.
DD: Man, cause it’s a strawman. It’s a misrepresentation of-
Gene: How is it- how is it a misrepresentation? I mean, if you believe that you came from gorillas, then… it’s not a misrepresentation. That’s what evolution teaches.
Gene: I take it from your voice that you’re- you’re a black man.This is beyond the pale. At least creationists like Michael Behe and William Dembski know enough about evolutionary theory not to make this huge blunder- I mean, come on- even the Discovery Institute would shy away from this, right? Of course- most creationist organizations go out of their way to make the argument that Darwin himself was a racist, but to suggest that white people look more like chimpanzees while black people look more like gorillas? This is hard to take seriously, even as a joke. I wonder where Asians are supposed to fit in this supposed “chart” that Gene’s referencing?
DD: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.
Gene: And you don’t see evolution as being racist?
DD: How? How is it racist?
Gene: Well, I mean… most people understand that at it’s root evolution is racist because if you- forget about the gorilla for a second. If you think that you came from a chimp, or an ape- now, take me for example. I have white skin. I’m Caucasian.
DD: All right.
Gene: If you put up a chart over top of… if you just look at it from a scientific standpoint, of time and chance and all that, you know- all the elements that say- the scientists, the evolutionary scientists say that go into the process of evolution- I mean, what do you think is closer to a chimp? A white man or a black man?
What’s more, this statement belies Gene’s own racist ideas- as is typical when Christians engage in awkward comedy, we see Gene projecting his own psychology on others. According to Gene, white people and black people are so different that it makes more sense to him that they come from completely different species. And note that he immediately places white people in the “chimpanzee lineage,” while black people are supposed to be from the “gorilla lineage.” It’s more than a little odd that Gene identifies his own race with the primates best known for their relative intellectual sophistication, while he identifies black with the primates best known for their brutishness, violence, and intimidation.
But if you think this represents the limit of Gene’s racist humor, he’s not done, not by a long shot. Gene then asks DD about his ordering system, and DD responds by saying that it isn’t possible to order through the website, and that all orders have to be taken by fax (why they can’t simply take telephone orders is a mystery). This poses a problem, evidently, because their bank (not named) requires his customers to provide copies of their drivers’ licenses, and this proves to be another chance at racist mirth. As DD explains:
DD: We get in trouble for taking IDs from non-caucasians.Excuse me, I seem to have stumbled into a middle-school playground joke. And not even a good one, at that- whatever pretense of comedy has dried up long before this. Take this moment to remind yourself- these are Christians. You might also want to go get a glass of water to wash that sick feeling from your stomach- but keep it handy, because there’s one more gem coming up.
DD: Well, the bank said… well, we got a card from a black guy. Okay? And it looked like someone drew a circle with a sharpie. And the one from the Mexican guy looked like a blurred fingerprint.
Near the end of the “interview”, DD tells Gene again that he’d like to sell his decals on the Infidel Guy website, but Gene graciously points out a potential problem, given the restrictions of his ordering policy:
Gene: Don’t you think you’re gonna have trouble getting this on his website if you only sell to Caucasians? You know he’s a black man, right?That’s right- it’s not enough to misrepresent evolution, not enough to say that black people are like gorillas, not even enough to make fun of the color of black and Hispanic people’s faces- it’s just not racist enough for Gene & Co. if you’re not calling another black man an “Uncle Tom.”
DD: Well, I’m glad you brought that up. ‘Cause when it comes to atheists- when it comes to black atheists, he doesn’t fall… he doesn’t- let’s just say he doesn’t come in favor with too many of us atheist black brothers, you know what I’m saying? ‘Cause he seems a little too whitewashed, a little too Uncle Tom-ish, if you know what I’m saying. But he does have a lot of people going to his website, so…
I really don’t think I need to say anything more at this point- Gene’s words speak for themselves. I just want to point out that, yet again, we see a clear example of the Christian worldview, spread out in public for us all to enjoy.