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Bones

American culture is not friendly to Christianity, nor does it seek to make peace. Every Christmas season, somewhere we go through another round of “take down the manger scene.” Except for these cases, which are usually negative, we don’t see much in the news about the birth of Christ. Our media doesn’t limit its views to the news. TV shows also present an unfavorable image of Christianity almost every time. It continues to be the object of humor or character assassination.

This was the case in a recent episode of Bones, a show based on a series of fictitious novels about forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan.1 In Bones Brennan and her co-workers solve murders through analyzing bones from crime scenes, This episode revealed idealistic underpinnings. Although the show is steeped in Darwinian evolution, this episode took an unnecessary shot at the Bible and a would-be fundamentalist Christian. This particular episode attempted to show evidence that Neanderthals and Homo sapiens lived in the same family— something that has never been found in any archeological dig. The complicated plot involved a murdered archeologist/anthropologist who had been selling artifacts to the owner of a Christian creation museum. The plot insinuated the museum owner concealed these finds to protect his religious views of a literal six-day creation.

This part of the plot had nothing to do with solving the murder. Nor did it help the story in any way. It was “filler” used to take a shot at biblical Christianity by falsely representing it within a narrow view of the Creation. It presented a clear ‘straw man’ fallacy2 with pseudosophistication. By that, I mean it exalted the role of psychology in the form of an FBI psychologist named Dr. Sweets. who went on to misrepresent Christianity’s view of Creation and implied Christianity and science cannot coexist.

This scene opens with him sitting across from the Christian museum owner, who has a stereotyped Southern accent and all.
Dr. Sweets: “Mr. Wilson, how old is the earth?”
Mr. Wilson: “I believe you’re asking me if I believe in the book of Genesis.”

Dr. Sweets: “So, 6,000 years?”
Mr. Wilson [emphatically]: “According to the Bible.”
Dr. Sweet: “Scientists tell us the universe is 13 billion years old, and the earth 4.5 billion years old.” Mr. Wilson: “Well, who are you going to believe, God or a bunch of scientists?”
Dr. Sweets: “You own an oil company; does God tell you where to dig or do you count on a bunch of scientists?”

On the surface this looks as if it would play into the plot. But neither Mr. Wilson nor his museum is seen or heard from again. This was a back handed attack on Christianity by painting anyone who believes in a literal six-day creation as someone who doesn’t believe in science. Moreover, it paints all Christians with this stereotype.

1 The author of the novels, Kathy Reichs, is also a forensic anthropologist.
2 A “Straw-man” fallacy misrepresents the opponents argument and then attacks that misrepresentation.

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Young Earth Creationism (YEC) believes in a literal six-day creation and employs a rigorous scientific discipline to support those beliefs. The show presents a caricature of the Christian Mr. Wilson as a shallow, narrow-minded person who does not represent real-life people. There may be some odd ball Creationists out there who believe science is the enemy, but I don’t know any.

Neither does the show even hint that YEC is not the only Christian viewpoint. It makes no mention of the Intelligent Design Movement (IDM) or Old Earth Creationism. TV land enjoys painting Creationism as something they can easily prove wrong. However, no thinking Christian would refute scientific value, nor would one refute evolution without defining it. This episode of Bones reinforces this negative stereo type of Christianity.

The point of the show was to solve a 25,000-year-old crime involving artifacts from an archeological dig. The crime scene ultimately reveals this family were outcasts, because they were a blend of Neanderthal and human—the first of their kind. The show’s scientists believe they have discovered the link between Neanderthals and humans that proves common descent. So science wins the day, solves the crime, and refutes Christianity all with the help of a psychologist who shouldn’t be interrogating anyone in the first place. The show makes a clear statement: science and psychology are all we need. Christianity is hypocritical and impedes real knowledge.

One more interchange from Dr. Sweets, the psychologist, and Mr. Wilson:
Dr. Sweets: “Do you destroy the items that contradict your creationist views or just simply lock them away where they can’t do any harm?” [Sarcastically asked, I might add.]
Mr. Wilson: “We all do what we can do to make the world a better place.”

There it is: Christianity falsifies the record while science is the accurate arbiter of truth. Although science and psychology are different disciplines, here they are bedfellows enjoying the triumph over Christianity.

So, what we have here is a canvas on which to paint a fictitious portrait of Christianity and a more fictitious portrait of Darwinian evolution supported by evolutionary psychology. It’s easy to make your point when you don’t rely on evidence, but instead throw up a paper tiger and straw man to tear down.

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