During one lecture, a student asked a question I’ve heard many times: “If we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” My response was and is always the same: We didn’t evolve from monkeys. Humans and monkeys evolved from a common ancestor. One ancestral population evolved in one direction toward modern-day monkeys, while another evolved toward humans. The explanation clicked for most students, but not all, so I tried another. I asked the students to consider this: Catholics are the oldest Christian denomination, so if Protestants evolved from Catholics, why are there still Catholics?

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7 Responses to “Teaching Evolution at the University of Kentucky”

  1. dmf Says:

    oh wait I used to have a Baptist cartoon tract that explained that phenomena something about papists and an Antichrist as memory serves, ah via google this is close enuff:

  2. Crimson05er Says:

    Ahh, nice spot on the tract, dmf. One of the multitude produced by Jack Chick, purveyor of only the finest fundamentalist vitriol. His distinctively-styled, black-and-white (in the figurative and literal sense) cartoon tracts litter truck stop diner booths, gas station bathrooms, and free publication racks across the Bible Belt. He doesn’t much like Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Wicans, gays, Freemasons, atheists, liberals, abortion, Harry Potter, rock and roll, and versions of the Bible other than the King James.

    Like a character out of fiction, he’s been doing this since 1960 and has only given one public interview. The artwork is this amazingly kitschy ’70s aesthetic, and the lack of compassion for his fellow man is palpable. There are variations on each basic narrative aimed at different ethnic and generational demographics. It’s hard to wonder if the entire thing is a decades-long performance art piece when his best sellers include the anti-Vatican “The Death Cookie” and the anti-evolution “Movin’ on Up.”

    His tracts are often mocked by hipsters and young progressives for their remarkable cheesiness, perhaps the finest example being his anti-roleplaying screed, “Dark Dungeons,” (http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0046/0046_01.asp), which was made into a low-budget film last year.

    Wired Magazine, “A Fearmongering Anti-RPG Comic Gets the Film Adaptation It Deserves”

    On a non-Chick, but evolution-related note, one of the more interesting cultural artifacts to emerge from the earliest wave of the 1970s culture wars was this recording made at Jerry Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church, featuring two little girls asserting to a Tin Pan Alley-type melody that “I’m no monkey.”


    One of the stanzas goes:

    “Although it’s so ridiculous
    They’re teaching us now that it’s true.
    The teachers that came from a monkey
    Would be better off in a zoo.”

    Ah, America, my home sweet home.
    (You can tell my sub-field is post-1945 U.S. politics and culture.)

  3. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Crimson05er: “I’m no monkey.” LOL.

  4. dmf Says:

    thanks for the background Crimson05er afraid I was one of those
    gen-x collectors of kitsch but when you have done as much time living and working in the bible-belt as I (as campus-brat northeastern outside agitator) you laugh and cry.

  5. Crimson05er Says:

    Interesting enough, I used to find these sorts of tracts tucked into odd crevices around Harvard Square establishments all the time. Almost made me feel like I was back home in Alabama, sitting in a Huddle House.

    Perhaps you had an alter-ego, dmf, a sort of counterpart anti-campus brat southeastern agitator dedicated to plastering Massachusetts with the Gospel According to Chick.

  6. dmf Says:

    ha could be good, some grave earnestness to balance the scales.
    I actually came to appreciate how illustrating these sorts of literalism brought home how many phenomenological-worlds people are dwelling in, I remember talking to a library assistant in Memphis about how her COGIC bishop needed armed guards (thank God for concealed weapons permits) to protect him as he was being stalked by a demon-possessed man and thinking that would make watching Harry Potter movies more like a documentary than not…

  7. Robert Mathiesen Says:

    The Chick tracts also inspired a couple of Pagan anti-tracts about 25 years ago. Here’s a link to one of them, which I think is quite clever:


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