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August 11, 2005

Giving Darwin The Finger


This is one of those images that makes me glad the BAG has developed such a keen group of readers and co-analysts.  I’ll give you some of my takes, and then I’ll leave it to you to peel more layers.

Here’s what I’ve got:

1.  We know the right wing has a deep skill to frame the terms of political debate.  In the case of Intelligent Denial (sorry, but that’s as close as I can get to saying it), their primary intent is to set up ID and the theory of evolution as coequal concepts.


What troubles me more than anything about this cover is how it reinforces this strategy.  Here — on the cover of TIME Magazine — are the now supposedly equivalent “possibilities” (the term Bush used last week) juxtaposed as if subject to federal equal time rules.  (So the monkey is bigger, you say?  Well for God’s sakes, not by much.)

2.  Just what has this monkey got to think about?

In the face of the hell fire and pointed intimidation coming from the fundamentalists, is TIME saying that even the chimps are reconsidering Darwin?  Really, I find the idea of deliberation (or second guessing?) an egregious nod to these pseudo-intellectual nuts.

3.  I have mixed feelings about the spatial relationships.


Of course, God has the higher position.  This seems to give the ID-iots more credence.  If you look at most examples of the Sistine Chapel, however, you’ll notice that God and Man are almost always horizontal to each other.  The fact that TIME has God descending on the animal seems to exemplify just how much the ID-iots are coming from a blatantly self-righteous position, and pursuing an aggressive campaign that is nothing but “in-your-face. ”

I could go on, but I’m happy to yield the floor … or, is it the ceiling?

(image: TIME Magazine cover.  Aug. 15, 2005)

  • Gary

    They would have done better to juxtapose a monkey with George.

  • Paul

    Interesting comments, esp considering alternate covers. The story on ABC news tonight was about the ‘theory’ that Noah’s arc had dinosaurs, which explains fossils. How about the monkey next to an arc with a pair of tyrannosaurus rexes in it?

  • Carl Manaster

    How about “Intelligence Denial,” instead?

  • MomentEye

    I’m not so sure…
    I know it’s Time and all that but this looks like a reference to the old political cartoons that were used to mock Darwin and became a mockery themselves.
    So it could be seen as taking the piss out of ID.

  • Kerstin

    “Hmmmmmm, if this evolution stuff is true, then why am I still a chimp?”
    Or …
    “We finally got one of our own into the White House and look what happens!”
    And maybe God’s finger pointing at the Chimp’s forehead is saying “No need to think, my hairy son wannabe. Just BELIEVE.”

  • jonst

    I can’t stop laughing,and shaking my head in stunned amazment, at the words “Can Condi Rice Save Iraq” long enough to focus on the rest of the picture.

  • Hubris Sonic


  • mugatea

    That is very funny/clever.
    It’s ironic how the right-wingers talk down artists as if they are beneath society, yet all images and icons of God were created by artists. Without art there is no God – at least not a visual one. It’s hard to promote without a visual. In Diane Keaton’s film “Heaven” a preacher is asked, “How do you know there is a god if no one has ever seen him?” The preacher responds, “Have you ever seen your brain?”
    Using Michelangelo as clip art is cheap.

  • Hubris Sonic

    why is the monkey so large? surely once they choose the “God” image, why put such a big monkey up there. the whole image is out of balance. from the TIM, to the davinci, to the minkey.

  • hauksdottir

    If a person wasn’t familiar with the original fresco, they might not even know that was supposed to be a god in the upper corner. He appears to be an older man, with perhaps some kids sheltering under his cloak, but he is being blown away and out of the picture by some sort of strong wind. If both sun and wind are acting upon him, how can he be a divine force? The kids look frightened by the chimp and he is waggling his finger as if to say “you, there, don’t mess with my family!”
    The chimp, OTOH, sits calmly thinking. The expression is ruminative as though he is a chessmaster pondering eight moves ahead or a philosopher seeing deeply into the future. The chimp isn’t being blown off-course, either!

  • eva

    Maybe it’s just the illustrator’s decision to balance the composition of the cover, but the ear of the ape mirrors the riament or drapery surrounding God, which itself looks like an ear. I find that curious because, as some in poetry say, the way to the heart is through the ear: I.E., everybody loves a good story, whether a ‘true believer’ or not, and this certainly is one. God knew it; so did Darwin. But I have to say, I like Darwin’s ending better.

  • Technocracygirl

    I don’t read this as such a bad cover for evolutionists. Maybe it’s because I scrolled down to view the image, but it seems as if G-d is annointing/givig a blessing to the monkey. And the monkey is in a pose very reminiscent of Rodin’s _The Thinker_. That pose is one suggestive of thought, of higher education, of learning. All qualities that one (in a world world where critical thinking is valued) associates with humans. So we have a monkey in the process of becoming more human, or evolving.
    Perhaps it is a defense of ID after all, as G-d is annointing the monkey to go ahead and evolve, but I still see the evolving monkey as the focus and centerpiece of this picture.

  • zaba

    the first impression i get from this picture:
    “god is teaching intelligent design to a class full of monkeys”

  • redstaterepublican

    The monkey forms a circle, accentuated by the ear. A self-enclosed system, which noticeably is not pointing. The expression is vague but at best introspective. The monkey will not share or cannot, and thus is not relevant, not outward-oriented, not one of us. The God is flanked by another, a form of community, limbs entwined, flesh touching. God does not just touch himself. Rather, he points. Wittgenstein talks about this act of pointing, its ambiguity and yet its strange power. Never mind that the pointing is akin to a condemnation, as others have said. The pointing also echoes many other things, since this action is always ambiguous. It ‘points’ to the original painting, how God was reaching out to be touched back. Could God be reaching out toward the closed system, trying to get it to evolve, to open up? Listen, all those who have ears to hear, and thumbs to bend (notice the way the monkey’s digits are hidden).

  • Purple

    I’m curious about the creepy (to me) of faces just below the image of god. Are they reflections? More people?

  • MonsieurGonzo

    Roid Rage
    white male god’s way cool because he’s wearing a T-Shirt; he’d be even way cooler if he had a big HARLEY-DAVIDSON on it. personally i prefer the Jesus -as- long-haired, bearded blue-eyed Scandinavian hippie, dressed in sandals and Greek toga ~ floating in his sublime narcosis ~ now HE is cool: jazzed, not juiced like pop, who’s been taking steroids {sigh}
    back to TIM, in the case of Rodin -v- Michelangelo : Who’s That Boy?
    you know, that {ahem} naked naif wrapped around “Oh, No! it’s Daddy!” god? and {gulp} there are three other boys buried in there (is it an EAR, or is it a WOMB?)
    the Monkey wonders; after all, he digs Chicks.
    always has ~ been a Chick man since he was just a Chimp. “Well, excuuuse mee for being born with the right equipment!” he’s about to say to god the Harley hot-rodder.
    Our man’s no monkey… and if there’s one thing he’s certain of, there ain’t no women in this picture, one way or another. and that’s no fun.

  • Gary in Ithaca

    So the return of creation science pushes Iraq to the edge of the cover–sad and unsurprising; next week we’ll be back to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. I don’t know anything about Condoleeza Rice’s maternal c.v., but I enjoy thinking of the two marginal captions at the top as describing one story: “Can Condi Rice Save Iraq: A Mummy’s Secrets.”
    The monkey, of course, does not shadow Adam’s gesture in the Sistine Chapel ceiling: where Adam reaches lazily towards the image of God, the monkey chooses Rodin instead, and appears to think.

  • Neil

    God wears a wife-beater. I vote that monkey for president.

  • dogfonam

    God is clearly pointing at the chimps brain and this seems to suggest that HE is giving it the power to think. Just look at the little guy thinking now. So much for evolution.
    Score one for the ID-iots. Hell just having this as a subject on the cover of a major mag. is a score for the ID-iots. In reality (well at least what used to bbe reality) this subject is absurd and doesn’t even deserve discussion by anyone with half an evolved brain. Hey wait, maybe that’s the key to the ID-iot mind set, they obviously haven’t evolved therefore ID-oits. Makes sense when you think about it.

  • joshowitz

    My first impression was “look at how ANGRY god is, and how THOUGHTFUL that monkey is.
    Also, God is focused on that monkey, but the monkey isn’t even looking in God’s direction. I thought about how the actual painting is, with Man reaching out to touch God, but this monkey doesn’t even want to touch God, which probably angers God even further.
    It conjured in my head all those times I was so angry at someone, and they didn’t even know I was there, and boy that made even madder and more aware of my impotence in the situation.
    So add ID=impotent, DE=unconcerned and I think this actually is a plus for Evolution.

  • Diane

    Perhaps the chimp was just touring Rome, and not attending services at St. Peters.

  • bob crane

    i can’t help but view it as a juxtoposition of a photograph (a chemical process creating a 2-D image of an actual ‘thing/environs’ which is burned into a surface) with that of a painting (a concept/idea transformed into a visual allegory/art to put forth an idea/impression).
    quite fitting when looked at this way; documentation vs allegory. too bad the american public doesn’t understand the difference (and after public schooling is even further devolved with id, an even smaller percentage of the public will understand the difference).

  • donna

    They call me – Tim?

  • acm

    If you *do* recognize the Michelangelo, can’t you help but notice that the monkey isn’t reaching back toward God? that he even looks a bit offended? I guess I see this as either neutral in presentation or leaned slightly toward the evolutionists (of whose views a chimp is a poor representation!). I guess a fundamentalist would see the “elite Darwinians” not even open to their ideas, though, so perhaps it’s a eye-of-the-beholder thing…
    Are they reflections? More people?
    uh, angels?
    I like bob’s “documentation versus allegory” aspect, but suspect it’s a bit too delicate a point to compete with the larger aspects of this image.

  • Dano

    Well, the cover is designed to sell copy.
    Thinking about why the minkey is not reaching back toward Michelangelo’s god would be giving the target demographic too much credit, in my view.
    I see the lil’ minkey thinking about it and I see the editors trying to create controversy so they can sell copy. Evolution wars certainly is overblown, but how else you gonna grab ‘em without an over the top cover?

  • Mad

    Hello !!
    I don’t think the Evolution Wars are overblown. This is Big Problem.
    From the cover: “Does God have a place in science class?” I don’t know, do they teach biology and paleontology in Sunday school?
    In the “debate” taking place in Time’s cover art, the Creationists sent in an all-powerful God striking from above, and the best that the Evolutionists could find was some slow monkey.
    Looks like God is taking the offense in the defense of a bunch of young humans. (Yet another form of pre-emptive war?)
    And finally, the majority of Americans do NOT believe in Evolution. It’s bedtime for Bonzo the monkey. Welcome to the future.

  • Tom

    The big loser in this continuing struggle of christianity with natural selection is public education. The dumbing down of science, diluted by ID, is inevitable in this age of fundamentalism. Tom

  • redstaterepublican

    Progressives can remain atheists if they choose, but not all of them should. The debates will be set on the terms of those who are the more powerful. Those terms for now are religious. Cindy Sheehan was/is a Catholic youth minister, I hear. Well, that is one way to ensure no more loss of Catholic votes. I mean you all do what you like. You can sit there with your head in your hands or you can point fingers…or you can build a bridge from the monkey to the man. :)

  • Caribdude

    The way I see it, these people are working against evolution by promoting thinking that causes devolution.
    I find them just as scary and terrifying as Mulla Omar and muslim radicals.

  • Caribdude

    Scratch radicals, I meant extremists, fanatics, you know the one’s I mean. The ones that don’t want people to think or chose how to live.

  • Realpolitik

    TIME, in an ad nauseum RELIGION-BASED cover, mucks up science big time.
    Homo Sapiens are NOT derived FROM the monkey; however, evolution posits that all primates have a common ancestor.
    God is touching the wrong evolutionary entity.
    I find the ‘Condi Rice’ blurb hysterical for other reasons. As a white person, many white racists who don’t know I’m Left confide in me that they don’t believe in evolution because they don’t believe there’s any way they can be ‘related to them niggers.’
    The Christian Right can also take pleasure in knowing Michelangelo was a devout HOMOSEXUAL Catholic.

  • mobux

    We have to remember that these days most people don’t know the Sistine Chapel, that we don’t evolve from chimps, Michelangelo, anything about history, from squat. People are dumbed down. Some vaguely religious looking dude is pointing accusingly at some monkey. Sells mags.
    But, “Can Rice save Iraq?” Oh god.

  • Kerstin

    RED ~
    “The debates will be set on the terms of those who are the more powerful.”
    This “debate” is a false one.
    There is no debate with the ignorant.
    Progressives have plenty of religion, more soul than any stout devout I’ve ever met. When the head and heart work together, it’s a beautiful thing. But when there is NO head and NO heart … there is NO debate.

  • zoss

    not only is the Sistine insert higher than the monkey-figure, but it’s also relatively rotated — is the rotation necessary to elevate the god-figure over the monkey? or does it serve any other purpose?

  • neko

    The fact that a monkey is even used to symbolize evolution is a testamant to how powerfully the creationists frame the debate. Really, a picture of bacteria that have developed resistance to antibiotics would a better way to show evolution. However, thanks to creationist misinformation (“evolution claims humans descended from monkeys!”) we get a monkey.
    At least they use a picture of God to show what the “intelligent design” side is really aiming for–god, specificially the Christian god in the science classroom. No matter how much the IDists might claim otherwise, this is about fundamentalist christianity. Science has been disproving the literal truth of the Bible since it pointed out the Earth was round, not the center of the universe, and circled the sun. Fundamentalists can gloss over these details by claiming poetic license or difficult translation, but to knock down the central seven-day creation story would deal a death blow to the idea that the Bible can be taken literally.
    I find it interesting to note that the picture of God is from the middle ages while the monkey is a modern color photograph. The painting is lovely, but it is a symbolic interpretation, a metaphor for what humans cannot understand. The monkey is empirical and decidely real. Overall I’d say the page is more inclined to evolution, but the fact that it was even made is a win for ID.
    BTW, the fact that the question “Does God have a place in the science classroom?” is even posed on the cover of TIME really makes me wonder about the health of science in this country. Anyone who has ever taken a science class should know that science by definition cannot deal with the supernatural because it is restricted to natural phenomena. Science doesn’t apply to God, she gets to do whatever she bloody well pleases. Let her into the science classroom and she’d make the beakers float and give the mice wings.

  • redstaterepublican

    No debates with the ignorant? Well, then, what about Socrates’ speech before the jury? What about his entire life, talking with those who did not appreciate him? Democracy is not about WINNING the arguments but ensuring that argumentation actually prevails, bringing people into the debate by hook or by, hmm, crook. So you keep clammed up, then, in the face of us red states and I can tell you where you’ll be–blue, because the truth won’t have progressed any further. Progressives need to get to where those others, their FELLOW CITIZENS, can understand them. Start, OK, START, with some of the terms. Question the terms, if you will, walk away after a while. But cut off debate? I thought that was OUR tactic!

  • knucklesplitter

    The cover is inaccurate and blasphemous. The Creator should be properly depicted in all his noodly grandeur – Behold The Flying Spaghetti Monster!

  • Stephen McArthur

    Judgement from on high. Repent, silly chimp, or else. The chimp is pondering the possibilities of being wrong, of being intelligently designed, rather than scientifically evolved. Could it be? Is this my creator? Hmmmmm, what to believe….what to believe.
    It might even be Prof. Peter Boyd (Ronald Reagan in “Bedtime for Bonzo”) trying to teach the chimp human morals. ID-iots, indeed.

  • pjr

    I would think it’s obvious; Chimpy McBush hasn’t EVOLVED period. Just a quick touch from the almighty Charlton Heston, as painted by Micheangelo, a true Republican, and the ego has landed. Now watch me peel this banana…..

  • Evil_Ed

    It looks like a pretty hastily put together cover to me. Maybe the guys at “Tim” magazine were eating their deadline.

  • Sean

    The reason the debate between the theories of Creation and Evolution is actually viable simple: they are both faith based. That’s right. Gasp! I actually said it. Think hard now, what happened before the Big Bang? If you have a plausible answer, please, don’t hesitate to articulate it. My answer will most likely be: “Oh? Were you there?” followed by “You weren’t? So then you believe that this phenomenon occurred and that the universe originiated from an explosion of an ultra-compact grouping of matter the size of a period [ . ] on a page? I see…very interesting.”
    You see, my dear intellectual friends, you believe that the Big Bang occured, just as the Creationists believe that a higher power created the earth.
    faith (‘fAth) n. – something that is believed especially with strong conviction. [often that which one cannot see or for which one was not present] (definition courtesy of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
    So, we see here that that both Evolution and Creation can only be accepted through faith and belief that they actually occurred. And that is why the idea that the THEORY of Creation should be acknowledged in the classroom alongside the THEORY of Evolution deserves some discussion. And that, I believe, is really all the Christian Right desires: that their belief at least be acknowledged.
    I will leave you with the following notes for personal contemplation:
    Are you aware of the widespread belief that Darwin recanted his both agnosticism and theory of evolution shortly before he died?
    The words of Dr. George Wald (Harvard University):
    “There are only two possibilities as to how life arose; one is spontaneous generation arising to evolution, the other is a supernatural creative act of God, there is no third possibility. Spontaneous generation that life arose from non-living matter was scientifically disproved 120 years ago by Louis Pasteur and others. That leaves us with only one possible conclusion, that life arose as a creative act of God. I will not accept that philosophically because I do not want to believe in God, therefore I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible, spontaneous generation arising to evolution.”
    (Dr. George Wald, evolutionist, Professor Emeritus of Biology at the University at Harvard, Nobel Prize winner in Biology.)
    “Most modern biologists, having reviewed with satisfaction the downfall of the spontaneous generation hypothesis, yet unwilling to accept the alternative belief in special creation, are left with nothing.”
    (Dr. George Wald, evolutionist, Professor Emeritus of Biology at the University at Harvard, Nobel Prize winner in Biology.)
    “My attempts to demonstrate evolution by an experiment carried on for more than 40 years have completely failed…..It is not even possible to make a caricature of an evolution out of paleobiological facts…The idea of an evolution rests on pure belief.”
    (Dr. Nils Heribert-Nilsson, noted Swedish botanist and geneticist, of Lund University)
    Doesn’t this coincide directly with the Constitutional right of free speech? Is it ethical to prohibit someone from acknowledging what billions of people believe? The last I heard, it was the teacher who came up with the curriculum, not the government. If he or she proves to be off their rocker, isn’t it the employer’s job to let them go?
    And finally, what good does it do to denegrate the Christian Right by labeling them ID-itots? Isn’t that just bringing yourself down to their level? I believe it was Volataire that said: “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” ?
    And that’s my two cents.

  • ummabdulla

    It’s a false debate when it’s framed as an either/or: either Darwin or Creationism. There are many people around the world who don’t accept either one of these.

  • nyomythus

    It’s a simple mater of page orientation and the restraints of layout…

  • Dov

    Seed of Human-Chimp Genomes Diversity
    2 Nov,2005 Dov, in biologicalEvolution forum.
    Biological Evolution’s Seeds of Diversity, Human and Chimpanzee/Bonobo Genomes
    Chapter One, In which some wonder what made us human.
    Three recent quotations from Science, representative of many other recent similar statements in various scientific publications:
    A) “Understanding the genetic basis of how genotype generates phenotype will require increasing the accuracy and completeness of the currently available chimpanzee genome sequence, as well as sequencing other primate genomes.”
    B)”Can we now provide a DNA-based answer to the fascinating and fundamental question, “What makes us human?” Not at all! Comparison of the human and chimpanzee genomes has not yet offered any major insights into the genetic elements that underlie bipedal locomotion, big brain, linguistic abilities, elaborated abstract thought, or any other unique aspect of the human phenome.”
    C)”What makes us human? This question may be answered by comparison of human and chimpanzee genomes and phenomes, and ultimately those of other primates. To this end, we need to understand how genotype generates phenotype, and how this process is influenced by the physical, biological, and cultural environment.”
    Chapter Two, In which is explained plainly and succinctly the obvious route by which we evolved,
    i.e. that genotype has not generated phenotype, that we evolved from our genotype via a group of feedback loops. From Science, Vol 308, Issue 5728, 1563-1565 , 10 June 2005, Immunology: Opposites Attract in Differentiating T Cells, Mark Bix, Sunhwa Kim,Anjana Rao:
    “During differentiation, precursor cells with progressively narrowed potential give rise to progeny cells that adopt one of two (or more) divergent cell fates. This choice is influenced by intricate regulatory networks acting at multiple levels. Early in differentiation, precursor cells show low-level activation of all progeny genetic programs. Bias toward a given lineage comes from environmental inputs that activate powerful positive- and negative- feedback loops, which work in concert to impose selective gene expression patterns”.
    Chapter Three, In which we explain the revolutionary evolved uniqueness of the human ape’s phenotype:
    The 6My-old revolutionary life evolution was initiated by our forefathers who adapted from life in semi- or tropical forest circumstances to life on plains. Changes in living posture and circumstances led to modified perceptive/adaptive experiences and capabilities. Developing employment of tools effected enhanced differentiation of hands from legs and enhanced upstanding posturing. As evolving community culture led to language communication humans have gradually replaced adaptation to changed circumstances with self-evolving cultures/civilizations for control and modification of much of their circumstances. This is essentially similar to early life’s celling evolution, but with culture functioning for humans for change/control of circumstances in lieu of genetic and protein toolings that function for the in-cell genomes for adapting their cell’s physiology to changing circumstances.
    Chapter Four, In which appears, may be, genetic evidence/demonstration of the workings of human cultural evolution.
    (a) From Science, 2 Sept 2005: “Page’s team compared human and chimp Ys to see whether either lineage has lost functional genes since they split.
    The researchers found that the chimp had indeed suffered the slings and arrows of evolutionary fortune. Of the 16 functional genes in this part of the human Y, chimps had lost the function of five due to mutations. In contrast, humans had all 11 functional genes also seen on the chimp Y. “The human Y chromosome hasn’t lost a gene in 6 million years,” says Page. “It seems like the demise of the hypothesis of the demise of the Y,” says geneticist Andrew Clark of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.”
    (b) But look at this: From Science, Vol 309, 16 Sept 2005, Evolving Sequence and Expression:”An analysis of the evolution of both gene sequences and expression patterns in humans and chimpanzees…shows that…surprisingly, genes expressed in the brain have changed more on the human lineage than on the chimpanzee lineage, not only in terms of gene expression but also in terms of amino acid sequences”.
    Chapter Five and conclusion,
    In which I suggest that detailed study of other creatures that, like humans, underwent radical change of living circumstances, for example ocean-dwelling mammals, might bring to light unique evolutionary processes and features of evolutionary implications similar to those of humans.
    Dov Henis
    (comments from 22nd century)

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