Monday, July 15, 2013

In the Beginning

I feel I would be remiss if I did not introduce you to one of Jack Chick's most infamous creations, Bob Williams.  Generally, Chick tracts do not have recurring characters save for Scary Faceless God and Satan.  However, there are two series within his overall tract catalog that break this pattern: the Li'l Suzy tracts, aimed at children and headed by the titular Suzy (who is supposed to be sweet and cute but comes off as a homophobic, xenophobic, bullying little monster) and the Bible Stories series of tracts, headed by Bob Williams.

Who is Bob Williams?  A smug, fanatical computer repairman who has the (possibly demonic) power to convert most anyone he meets.  He is so prolific that he proselytizes in twenty-five tracts.  What compelling arguments must he make to warrant being such a major presence in Chick's oeuvre?  Let's find out in his debut story!

In the beginning, giraffes and apatosauruses had a contest to see whose neck was the longest, and the apatosaurus won.  Then the giraffes were such sore losers that they stood on each other's shoulders until they reached the asteroid belt by Mars and knocked one such asteroid into the Earth, driving the dinosaurs into extinction.  Giraffes are hardcore.

When I have people over to fix the ever-important bar graph function on my desktop, I always make sure to show off my dinosaur models to these complete strangers and explain the time frame in which the dinosaur lived.  Dude, I'm autistic and even I know that random people probably don't want to hear about my special interest.  Except my special interest is Batman, and everyone loves Batman.

Fang cameo on the side of the desk!

"Hey, my teacher told me that!"  Ha ha, Dinosaur-Guy, you're such a blind fool for accepting something some flawed, brainwashed human told you about how the world works.  Now allow this human to tell you about his religion so you can be smart and blindly accept that!

Yes, the teacher who adheres to years of scientific theory which has been studied and critiqued time and time again while possibly also believing in a god has been brainwashed.  Not the guy who believes every word of the Bible is literal.

He cites his own publication company as a source.  Can't go wrong there!  Why didn't I think to cite myself on my thesis?  Would have been much faster.

Because it's impossible to be Christian and believe God's intelligent design could be evolution.  Wait, I forgot, Catholics are demons.  And the scientific method is now a religion instead of a set of criteria used to evaluate the world around us.  Cool.

If Bob looked any more smug, he'd be in an Enzyte commercial.  He's already got the right name.

Those guys are only guessing:

Scientist 1:  Check out this fossil!  It's 145 million years old!

Scientist 2:  How'd you figure that out?  Carbon dating?  Superposition?

Scientist 1:  Nah, man, I just guessed.  You think I'm gonna look stuff up when I could be playing Galaga?

Bob Williams, and by extension, Jack Chick, is incapable of understanding that science does not concern itself with deities.  Science studies observable data, not matters of faith.  Evolution isn't some attempt to spit in God's eye: there's no big rule of science that says "GOD HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS, BURN A BIBLE OR YOU'RE OUT OF THE PROFESSION."

Uh, no Bob, you can't tell us the exact day.  "On the first day" is not a date.  It's just some random day that, according to you, happened at some point 6000 years ago.

Why is this page a lower quality scan than the others?

Scientists disagree with each other because they study theory.  They don't claim to have all the answers.  They don't even refer to their theories as facts.  And while some points of evolution are disputed, the basic theory has been accepted in the community for ages.

Because nobody ever argues about interpretations of the Bible.

Still waiting on that exact day, Bob.  "In the beginning" sure isn't a date.

Bob, maybe you should be less involved with quoting the Bible and do something useful, like finish fixing Dino-Guy's computer or exorcise that dinosaur.  It's a toy and it changed expressions.  Seems pretty demonic to me.

Or God could have made the Big Bang in the beginning and dictated the flow of it and what formed when.  And all Bob's done is read a few lines out of a book Dino-Guy may or may not believe in.  Why does he look so shocked?  Has a 21st century American never heard the creation story before?  No one ever asks "Why should I believe this?" in Chick tracts.  They hear the Bible and either immediately start foaming at the mouth or immediately buy it.

Bob's face looks like that guy who drives around the neighborhood offering kids rides in his van.  And then strangles them.

In tonight's episode, the role of the Earth and its waters will be played by a picture of ringworm rash we've darkened in photoshop.  Or maybe that's the Black Plague.  "Plague" and "Chick tract" are words that go well together.

Well, presumably the plants grew in the light and darkness back from day one.  A better question is where the light came from without the sun, but maybe God glows in the dark.  Anyway, if He's omnipotent, He could make light from nothing or allow plants to grow without it.

Haw haw!

No.  No, they did not have to be real days, because again, omnipotence.  If God doesn't want a plant to die, he could keep it in an environment without air, light, soil, or water indefinitely, and it would live.  If Jesus can make a fig tree wither, why can't God keep a plant alive?  Or is Chick trying to argue God isn't all powerful just to make his point about creationism?

"Oh no!  His religious text which cannot be proven and is based on no observable data says the point I brought up is invalid!  I have no choice but to bow to this irrefutable proof!"

Wait a second, so at this point the water is still floating around the Earth like an atmosphere, right?  So we have sky-sharks?  Awesome.

And again, where in the book of Genesis does it say "by the way, these were absolutely literal twenty-four hour periods and not just a sense of time people reading would be able to grasp because it's difficult for the human mind to comprehend trillions of years"?'

"That blows me away, my brain is reeling."  Because simply not believing the Bible is fact or not believing that it's meant to be taken literally just isn't an option!

Something more important?  What would that be, a compelling argument that doesn't rely on the circular logic of "this Bible is the word of God because it tells us it's the word of God, therefore you have to believe it because the Bible says God is infallible"?

"And God said, Let us make man in our image, our likeness."  Which obviously means that he was speaking to God the Mother and we should all convert to the World Mission Society Church of God.  See?  I can make assumptions too!

I like to make jokes about these tracts, just so the hate they promote and the terror upon realizing people actually believe these things is lessened, but this one is really making me mad with the way it spits on scientific theory and education.  The term "prehistoric" doesn't brainwash anything.  All that it means is "before written history."  The word has nothing to do with evolution.

But sure, education and scientific theory are out to brainwash us.  Screw knowing a damn thing about the world, all you need is the Bible!  Global warming is a lie!  Go ahead and wreck the planet, it'll bring about the Rapture faster!  God wants us to be ignorant and not marvel at the beauty and intricacy of his Creation!  Critical thinking is a tool of the devil!

"Bob, are you telling me things that should have already been apparent based on the conversation so far?"

Gee, I sure am going to trust that grainy, unclear photo being given out by company that publishes books about how Catholics have secret abortion tunnels between churches and nunneries.  By the way, here's a quote from an article about Dinosaur Valley State Park, where those footprints are found:

What about the "Man Tracks?" 
Most of the Paluxy sites once claimed to contain human prints are outside DVSP, and have been shown to consist of a variety of misidentified phemona (see the Paluxy web site.)  However, one of the "man track" sites called the "State Park Shelf" is next to the Main Site described above, on a shelf about a meter above the main track layer.  Unlike other alleged "man tracks" outside the park, many of which are forms of elongate dinosaur tracks, the State Park Shelf markings are not prints of any kind, but rather erosional markings and other irregularities of the rock surface.  Often these were selectively highlighted with water or other substances during photography to encourage human shapes.  However, without such selective highlighting their human resemblance is largely lost.  Indeed, the entire shelf is covered with countless depressions of all shapes and sizes, but no distinct or convincing prints of any kind.  In contrast, the nearby Main Site contains many well-preserved dinosaur tracts.

God doesn't lie, but Jack Chick does.

"Roughly 6000 years ago.  I'm not going to cite any source for that, not even from Chick Publications.  You'll just have to believe it before your nose overwhelms your whole face and suffocates you into Hell."

Wait, 6000 years ago?  Hey Jack, in your other anti-evolution tract, Big Daddy?, the nameless fundie there says that an ordinary human skull was found dating back 212 million years.  So you can't even make up your mind in your own tracts about whether the Earth is millions or thousands of years old.  Gee, could you just be making things up to manipulate people?

Adam still existed before a system of recorded history (it's not like God gave Adam the book of Genesis to wander around with), so he was still prehistoric.  Because prehistory has nothing to do with evolution.

"Adam was our first relative and God decided to punish all of us for what he did!  You're really going to hate my horrible, monstrous version of God!"

"The instant Adam was created, he could speak.  And he spoke good ol' fashioned Amurrican, just as God intended."

Is God wearing a hood in panel two or does his robe just merge into his neck?

"[O]f every fruit in the garden thou mayest freely cat..."  Seriously, look at that quote.  It says cat.

Given that there was no death in Eden, and prior to eating the fruit Adam and Eve had no knowledge of evil, and thus no knowledge of doing wrong, this is akin to telling your two year old "Don't eat that rat poison or you'll die" and then leaving them alone with it.  There's a reason most people think of these stories as parables.  Because if you try to apply real world logic to them, they cease to make any sense and make God look like a dick.

"Adam got the message..."  God had Adam's number, and called him maybe, but it went straight to voice mail.

In the Garden of Eden, it appears that rabbits were one-fourth the size of men.

Just like women, always starting the drama.  Did I mention Chick's a misogynist?

I like Eve's vacant, Bride of Frankenstein-esque stare.  "I was created for him?  You couldn't have made someone in your image a little prettier?"

Shouldn't the serpent look like, you know, a serpent, just with legs?  This looks like a dinosaur crossed with a hand puppet.  And why is it standing up?

See, everybody, Satan was clever, and that's why knowledge is evil.  Never mind that God is also intelligent.  Learning is the way of devils!

Okay, I just went back and read the story of Adam and Eve's fall from grace in Genesis.  The verse immediately after the serpent's words in Panel One is Genesis 3:6.  And here is that verse, in its entirety, King James Version:

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Nowhere in there does it mention anything about Eve desiring "more than anything" to be a god.  It doesn't mention being like a god.  It mentions being wise, which is not synonymous with godly.  For all Chick knows, maybe Eve decided it would be okay because being wise would make them better able to serve and please God, and He wouldn't be angry after all.  But no, Chick hates women, so Eve wanted to be all powerful.

It looks like the serpent is a terrible fan art of Mushu from Mulan.

And again, it seems kind of hard to know something is wrong if you can't understand the concept of evil.

For a second I thought Adam and Eve were standing on the moon or something and we were seeing planets behind them.  If you're that bad at making a tree recognizable, perhaps it's time to let someone who can actually draw have a go.

And they didn't blame each other; Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent.  So not only is Chick making things up to make Eve look like a bickering shrew, but he's also lying about the word of God.  Way to blaspheme, dude.

Where in the Bible does it say Death is a creature?  Or a creature with a robe and scythe at that?  Scythes didn't even exist yet.  Maybe this is all some sort of parody and Bob Williams is supposed to be an example of what not to do and say as a Christian.  Except that would mean Chick knows what a parody is.

Way to throw in the angel's flaming sword with no explanation.  I'm sure that won't confuse all two of the people in the US who haven't heard this story before.

"His kid brother"?  Is Bob Williams trying to show that he is down with the kids?  Because it isn't working.

Well, maybe we would have the ability to be better than Adam if we weren't born already tainted by original sin.  After all, Bob and his ilk don't believe in infant baptism, so no chance of original sin being washed away before the child is old enough to consciously sin.

Usually I try not to bring comparisons to Nazis into arguments, but given Chick's love of making his villains look like Jewish stereotypes (short, big noses, hairy, etc.), I can't help but notice that if you squint at a picture of Bob he looks like Hitler.

You could hammer in nails with that chin.

Silly Dino-Guy, that was a rhetorical question.  Bob doesn't care about anything you have to say; he just wants to hear his own voice.

Okay, let's play along with the absurd premise that someone living in America who hasn't been under a rock for his entire life has never heard of the Bible, the creation story, or Jesus dying for humanity's sins.  And he's still going to Hell anyway?  Even though he has no idea how to be saved?  Why does Chick think that his depiction of God is going to convert anybody, again?

Get it?  He has bushes outside with fruit.  Oh Chick, you master of subtlety!

Heh, born this way.  Because homosexuality is a sinful choice, geddit?  Chick, you're not witty.

Why should I listen to Bob again?  He still hasn't noticed the possessed dinosaur.  Some man of God.

I'm pretty sure God didn't leave Heaven, considering that His voice is mentioned in the Bible as coming from Heaven when he speaks after Jesus's baptism.  He can be in two places at once.  But I guess that's not as dramatic as Bob wants to tell it.

Even for a Chick tract, that is one dark, sketchy John 3:16 image.  I know he recycles art all the time, but this one looks like we're looking at a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox...

That or he made the image with a rubber stamp and way too much ink.

Uh, didn't the serpent bring us death?  Or at least Eve, since she was the first human to eat the fruit?  I'd have thought Chick would love to blame Eve.

I would love to see someone try to proselytize Chick tract-style, and then just stand there, stammering and dumbfounded, when the person they're witnessing to asks "Why should I believe that?" instead of instantly converting.

That was Bob Williams, people.  And he only gets more smug and obnoxious from here.

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