Is Roger Ebert a Creationist?

Yesterday the film critic Roger Ebert posted an article to his website that reads very much like an endorsement of creationism. It starts:

Questions and answers on Creationism, which should be discussed in schools as an alternative to the theory of evolution:

Q. When was the earth created?
A. Archbishop James Usher, working out a chronology from the Bible, calculated in 1654 that the earth was created on the night of October 23, 4004 B.C. Other timetables reach back as far as 10,000 years.

The article contains nothing that would indicate satire, so it already has people scratching their heads, wondering what the deal is. Ebert was never known to have creationist leanings. In fact, he's openly criticized creationism before, such as in this article from 2005 in which he writes: "Evolution is indeed a theory. Creationism is a belief, not a theory."

I'm guessing it must be some kind of attempt to provoke debate. Either that or he's gone off his rocker. (Thanks, Bob!)

Update: Ebert has revealed that his creationism article was meant to be satirical. He scolds his readers for not realizing this, claiming that we as a culture are losing our sense of irony.

Ebert doesn't seem to appreciate what makes a good hoax, which is that people should fall for it at first, but recognize in hindsight how ridiculous it was. Ebert's hoax fails this test because even in hindsight his article doesn't seem ridiculous. Unfortunately, people really do believe that crap.


Posted on Mon Sep 22, 2008


Ebert does end the piece with a joke about moose, but that alone does not seem to indicate that the whole essay is intended as satire.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Tue Sep 23, 2008  at  01:38 AM
I hope it's satire, because I've always respected the man. I can't really respect someone who chooses to forego evidence and reason.

But Ebert has changed over the years, and his recent health troubles may have given him pause to look at life in a new way. It's hard to say, but I truly, sincerely hope that he's just teasing.
Posted by AqueousBoy  on  Tue Sep 23, 2008  at  07:28 AM
Hmm, having looked around the internet for someone to shed some light on this, I've found that a lot of people feel convinced it really is satire, as it contradicts a lot that he has had to say over the years. So I will say this - if it is satire, it's poorly done. Look up satire in the dictionary, and you'll see his work fails to meet its definition.
Posted by AqueousBoy  on  Tue Sep 23, 2008  at  09:40 AM
Here is evidence of satire:

Q. What about bones representing such species as Cro-Magnon Man and Neanderthal Man?
A. Created at the same time as man. They did not survive. In fact, all surviving species and many others were created fully formed at the same time. At that moment they were of various ages and in varying degrees of health. Some individuals died an instant later, others within seconds, minutes or hours.

He claims that God created other species at the same time, yet they were created in varying ages and health conditions, and died in a short period of time! Clearly a stinging repudiation of "intelligent design."
Posted by justsomeguy  on  Tue Sep 23, 2008  at  10:00 AM
This reaks of Poe's Law ('s_Law). How about this:

"Q. How long did the Great Flood last?

A. We know that Noah was 600 years, two months and 17 days old when he sailed. Using that as a starting point and counting forward, Genesis tells us it lasted for 40, 150, 253, 314 or 370 days."

He's clearly poking fun by pointing out the multiple accounts in Genesis of the length of the flood.
Posted by ScottieC  on  Tue Sep 23, 2008  at  10:23 AM
I also hope this is satire, however I have seen all of the answers he has used actually used by creationists.
Posted by Shawndoc  on  Tue Sep 23, 2008  at  11:14 AM
I wonder what happened on October 22? Rehearsal dinner?
Posted by Vitajex  on  Tue Sep 23, 2008  at  12:17 PM
I think it is meant as satire, and possibly a subtle dig at Sarah Palin at the same time (judging from the "discussion in schools" comment at the beginning and the moose joke at the end). To be fair, there is a wide spectrum of creationist thinking, and Ebert's article does not represent all thinking and writing on creationism.
Posted by Ray Fowler  on  Tue Sep 23, 2008  at  01:16 PM
I've seen some of Ebert's other recent writing and he seems to still have his marbles.

I agree, though, that this Creationist thing doesn't meet the dictionary definition of "satire."
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Tue Sep 23, 2008  at  06:34 PM
It's satire. He wrote a follow-up explaining it.

It's actually more like an attempt to mess with your mind like the movie F for Fake.

I know about Poe's law but I don't think anyone serious would bring up that bit about the moose.
Posted by Mark  on  Tue Sep 23, 2008  at  10:09 PM
The problem with the original piece is that, except for the moose joke, there's nothing in it that isn't said in complete seriousness by REAL Creationists. He didn't exaggerate what they believe (although that would be difficult to do); he just said the same stuff.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Sep 24, 2008  at  01:25 AM
Now that I think about it, the movie Dogma had a similar joke about the platypus which was meant as straight-forward (in the sense that God has a sense of humor).

Normally I like Ebert but he should have googled Landover Baptists to see how it's done.
Posted by Mark  on  Wed Sep 24, 2008  at  08:39 AM
I think instead of Ebert proving a point about credulity, he did a better job revealing a lack of faith in his readers. The debate that was stirred up on various forums generally proved people felt they couldn't (or shouldn't) take his original article seriously.
Posted by AqueousBoy  on  Sun Sep 28, 2008  at  10:53 AM
mna. we have buildings older than 4000BC
Posted by sensibleken  on  Fri Oct 10, 2008  at  06:37 AM
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