Okay, so I’ve been trying for a while, but let me just sum it up for you: I finally got the first episode of Jonathan Parks, the creationist family radio drama, to work! Now, I’ll be reviewing it live, or sort of, and dissect that YEC (young-earth creationist) dogma! Let us begin with The Secret of the Hidden Cave, Part One!
Apparently, New Mexico has been devastated by a killer rainstorm, flooding areas and threatening lives. But, during a break in the rain, a father and son speed down a road in a red 4×4, their motives unclear. This sounds like a modern-day Indiana Jones, which I think is the idea. All of this is accompanied by special effects, to make it seem like you’re really in the middle of a storm. Man, I’d hate to get my cool Camp Half-Blood T-shirt wet, but I’m not stopping! It seems that the storm is starting back up again, and the two men are trying to get to Ghost Ranch. Ghost Ranch is home to a massive deposit of Coelophysis (one of the earliest dinosaurs), making it a paleontological mother load.
The dad, and his son, who we have identified as the titular Jonathan Park, are on a dinosaur dig, and have just swerved to avoid a tree. This is riveting, folks. What will happen? Stay tuned to find out! Ah, it looks like the dad, who I think is Kendall Parks, is looking for fossils at Ghost Ranch to prove Noah’s Flood. That’s a classic argument right there: fossils formed in the Flood. It sounds reasonable, until you realize that getting hit by an eighty-foot wall of water traveling at the speed of a car would probably be the same thing as jumping out of a three-story building onto hard cement. It would be a mess, even if you were just a skeleton.
Okay, from what I can gather, Kendall, looking up a hill for a ranch, has just either A) fallen down said hill or B) fallen into a sinkhole. Either way, this is proving my whole modern-day Indiana Jones theory. Meanwhile, just a few miles away, another family is fighting a battle of their own. Geez, who’d be out and about in this kind of weather, other than YECs who are trying to prove something that never happened. A girl named Jessie has just arrived at home, while her mother (not her father, Vision Forum is too sexist for that) prepares to evacuate due to flooding.
Okay, over the radio, it is announced that the US Army Corps of Engineers is evacuating the county that Jessie and her family live in. Also, the dad, Jim, just came home (Lucy, I’m-why are we packing hand powered flashlights and saltine crackers? Is this some kind of joke?). As we speak, Jonathan has made contact with his dad down the sinkhole. He’s okay, which is good, considering that this is so much fun that I just can’t stop! He’s trapped in some kind of cave.
Jonathan: I’m glad you’re alright!
Yeah, kid, but he’s STILL trapped in a sinkhole! How much longer will he be alright? Okay, Kendall told Jonathan to go get some rope and a flashlight. They’re going to spend the night. Well, if he has some rope, why doesn’t he use it and get out of there? I swear, the logic on this show is twisted. I mean, Jessie’s dad was actually DRIVING when a flash flood was inevitable? Duh! Danger! And now, due to really spotty connection out here in the middle of nowhere, Jonathan has lost contact with his mother. Maybe she’ll send help, maybe she’ll find them, but it’ll be too late, considering that a sinkhole in a rainstorm is like a glass in the middle of a shower-it fills up fast.
Flip back to Jessie’s life! His dad is struggling to make the car go faster, even though there are so many cop cars behind them it’s like a scene from Thelma And Louise. Actually, that cop car joke was courtesy of by MST3K-set brain, not part of the show. And now one of the girls is asking if God will take care of them. Well, it’s about time we saw some references to Him, now, wasn’t it? The mom replies by saying of course, he always has. Wait, screw that, they’re swerving to avoid-possibly a dog, though since this is a radio drama, I can’t tell. Oh, wait, it was a falling tree. And now, of course, they’re trapped on the highway with no chainsaw to get through this arboreal obstacle. Again, twisted logic!
Oh, and now, flip back to Jonathan and Kendall, who are down in the sinkhole warming their hands by a toasty fire-hey, wait a minute! You’re in a moist cave, in the middle of a rainstorm. I guess Kendall’s dad was Les Stroud or something. And now the two are talking about how, if Kendall had found just a single skull, people could read about scientific evidence for the flood of the Bible. Do you mean to tell me that you are IGNORING the fact that we found dozens of Triassic fossils in that formation, yet it convinced no mainstream scientific journals of Flood evidence, yet I’m sure the creationist journals are still buzzing about it. So, naturally, Kendall and Jonathan do the natural think anyone would do if they were trapped in a cave with no way out-they pray. Actually, when Jonathan says “Amen”, he sounds just the slightest hint bored.
And this is the climatic “path-crossing scene”. Jessie’s family meets the Parks, even though the two are divided by about twenty feet of open cave. And now, the two families, and Jessie’s dog, Shadow, are down in the cave around the logic-defying flames. Jim introduces himself and his wife as Jim and Martha Brenan. They also introduce Jessie as Jessica, and tell the Park men that they have a four-year-old, Ryan, but he’s staying at their grandma’s tonight. Hmmm… cookies at grandma’s, or stuck in a sinkhole. Tough call. Oh, wait, I have just detected more evidence of Vision Forum’s sexism-Jonathan says, when Jessie wants to explore the cave with Shadow, that she’s a girl, and she’ll need someone else to go along with her. As the two amateur spelunkers head off to certain doom, the parents chat, as parents will do that.
Flip to Jonathan and Jessie as they explore the hidden cave! They’re finding lots of neat stuff, and frankly, I’m a little jealous. The two kids are wondering whether or not there are dinosaur fossils in this cave. What an exciting thought, but what are the odds? And now, Jonathan is talking to Jessie about Coelophysis. In case you’re wondering, this dinosaur isn’t the most impressive of the bunch, unless you count age. This guy could out-bore Methuselah by a long shot. Here’s a fossil reconstruction at a Denver museum:
And now, it seems they’ve lost Shadow. Oh, but wait, he went down that tunnel! Let’s see where it goes! And now, Jonathan is saying that his dad used to be a very respected paleontologist, until he started thinking that dinosaurs and the fossil record just don’t fit with the evolutionary timeline. I’m not sure finding gradual fossils that transition into different kinds of animals doesn’t fit with evolution, but let’s see where this goes. Jessie says that the Bible actually tells of creatures that looked like dinosaurs. She must mean Behemoth and Leviathan, from the Book of Job. I haven’t actually read it, but the whole “tail like a cedar thing” could mean almost anything! Just because sauropod dinosaurs also had thick, tree-like tails doesn’t mean that Behemoth was one. In fact, calling Behemoth a dinosaur is like calling Goliath a:
Which we all know is totally dumb, but it’s a reasonable comparison! For more information, check out here and here, though the first link does have a quick remark that may not be appropriate for young children. Back to our regularly scheduled spelunking expedition. Jonathan is saying that his dad found evidence that many dinosaurs may have been drowned, which Jessie takes to mean as a reference to Noah’s Flood. But it’s entirely possible that a dinosaur could have drank poisoned water, or died along the banks of a river, or was killed by a seagoing reptile like Mosasaurus, or just plain drowned. But the claim persists, despite responses galore.
Now Jonathan is saying that his dad’s colleagues, who “believe” in evolution (note that “believe” is not the proper term, rather “support”), didn’t believe in Noah’s Flood. And we’re back with the parents, who are chatting about similar discoveries, massive graveyards of fossils mixed in with clams. Kendall found that hard to believe, but I don’t. Clams aren’t a problem, since there are such things as freshwater bivalves. But the colleagues didn’t like that, and started talking behind his back. Maybe they were talking about how the ARGUMENTS were nutty, considering that there are responses to them. Back to Jonathan and Jessie, who are still following Shadow down the tunnel. They’ve found themselves in a huge cave, but what secrets does it hold? Bats, evidently. And now Jessie’s in mortal danger, likely hanging by only her fingers from a steep drop down to, well, who knows where? This is concrete proof of my modern-day Indiana Jones theory. And cut to commercial, and we’re back to certain doom!
Jonathan has given Jessie one end of a rope, and has given Shadow the end of another, resulting in a lifesaving tug-of-war! What a plan! What a kid! What a buff dog, to be holding all that! Anyway, Jessie is safe, and this just goes to show that Vision Forum is obviously enforcing these gender stereotypes. Wait, cut to what I think may be Homer Simpson watching Krusty the Clown cartoons in his nuclear plant office. Now, his boss wants to watch the news. It seems that he wants to exploit the Brenans’ ruined crops to buy low and sell high, to make a fortune and pay off a fellow criminal before he sends thugs after them. I can’t wait for this dude to “release the hounds”.
Back to Jonathan and Jessie. Jonathan says that one day, while his friend Mark was over for dinner, his dad came home with news that-dun dun dun-he’d been fired, because he opposed evolution. Whoa whoa whoa, wait wait wait, FIRED? This is taking things a little too far, this is propaganda! Us folks in the field of evolutionary biology (or budding folks, considering that I’m only eleven-the truth comes out!) would probably get into a lively debate with this guy, but getting him fired? We would never do such a thing! What we would do is, we would ask him to spill all his evidence, and show him that his conclusions just don’t stand up to scientific rigor and basic logic! Never FIRE! Yowza! And now Mark, having heard that insanity runs in the family, leaves Jonathan in his time of need. This is too harsh to be realistic, but I’m not calling this off just because I’m deeply offended.
Now Jonathan is telling the second leg of the story, and how he and the family moved to Santa Fe and lived with his grandpa for a while. Not long after, Kendall repented, and Jonathan soon after. He didn’t support the idea that he came from apes anyway. By the way, that whole ape-to-man thing is an urban legend. What really happened is that a primitive ancestor, sort of like a prehistoric chimpanzee, split into two different mutations-hominids, ape-man creatures that eventually became humans, and regular apes, like gorillas and orangutans. That’s what common descent means: we’re in the same family, but we had a common ancestor. That leaves the creationist question “Why are there still apes around” looking pretty stupid, doesn’t it? Wait, Jessie’s saying that there’s something over there. Where? Right over there!
It looks like some type of animal skull, and the parents are coming over to see what all the fuss is about. It’s a dinosaur skull! A Coelophysis, to be precise. But dinosaurs shouldn’t be found in caves. And there’s a crack in the cave, which gives Kendall an idea about how the dinosaur came here. But rescue helicopters are coming, and Jim is saying that if he comes out, Kendall has his permission to come back to excavate it, since the cave is technically on Brenan property. Three days later, there’s a knock at the door. Jim answers, and it’s a man named Simon. It’s the guy from back at the nuclear plant of evil! He wants to buy land, though Jim can’t remember him wanting to sell any in the first place. He says that he’s willing to buy it to help them, a real platypus, er, philanthropist. Blame the Homer dude, Marvin. Simon wants to buy the land for a third of the place’s worth, which has Jim kind of ticked off. Admittedly, though, the Brenan property is barely worth a fourth of it’s original cost, and the bank is threatening foreclosure. I’d take what I could get there, Jim.
Jim very nearly gives away the secret of the hidden cave, but stops himself. That doesn’t stop Simon from questioning him, though. After a fierce argument, Simon and his partners leave. But they’ve heard enough. They know something’s up, and they aren’t going to give up so easily.