The first episode of a new TV series on animal evolution, called The Shape of Life, premiered on PBS-TV in the United States, 2 April 2002. The series purports to be “a revolutionary eight-part series that reveals the dramatic rise of the animal kingdom.” Stunning graphics, first-class cinematography, but the corny script fails to live up to the producer’s grand vision.
The subject of the first episode is evolutionists” quest for the “Eve” that gave birth to our animal diversity. It’s the sponge, they say. The first thirty minutes offer an eye-popping view of modern scientific discoveries about these amazing sea creatures, which, the narrator admits, are more complex than we could imagine. The gee-whiz cinematography includes a stunning sequence depicting one type of sponge that actually captures and consumes prey. Christian students will find most of this information enthralling, and it fits perfectly within their view of God’s creation cursed by sin just six thousand years ago.
By the middle of the program the viewer is still wondering about the big question, raised at the beginning of the episode: what is the evidence that the sponge is the first animal? The narrator finally makes a passing allusion to some “compelling” evidence in China’s fossil record (see AiG’s articles on dating fossils-although the episode doesn’t get into specifics about any fossil finds). But then the narrator is forced to admit that sponge fossils from China bear an “uncanny” resemblance to modern sponges.
Okay, so where’s the evidence? Towards the end, the program offers one more tidbit-recent work in DNA sequencing. It seems that one part of one gene within sponges can be found in other animals. The viewer is told-but never given details-about a researcher who has traced a common DNA sequence in several animals, and in the process he has found that the sequence appears in its most basic form in sponges.
Is that it? Similarities in DNA show the sequence of animal evolution? Creationists have long pointed out that similarities between animals in the present don’t prove a common ancestry. They are perfectly consistent with the notion of a designer using similar design features.
In fact, if anything, evolutionists have not predicted that there would be similar sequences, even identical genes, in creatures that have not had a common ancestor for hundreds of millions of alleged evolutionary years. Evolution was not thought to be that “conservative” of sequences. When the same gene sequence has a different function, ever more elaborate explanations have been offered, but this was not what was expected. Yet more and more such instances are being found.
Early in the program, the narrator acknowledges that evolutionists have struggled for years to identify the first animal, and if this is the best evidence they’ve found so far, it’s easy to understand why.
Perhaps the most astonishing shortcomings of this PBS-TV episode on “Origins” are the topics that it completely ignores. Not one word is said about how single cells could evolve into a multiple-celled organism. Not one word is said about how multiple-celled creatures could then evolve the complex genetic information necessary for further evolution.