March of the Penguins or March of the Conservatives?

Just saw the March of the Penguins, an excellent documentary about emperor penguins in Antarctica and a testament to the filmmakers who had to endure the harsh climate to shoot the film.

Now news that US conservatives are hailing the film as a crowning testament to family values. No longer the Passion of the Christ but the Passion of the Penguins. Some churches are taking busloads of parishioners to see the movie.

According to the religious and other conservatives interviewed for the article, the film is anti-abortion, pro-family, and pro-monogamy. The ingenuity of penguin breeding is seen as a validation for intelligent design. The film is also light on science. The filmmakers intentionally play down topics such as evolution and global warming in the hopes of broadening the audience.

Certainly the film turns penguin behaviour into the saga of the nuclear family. The film lingers on any moment that appears be actions of a loving couple and parents. The filmmakers are almost apologetic or breezy about activities that disagree with that premise, such as the fact that the penguins are serially monogamous and only mate for a year. The male penguin may nearly starve while he’s caring for the child; however, before he starves to death, he will abandon the child to freeze to death. Moreover, when the father does leave, he abandons both the mother and child. Also, penguin behaviour certainly argues AGAINST one of the tenets of the conservative family, that the female has the sole child rearing responsibility. With emperor penguins, there’s no mother – stays – at – home – takes – care – of – the – kids – while – the – father – provides – for – the – family. The father is as maternal as the mother. Finally, while the child is still young, the mother also abandons the child and never looks back.

Indeed, I thought the film was an excellent counter argument to intelligent design. What godly designer would create an animal as inefficient as the emperor penguin, who has to abandon his/her baby and traverse miles of ice in horrific conditions in order to feed itself? (Unfortunately, the article points out that this inefficiency is the same argument used by intelligent design advocates to bolster their case that this film does indeed affirm intelligent design.)

They say that truth is stranger than fiction. I guess that truth is even stranger than the documentary.

Update: this is the best counter-argument to intelligent design that I have found.

2 Responses to “March of the Penguins or March of the Conservatives?”

  1. sieber says:

    My colleague points out that many species of penguins have easier times reproducing and don’t, for example, jeopardize their offspring nearly as much in the search for food. So why should the emperor penguin be held up as a model of intelligent design if these other, more efficient penguins are not?

  2. liam says:

    I have to say, the Intelligent Designer creating something like penguins is one whimsical deity (why aren’t more deities given a sense of irony or whimsy?). It’s not of much use trying to convince people who firmly believe in Intelligent Design away from it, as they aren’t basing their views on evidence anyways, pyrotechnic ‘acts of god’ (hmmmm) might be the only way to sway thes .

    Of course, I’m obligated to mention, at least once, the marvelous theory of Intelligent Falling.

    “Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, ‘God’ if you will, is pushing them down”