July 25, 2011 | David F. Coppedge

Butterfly Swarm Buries Darwin

Billions of butterflies, flashing their gossamer wings with brilliant colors, have swarmed over Darwin, leaving him unable to breathe.  Figuratively, that is.  Illustra Media’s new documentary Metamorphosis, just released on Blu-Ray last week, leaves little room for Darwin’s theory, while making a powerful case for intelligent design.  The film is already being hailed as a masterpiece.

Featuring some of the most beautiful footage of butterflies and their amazing life cycles from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to flying insect, with information and music to match, Metamorphosis breaks new ground in butterfly research.  Animations based on MRI imaging of a chrysalis show for the first time how organs are broken down and rebuilt inside within ten days.  Electron micrographs zoom in on the antennae, compound eyes, legs and wings of butterflies.  Stunning close-ups of egg-laying, caterpillar molts, chrysalis formation and emergence show phenomena rarely witnessed by non-scientists.  The story of the Monarch butterfly migrations to Mexico is told with some of the most wondrous shots ever made of millions of butterflies flying through the air in remote mountain forest colonies only discovered in the 1970s.

Metamorphosis presents 46 minutes of fascinating science about butterflies before asking how such natural wonders could come about.  By then, the photos and information have laid such a strong foundation of intelligent design, the arguments against Darwinian evolution are almost academic.  But they are well stated: neo-Darwinism cannot account for the origin of two body plans (caterpillar and insect) in the same genome, in a process that destroys one and rebuilds it into another.  It would be like a car encasing itself in a garage, recycling its parts, and emerging as a helicopter.  That whimsical analogy is actually an understatement, explains philosopher of biology Dr. Paul Nelson, because the butterfly is even more complex.  A caterpillar entering a chrysalis is entering a casket unless it has a plan and a coordinated process to emerge out the other side.  Most of the caterpillar’s tissues are consumed and reconstituted into organs that have no analogue in the caterpillar.  Developmental biologist Dr. Ann Gauger adds that an unguided processes like evolution, with no ability to foresee a goal, cannot account for one body plan, let alone two. 

The message of Metamorphosis, though, does not end on a negative note – the bankruptcy of Darwinian theory.  Nelson and Gauger show that butterflies present a positive case for intelligent design.  The only cause capable of reaching an end goal is intelligence, they say.  That the end result is an object of great beauty, an aesthetically pleasing butterfly, its wings painted like works of art, is icing on the cake.  Metamorphosis includes the expertise of lepidopterist Ronald Boender, entomology department head Thomas Emmel and biology professor Richard P. Stringer along with Nelson and Gauger.  In the Bonus Features, Dr. Emmel, who has visited the Monarch colonies in Mexico every year for over 20 years, answers many additional questions about butterflies, and viewers can take tours of three American butterfly houses. The original orchestral score by Mark Lewis includes voices of world-class African-American singers; the pieces can be enjoyed separately in the Bonus Features as conert pieces.  The film is available on DVD and Blu-Ray at the Metamorphosis the Film website, where visitors can watch a 4-minute preview.

This masterpiece of cinematography, music and scientific information is not only one of Illustra Media’s finest productions ever (which says a lot, considering the exceptional quality of Unlocking the Mystery of Life, Privileged Planet and Darwin’s Dilemma, but will appeal to everyone.  What child does not enjoy butterflies?  What adult doesn’t remember the childhood fascination of trying to capture and hold one of these amazing flying machines?  The subject interests us all, and no one brings a subject like this to the screen in a more satisfying way than Illustra Media.  For example, the combination of sight and sound in the scene of the Monarch colony discovery is so emotionally powerful, only a person in a coma could fail to be moved.  The presentation of intelligent design is gentle, reasonable, appealing.  The burden of proof will clearly be on the Darwinist to account for all they have just witnessed.

This wonderful film (see also Melissa’s review) should be used by teachers, home schoolers, churches, study groups, and anyone not part of the Darwin Borg to drive home the clear, obvious message of design.  No religion is pushed, no scripture quoted; just the clear implication that the complexity and coordination of parts in a butterfly, more complex than our science can describe, requires a transcendent cause, an intelligent agent, that not only has a plan and means to accomplish it, but an appreciation for beauty.  That thought alone is enough to get the mental wheels turning down the track out of the Darwin prison into the joy of a designed, purposeful world.

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