|Charles Darwin at about the age of|
his voyage on The Beagle
By Morris Dean
The fact that Charles Darwin's birthday was this week (he was born on February 12, 1809) sparked HBO's airing of 73-year-old British filmmaker Antony Thomas's one-hour documentary Questioning Darwin, which adroitly gives about equal coverage (1) to scientists and biographers appreciating Darwin's discovery of biological evolution's mechanism of natural selection and (2) to folks like Ken Ham, a founder of the "Answers in Genesis Creation Museum" in Kentucky, who are questioning Darwin. Of course, the creationists aren’t just questioning Darwin; they think they have definitively answered him by opposing the established, proven science of evolution with something they like to call “creation science*.”
While the program is informative, I fault Thomas for not pointing out that “creation science” is an oxymoron and the Biblical account of Creation (some 6,000 years ago) is just a primitive myth that bears no relation whatsoever to the evolution of higher forms of life on Earth from the simple replicators that originated some 2,000,000,000 years ago....A very poor birthday present indeed for someone to whom we owe so much for his contribution to our understanding of life on earth.
Reviewer Amanda Marcotte, in her review, “New Darwin Documentary Shows Creationists Aren’t Dumb. They’re Fearful,” writes accurately, I think, when she says:
By going back and forth between creationists and Darwin’s life story, the documentary crafts a compelling image of the conflict between two world views: That of curiosity and that of incuriosity/fear. I agree with The New York Times reviewer [Neil Genzlinger's “True Believers, on Both Sides: In ‘Questioning Darwin,’ No Easy Answers”] that the creationists are presented non-judgmentally, but...the creationists do all the work for you anyway [emphasis mine]. There’s a pastor explaining he would have to accept it if the Bible said “2+2=5” and people talking, over and over again, about the strategies they have to employ to shut down their minds in the event that they’re presented with an opportunity to think more broadly. The major emotion that comes off them in waves is that of fear: Fear of asking questions, fear of the “world” (which is always talked about negatively), fear of difference, fear that thinking might lead them into dark places, fear that they really aren’t special that manifests in making up a God who loves you so you never have to go a moment without that feeling, fear that they will fall into the abyss without blind obedience to authority, and, of course, fear of death.Genzingler, in his review, says that “Mr. Thomas gets an array of [the creationists] to speak forthrightly by treating them respectfully. Even viewers who feel these people are living their lives with blinders on might admire their conviction.” Some might; I admit that I cannot.
Copyright © 2014 by Morris Dean
* From the Wikipedia article on creation science:
The overwhelming consensus of the scientific community is that creation science is a religious, not a scientific view, and that creation science does not qualify as science because it lacks empirical support, supplies no tentative hypotheses, and resolves to describe natural history in terms of scientifically untestable supernatural causes. Creation science has been characterized as a pseudo-scientific attempt to map the Bible into scientific facts. According to Samir Okasha [in Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction (2002). Oxford University Press. p. 127.], “virtually all professional biologists regard creation science as a sham – a dishonest and misguided attempt to promote religious beliefs under the guise of science, with extremely harmful consequences.”
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