‘Creation:’ A drama about the life of Charles Darwin

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by Eugenie Scott, Director of the National Center for Science Education

The new movie Creation (movie website, Adobe Flash 10 required | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes), a British drama about of key moments in Darwin’s professional and personal life, just opened at the Toronto Film Festival and will soon be released in the UK. NCSE staff were invited to a pre-screening of the movie. Genie Scott’s review and commentary are below.

Update: Roger Ebert has posted some comments on his online journal (and I guess he’s quite the Darwin fan!).

I and NCSE staff were invited to view the new Jon Amiel movie, Creation, starring Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connolly. I believe it to be a thoughtful, well-made film that will change many views of Darwin held by the public—for the good. The acting is strong, the visuals are wonderful, and it treats with loving care the Victorian details of the furnishings at Down house and other sites (such as Malvern), and the local church.

The movie takes place after Darwin has returned from the Beagle voyage, and has settled down with his wife, Emma. It concentrates on their relationship, on the growth of their family, and of course, on the production of his most famous scientific work, On the Origin of Species. It looks hard at Darwin’s growing disenchantment with Christianity, especially the concept of Providence, and how poorly it fits Darwin the naturalist’s knowledge of a very unpeaceable kingdom. Darwin’s frequent illness is portrayed with brutal honesty. Sometimes pale, nauseated, unable even to eat dinner with his family, much less work on his science, Darwin is shown suffering from vague symptoms which he attempts to cure with what we would recognize as quack treatments.

A centerpiece of the movie is the death of Annie, the Darwins’ beloved 10 year old daughter, and how it affected the relationship of Charles and Emma. Much of the movie takes place as flashbacks to when Annie was alive; much takes place after her death, when her father imagines conversations with her. In some reviews the later Annie is described as a ghost. Not really. Creation is not a ghost story. Rather, the filmmakers are taking dramatic license to make Darwin’s thoughts about her visible to us. Also given much attention is Darwin’s reluctance to set down his scientific ideas on evolution and natural selection for fear of upsetting the devout Emma, and society in general. Huxley and Hooker encourage him to publish, but Darwin procrastinates.

As someone with a stake in how the public understands evolution and its most famous proponent, the bottom line for me was that the science be presented accurately. The second was that the story of Darwin’s life be presented accurately.

I have no problems with the former: natural selection and evolution (common descent, expressed in the movie by the tree of life metaphor) are both presented accurately, and although the movie does not dwell a great deal on the actual science, the importance of science to Darwin was apparent. Darwin was accurately presented as a curious naturalist (engaging his kids in natural history—geology, beetles, nature walks—even scientifically studying his baby! etc). Darwin is seen as a careful scientist—lots of microscope work, lots of careful record-keeping of pigeons, barnacles, etc. It is also clear—which is historically accurate—that Darwin was held in high regard as a scientist by his colleagues. The scientific part was fine.

How about the historical part? I have just read Randal Keynes’s Annie’s Box, the book upon which the movie is based, refreshing my memory on the details of the period of Darwin’s life covered by the movie. Plus I already know a bit about Darwin’s time, given my odd line of work, and my former career as a university professor teaching evolution. I am satisfied with the historical presentation, though not fully in agreement with all of it. But that’s OK. This isn’t a documentary about Darwin, it’s a movie about Darwin. And there’s a difference. With the latter, you don’t expect absolute fealty to the historical record—though you don’t have to—and shouldn’t—accept wholesale violations.

I could nitpick on historical details (Annie was not the eldest child; Darwin’s visits to Malvern are not in correct sequence; Origin of Species was his 9th book, not his first; historians legitimately debate how important Annie’s death was to Darwin’s rejection of Christianity) but it’s a movie, not a documentary. A movie, as opposed to a documentary, goes for the spirit, not the letter: you can’t get bent out of shape because timelines are changed. Movies operate on emotions—as Randy Olson says, movies aren’t about the head, but the heart, the gut, and the crotch. If you want a historical documentary, don’t go to movies.

Yet much of Creation‘s dialogue is taken directly from Darwin’s correspondence or that of his contemporaries. There is a TON of real history here: I loved the depiction of the quack water cures at Malvern, and Darwin did indeed have his servants build a water tower for him at Down so that he could “take the cure” between visits to the spa. The presentation of his relationship with Hooker, Darwin’s closest friend, who was adored by the Darwin children, was accurate and excellent. BTW, the actor playing Hooker was superb, and the physical likeness is startling. The physical likeness of the actor playing Huxley—less so, but the Bulldog’s pugnacious spirit certainly is well-done.

But all but a tiny percentage of the people who will watch this movie will know far less about Darwin than I know—or that most of the PT readers know. Most of the people watching the movie think of Darwin as a cardboard figure—especially the stern, elderly Victorian guy with a long white beard in the black coat. They aren’t going to think about Darwin as a tall and vigorous man very much devoted to his pretty wife, with a houseful of noisy children who adored him. In my experience, much of the public, following the Creationists, thinks he wrote one not-very-good book, and is unaware that Darwin devoted his life to science, conducting experiments and making observations and being held in high regard by his contemporaries. In particular, Darwin as a passionate, loving human being is far from how most Americans picture him. And that’s too bad, because cardboard cutouts aren’t real—and the real is so much more interesting. I like to think that someone seeing this movie will be stimulated to read one of the many biographies found on the movie’s excellent website (www.creationthemovie.com), or otherwise easily accessible.

Creation is first and foremost a movie about the relationship between Charles and Emma. The actors, married in real life, and themselves parents, do an excellent job portraying the range of emotions that must have been part of the Darwins’ life together—from tenderness as they hold their baby Annie, through their shared grief over her death, to the tension over their different attitudes towards religion, and other aspects of their relationship. Darwin wrote several times about his concern that the death(s) of his children (two died in addition to Annie, alas) was the result of the close familial relationship shared by him and his cousin, Emma. As a breeder of pigeons and livestock, he knew that close inbreeding could bring out “weaknesses”, even if he didn’t understand particulate inheritance.

Charles feared that Annie’s painful, lingering illness and death was his fault—that she had inherited what he considered a disposition to bad digestion. In one especially poignant scene in a tavern, Darwin is told about the successes of a pigeon breeder who can produce new traits “in four generations!” He does it, of course, through close inbreeding, noting that, of course, there is higher mortality. When the cheerful tradesman comments with a hearty laugh, “A wealthy gentleman like yourself, sir, can certainly afford to lose a couple of chicks!” It’s understandable that Darwin struggles to maintain composure.

The scene where Charles years later sobs as he visits the room where Annie died should touch anyone watching the movie. Keynes talks about Darwin sometimes feeling he was neglecting his other children during Annie’s sickness and after her death, and his “return” to them as their loving father is handled in the movie with great tenderness. And indeed, Annie’s death did strain the marriage of Emma and Charles, though it also brought them closer.

By telling an interesting story, and making Darwin human, Creation will I think encourage some viewers to find out more about the historical Darwin and his ideas. From my standpoint as director of NCSE, that’s useful, indeed. The more people know about evolution and its most famous proponent, the less they will fear it. I’d like to see this movie get distributed in the US. Unfortunately, although Canadians and British will see it, there is not yet a US distributor. We can only speculate why, but the well-known American nervousness about evolution is probably and unfortunately part of the mix.

This movie deserves to be seen in movie theaters, not relegated merely to Netflix on DVD. I hope the reviews following the North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10 are good, and also the reviews following the British premiere September 25. If a bomb like Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed can get a distributor, a well-made movie with an excellent script, actors, direction, and cinematography like Creation surely should.

Maybe people who care about science should do what the promoters of Expelled did: get lots of people to show up on opening weekend to give the movie a big ratings boost.

Of course, it has to get a distributor first, and there isn’t a lot we can do about that. If anyone has contacts with someone associated with movie distribution, send them to Creation!

60 Comments

“Darwin is seen as a careful scientist – lots of microscope work, lots of careful record–keeping of pigeons, barnacles, etc.”

What? No earthworms in the movie?

No worms (I think Darwin got into that when he was old), but there are lots of maggots!

There were fascinating hours involving earthworms, but for some reason the film editor cut them out, Ferrous!

Oh! If they could have just persuaded Dawkins to play Huxley! I have always wanted to see Dawkins in that role, with mutton-chop whiskers and a frock coat.

I suppose if they considered it the answer was: “No, the script calls for a BULLDOG, not a ROTTWEILER!”

I’m really looking forward to seeing it.

Looks like a great film, and I PRAY that we get a US distributor. lol

Thanks for a great review. I’m looking forward to this film. I was stunned to hear you haven’t got a US distributor. I really hope you get one.

wah, i want to see it, too! i’ve heard all sorts of good things about it, so why don’t they show movies like this in the USA??

Uncommon Dissent doesn’t like Creation for some reason. Denyse O’Leary, “science” journalist extraordinaire, brings out the tired old creationist cliche that evolution = religion. See http://www.uncommondescent.com/darw[…]-a-religion/

Interesting that Bettany was chosen to play Darwin. Bettany also played the ship’s doctor and naturalist in the movie Master & Commander, set before Darwin’s time in the Napoleonic wars (terrific flick, btw). In that film his character was keenly interested in collecting and studying samples of this or that and even got to romp around the Galapagos for spell.

I was struck by a memorable line his character uttered. He and a young student were examining some insects skilled a disguising themselves as a stick, thorn, or whatever and the student asked whether God caused the insects to change like that. “Certainly,” his character replied, “but do they also change themselves? That’s the real mystery.”

Paul Burnett said: Uncommon Dissent doesn’t like Creation for some reason. Denyse O’Leary …

Oh why am NOT surprised?

I should know better than to follow links like that. I could get the same effect by linking to an audio file of someone scraping their fingernails on a blackboard. It would be about as entertaining and informative.

This looks like a very good film and the website was very cool. Thanks for posting!

It looks like Nova will be celebrating Darwin’s birth also: on October 6 they will air a 2-hour program called Darwin’s Darkest Hour

This summer, I had the wonderful experience to go to Down House and see for myself what I’d been reading about my whole life (although it was fairly hard to find on those tiny roads the width of a bike lane). What a nerd’s nerd! I’m glad to hear that the movie seems to do him justice.

FastEddie,

You may not know that Patrick O’Brian, the English novelist (O’Brian was his most famous pen name) who created the Aubrey / Maturin series, had envisioned ship’s surgeon Stephen Maturin (Bettany’s character) as a fictional precursor to both Darwin and Huxley. I believe he did acknowledge in interviews that he was inspried to create Maturin as a homage to both Darwin and Huxley.

BTW, Nick Matzke is right about Darwin’s late in life “fetish” for worms, which was the subject of one of his very last books.

Regards,

John

Genie -

Thanks for such a great review (I regret that you didn’t have space to comment on that Tribeca Film Festival round table discussion held immediately after Creation’s screening last spring, here in New York City, during the festival.

I hope a major Hollywood film distributor will read yours and Roger Ebert’s comments and move with alacrity to ensure that “Creation” has a nationwide release in a few months.

Appreciatively yours,

John

Sounds good! But an Australian release date unspecified in 2010? This will not stand…

I’m shocked. I can’t believe there’s no US distributor.

I am going to take this down on Monday because I am going to submit it for publication in a journal, but before you swallow the movie’s line on how Annie’s death affected Darwin’s attitude to religion or his work on evolution, take a look at this article I have written:

http://roughguidetoevolution.blogsp[…]posting.html

And with luck I will get to see the movie on Tuesday–and will try to remember it is a work of fiction!

Jennifer Connelly…

I wonder about the title “Creation”. Seems such a title is just asking for conflict with creationists. For possible distribution in US maybe a title change is in order.

For those interested in the historical Darwin, if they happen to go to London at any time I would recommend a visit to Burlington House in Piccadilly. In there you will find the Reynolds room in which the Darwin/Wallace joint paper was first presented to the Royal Society. And do you know (and don’t spread this around) you can wander in free of charge to this almost invariably empty room and quietly contemplate the significance of what what started in that very place. It’s enough to give you goosebumps

boldra said:

For those interested in the historical Darwin, if they happen to go to London at any time I would recommend a visit to Burlington House in Piccadilly. In there you will find the Reynolds room in which the Darwin/Wallace joint paper was first presented to the Royal Society. And do you know (and don’t spread this around) you can wander in free of charge to this almost invariably empty room and quietly contemplate the significance of what what started in that very place. It’s enough to give you goosebumps

Don’t get too many goosebumps. I was in that room twice, to give a lecture to the Systematics Association in 2008, and to attend an awards ceremony in 2009. While I was busy getting goosebumps, they informed me that actually the Linnean Society had moved buildings within that complex since 1858. The actual lecture room that was used for the Darwin and Wallace papers in 1858 is across the courtyard and has since been remodeled into a bathroom (WC)!

But anyway the room looks ancient and has interesting portraits on the wall, including a famous one of Darwin done from life. The Linnean Society does have Linnaeus’s specimens and library, plus in a display case in the hall the original microscope that a Secretary of the Society, Robert Brown, used to discover Brownian Motion in 1827.

Thanks for the review. I had qualms based on advertising copy which were apparently needless.

Well, if you’re not going to have tacky, tasteless bathroom humor, shameless nudity and or sex, digustingly gratuitous gore, or blatant, lying/slandering/hatemongering for Jesus, then, why bother with the American Audience?

I wish Ebert would do a proper review. Perhaps that would light some fire under distributors?

Apparently, due to his poor health, he is no longer actively reviewing films now. Still, however, a very favorable appraisal from him should carry some weight within the film industry IMHO:

Wheels said:

I wish Ebert would do a proper review. Perhaps that would light some fire under distributors?

Stanton said:

Well, if you’re not going to have tacky, tasteless bathroom humor, shameless nudity and or sex, digustingly gratuitous gore, or blatant, lying/slandering/hatemongering for Jesus, then, why bother with the American Audience?

We live in a country of pussies.

You can actually help prove there is an audience for the Creation movie! Join the Darwin Facebook group (already 250,000 strong): http://bit.ly/darwin150

The Creation movie, NatGeo, and NCSE have partnered with The Darwin150 Project in cheering the 150th anniversary of “On the Origin of Species” with a series of events in Fall 2009 aimed at the general public and a goal to get the Darwin Facebook Group to 1 million members. http://bit.ly/darwin150

Our first FREE event (live at Harvard and via webcast and phone) is next Wed 9/16 with Professor Everett Mendelsohn. Don’t miss it. http://bit.ly/darwin150com

Dave Wisker said:

Stanton said:

Well, if you’re not going to have tacky, tasteless bathroom humor, shameless nudity and or sex, digustingly gratuitous gore, or blatant, lying/slandering/hatemongering for Jesus, then, why bother with the American Audience?

We live in a country of pussies.

Hypocrites is more apt, as, after all, they’re always listening to Creationists and Intelligent Design proponents whine about “oh, let’s teach the controversy!”

But a little biographical movie about Charles Darwin? “Oh noes, too controversial! Keep it away before it infects the children with Liberalism!”

Let’s face it, it can’t be because the film is “too controversial”.

Distributors and exhibitors dream of having a genuinely controversial film to show. Skin, explosions, chainsaws, insanity, incest, blood, mayhem, torture, flying body parts, all that, they don’t cut it any more. If the life of Charles Darwin and the (supposed) reasons for his loss of Christian faith were merely controversial - meaning the subject of popular discussion and debate - the distributors would be lining up. You don’t seriously think that these people would be saying to each other, “Profit be damned! There’s a principle involved here!”, do you?

No, there’s something more going on. I wonder who’s been whispering in their ears, and what they’ve been saying.

I think that it is the U.S. distributers who are severely underestimating the American public. This speaks more about them and their opinion of their customers than it does about Americans.

Stanton said:

Dave Wisker said:

Stanton said:

Well, if you’re not going to have tacky, tasteless bathroom humor, shameless nudity and or sex, digustingly gratuitous gore, or blatant, lying/slandering/hatemongering for Jesus, then, why bother with the American Audience?

We live in a country of pussies.

Hypocrites is more apt, as, after all, they’re always listening to Creationists and Intelligent Design proponents whine about “oh, let’s teach the controversy!”

But a little biographical movie about Charles Darwin? “Oh noes, too controversial! Keep it away before it infects the children with Liberalism!”

Hypocrites are intellectual pussies.

to Mark:

Thanks for posting the whole essay – it is very thoughtful and thought-provoking. I learned a lot from it.

But remember when you see the movie, that it’s a movie. The purpose of a movie is to make you feel – and sometimes some movies make you think, though that’s frosting, for the most part.

The grief of the Darwins over the loss of Annie should touch the heart of anyone who has a neuron’s worth of feeling. And considering that over here there’s a well-funded industry spreading the view that Darwin was “racist, a bigot and an 1800s naturalist whose legacy is mass murder” with a “half-baked theory” responsible for Hitler and the familiar laundry-list of “isms”, I’m willing to cut a little slack on exact historical treatment to dramatic license in favor of a more rounded view of the man.

Darwin lost his faith in Christianity doubtless for many reasons, and the movie doesn’t actually pin it all on Annie’s death. There is much attention paid to nature being a warring place full of death and pain, and how this doesn’t fit with the Rev. Innis’s pieties about God’s providence. And no one disputes that Darwin’s death was a hard blow. (Interestingly, Annie’s death might have undone his rejection of Christianity: it isn’t unknown that a grieving parent becomes religious rather than losing faith.)

Of course scholars should express their views on the interesting historical issue of when Darwin turned away from Christianity, whether they suport the Desmond and Moore perspective or that of their critics.

But I hope they don’t lose sight of the fact that this is a movie, not a documentary. The writers chose Randal Keynes’ book because it presented such a personal picture of Darwin the husband and father. Keynes’ book does favor one side of the Annie/Charles Christianity link (though not as strong as Jim Moore’s). And for their purposes, which is to tell the STORY of Darwin and thus his humanity, it works.

So I hope you and other viewers look at the movie as a whole, and consider its effect.

Of course – you actually get to see it, and thus far, movie-goers in the US won’t be able to, unless there’s a distributor. And none is on the horizon.

Genie

Join my campaign to get the movie show in Chicago, and maybe get it a distributor. If enough folks sign up and say they will buy a ticket, maybe a distributor will come forward. You can see it here.

Hoorah! According to Adam Rutherford’s twitter feed (he’s an editor at Nature),

Director of Creation just told me that they are hoping to sign a US distribution deal for #Darwin film Creation tonight. Please RT.

and, then, a couple hours later…

As I heat (sic) it, Creation will get a US release.

I am greatly looking forward to seeing this film here in the UK, and share your disappointment that it will not be shown in the USA, surely the ONE place it should be seen! Your point about the very human, and humane, side of Darwin is hugely important. Once people see that this so called ‘monster, the father of eugenics and facism’, according to one film review, was a humble, likeable, faithful, caring human being I am sure that this would serve, alas, as a stronger argument than the actual evidential one. One of the major elements in creationism, racism and other irrational, prejudiced views, is ignorance. What a shame that this film will only ‘preach’, mostly, to the ‘converted’.

derek hudson said:

I am greatly looking forward to seeing this film here in the UK, and share your disappointment that it will not be shown in the USA, surely the ONE place it should be seen!

At the very least, it should get a DVD distribution – admittedly not the same as a theater release, but I always watch movies at home these days anyway.

John Kwok said:

BTW, Nick Matzke is right about Darwin’s late in life “fetish” for worms, which was the subject of one of his very last books.

Stephen Jay Gould wrote an article about Darwin’s book on earthworms. Its in “The Richness of Life” which I am currently enjoying.

For those of you who are on Facebook, there is a Facebook page intended to help increase public support for a US distributor to pick up finally “Creation” so it can be shown here in the United States:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?g[…]mp;ref=share

Please join and ask others you know on Facebook to do so too.

I asked Roger Ebert what he thought we could do to press for getting the film in the USA.

He replied:

I expect it to find distribution. They don’t have a deal, but haven’t been shut out.

So here’s hoping! I, for one, do not mind seeing Jennifer Connolly in films at all.

Dave

Dave,

Am delighted that “Creation” was featured at last spring’s Tribeca Film Festival, as part of an event that concluded with a roundtable discussion featuring Genie Scott and the film’s director, Jon Amiel (Alas I wasn’t able to attend.). I remain utterly dumbfounded that Hollywood has chosen to ignore it, though I have heard that the film may have found a potential USA distributor at the Toronto Film Festival (This is as of yet unconfirmed rumor, of which no more shall be said.).

I have no doubt that the performances of Bettany and Connelly as the Darwins will be exceptional, based on their prior work (Again, as I noted a few days ago to FastEddie, Bettany’s character in the film “Master and Commander”, Dr. Stephen Maturin, was meant to be a fictional precursor of both Darwin and Huxley, according to the English novelist who created the Aubrey / Maturin series of novels, Patrick O’Brian.

Appreciatively yours,

John

Courtesy of Glenn Branch:

Mel Gibson’s “Creation” May Cause Big Bang in U.S.

Here’s a snippet:

After months of resistance, the creators of the Charles Darwin bio-pic “Creation” say they’re close to getting a distribution deal in the United States.

“There is now a bidding war for the film in the US. A US deal will be in place by the end of the week.” a spokesman tells NBC Bay Area.

That’s a turnaround from just a few days ago, when the film’s creators were lamenting film distributors’ fear of being associated with the film.

Ironic, considering resistance from conservatives; the film was bankrolled by Mel Gibson’s Icon Productions which was also behind “The Passion of the Christ.”

You might think conservative church goers in the United States would line up to see the film - and they’d make a big audience: a recent Gallup poll showed only 39 percent of Americans surveyed believed in evolution.

However, “conservative religious and the creationist groups have been so intense on demonizing Darwin that any film which shows him as a real human will likely be viewed as controversial,” director John Amiel tells Reuters.

Cheers, Dave

I hate to say it, but I think the “we can’t get a distributor because evolution is too controversial in America” thing might have been a bit of publicity-seeking exaggeration from the filmmakers. The free publicity that comes with such controversy is catnip to distributors. If there was initial reluctance to take on the movie, more likely it’s because, well, it’s a period costume drama about a Victorian scientist and his family. Not exactly “Transformers.”

I fully expected someone would pick it up, and sooner rather than later, so I wasn’t really worried. Glad to see I was right. The timing worries me a bit, though. The gears of the Hollywood machine grind slowly, and I would think this is too down to the wire for a release before the end of the year, which would be ideal, with the fall and early winter being prime Oscar bait season as well as having plenty of media chatter over the Origins anniversary.

Notwithstanding all of this, reviews from the recent screening at the Toronto Film Festival were decidedly mixed, from what I gather.

It does seem remarkable that ‘Creation’ will probably be seen in every country except perhaps USA (and possibly Sudan, Iran or any other place where the religious lobby has great political power). I trust this movie does get a full release in America.

John Kwok said:

Apparently, due to his poor health, he is no longer actively reviewing films now. Still, however, a very favorable appraisal from him should carry some weight within the film industry IMHO:

Wheels said:

I wish Ebert would do a proper review. Perhaps that would light some fire under distributors?

I just spent a few days on his blog, mostly asking my usual questions of an evolution-denier (a rare one who admitted common descent). Ebert wrote that he reads every comment (there were 1000s), and he replied to many including one of mine. His energy seems boundless. I might not agree with him on many issues other than evolution, but I wish him the best.

Eugenie Scott Wrote:

Movies operate on emotions—as Randy Olson says, movies aren’t about the head, but the heart, the gut, and the crotch. If you want a historical documentary, don’t go to movies.

So from now on, let’s all please refer to “Expelled” as a “movie,” not a “documentary.”

We know for an absolute fact that Darwin became an Atheist-Materialist by 1839, that is, during the same two years in which his theory was “clearly conceived” (Autobio: 124).

Notebooks M and N on man, mind and materialism were written 1838 and 1839. In these writings Darwin freely admits to be a Materialist. Of course his theory is fully materialist, meaning the total absence of Intelligent agencies causing biological production.

In his autobiography Darwin admits to renouncing the Bible and Christianity in the context of during or before the late 1830s (pages 85-87). Again this is the same period in which he conceived his theory.

Ray Martinez said:

We know for an absolute fact that Darwin became an Atheist-Materialist by 1839…

Yo, Ray. SO WHAT? Do you judge the validity of all science by the religious beliefs of its discoverer?

Do you deplore Einstein’s religion (or lack thereof–he sure as hell wasn’t a christian) and therefore reject relativity?

Do you know what Newton’s beliefs were? Dang, you’re going to have to throw out classical mechanics, optics and gravity.

And that Copernicus guy–he was a CATHOLIC MONK! So I guess we’re back to an Earth-centered universe.

How about this–can you name ONE scientist whose religious beliefs exactly correspond with yours, and detail his or her contribution to our understanding of reality and nature?

Just Bob said:

Yo, Ray. SO WHAT? Do you judge the validity of all science by the religious beliefs of its discoverer?

Yes, Ray does that thing. And your point was…?

Dave Luckett said:

Yes, Ray does that thing. And your point was…?

Indeed. I think it would be hardly difficult to write a small program that could randomly assemble a selected set of phrases into postings that couldn’t told from the “real thing”.

Then again, we might already be seeing such a program at work.

I was reading about because a friend saw it in San Francisco - and along came some thread in which someone made the comment about Darwin’s “incestuous” relationship with his daughter. Please tell me that person was sickly twisting history.

Ray Martinez said:

We know for an absolute fact that Darwin became an Atheist-Materialist by 1839, that is, during the same two years in which his theory was “clearly conceived” (Autobio: 124).

We also know for an absolute fact that no one cares.

It would not matter one bit if Darwin were a satan worshiper who killed and ate his entire family. Darwin was right, deal with it already.

Mae said:

I was reading about because a friend saw it in San Francisco - and along came some thread in which someone made the comment about Darwin’s “incestuous” relationship with his daughter. Please tell me that person was sickly twisting history.

Yes, that person was sickly twisting history. Darwin’s daughter Annie died at age 10, to Darwin’s very great grief. Any suggestion of incest is a black lie, in flat defiance of all that is known of the man. It’s the sort of desperate calumny that is the last resort of a violent and embittered malignancy. Whoever uttered it is dead to all shame. The back of my hand to it.

Mae said:

I was reading about because a friend saw it in San Francisco - and along came some thread in which someone made the comment about Darwin’s “incestuous” relationship with his daughter. Please tell me that person was sickly twisting history.

Charles Darwin married his cousin, Emma Wedgewood. This was a common arrangement in upper-class England in the 19th century, but has been the source material for all sorts of scurrilous accusation.

For the record. Darwin had 10 children, 4 girls and 6 boys. Two of the girls survived to adulthood (as did the 6 boys). The Wedgewoods were somewhat socially prominent in in the late 1800’s and the Darwin/Wedgewood progeny subsequently did quit well for themselves.

All the evidence seems to indicate that Darwin was a doting and caring father, particularly decimated, almost to the point of loosing his faith, by the death of his second child, Emma, from scarlet fever at age 10.

There is, simply, no evidence at all of any inappropriate behavior.

(Incidentally, Darwin was keenly aware that his children tended toward being sickly, and attributed this to the fact that he and his wife were cousins. This served as part of his thinking on the importance of broad genetic bases in species and influenced his thinking on how traits were inherited and spread)

To be precise technically - even if it is unfortunately - “Expelled” is still a documentary film, even if it is a documentary film based upon utterly false pretenses, lies, omissions, and other forms of deceit:

Frank J said:

John Kwok said:

Apparently, due to his poor health, he is no longer actively reviewing films now. Still, however, a very favorable appraisal from him should carry some weight within the film industry IMHO:

Wheels said:

I wish Ebert would do a proper review. Perhaps that would light some fire under distributors?

I just spent a few days on his blog, mostly asking my usual questions of an evolution-denier (a rare one who admitted common descent). Ebert wrote that he reads every comment (there were 1000s), and he replied to many including one of mine. His energy seems boundless. I might not agree with him on many issues other than evolution, but I wish him the best.

Eugenie Scott Wrote:

Movies operate on emotions—as Randy Olson says, movies aren’t about the head, but the heart, the gut, and the crotch. If you want a historical documentary, don’t go to movies.

So from now on, let’s all please refer to “Expelled” as a “movie,” not a “documentary.”

Agree with your comments, stevaroni, except to note that the Wedgewoods were quite socially prominent from the late 1700s onwards to the very present. They were actively involved in abolitionist and anti-slavery movements in Great Britain from the 1790s if not before. Moreover, members of the family continued to play important roles within British intellectual, political and cultural life well into the 20th Century. If you do doubt this, then I recommend reading Mark Pallen’s “Rough Guide to Evolution” since he does discuss the Wedgewoods in the biographical chapter on Darwin:

stevaroni said:

Mae said:

I was reading about because a friend saw it in San Francisco - and along came some thread in which someone made the comment about Darwin’s “incestuous” relationship with his daughter. Please tell me that person was sickly twisting history.

Charles Darwin married his cousin, Emma Wedgewood. This was a common arrangement in upper-class England in the 19th century, but has been the source material for all sorts of scurrilous accusation.

For the record. Darwin had 10 children, 4 girls and 6 boys. Two of the girls survived to adulthood (as did the 6 boys). The Wedgewoods were somewhat socially prominent in in the late 1800’s and the Darwin/Wedgewood progeny subsequently did quit well for themselves.

All the evidence seems to indicate that Darwin was a doting and caring father, particularly decimated, almost to the point of loosing his faith, by the death of his second child, Emma, from scarlet fever at age 10.

There is, simply, no evidence at all of any inappropriate behavior.

(Incidentally, Darwin was keenly aware that his children tended toward being sickly, and attributed this to the fact that he and his wife were cousins. This served as part of his thinking on the importance of broad genetic bases in species and influenced his thinking on how traits were inherited and spread)

While I am a devoted Christian, and, incidentally a retired pastor, I believe that many who also call themselves Christian are wasting an awful lot of energy they could be using to make the world a better place and, environmentally, a healthier place for all creatures. Come off it folks, let Christ live in you through your love and stop trying to prove the unprovable.

Blessings,

Carl

Carl said:

While I am a devoted Christian, and, incidentally a retired pastor, I believe that many who also call themselves Christian are wasting an awful lot of energy they could be using to make the world a better place and, environmentally, a healthier place for all creatures. Come off it folks, let Christ live in you through your love and stop trying to prove the unprovable.

Blessings,

Carl

It’s my experience that such Christians are taught to regard the world they live in, the world they say that God created, as the kingdom of Satan. To them, the very idea of expressing any interest in this world is a mortal sin.

After all, why bother making this awful world more livable for everyone when Jesus is going to come and obliterate everything and everyone except for the very few of His faithful followers?

Dear Mr Eugenie Scott, Is there any historical basis of the scene in the movie ‘creation’ as Darwin knelt down in church begging for life of Annie and in return be faithful for the rest of his life? As my little knowledge goes, there was no such abrupt change linked to death of Annie. I would like to know your opinion. Regards Mahbub

What a bad movie. I am embarrassed for the people that produced this. A complete fraud!

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This page contains a single entry by Guest Contributor published on September 11, 2009 3:02 PM.

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