Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Charles Darwin studied to become an Angelical clergyman at Cambridge University. At that time he did not doubt the literal truth of the Bible. But he was endowed with a brilliant, and curious mind which soon took him in the direction of the science taught by the likes of John Herschel, who sought explanations in the laws of nature, rather than divine intervention.
Upon returning from his voyage on the Beagle, and after formulating his theories of natural selection being the mechanism for evolution of all species that have lived and died since life began on this planet, he became critical of the Bible as history, and wondered why all religions were not equally valid, or why one particular religion would be more valid than all the others, seemingly being arbitrarily attributed to the geographical location of ones birth as to which faith one adopted. If your born in the Middle East chances are good you will be taught and adopt the Muslim faith, in Sri Lanka the Buddhist faith, in Ireland the Catholic faith, and so on. He also did not see the work of an omnipotent being in the pain and suffering experienced in daily life, the early death of his own children, Annie at the age of ten, and Charles at eighteen months, both of Scarlet Fever, and Mary after just a few weeks of life, being prime examples which radically altered his views on Christianity and religion in general.
Before they married Charles had lengthy discussions upon where his research was taking him with his future wife Emma, who's own religious view were based upon intensive thought and questioning and based upon Unitarianism, which elevates inner feeling over religious texts and doctrine. Each knew that the probability that their differing views might become a wedge between them if they married and as they progressed through life, Emma worried about her future husbands belief's that prohibited their spending eternity together after their deaths, and Charles growing certainty that no God was required to explain the diversity of life on Earth, and then by extension, confirmed by future discoveries in physics and astronomy, that no God was required to explain anything found in nature and the universe.
They did marry, and had ten children together, seven of them surviving into adulthood. Charles views deepened after the death of their eldest daughter Annie, and after the publication of his landmark book, "On the Origen of Species," and his subsequent work and writings, and the chasm between he and his wife grew as the became older.
Yet his theories have proven to be true. They are a fact that all of the biological sciences are based upon. Because of the courageous work of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace (who independently discovered the same idea, but Darwin published first), and their insistence on basing their work and ideas on where the evidence took them, rather than where they may have personally wanted it to go, have given us the true key to knowing how we all came into existence. The only reason evolution is called a theory is because that is the way science works, as the paleontologist Stephen J. Gould eloquently states:
"Well evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts don't go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's in this century, but apples didn't suspend themselves in midair, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered."
The new British film, "Creation," directed by Jon Amiel, and starring my favorite contemporary actress, Jennifer Connelly and her real life husband, Paul Bettany, chronicals the true story of Charles and Emma as he was formulating his theories, as the distance between faith and reason widened within their marriage. It premiered in Toronto last Thursday, and is scheduled for release in Britain on September 25th. Yet no distributor has picked up the film for distribution within the United States, seemingly because they fear the subject matter too controversial for an American audience in which only 39% of the population believes in the theory of evolution, and even that includes those with a Theistic view, that evolution is the chosen mechanism of God to propagate life on earth.
Like the belief of the majority of Americans in the pseudo-sciences, such as astrology and numerology, and ghosts, UFOs, and the abominable snowman, I find the trend to hold on to cherished falsehoods that have been soundly disproved by the methods of science, truly troubling in this age of science. To hold on to folklore while the truth of fact is ignored spells little other than a dangerous and disturbing precedent when living in a world where serious problems of climate change and weapons of mass destruction exist and must be dealt with. I also find disturbing this form of censorship that these film distributors appear to be foisting on the American public by denying access of this well reviewed movie to the American public. I believe there is a real audience for this film, as there was for "Inherit the Wind," which deals with similar subject matter, and which was nominated for four Academy Awards. I invite all of you dear readers who wish to see this movie shown in this country to go to the site below and sign a petition demanding the American distribution of this film.
Let Americans make up their own minds if they wish to explore the lives of Charles and Emma, which in fact has little to do with evolution, but rather a complicated and magnificent story of love and respect.

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