“Questioning Darwin” – Perpetuating Stereotypes and Misinformation

HBO's Questioning Darwin Documentary HBO’s documentary Questioning Darwin   questions Christian belief instead of Darwin
From Questioning Darwin, an HBO Documentary

The IMDB storyline synopsis of HBO’s recent1  documentary  ends with the statement, “the film takes a balanced look at this 150-year-old debate.”  It appears the film wants to take a balanced look, and they certainly had the opportunity, but if they were trying to achieve a balanced look, they failed miserably.  Either the writers are so steeped in anti-Christian evolutionist doctrine that they couldn’t see their own bias, or they willfully withheld important data that is relevant to the discussion. Or perhaps it’s a bit of both.

If they were seriously trying to present objections of those who “Question Darwin” why have they chosen to only present the case from the point of view of Bible believing Christians (of which I, of course, am one)? Such objections stem primarily from the fact that evolution is in direct contradiction to Biblical teaching. But that is not the only source of objections.  Why did they not also present the case of scientists who do not believe in evolution from a scientific point of view? Surely the existence of scientific objections to Darwin is not a newsflash to the writers of a documentary on Darwin. There is an entire site highlighting the hundreds of scientists who have signed their names to the statement:

” We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

The site is Dissentfromdarwin.org and you can look up all the scientists who dissent yourself.  Instead, the picture that is painted is that only fundamental, Bible believing Christians who,  as the narrator tells us,  “… believe their Bible is the Word of God, the ‘literal truth’ …”2,  don’t believe in Darwinian evolution. That only Christians object to Darwin is clearly not the case and so that is a  misrepresentation.  The fact that they have omitted any reference to any scientific objections to Darwin points to what this documentary is really about: questioning Christians who question Darwin.

Without speaking to those responsible for this production, one  can only speculate as to their motives. But based on what they choose to include (statements from Christians without any investigation as to whether they might be true)  and what they chose to omit (objections from scientists who disagree with Darwin’s theory), and the amount of time they spent explaining how Darwin arrived at his theory vs. the amount of time spent showing Christians who “question Darwin,” the motives seems clear: to present Christians as slightly irrational, slightly backwards, science rejecting people whose opinions should not be taken to seriously in this matter. Unfortunately,  too often Christians provide ample fodder for this distorted view.

A pastor3  is shown saying,  “If in the bible I were to find a passage that says 2 + 2 = 5, I wouldn’t question what I’m reading in the Bible, I would believe it, accept it as true, and then do my best to work it out and understand it.”  Brother, I understand what you’re saying.  It is incumbent on the reader of the Bible to investigate further to work out apparent contradictions so as to resolve the contradiction and understand what the Biblical writer was saying. (Of course that clarification was not in the documentary.)

For instance, Jesus while standing in the magnificent temple that took 46 years to build  is quoted as saying, “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days.” (John 2.19) This was clearly misunderstood by his audience, the Jews. (As it would be by anyone in that context who didn’t know Jesus.) Thankfully John, the writer of the gospel explains what he meant – that he was referring to his body.  So Jesus was in essence saying if you kill me, I will physically raise this body and make it live again in 3 days, which is proof of my claims. A prediction and a promise he made good on that first Easter Sunday by his resurrection from the dead.

So I understand the pastor to be underscoring the importance of working out apparent contradictions – though he chose, in my estimation, a poor example to illustrate the point. Arithmetic statements by nature and design leave little room for interpretation; and as such don’t illustrate the broad (though clear) range of meaning that verbal statements may convey, particularly when set in various contexts. So while his point is valid, it was used by this production to stereotype Christians as following blindly without a rational basis. As I state in What is Rational Faith Part 2, Christian Faith does not require a blind leap of faith.

From there, the depiction of Christians gets worse, with a Professor  accusing Christians of lying to children because they teach as truth what’s taught in the Bible; things that contradict evolution such as creation and a young earth. His exact  statement was:

“If the only way you can get your beliefs to persists is to lie to children – which is what creationists do about the age of the earth and things of that nature, if that’s the only way this thing can persist, it’s now worth it, it should disappear.”4

Clearly,  instead of looking at scientists today who “Question Darwin” and how they view Darwin’s theory against today’s evidence, the writers chose to channel the accusations of the new atheists, who accuse Christians of child abuse for teaching them religion.5   Instead of looking at the scientific questions, they chose to look at how Christians interpret the Bible, apparently appalled that Christians can take Genesis “literally”6, and even more appalled that such an approach can be persuasive, noting:

“Creationism – the fastest growing branch of Christianity – not just here in the United States but worldwide.”

That fact is only surprising (and disconcerting) to those who have bought into Darwinism lock, stock and barrel.  While the program does an admirable job of correctly articulating Christian views – since they directly quote Christians, and even shows scenes from Ken Ham’s Creation Museum – still  it is quite apparent that they mean to question those views. With their disdain for the views of those who doubt Darwin apparent, their refusal to show scientists who doubt Darwin gives the show a strong appearance of suppressing the evidence.  This point is underscored by the fact that they had comments from former college professor Dr. Jobe Martin, who has published evidences against evolution in titles such as Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution (I-III), but you don’t see any of his evidences; he provides history and commentary on Darwinism and its effects. Yet as philosopher of science and Intelligent Design advocate Dr. Stephen Meyer put it,

“For every evidence based argument for one of Darwin’s two key propositions, there is an evidence based counter argument.”7

You won’t see any of the counter arguments to Darwin in this documentary however.  In fact to the contrary,  Darwin is presented as a hard working, state of the art (even if it is 19th century art) scientist who worked tirelessly to gather evidence for his theory.  We are told of all the specimens he examined and the correspondences he had with other scientists.  Darwin no doubt considered himself an objective researcher. (We’re supposed to believe that too.)  We’re led to believe that his conclusions were valid based on all the research he did, however the documentary never bothers to mention or even question if the research that he conducted supported the conclusions he jumped to. The evidence suggests his research did not support his conclusions.

The documentary makes clear however that he suffered  greatly at the loss of his favored daughter Annie, and couldn’t understand why there should be evil in the world.  Outspoken creationist, Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis  graciously offers that if his theology professors had told him the source of evil was sin – not God, it may have changed his perspective.  What is more likely the case, (since as the documentary tells us, Darwin once intended to be a clergyman)  is that  Darwin knew what the Bible said about the cause of evil, but didn’t care. It appears Darwin  was determined to reject God in spite of the Bible’s explanation of evil in the world.

The documentary further wants you to believe Darwin let science direct his thinking, not his (anti-God) theology; and that he reluctantly came to the conclusion that evolution is true. We are supposed to believe that he was objective about it all because he is quoted as saying:

 “I have steadily endeavored to keep my mind free so as to give up any hypothesis – however much beloved – as soon as the facts are shown to be opposed to it.” 8

Of course we know that statement is not true because Darwin was in fact presented with facts to prove his theory false. The evidence: the Cambrian Explosion – clear evidence of creatures that simply appear in the fossil record with no evolutionary history behind them. Darwin’s response to it:

“If my theory be true, it is indisputable that before the lowest Cambrian stratum was deposited, long periods elapsed, and during these periods of time, the world swarmed with living creatures. To the question why we do not find rich fossiliferous deposits belonging to these assumed earlier periods prior to the Cambrian, I can give no satisfactory answer.”9

The Cambrian Explosion clearly contradicts his theory, and Darwin had no answer for it. (In passing, evolutionists still have no answer for it today.) Did this make him abandon his theory? No, of course not. He did what any good Darwinist would do: came up with an excuse why his theory should still be believed in spite of contradictory evidence. His excuse: The fossil record was incomplete. Here it is 150 years after Darwin’s proposal; 150 years of digging for and finding fossils, and still no evidence that supports his theory.  Yet Darwinists still accept his theory as true. Since this was the response of Darwin, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised when his followers respond likewise and don’t treat the evidence appropriately.

Further evidence that Questioning Darwin is not interested in actually questioning Darwin, but rather questioning Christians, is the fact that it also continued the stereotypes made famous by the media and the play “Inherit the Wind” with regards to the Scopes “Monkey” trial claiming the trial was about:

“whether Bryant and his popular constituency were to have jurisdiction over scientist.”10

That is incorrect. The trial was about whether high school teacher John Scopes taught evolution in school, which was at the time illegal. (Bryant was a well known politician and Bible supporter who came in to press the case against Scopes.) The pro-science, anti-Christian Media wanted to make it about whether Christians have jurisdiction over scientists; and as this documentary shows, they’re still trying to make that same case today.  Just as “the real Scopes trial was not a serious criminal prosecution but a symbolic confrontation…”11  this documentary is not a serious examination of Darwinism, but a confrontation with Christian belief in an attempt to show it untenable. Clearly, the pro-evolution, anti-Christian forces are still trying to cast the conflict, as one historian put it, as a battle “between progress and religious bigotry.”12      

Haeckel's Forgery
Questioning Darwin shows a portion of Haeckel’s drawing, which he fraudulently manipulated to make early stages of animal and human development to appear nearly identical.
Perhaps the most egregious example of unmitigated, unscientific, pro-evolutionary promotion  displayed in  Questioning Darwin  is the continued perpetration of the fraud cooked up by Ernst Haeckel with his embryo drawings. The drawings, used in many science books, were determined in 1874 to be a fraud; completely fabricated by Haeckel to provide support for the otherwise non-existent evidence for Darwin’s theory.

 

Haeckel even acknowledged the fraud.13  Yet the drawings are still used in many science textbooks today, even though they are known to be fraudulent and incorrect. Questioning Darwin elected to show them without mentioning Haeckel or his fraud; and the sequence14 was depicted as if it were true. Clearly they are not interested in scientific truth here; those interested in truth don’t promote 140 year old frauds.

Today, there are many additional challenges to Darwin’s theory. Among others, there are challenges from the fields of:

 

  • – Information theory: particularly with regards to DNA and it’s information bearing properties, and the origin of the information it contains

 

  • – Molecular Biology: with regards to molecular machines, their complexity and their origin

 

  • – Biology: regarding cellular complexity

 

  • – Archeology: and the lack of fossil support and the aforementioned Cambrian Explosion

 

  •   – And many fields which provide evidence of a young earth.  (Thus making evolution impossible)

 

With so many problems, it is no wonder scientists are questioning Darwin’s theory.  Yet you won’t see any of them in this documentary that supposedly talks about “Questioning Darwin” because the only people they want to question is Bible believing Christians.  How unfortunate. If they really cared about scientific inquiry and investigation, they’d present all the facts so the matter could be judged fairly.  Clearly this is one theory that can’t stand in the light of modern science when all the evidence is properly presented. So proponents try to protect it from real scrutiny and real scientific investigation.  Taking a queue from the professor who criticized Christians for teaching the Bible as truth,

“If the only way you can get your beliefs to persists is to lie to everyone about the evidences against evolution – which is what evolutionists do when confronted with serious challenges to Darwinian evolution,  if that’s the only way this thing can persist, it’s not worth it, it should disappear.”

 

Duane Caldwell | posted 11/17/2014 | print format


Notes1 Released on 2/10/2014 according to IMDB

 

2 Narrator, Questioning Darwin
~1.30

3 Pastor Peter LaRuffa – Grace Church,
Questioning Darwin

 

4 Prof Steve Jones, President, Association for Science Education, Questioning Darwin  
~53:20

 

5 Richard Dawkins is one such atheist making that accusation. You can read about it here: Dailymail.co.uk “Forcing a religion on your children is as bad as child abuse, claims atheist professor Richard Dawkins” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2312813/Richard-Dawkins-Forcing-religion-children-child-abuse-claims-atheist-professor.html

 

6  “Literally” must also be understood properly; meaning the text is taken to mean what it was intended to convey: statements are taken as statements; sarcasm as sarcasm; proverbs as proverbs (general truths, not hard and fast rules); etc. Thus the statement “the first day” (Gen 1.5)  is taken to mean the first regular “day” as we understand them; not ages or millions of years.

 

7 Stephen Meyer, author Signature in Cell, referenced from the Ben Stein’s 2008 documentary,  Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed. ~26.55

 

8 Charles Darwin, Questioning Darwin
~29.15

 

9 Darwin’s Dilemma, Documentary, 2009
~ 20.27

 

10 James Moore, Darwin Biographer, Questioning Darwin
~47.35

 

11 Johnson, Phillip E, Defeating Darwinism Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997, p.28 

 

12 10 Days that Unexpectedly Changed America Scopes: The Battle Over America’s Soul, TV Series Documentary,  2006
~18.40



13 For more on the Fraudulent nature of the Haeckel’s drawings, see
Fraud Rediscovered  http://creation.com/fraud-rediscovered

 

14 Questioning Darwin – Haeckel’s Fraudulent embryo sequence – starts ~26.00

   

2 thoughts on ““Questioning Darwin” – Perpetuating Stereotypes and Misinformation

  1. Do you realise how much damage you are doing to the Church? How many young people look at websites like this and dismiss the message of Christ because of the backward, anit-science viewpoint of the information. This presents Christianity as an ignorant cult.

    Shame on you!

  2. Playful Lutra,

    Have you even read any of my articles? Did you even read this article? If you had, you would realize I don’t have an anti-science message. I have an anti-Evolution and anti-Big Bang, pro-Christian message. And it’s the producers of this “Questioning Darwin” documentary who present Christianity as an ‘ignorant cult’ as you put it, not me.

    Perhaps you believe being anti-evolution or anti-big bang is also being anti-science. I would ask if you know what being “scientific” entails? As I point out in my latest article “The Waning Great Scientific hope,” (http://rationalfaith.com/2015/01/the-waning-great-scientific-hope/) The scientific method involves making observations, testing those observations multiple times, and having your results verified by other researches who also come up with the same results.

    Neither molecules to man Darwinian evolution nor the Big bang are observable, repeatable or testable; so they are not science in the operational sense. They are historical or forensic science. Operational science gives us planes, cars, computers and vaccines. Historical science gives us stories. Those stories may or may not be true. And since they are not operational science, they can not be tested, and scientists want you simple to believe them “because I said so” as I point out in the article “Science by Fiat…” (http://rationalfaith.com/2014/03/science-by-fiat/)

    Additionally I would say – au contraire – it is not my site driving young people away; it is people like you who undermine the authority of scripture by supporting these anti-Christian, anti-Bible, anti-God theories such as evolution and the big bang that are driving kids away.

    Barna research reports 2/3 of kids will leave the church by the time they reach college age. Ken Ham commissioned a study to find why.
    The number 3 reason – the hypocrisy of Christian leaders who say “believe in Jesus, believe in the bible” but don’t believe in Genesis. Are you one of those people?
    (You can view Ham’s comments here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFn46VSOXj4 starting at about 20 minutes)

    As Nicodemus told the chief priests and Pharisees,

    ” ‘Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?’ ”
    (John 7:51)

    I suggest you take a page from Nicodemus’ book and first find out what is actually being taught before you wag a disapproving finger at the person and their teaching.