Darwin — a hot potato?

Somebody pinch me, please — surely, I must be dreaming. According to the British Telegraph, a recent film about Charles Darwin (Creation, chosen to open the Toronto International Film Festival on 10 September) didn’t find an American distributor because — his theory of evolution is too controversial for American audiences. Christian websites apparently denounce Darwin as a racist and father of Nazism, declaring that evolution is blasphemy, that the bible is right and God created the Earth in six days. And it’s only some 6,000 years old and not, as scientists claim, 4 1/2 billion years. How do they know this? The biblical record is accepted as a reliable historical basis of interpreting empirical data. I’m not kidding; follow the link at your own risk — you’ll find some mind-boggling nonsense.

But back to the movie which received excellent critical reviews and is based on a book by Darwin’s great-great-grandson, Randal Keynes. It explores the relationship between Darwin and his daughter Annie whose early death deeply affected his views on religion. Apparently, an Indie distributor finally picked up the movie, and it is to be released in the U.S. in January 2010. The controversy surely will increase revenues at the box office.

Still, the fact remains that religious beliefs, and extreme ones in particular, play a huge role in American culture. If you look at some of the comments to the Telegraph article or at the IMDb message boards, your blood starts curdling. What makes this seem so hopeless is the fact that rational arguments, by definition, are useless in the case of belief cults. Theirs is a stupid God, and he always needs to have the last word.

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