2009 was both the anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth (200th) and his release of On the Origin of Species (150th). I recently stumbled across a documentary entitled The Voyage that Shook the World, an aptly named film that purports to “examine the ideas of Darwin in light of today’s knowledge.”
The documentary was of high production quality: soothing British narration, period re-enactments, travels to the Galapagos Islands etc. There was something not quite right about the documentary, though, as they kept quoting “facts” that clearly weren’t factual.
The film was almost over before they drop the bombshell: evolution is a lie and creationism is the only valid explanation for the natural world. The film is a propaganda piece produced by Creation Ministries International (www.creation.com), a young-Earth creationist sect seeking to expose the bias and evil of the “evolutionists.”
Contrast this with the secular-themed film Creation starring Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelley. It’s a biopic of Darwin and his struggles with faith and science. I haven’t seen it, but it received luke-warm reviews here and in the UK, and it hasn’t even found a distributor in the US yet because of fears of offending the American bible-belt. And take a look at that poster. Combined with the name of the film (take another look at the creationists’ URL above), it appears the producers are trying their best to appeal to a religious crowd.
In tandem, The Voyage That Shook the World did everything in its power to suck people in by using secular wrapping around its creationist DVD. The marketing campaigns of these two films speak volumes about our collective insecurities surrounding Darwin’s “big idea” and our society’s discomfort with evolution in general (still! 150 years later!).