Paul Bettany plays Charles Darwin in Creation
The next round of the war on culture is coming soon (or not) to a theatre near you.
Creation, starring Paul Bettany, details Darwin’s “struggle between faith and reason” as he wrote On The Origin of Species. It depicts him as a man who loses faith in God following the death of his beloved 10-year-old daughter, Annie.
The film was chosen to open the Toronto Film Festival and has its British premiere on Sunday. It has been sold in almost every territory around the world, from Australia to Scandinavia.
However, US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution.
I read this news with a rather heavy sigh. When I read those numbers (and recall recent attacks on science in my homeland) I feel nothing but sadness and shame for my state. After a weekend when the U.S. lost one of its great scientists, I can’t help by be bothered by the irony at work here .
On the one had, we have a scientist using the understanding brought to the world by Darwin on the functioning of living species. Indeed, some of Darwin’s direct work was on the changes brought about in species of plants and animals that had been domesticated by our own.
This hand includes work that saved an estimated 245,000,000,000 lives by improving crop yields to such a degree that predictions of global collapse brought about by our species’ proclivity for reproduction .
For his insights into the nature of nature, Darwin is castigated as the embodiment of evil by some.
Movieguide.org, an influential site which reviews films from a Christian perspective, described Darwin as the father of eugenics and denounced him as “a racist, a bigot and an 1800s naturalist whose legacy is mass murder”. His “half-baked theory” directly influenced Adolf Hitler and led to “atrocities, crimes against humanity, cloning and genetic engineering”, the site stated.
The film has sparked fierce debate on US Christian websites, with a typical comment dismissing evolution as “a silly theory with a serious lack of evidence to support it despite over a century of trying”.
This sad and hateful bias against science and explanatory theories, even as it saves millions of lives and averts global disaster, is a big part of why I have such issues with the conservative movement in the U.S.
People often lament about the lack of agreement is political circles about how to go forward given the deep problems we are currently facing. In the case of politics, there is often a deeper and more rational reason for that divide, being that each of has has different life experiences which guide and inform our politics and therefore differ on how to properly deal with reality.
When it comes to science, however, the purpose of the scientific method t is to remove thae bias of personal experience and propose theories that *anyone* would find to be true if they collected their own data. Sadly, however, the politics still come into it, as we will soon see when the next legislative battle regarding how to deal with global warming, and our responsibility to deal with *another* looming apocalypse comes to the political fore [previously foreshadowed here].
Perhaps there will be another Borlaug, using the insights of Darwin, to turn Gore into another Malthus.
One can only hope.
Norman Ernest Borlaug (March 25, 1914 – September 12, 2009) was an American agronomist, humanitarian, and Nobel laureate, and has been called the father of the Green Revolution. Borlaug was one of only five people to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. He was also a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian honor.
During the mid-20th century, Borlaug led the introduction of these high-yielding varieties combined with modern agricultural production techniques to Mexico, Pakistan, and India. As a result, Mexico became a net exporter of wheat by 1963. Between 1965 and 1970, wheat yields nearly doubled in Pakistan and India, greatly improving the food security in those nations. These collective increases in yield have been labeled the Green Revolution, and Borlaug is often credited with saving over a billion people from starvation. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 in recognition of his contributions to world peace through increasing food supply.
A Malthusian catastrophe (also called a Malthusian check, crisis, disaster, or nightmare) was originally foreseen to be a forced return to subsistence-level conditions once population growth had outpaced agricultural production. Later formulations consider economic growth limits as well. The term is also commonly used in discussions of oil depletion.
Based on the work of political economist Thomas Malthus (1766–1834), theories of Malthusian catastrophe are very similar to the subsistence theory of wages. The main difference is that the Malthusian theories predict over several generations or centuries, whereas the subsistence theory of wages predicts over years and decades.