Creationists defend Darwin film
On today's Sunday Sequence, the CEO of Creation Ministries UK responded to claims by one of the world's leading authorities on evolution that he was duped into appearing in an anti-Darwinian film.
Professor Peter Bowler, the author of a biography of Charles Darwin and many other books on the history of evolution, said he was interviewed for the The Voyage That Shook The World without realising that the film was being made by a Creationist group.
Professor Bowler, who has spent most of his academic career at Queen's University, Belfast, researching Darwinism, says he is unhappy to be appearing in what he regards as an "anti-Darwinian" film which offers an historically distorted portrait of Darwin. He claims that the film's narrative implies that Darwin's theory led him towards racism, whereas recent historical work by James Moore and Adrian Desmond shows that Darwin's scientific work was partly motivated by the naturalist's passionate opposition to racism.
Professor Bowler says he, along with his colleagues Sandra Herbert and Janet Browne, only discovered that they had inadvertently contributed to a Creationist film a month before the film's release. Peter Bowler also raised concerns about how the editing of his own interview could leave viewers with a false impression of his own perspective on Darwin.
Phil Bell, CEO of Creation Ministries UK, acknoweged that his organisation established a "front company" called Fathom Media, because they were concerned that experts such as Peter Bowler would not agree to take part in the film if they realised it was an "overtly Creationist" production. "At the end of the day," he said, "[when] people see 'Creationist', instantly the shutters go up and that would have shut us off from talking to the sort of experts, such as Professor Bowler, that we wanted to get to."
I asked Phil Bell if this method of securing an interview was "deceptive". He said: "Well, it could be called deceptive. But I think, at the end of the day, I would say that more people are concerned about how we've made a documentary, that's a world-class documentary, clearly with wonderful footage, with excellent interviews, and balanced open discussion."
Phil Bell also denied that his organisation had broken the ninth commandment by "bearing false witness" against Professor Bowler and his colleagues. "Nobody was told any lies," he said.
Watch the film trailer, below, which includes a short clip from Peter Bowler's interview.
The Voyage That Shook The World has already been screened in various churches in Britain. On Thursday 18 June, it was also screened in the Octagon Theatre at the University of Ulster in Coleraine. This was not an official University event, nor was it an event organised by the University's Chaplaincy. A spokesperson for the University of Ulster has told Sunday Sequence that various groups, including religious organisations, are free to rent its facilities, and that no endorsement of any events should be construed from the university's willingness to accommodate those events.
Update: Creation Ministries International has published an online "clarification" in response to this story.