ARTICLES: Evolution and Film Censorship, was Huxley “Darwin’s Bulldog”?, and the Struggle for Coexistence

Here are a few items of possible interest to readers here:

In Osiris:

Darwin on the Cutting-Room Floor: Evolution, Religion, and Film Censorship

David A. Kirby

Abstract In the mid-twentieth century, film studios sent their screenplays to the Hays Office, Hollywood’s official censorship body, and to the Catholic Church’s Legion of Decency for approval and recommendations for revision. This essay examines how filmmakers crafted stories involving evolutionary biology and how religiously motivated movie censorship groups modified these cinematic narratives in order to depict what they considered to be more appropriate visions of humanity’s origins. I find that censorship groups were concerned about the perceived impact of science fiction cinema on the public’s belief systems and on the wider cultural meanings of evolution. By controlling the stories told about evolution in science fiction cinema, censorship organizations believed that they could regulate the broader cultural meanings of evolution itself. But this is not a straightforward story of “science” versus “religion.” There were significant differences among these groups as to how to censor evolution, as well as changes in their attitudes toward evolutionary content over time. As a result, I show how censorship groups adopted diverse perspectives, depending on their perception of what constituted a morally appropriate science fiction story about evolution.

In The Linnean (PDF here):

Why there was no ‘Darwin’s Bulldog’: Thomas Henry Huxley’s Famous Nickname

John van Wyhe

Summary “It is true that Huxley was widely known as a defiant defender of Darwinism. But imagining that he was widely acknowledged as ‘Darwin’s bulldog’ obscures some of the historical reality, such as the fact that he had his own (non-Darwinian) ideas about evolution and was long tentative about the efficacy of natural selection. Appreciating that he was not known as ‘Darwin’s bulldog’ should lead to a more nuanced recognition of who he was and what he really did. If one of the most widely known, enjoyed and unquestioned nicknames in the history of science is incorrect, what other undisputed facts might also be wrong?”

And a PhD dissertation (PDF here):

The Struggle for Coexistence: Peter Kropotkin and the Social Ecology of Science in Russia, Europe, and England, 1859-1922

Eric Michael Johnson

Summary This dissertation follows the history and intellectual development of Peter Kropotkin whose scientific theory of mutual aid showed how Darwinian evolution could explain cooperation and the origin of morality. By following his journey from prince to naturalist to political radical, it reveals that Kropotkin was part of a transnational network of scientific and political thinkers whose perspective can be defined as Socialist Darwinism. Those figures that would later be defined as representing Social Darwinism originated in their opposition to Socialist Darwinism and through an ongoing debate with them. This demonstrates that political and scientific ideas about evolutionary change were influenced by each other in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.


Disney to do Darwin

Disney has green-lighted a film about Charles Darwin, which will look at his years aboard HMS Beagle. The only information given so far is that the film will be an adventure, a la Indiana Jones, with a script and direction by Stephen Gaghan (Traffic, Syriana).

Variety: Charles Darwin Movie in the Works at Disney

Guardian: The dangers of Disney’s film about Charles Darwin

Guardian: Glenn Beck planning boycott of Charles Darwin movie

BOOK REVIEW: Prehistoric Predators & thoughts about Jurassic World

Last weekend my nine-year-old son and I went to the movies and saw Jurassic World, the fourth film in the Jurassic Park series (but really, a direct sequel to the original film). I was fifteen when I saw Jurassic Park in 1993, and became dino-obsessed. I devoured books and articles about paleontology. Reading about dinosaurs led to reading about evolution in general, and then to Darwin (and the rest is history, as they say). So while my son has seen the other films, I was excited to take him to see this new offering on the big screen. We loved it! The film was exactly what big movie theaters are for: suspenseful action in imagined worlds.


We enjoyed the film immensely despite its major drawback. As many paleontologists have shared since the movie’s trailers started appearing, Jurassic World does not do what Jurassic Park did in 1993: to share with the public the latest vision of what dinosaurs looked like (click here for a bunch of links to posts/articles from paleontologists on JW). In the twenty years since, a lot has changed; most notably, that many dinosaurs had feathers or feather-like structures. Not in Jurassic World. Even some representations of dinosaurs in the new film ignore how the other films got it right (the posture of Stegosaurus, for example). The new film also does not introduce film-goers to the wide variety of new species discovered in the last couple of decades, instead sticking with the familiar: Tyrannosaurus rex, Apatosaurus, Triceratops, and Velociraptor.

The amazing David Orr and I worked together on this comic (check out his site for more great paleo design). As the owner of two feisty parrots, I feel like feathered raptors are just as exciting as those scaly ones we grew up with.

We are introduced to a new dinosaur, however. Not a real species that paleontologists have found the bones of, but a genetically-engineered monstrosity that comprises the DNA of several dinosaurs and other critters. The carnivorous and unstoppable Indominus rex is the film’s antagonist. While her presence on screen is exciting, it’s disappointing that the film’s creators felt the need to invent a new dinosaur – “probably not a good idea” – when the annals of paleontology are full of awesome theropods that could have been amazing on-screen additions to the story.

I hope the new film will inspire a new generation of dinosaur fans, and that many of these young paleontologists will seek out reading material to satiate their curiosity, and in the process, learn a little about what dinosaurs really looked like and how they behaved. For those interested in carnivorous dinosaurs (theropods), I recommend a new book by dinosaur writer Brian Switek and beautifully illustrated by paleoartist Julius Csotonyi. In Prehistoric Predators (Kennebunkport, ME: Cider Mill Press, 2015, 104 pp.), Switek profiles and Csotonyi brings to life over 40 dinosaurs and other animals from the past that dined on the flesh of other creatures. Old favorites are here, such as Allosaurus, but the book offers a look at a variety of lesser-known or more recently discovered species, including many with feathers or feather-like structures and some flying reptiles. There is Cryolophosaurus, the Antarctic theropod with an Elvis-like head crest, and the early tyrannosaur Guanlong. Ever heard of Eocarcharia? How about Deltadromeus? Why create a fictional dinosaur when nature had so many to choose from?

The profiles are arranged chronologically, starting with the Permian Period (and thus predators that pre-date dinosaurs) and into the Mesozoic Era and its trio of periods, Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous, as well some marine reptiles and land mammals in the Cenozoic. The book lacks, however, some of the diversity of marine reptiles during the age of dinosaurs (there are no species of mosasaur or plesiosaur, for example). But for each entry, nothing is better than Csotonyi’s realistic renderings full of color, behavior, and feathers. The book also features a textured cover, with the sensation of touching dinosaur skin. The Jurassic Park series will never likely yield dinosaur depictions with feathers, but let’s hope in the near future that a studio green lights a dinosaur film that will. For now, enjoy Jurassic World for what it is, a science fiction movie, and check out some books, like Prehistoric Predators, and visit a local natural history museum, to learn more about the actual science.

Want more dinosaurs? The publisher of Prehistoric Predators has another book worth checking out. The whole dinosaur kingdom is featured in Discovering Dinosaurs (2014), by Bob Walters and Tess Kissinger. More encyclopedic, this volume is chock full of dino diversity. Great information and great art from a classic dinosaur artist.

Third Annual Portland Humanist Film Fest, October 26-28

Next weekend is the 2012 Portland Humanist Film Fest:

A Challenge To Religion, Alternative Medicine, And Other Superstitions At Local Film Festival


Sylvia Benner, Chair
Portland Humanist Film Festival

A Challenge To Religion, Alternative Medicine, And Other Superstitions At Local Film Festival

The Portland Humanist Film Festival focuses the camera lens on the harm caused by religious superstition and unproven medical treatments, and advocates for evidence-based thinking.

Portland, OR—October 15, 2012—The Portland Humanist Film Fest (PHFF) will put a strong focus on reason and critical thinking during the last weekend in October.

Now in its third year, the Festival will feature documentaries that directly challenge alternative medical practices, such as homeopathy, that enjoy great popularity in the Portland metro area, but are not supported by scientific evidence. These and other films will model skepticism, critical thinking, and an effort to understand what makes a believer believe.

Portland Humanist Film Fest, the largest freethought film festival on the West Coast, is presented by Center for Inquiry–Portland with major support from the Humanists of Greater Portland. Throughout the weekend, audiences will have the opportunity to watch engaging films and learn about the growing cultural importance of secular humanist thought.

Highlights of this year’s PHFF include:

  • Kumaré – The true story a false prophet. Film Maker Vikram Gandhi impersonates spiritual leader Kumaré and gathers disciples in the United States. In the process, he forges profound connections with people from all walks of life and is forced to confront difficult questions about his own identity. At the height of his popularity, Kumaré unveils his true identity to a core group of disciples who are knee-deep in personal transformation. Kumaré, at once playful and profound, is an insightful look at faith and belief. Film Maker Vikram Gandhi was recently interviewed on the Colbert Report.1
  • Let’s Talk About Sex takes a closer look at American attitudes about sex. It was partially filmed in Portland and other Oregon locations. The film compares approaches to sex education in the US and Netherlands, and highlights solutions that lead to better health outcomes. Producer Neal Weisman will attend the Festival and is available for media interviews by contacting or            503.877.2347      . Information about the film can be found at
  • In God We Teach, a documentary film that follows the “separation of church and state” controversy played out in a very public feud between high school student Matthew LaClair and his history teacher in Kearny, NJ. Information at Director Vic Losick will be in Portland for the film festival weekend and is available for interviews.  He can be contacted BY phone at            212.580.3366       or by e-mail at
  • 12 Angry Men. The 1957 film classic starring Henry Fonda, which remains one the best demonstrations of practical skepticism in movie history.
  • Flatland 1 and Flatland 2, a charming animated exploration of mathematical concepts in an engaging story about a girl named Hex, who dares to think outside the box, based on the 19th century classic novel by Edwin Abbot.
  • Contagion, Chocolat, The Dish and other major studio films addressing themes of science, reason, and humanism.

Why host a Humanist Film Festival in Portland? According to several recent surveys, the Pacific Northwest is one of the least-religious regions of the nation. A Pew Forum report released October 9, 2012, confirms that atheists and the religiously unaffiliated make up a rapidly increasing segment of the population.2 CFI–Portland is at the forefront of this expanding movement. (For an in-depth look at the Pew report and the population it reveals, watch the upcoming PBS Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly series, “None of the Above: The Rise of the Religiously Unaffiliated” Sundays at 4:00 p.m. on OPB.)

Dates:  October 26-28, 2012
Times:  Friday: 5:00–11:00 pm; Saturday 2:00–10:30 pm; Sunday 2:00–10:00 pm (times approximate)
Location:  Cinema 21, 616 NW 21st Ave, Portland, OR 97209
Admission:  $28 weekend passes; $8 or $13 one-day passes. $ 5 off for early ticket purchase. 

More information at


2 “’Nones’ on the Rise: One-in-Five Adults Have No Religious Affiliation,” Pew Research Center, The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, October, 9, 2012                                                                        

Center for Inquiry–Portland is a community of secular humanists working to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. More information can be found at or

Humanists of Greater Portland is a nonprofit organization and recipient of the 2008 American Humanist Association Chapter of the Year award. HGP welcomes you. Visit

2011 Portland Humanist Film Festival

This coming weekend November 11-13 is the 2nd annual Portland Humanist Film Festival. I was not able to attend any of the films last year, but I will this year, and I am volunteering on Saturday evening to sell passes. This will be a great opportunity to not only see some interesting films concerned with science, reason, humanism, and religion, but to converse with like-minded folk:

Portland, OR—October 25, 2011—This Veterans Day weekend, November 11-13, Portland, Oregon, one of the most secular cities in the nation, will host the 2nd annual Portland Humanist Film Festival, featuring 17 films with themes of interest to secular humanists, including science, critical thinking, atheism, freethought, separation of church and state, human rights, civil liberties, and others. This three day event is the largest freethought film festival on the West Coast and is presented by Center for Inquiry–Portland with major support from the Humanists of Greater Portland.

Previews of the films:

And here is the schedule and admission info:

5:00 The Nature of Existence
7:00 The Invention of Lying
9:00 Monty Python’s Life of Brian Prizes for best (“worst” ) LoB costumes

SATURDAY 11/12/11
2:00 8: The Mormon Proposition
3:30 Here Be Dragons*
5:00 D.M. Bennett: The Truth Seeker*
6:00 Waiting for Armageddon
7:30 “Who Are The Doubters Anyway?” Featured Speaker: Tom Flynn Exec. Dir. Council for Secular Humanism
8:55 Agora

SUNDAY 11/13/11
2:00 Waking Life
4:00 Humanism: Making Bigger Circles (Dr. Isaac Asimov)
5:00 The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today
6:00 Separation of Church And State Featured Speaker: Bruce Adams Pres. Columbia Chapter Americans United
7:00 Independent Film Awards – The Fairy Scientist* Science is a Vaccine* The Species Problem* Patrick’s Story* . . . talk with film producers!
8:30 The Ledge

Admission: $5 Fri, $10 Sat, $10 Sun, or $20 for Fri-Sun weekend pass.* Films are independent film winners.
Sponsored by Center for Inquiry-Portland •
Contributor Humanists of Greater Portland •

If you are in Portland, I hope to see you there!

MOVIE: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (including Darwin)

Darwin has been animated by the folks who do Wallace & Gromit


In The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, Hugh Grant stars in his first animated role as the luxuriantly bearded Pirate Captain — a boundlessly enthusiastic, if somewhat less-than-successful, terror of the High Seas. With a rag-tag crew at his side (Martin Freeman, Brendan Gleeson, Russell Tovey, and Ashley Jensen), and seemingly blind to the impossible odds stacked against him, the Captain has one dream: to beat his bitter rivals Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek) to the much coveted Pirate Of The Year Award. It’s a quest that takes our heroes from the shores of exotic Blood Island to the foggy streets of Victorian London. Along the way they do battle with the pirate-hating Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) and team up with a young Charles Darwin (David Tennant), but never lose sight of what a pirate loves best: adventure!



Darwin in "The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists" (2012)
Book: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists: A Novel

Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Perspective

Cover Figure

The Geological Society, London has published a volume of papers on the history of dinosaur (or phylogenetically-related) paleontology, Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Perspective, edited by R.T.J. Moody, E. Buffetaut, D. Naish (blog), and D.M. Martill:

The discovery of dinosaurs and other large extinct ‘saurians’—a term under which the Victorians commonly lumped ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, pterosaurs and their kin—makes exciting reading and has caught the attention of palaeontologists, historians of science and the general public alike. The papers in this collection go beyond the familiar tales about famous ‘fossil hunters’ and focus on relatively little-known episodes in the discovery and interpretation (from both a scientific and an artistic point of view) of dinosaurs and other inhabitants of the Mesozoic world. They cover a long time span, from the beginnings of ‘modern’ scientific palaeontology in the 1700s to the present, and deal with many parts of the world, from the Yorkshire coast to Central India, from Bavaria to the Sahara. The characters in these stories include professional palaeontologists and geologists (some of them well-known, others quite obscure), explorers, amateur fossil collectors, and artists, linked together by their interest in Mesozoic creatures.

And the papers:

About this title – Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Perspective [Abstract] [PDF] FREE

Richard T. J. Moody, Eric Buffetaut, Darren Naish and David M. Martill, Dinosaurs and other extinct saurians: a historical perspective – introduction [Extract] [Full Text] [PDF] FREE

Mark Evans, The roles played by museums, collections and collectors in the early history of reptile palaeontology [Abstract]

H. S. Torrens, William Perceval Hunter (1812–1878), forgotten English student of dinosaurs-to-be and of Wealden rocks [Abstract]

Leslie F. Noè, Jeff J. Liston and Sandra D. Chapman, ‘Old bones, dry subject’: the dinosaurs and pterosaur collected by Alfred Nicholson Leeds of Peterborough, England [Abstract]

Federico Fanti, Life and ideas of Giovanni Capellini (1833–1922): a palaeontological revolution in Italy [Abstract]

Richard T. J. Moody and Darren Naish, Alan Jack Charig (1927–1997): an overview of his academic accomplishments and role in the world of fossil reptile research [Abstract]

Susan Turner, Cynthia V. Burek and Richard T. J. Moody, Forgotten women in an extinct saurian (man’s) world [Abstract]

Xabier Pereda Suberbiola, José-Ignacio Ruiz-Omeñaca, Nathalie Bardet, Laura Piñuela and José-Carlos García-Ramos, Wilhelm (Guillermo) Schulz and the earliest discoveries of dinosaurs and marine reptiles in Spain [Abstract]

Matthew T. Carrano, Jeffrey A. Wilson and Paul M. Barrett, The history of dinosaur collecting in central India, 1828–1947 [Abstract]

Eric Buffetaut, Spinosaurs before Stromer: early finds of spinosaurid dinosaurs and their interpretations [Abstract]

Martin A. Whyte, Mike Romano and Will Watts, Yorkshire dinosaurs: a history in two parts [Abstract]

A. J. Bowden, G. R. Tresise and W. Simkiss, Chirotherium, the Liverpool footprint hunters and their interpretation of the Middle Trias environment [Abstract]

Darren Naish, Pneumaticity, the early years: Wealden Supergroup dinosaurs and the hypothesis of saurischian pneumaticity [Abstract]

Peter Wellnhofer, A short history of research on Archaeopteryx and its relationship with dinosaurs [Abstract]

Brian Switek (congrats to Laelaps!), Thomas Henry Huxley and the reptile to bird transition [Abstract]

Kasper Lykke Hansen, A history of digit identification in the manus of theropods (including Aves) [Abstract]

Attila Osi, Edina Prondvai and Barnabás Géczy, The history of Late Jurassic pterosaurs housed in Hungarian collections and the revision of the holotype of Pterodactylus micronyx Meyer 1856 (a ‘Pester Exemplar’) [Abstract]

David M. Martill, The early history of pterosaur discovery in Great Britain [Abstract]

Mark P. Witton, Pteranodon and beyond: the history of giant pterosaurs from 1870 onwards [Abstract]

Jean Le Loeuff, Art and palaeontology in German-occupied France: Les Diplodocus by Mathurin Méheut (1943) [Abstract]

J. J. Liston, 2000 A.D. and the new ‘Flesh’: first to report the dinosaur renaissance in ‘moving’ pictures [Abstract]

Michael P. Taylor, Sauropod dinosaur research: a historical review [Abstract]

Portland Humanist Film Festival is this weekend

Here’s a reminder to any readers in Portland or nearby, that this coming weekend is the first annual Portland Humanist Film Festival, organized by the Portland leg of Center for InquiryFreethinkers of PSU, and Humanists of Greater Portland:

The Portland Humanist Film Fest was developed to offer a free, dynamic cultural event to the rapidly growing Humanist movement in the Pacific Northwest. Our mission is to provide, through the medium of film, an expansive window into many of the aspects of existence, morality, history, science and philosophy that help reflect the Humanist outlook. By selecting a mix of films which cover many topics and represent many genres we hope to not only make the event engaging for those who already consider themselves Humanists, but reach further to those who are curious about Humanism as well.

So we invite you to laugh, think, be challenged and entertained as we present to you a carefully selected treasure of richly diverse and informative cinematic creations.

All films, including two showings of the Darwin biopic Creation on Sunday evening, are free!

I will not be able to see any of the films since I will be in Houston for my sister-in-law’s wedding. Happy viewing!

“Creation” film featured in upcoming Portland Humanist Film Festival

Creation in Powell's

Creation book at Powell's City of Books in Portland

Although the Darwin film Creation is out on DVD (see my collection of reviews), it will be featured as the finale film for the Portland Humanist Film Festival from October 1-3. The festival is being put on by the Center for Inquiry (CFI)Freethinkers of Portland State University, and the Humanists of Greater Portland (HGP). Check out the full schedule here.

Oh, and all the films will be free to attend!

In time for my birthday…

From AgentDVD:

Lionsgate will release the Charles Darwin biopic Creation June 29 (order date June 2) on DVD at $27.98.

The film stars Paul Bettany as Darwin, the naturalist who formulated the theory of natural selection. Bettany’s real-life wife, Jennifer Connelly, plays Darwin’s wife, a deeply religious woman who feared her husband’s work would damage the church. Jeremy Northam and Toby Jones also star.

The movie is based on the book Annie’s Box, by Darwin’s great-great-grandson Randal Keynes. Annie was the name of Darwin’s daughter who died as a child.

Extras include an audio commentary with director Jon Amiel, the making-of documentary “The Battle for Charles Darwin,” three “Debating Darwin” featurettes, seven “Digging Deeper Into Darwin” featurettes and a “Pollard on Film: Creation” featurette.

Oh, my birthday is June 17.

Creation Disperses Elsewhere

Via Creation‘s Twitter feed, the film will open in more cities next month:

Westpark 8, Irvine, CA
Town Center, Encino, CA
Playhouse 7, Pasadena, CA
AMC Broadway 4, Santa Monica, CA
Regency Paseo Camarillio, Camarillo, CA
Regency Rancho Niguel 8, Laguna Niguel, CA
Camera 3 Cinemas, San Jose, CA

Osio, Monterey, CA

Circle Cinema, Tulsa, OK
Plaza Delo Oro, Santa Barbara, CA
Edina, Minneapolis, MN
Ritz Bourse, Phil, PA
Maple Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI
Hillcrest, SD, CA
Plaza Fontenac, St. Louis, MO
Century, Chicago, IL
Angelika, Houston, TX
Angelika, Dallas, TX

Mayan, Denver, CO
Landmark, Seattle, WA
Midtown Art, Atlanta, GA

Valley Art, Tempe, AZ
Spectrum, Tucson, AZ

“Creation” Reviews

Creation opens today in the U.S.

Creation opens today in the U.S.

While Creation is already on DVD in the UK (and here if you like to download stuff), the film opens today in select major cities in the U.S. (the NCSE has a list of those cities and theaters or on the film’s Facebook page). I will keep adding reviews or interesting coverage of Creation (IMDb, Yahoo!, RT) to this list as I see them:

The Guardian: Paul Bettany: Playing Darwin with Creation (2/12/09)

WIRED UK (News Culture): Creation – the story behind Darwin’s big idea (8/28/09)

Evolving Thoughts: The new Darwin film (9/6/09)

The Opinionator Blog (Olivia Judson): The Creation of Charles Darwin (9/8/09)

Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert): Darwin walks out on Genesis (9/10/09)

Pharyngula: Roger Ebert doesn’t review Creation (9/11/09)

Panda’s Thumb: ‘Creation’: A drama about the life of Charles Darwin (by Eugenie Scott) (9/11/09)

Variety: Creation (U.K.) (9/10/09)

Tree of Life: Creation: interactive map better than the film? (9/22/09)

Guardian (Comment is free): Creation is a fitting tribute to Darwin (9/23/09)

Times Online: Creation: Origin of the specious (9/25/09)

Zoonomian: Creation (9/25/09)

The Daily Mirror: Film review: Creation (9/25/09)

Answers in Genesis: Creation in the Making (9/25/09)

Guardian (The Observer): Creation (9/27/09)

The Rough Guide to Evolution: First Thoughts on “Creation” (9/27/09)

Creation Ministries International: Review of Creation the movie – Sanitizing evolution (10/15/09)

The Dispersal of Darwin: Saw ‘Creation’ (10/29/09)

The Red Notebook: Creation review (11/2/09)

LA Weekly: Go Creation (12/23/09)

Los Angeles Times: ‘Creation’ (12/25/09)

The Sensuous Curmudgeon: “Creation” the movie: US Premier on 22 (1/8/10)

New York: 52 Minutes With Paul Bettany (1/10/10)

Skepchick: “Creation” Premieres in Selected Cities (1/13/10)

CBS News: The Evolution of Charles Darwin (1/18/10)

Chicago Sun-Times: Bettany admits to feelings for his leading lady (1/19/10)

The Christian Post: ‘Creation’ Movie to Make U.S. Debut (1/19/10)

CFI (A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper): Review of “Creation” New Film about Darwin (1/19/10)

HAO Blog: Movie Review: Creation (1/19/2010)

Brand X: ‘Creation’: On the origins of Darwin’s ‘Species’ with Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly (1/20/10)

The Sensuous Curmudgeon: Creation the Movie: Box Office Data Source (1/20/10)

Vanity Fair: Paul Bettany’s Journey to the Dawn of Creation (1/20/10)

Young Freethought: Creation – A Film About Darwin the Man (1/20/10)

PARADE: Paul Bettany on Charles Darwin: “He Was an Atheist and So Am I” (1/20/10)

The Toronto Sun: ‘Creation’ fails to deliver (1/21/10)

Rolling Stone: Creation (1/21/10)

The Wall Street Journal: Brit Grit, Anger and Power (1/21/10)

The New Yorker: Survival Stories: “Creation” and “The Girl on the Train” (1/21/10)

Why Evolution Is True: Anthony Lane reviews Creation (1/21/10)

NPR: Grappling With ‘Creation’ In The Shadow Of Death (1/21/10)

NPR: Randal Keynes: When Darwin Is In Your Family Tree (1/21/10)

CBC News: Paul Bettany is a sympathetic Darwin in this well-meaning but sentimental biopic (1/21/10)

The Loom: Anthony Lane on Darwin (1/21/10)

LiveScience: Charles Darwin: Family Man, Scientist and Skeptic (1/21/10) Creation Opens Tomorrow in the United States! (1/21/10)

Thoughts from Kansas: Creation (2009) (1/22/10)

Fast Forward Weekly: Creation lacks intelligent design (1/21/10)

USA Today: ‘Creation’ has good star, lovely visuals, few answers (1/22/10)

The Washington Post: Creation: Tale of Darwin loses its grasp (1/22/10)

New York Daily News: Jon Amiel’s ‘Creation,’ starring Paul Bettany as Darwin, moves across screen like Galapagos tortoise (1/22/10)

The Boston Globe: Creation: The agonies of Darwin (1/22/10)

San Francisco Chronicle: Review: Darwin film flawed, but intriguing (1/22/10)

The New York Times: The Great Evolutionist Bares His Own Soul (1/22/10)

A Natural Evolution: Creation Reviewed (1/22/10)

CSI/Skeptical Inquirer: Review of Creation & Interview with Randall Keynes (1/22/10)

Institute for Creation Research: ‘Creation’ Movie Debuts in U.S. (1/22/10)

The Sensuous Curmudgeon: A Creationist’s Review of “Creation” the Movie (1/22/10)

The Christian Science Monitor: Creation: movie review (1/22/10)

Time: Creation: The Origin of Darwin’s Origin of Species (1/22/10)

True/Slant: Creation… the Movie (by Michael Shermer, Skeptic) (1/22/10) [also on skepticblog (1/26/10)]

StarNews Online: Let’s talk about “Creation,” baby! Darwin movie debut excludes the South (1/22/10)

MSNBC (Cosmic Log): Darwin’s Difficult ‘Creation‘ (1/22/10)

NPR: ‘Creation’ Portrays Darwin Conflicted Over Faith (1/22/10)

The Los Angeles Times: The Origin of Darwin (Q&A with Keynes) (1/23/10) Creation Review (1/23/10)

Scientific American: Creating Darwin’s Biopic (1/23/10)

Cinematical: Review: Creation (1/23/10)

The Sensuous Curmudgeon: Creation: 1st Weekend Box Office Results (1/24/10)

WIRED UK (News Culture): Creation gets up close, very personal with Darwin (1/25/10)

Discover (80 beats): Can America Not Handle the Science in “Creation” & “Extraordinary Measure”? (1/25/10)

Discovery News: New Darwin Film Creates Controversy (1/26/10)

Metro (UK): DVD Review: Creation ‘is an important story well told’ (1/26/10)

Laelaps: Movie Review: Creation (1/26/10)

ABC News/Nightline: Movie Sparks Battle Over the Bible (1/26/10)

New Scientist: Hollywood’s Darwin: No match for the real thing (1/27/10)

PRI’s The World Science: Creation: A Conversation with Darwin’s Descendant (?) Creation: The good, the bad, and the ugly (1/29/10)

The Sensuous Curmudgeon: Creation: 2nd Weekend Box Office Results (2/1/10)

EvolutionBlog: My Review of Creation (2/1/10)

Gene Expression: Creation (2/5/10)

My Kids Deserve Better: Creation (2/6/10)

Daylight Atheism: Movie Review: Creation (2/6/10)

The Sensuous Curmudgeon: Creation: 3rd Weekend Box Office Results (2/7/10)

New University: Who Made This ‘Creation’? (2/8/10)

Newsweek: The Death of the Biopic (2/11/10)

John Reardon: Creation and Charles Darwin (2/15/10)

The Pitt News: Movie shows Darwin’s struggle with theology, science (2/15/10)

Roger Ebert: Creation (2/17/10)

North County Times: MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Creation’ provides new evidence in life of Darwin (2/17/10)

San Diego Union Tribune: ‘Creation’ loose with facts of Darwin’s evolution (2/19/10) “Creation” tiptoes around momentous subject (3/15/10)

Issues in Science and Technology Online: Charles Darwin and the Human Face of Science (Winter 2010)

DarwinWatch: Mis-Creation – A Movie Review (4/18/2010)

Dinochick Blogs: Movie Review: Creation (7/17/2010)

Evolving Thoughts: Creation, a personal reflection on the movie (7/18/2010)

Exploring Our Matrix: Creation (7/20/2010)

Victorian Skeptics: Creation – Movie Review (7/23/2010)

Thinking Christian: Movie Review: Creation (7/24/2010)

Down the Cellar: Creation (8/16/2010)

The Heretic’s Haven: Creation (8/16/2010)

Artist Inlet Press: Creation (9/24/2010)


Darwin Actor Visits the Creation Museum

Bettany Preparing to Believe

Bettany Preparing to Believe

On Ken Ham’s blog Around the World (at the Answers in Genesis website), he shares about Creation-actor Paul Bettany’s visit to the Creation Museum:

Last week, a film crew for the evening TV news program Nightline on ABC was here–doing a story on the film Creation (which is really about evolution–it’s a drama on Darwin’s life), which opens in U.S. theaters on January 22. It had a run in UK theaters during “The Year of Darwin” (2009 was the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth).

In light of the Creation film, ABC wanted to get our perspective on Darwin’s life and how controversial he was. The interview lasted 25 minutes, and then the crew filmed me in different parts of the museum.

You may recall–from reading my blog a few months ago—that the star of Creation is the actor (seen in The Da Vinci CodeMaster and Commander, etc.) Paul Bettany. He and two colleagues (one of them is the well-known British writer A.A. Gill) toured the Creation Museum in June.

Gill is the author of a Vanity Fair magazine article due next month on our museum and the new Darwin film, and Bettany–who came to the museum with an expensive camera—is supplying the photos for the Gill piece. Gill is an atheist, which makes us doubt his article will be complimentary—but perhaps the photos of our museum will turn out well!

A staff member at our sister ministry in the UK–who saw Creation last year—helped us write a review of the film.

As soon as we know when the Nightline interview with me is aired on ABC-TV, we will post that info on this website. Here is a photo of the video crew interviewing a museum visitor–from Canada–about his thoughts regarding Darwin.

I just learned this morning that in the current edition of New York magazine (the January 10 issue of this weekly magazine), Bettany mentions his visit to the Creation Museum and called the museum (as he has done before) “bananas.”

Is it mean that I find the above photo hilarious? Here is the New York interview, “52 Minutes With Paul Bettany.” Follow Creation on Twitter @Creation_Movie, which opens in limited release (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Boston) on January 22nd.

[Hat-tip to Todd Fife]

Review of ‘Creation’ in ‘LA Weekly’

A short review of Creation from LA Weekly:

Already a blogosphere punching bag for right-wing Christians, Creation — about Charles Darwin’s writing of On the Origin of Species — commits the sin of thoughtfulness, and is quite moving in the process. Director Jon Amiel, working from a screenplay by John Collee, injects flashes of artsy craftsmanship (time-lapse photography depicting a bird’s body decaying and being absorbed into the Earth) in an otherwise visually lovely, solidly tasteful period piece. The Darwin we meet is trying — and failing — to come to terms with grief over the death of his favorite daughter (he has three other children), which wreaks havoc on every aspect of his life. Paul Bettany is note-perfect as Darwin, whether shading in grief, showing the erotic heat beneath his love for his wife (played by Bettany’s real-life partner, Jennifer Connelly; they have palpable chemistry) or perfectly essaying the torturous nature of channeling ideas into words. The film’s title speaks not only to the issue of evolution versus creation but also to what it means to be a person of the mind. Creation’s power lies in its layers, in the way it makes distinctions between religion and faith, and the ways it beautifully (save for one clunky bit of overexplanation) lays out the similarities between religion and science, from the healing power of water to the “curses” issued even upon true believers. (Nuart) (Ernest Hardy)

Darwin only has four children? He lived in the nineteenth-century – that’s too few! All ten of his children were born between 1839 and 1856. It’s a shame that the film only really shows us a lesser amount.

Saw ‘Creation’

100_3724, originally uploaded by darwinsbulldog.

I finally saw Creation, on Wednesday evening in London. I really enjoyed the flick, and certain aspects stuck out to me as great. Other parts did not, but I am going to sit on it a while before writing a full review. I want to wait until I can see it again, probably at home in December. But I urge you, don’t wait for my thoughts, go see it yourself when you are able.

GUEST POST: Review of “Creation” by science educator James Williams

James Williams, a lecturer in science education at the University of Sussex, had thoughts about the new Darwin film Creation, and I invited him to share his review here. James, if you remember, gave this nice talk about creationism for the British Humanist Association:

And to James’s review of Creation:

Creation – the ‘myth’ of Darwin’s life

2 October 2009

It promised so much, yet delivered a turkey! The BBC (one of the backers/makers) of the film Creation, starring Paul Bettany, can be relied upon, usually, to deliver a quality account of scientific ideas and concepts, yet in the latest and highly publicised cinema release Creation they failed miserably. It was, in my view, a waste of a good film.

Granted the actors and actresses, especially the girl who played Annie Darwin (Martha West) were very good, they played their parts well and I could appreciate their characterisations. But what let the film down was its attention to the chronology of Darwin’s life. There is no excuse for this. There are probably more Darwin biographies published than exist for any other scientist. Scholars such as Peter Bowler, Janet Browne, James Moore and many others have written the great man’s life in more intricate detail than many people care to have knowledge of.

Granted, the film did give some excellent and accurate portrayals of events, but why deliver them out of sequence and why leave out some important details, yet include others?

Most people, for example, are unaware of Emma Darwin (Charles’s wife) except that she was his first cousin (mentioned in the film) and that she was ‘ultra’ religious – a Unitarian in fact. Very few people know that she was an accomplished pianist (this was evident in the film) who had studied at the Paris Conservatorie under Chopin. Yet in the film also, we are left with the impression that the Darwin family consisted of 5 children when in fact there were ten (not all survived early childhood). Their eldest child – who would have been nearly twenty years of age – didn’t merit a mention.

Annie was the central focus of the film. Annie was, indeed, the apple of Charles’s eye. He adored her. That much is true. The film is based on the book ‘Annie’s Box’ by Randal Keynes (Charles’s great grandson) and I use the term based in loose terms! Annie was born in 1841 and died in 1851 aged nine. The film is set in 1858-59, seven years after Annie’s tragic death. Yet the filmgoer is left firmly with the impression that she is alive in 1858 and dies sometime in 1858/9. This is unforgivable – even granting poetic/dramatic licence. Darwin is portrayed as having ‘given up religion’ while Annie was still alive when it is well documented that he gave up going to church with Emma and the children after the death of Annie. There is also an allusion to some form of steel box which contains the ‘secrets’ that Charles was to unleash on the world – secrets that would lead to the ‘death of God. But this is not Annie’s box, her box was a small personal one, in which she stored precious (to her) items she collected.

Where do I begin to point out the flaws and errors – there were so many. Darwin being ‘urged’ to write his book on evolution – which he apparently names ‘On the Origin of Species’ when he had in fact been writing a very large book on evolution for many years. ‘Origin’ was just an ‘abstract’ of this magnum opus and its full title was conferred not by Darwin but by the publisher John Murray.

At least Alfred Russel Wallace (my personal hero) did get a mention – but only just. It was the receipt of Wallace’s letter by Darwin that prompted Charles Lyell and Joseph Hooker to urge Darwin to write Origin, not a visit by Huxley.

Darwin was distraught by the letter he received from Wallace (accurate in the film), but what put pressure on him was not Annie’s health (she was already dead at this point remember) but the health of his newborn son Charles – who did actually die during the period of his receipt of Wallace’s letter – and the fact that children in the village were sick and dying. Just how Emma could be pregnant with Charles junior, at the same time as worrying about Annie’s health, defies biological understanding.

The film makers were determined to make Annie the focus of Darwin’s angst during the writing of ‘Origin’ and deemed this to be the dramatic ‘device’. When you look at the REAL story of how Darwin was almost forestalled and what was happening in his life during June/July of 1858 and through to the publication of ‘Origin’ in 1859 – there was drama enough without having to destroy historical accuracy.

In some ways I’m glad that Creation has not found a major distributor in the USA [Michael: it now has]. People who see this film who know little or nothing about Darwin will learn some trivial facts about him. They will not uncover the true story of  Darwin during this period and will learn little about the events surrounding the discovery of the greatest scientific idea of the 19th, 20th and 21st century – the theory of evolution by means of natural selection. Unlike the film ‘Inherit the Wind’, which fictionalised the Scopes Monkey Trial of the 1920s, where some details were changed for dramatic effect, yet the main thrust of the events remained relatively intact, Creation will serve only to mis-educate the people who see the film, but never delve any deeper into Darwin the man and the true story behind the development of the theory of evolution.

You may think that I am a pedant, but to me such historical distortion is like shifting the start of the second world war to 1950 for no good reason. This was not ‘whiggish’ or revisionist history it was just a melange of historical events.

If you are presenting a movie as anything approaching historical fact, ate least you should get the facts right!

Newmarket picks up Jon Amiel’s ‘Creation’

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Newmarket picks up Jon Amiel’s ‘Creation’
Charles Darwin pic targeted for Christmas release
By Steven Zeitchik
Sept 24, 2009, 02:07 PM ET

NEW YORK — Indie distributor Newmarket is back on the acquisitions scene, picking up U.S. rights to Toronto International Film Festival opener “Creation.”

Chris Ball’s and Robert Fyvolent’s company has sealed the deal for Jon Amiel’s pic about the life of Charles Darwin, and will aim for a December release.

Paul Bettany stars as the scientist who, as depicted here, battled with others over questions of religion vs. science as he wrote his classic tome “On the Origin of Species,” and also battled his own demons over the loss of a young daughter. Bettany’s wife, Jennifer Connelly, stars as his onscreen spouse.

Jeremy Thomas produced the film with BBC Films and Ocean Pictures. HanWay repped the film makers in the sale.

The movie was generally well-received when it opened Toronto two weeks ago, though given its period aspects, found a slightly tougher acquisitions market.

Newmarket has a strong record as an upstart distributor, releasing such breakouts as “Memento” and “The Passion of the Christ.” It has been quiet in recent years, but principals are aiming for a resurgence with the “Creation” buy.