"QUESTIONING DARWIN," CONTRASTING MODERN-DAY CREATIONISM WITH CHARLES DARWIN'S OWN JOURNEY, DEBUTS FEB. 10, EXCLUSIVELY ON HBO
Documentary Has HBO2 Encore Presentation On Darwin's Birthday, Feb. 12
Modern-day Creationists reject the idea that the Earth is billions of years old and that humans are descended from primates, believing instead in the literal interpretation of the Bible, which asserts that God made the world in six days and created Adam and Eve to populate the planet. Directed by Antony Thomas (HBO's Peabody-winning "For Neda"), QUESTIONING DARWIN takes an in-depth look at the views of those who reject Charles Darwin's theory of evolution while chronicling Darwin's own journey as a young man whose beliefs were changed when he experienced the world first-hand. Featuring interviews with people on both sides of the debate, the exclusive HBO presentation debuts MONDAY, FEB. 10 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT), and has an HBO2 encore presentation on International Darwin Day (Darwin's birthday), Wednesday, Feb. 12 (8:00-9:00 p.m.).
Other HBO playdates: Feb. 10 (5:25 a.m.), 13 (5:30 p.m.), 16 (11:00 a.m.), 19 (9:30 a.m.) and 22 (3:00 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: Feb. 12 (8:00 p.m.), 21 (10:15 a.m.) and 25 (12:30 p.m.)
Narrated by Brian Protheroe, QUESTIONING DARWIN draws on Darwin's own words, performed by Sam West, and includes comments from a variety of sources, including: Dr. David Menton of the Answers in Genesis Ministry; Dr. Jobe Martin of the Biblical Discipleship Ministries; Ken Ham, CEO of the Creation Museum; Darwin biographer James Moore; science historian Rebecca Stott; geneticist Steve Jones; and zoologist Aubrey Manning. The film also profiles members of churches throughout the U.S., many whom have undergone extreme hardship, but believe, as one observer declares, "The Lord does not do things without a purpose. Some of the trials we go through will strengthen us and give us wisdom."
English theorist Charles Darwin once intended to be a clergyman. However, during a five-year journey on the HMS Beagle from 1831 to 1836, he saw his acceptance of a divine order shattered, whether by a devastating earthquake in Chile, or by the horrors of slavery, and came to question the concept of a world created by a benevolent deity. He explained that he "cannot see, as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world." Nick Spencer, author of "Darwin and God," says that Darwin eventually came to believe God "may well have designed and ordered creation, but he basically lets it go on its way."
QUESTIONING DARWIN shows how he was torn between his early religious beliefs and the evidence he collected throughout that initial trip and in the following 23 years of research before the 1859 publication of "On the Origin of Species," which challenged Creationism. According to biographer James Moore, after his eldest daughter, Annie, died just before she turned ten, he "no longer felt it possible to believe in a good, loving Christian God."
For today's Creationists, accepting Darwin's theory would negate their sense of having a personal relationship with God, as well as their belief in prayer, redemption and the afterlife. Ken Ham, CEO of the Creation Museum, declares, "It's not God's fault there's death and suffering in the world. It's our fault because we sinned in Adam."
QUESTIONING DARWIN shows how some Christians believe their love of God brings them "out of the dark" in the hardest of times, profiling 17-year-old Abby Marsh, who lost the use of her legs in an automobile accident. At her hospital bedside, her parents explain how their belief in God's plan has kept them strong. "It's a horrible thing we are going through, but there is no way we could do it without God's presence," says Abby's mother, Reta. Her father, Dan, adds, "We don't understand the timing, but we do understand His presence. We know that all things will come to good. We don't know how."
By the start of the 20th century, the theory of evolution was established in school curriculums and subsequently inspired countless scientific advancements. When the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957, however, many in the U.S. worried that the nation lagged behind in science and moved to increase the emphasis on evolution and other scientific topics in public education. Meanwhile, believers in Creationism often homeschool their offspring precisely because evolution is taught in classrooms.
In his lifetime, Charles Darwin never stopped asking measured questions about science and God. "I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of God," he wrote. "I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might just as well speculate on the mind of Newton."
British filmmaker Antony Thomas has written, directed and produced 40 major documentaries and dramas. His recent work includes the 2010 HBO documentary "For Neda," which received the 2011 Peabody Award, the Foreign Press Association's Documentary of the Year Award and the Clarion Award for Best Television Documentary from the Association of Women in Communications. Among his other HBO films are "Middle Sexes: Redefining He and She," "Celibacy," "A Question of Miracles" and "To Love or Kill: Man vs. Animal."
QUESTIONING DARWIN is produced and directed by Antony Thomas; executive producer, Peter Dale; film editor, McDonald Brown; director of photography, Jonathan Partridge. For HBO: senior producer, Nancy Abraham; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.