More lying creationists, now with Biblical justification

There seems to be no limit to the duplicity of creationists when trying to sell their snake oil to the public.  The latest example involves the movie “The Voyage That Shook the World,” a movie that looks very like a historical documentary, produced by the Australian Company “Fathom Media”.  But this company turns out to be a front for Creation Ministries International.

“Fathom” secured the participation of three eminent historians of science, Sandra Herbert, Peter Bowler, and Janet Browne, who appear as talking heads in the movie. None of these people knew who was really backing that movie nor that it would have a creationist slant.

Now the familiar story unfolds: these interviews were subsequently edited to paint a denigrating picture of Darwin and evolution.  Herbert, Bowler, and Browne report how they were taken in and bowdlerized in a short piece in the History of Science Society’s newsletter:

The interviews filmed with us have been edited to highlight certain aspects of Darwin’s views and character. Janet Browne’s remarks about his childhood delight in making up stories to impress people is used to imply that the same motive may have driven his scientific thinking. Peter Bowler’s description of Darwin’s later views on racial inequality is used in the film, but not Bowler’s account of Adrian Desmond and James Moore’s thesis that Darwin was inspired by his opposition to racism and slavery. Sandra Herbert’s comment that Darwin’s theory required explanation of many aspects of life was edited down to imply that his theory required explanation of all aspects of life. The overall impression is given that Darwin had an enquiring mind but was led astray by his theoretical preconceptions, a view backed up through interviews with several scientists, including one who expresses open doubts about evolution. The film also suggests that what is ultimately at stake is a clash of world views rather than the resolution of scientific questions.

The producers admit that they were duplicitous, but claim that this lying was for the greater good. As William Crawley, a blogger for the BBC, reports:

Phil Bell, CEO of Creation Ministries UK, acknoweged [sic] 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.”

The Creation Ministries website also posted a defense of their actions:

In short, we wanted the film to be judged on its content, not its associations. We did not want people to be “scared off” by our advertising a link to CMI, but at the same time we were determined not to bear false witness. If people had asked us, we determined from the outset that the team would answer honestly, and we instructed the film crew that went to get the interviews along those lines. Of course, we hoped and prayed (literally, and earnestly) that such questions simply would not be asked—e.g. whether creationists were driving it. We wanted straight answers to the questions on these important matters from all, whether creationist or evolutionist—unhampered by prejudice and all the other ‘baggage’ that has accumulated, much of it quite unfairly, around the issue.

And of course they manage to justify this duplicity by cherry-picking the Bible:

We were and are under an obligation to speak the truth, but not to provide exhaustive information where it was not sought. The Bible says of Jesus that “no deceit was in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22), yet he withheld information from those who were not ready to receive it, including the Pharisees (Matt. 21:23–27) and even his own disciples (John 16:12).

Let this be a lesson to all evolutionists.  I, for one, will be sure to ask who’s funding the project before I agree to any more interviews.  And I’m racking my brain furiously to remember which foreign companies interviewed me about Darwin in the last year.  There was one from South Korea, and another from Australia . . . .

h/t: Butterflies and Wheels


  1. whyevolutionistrue
    Posted July 25, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    This thread is degenerating rapidly. Look, Andrew, you came over here to learn about macroevolution, and have subsequently ignored everything that people tried to tell you about it. After ignoring the scientific facts, you have now decided instead to troll about religion. This won’t do.

    This dialogue is nonproductive, and nobody is going to change their minds. I ask everyone to put a sock in it.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted July 25, 2009 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, Jerry, I answered the troll before I read this comment from you.

  2. Robocop
    Posted July 27, 2009 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    “NEBob is correct; according to Jesus in the New Testament, he accepted the laws of the Old Testament. That means, of course, that working on the Sabbath is still a capital crime.”

    Dr. Coyne — You quite rightly accuse Andrew of ignorance and refusing to learn about evolution, but you do exactly the same thing with respect to Christianity here. Despite your claim, I’m aware of no Christians who believe that working on the Sabbath is still a capital crime (although perhaps a few Dominionists come close). You’ll note, by the way, that Jesus specifically excused work by his disciples on the Sabbath (e.g., Matthew 12). If you are actually interested in the subject of how Christianity has dealt with what it means for Jesus to have fulfilled the law and how it relates to the OT, you might begin with Chapter 19 of the Westminster Confession (the traditional Reformed view; you might also consider Article VII of the 39 Articles for the Anglican view) and work from there. Or you could start with how Roman Catholics typically see it if you’d prefer. I know it’s easier to proof-text and quote-mine than actually to do some work, but a bit of historical research and understanding would at least prevent the kind of blatant ignorance on display here.

  3. Andrew
    Posted July 29, 2009 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Damian, I congratulate you. You have outlined a major paradox, along the lines of “If God can do anything, can he make a rock so heavy that even He could not lift it?” You are basically playing word games, talking nonsense.

    The answer that was given (not by me, but by the more eloquent character) does not address your question, because one could only refute your nonsensical dilemma with more nonsense. Actually, let me be more charitable. Thinking in your terms, the only answer to your riddle is that morality is arbitrary, according to God’s whim. But you do not like this.

    However, what the posted did do was tell you how Christians approach that problem.

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