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