by James Bowman
It will come as no news to readers of The American Spectator that science is now no longer just science but has become a religion-substitute for a large number of Americans. This faith, perhaps, claims even a majority of those in some other liberal democracies of the West. And if science, and its political arm, environmentalism, is the new religion, Charles Darwin is its Christ figure, despised and rejected of (theist) men and persecuted for the Truth he sought to bring to set men free of their inherited chains. These are not the bonds of sin and death but of the superstition and ignorance which supposes the world to have had any Creator at all or any Redeemer other than Darwin himself. That is what we mean by myth: a story that explains the world, whether or not the story happens to be true, and the Darwinist myth now comes closer to an explanation that people are prepared to accept than any other since the Redemptive history in the Christian interpretation of the Bible.
For this reason Jon Amiel's Creation, written by John Collee from a family memoir by Randal Keynes, Darwin's great-great-grandson, has something of the odor of piety about it that has hardly been seen on screen since the days of Cecil B. DeMille's Biblical epics. The movie would have us believe that Charles Darwin (Paul Bettany) lost his always rather uncertain religious faith on account of the death of his beloved daughter Annie (Martha West) and only then allowed himself to be persuaded by a group of hard-line atheist friends, led by T.H. Huxley (Toby Jones), to finish the long-delayed writing of The Origin of Species. Furthermore, their ideological interest in his doing so became his own over time and fully congruent with the atheistic triumphalism in Huxley's words of proleptic appreciation for the Origin: "You have killed God, Sir."
That sounds dubious enough, even coming from the historical Huxley, but then the filmmakers can't resist making him add: "Good riddance to the vindictive bugger" -- the v.b., that is, being God. At once we are made aware that we are no longer in anything that is even meant to look like the 19th century except in the most superficial ways. Instead, the film is quite self-consciously taking up the cudgels on behalf of the Dawkins-Hitchens faction in the theist-antitheist debates of our own time. The movie-Darwin tentatively protests at first about how society is held together by religion and, though it is a frail bark, it nevertheless manages to float; he is also restrained by the still-powerful religious belief of Mrs. Darwin (Jennifer Connelly, the real-life Mrs. Bettany) -- until she reads the book in manuscript and urges him to publish it. But in the end his own atheism is as confirmed as Huxley's. Or, more to the point, Richard Dawkins's... Read the whole article.
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- ▼ February 2010 (5)
- Fr. Christopher George Phillips
- Fr. Phillips is the founding pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, the first Anglican Use parish, established on August 15, 1983. Not that there is any confusion, but he is on the left, shown in his younger, less gray-headed days.