Overview: 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. Directed by Antony Thomas (HBO’s Peabody-winning FOR NEDA), this documentary 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.
Narrated by Brian Protheroe, QUESTIONING DARWIN draws on Darwin’s own words, performed by Sam West, and includes comments from a variety of sources from the sciences and our churches stating their opinions on both sides of the debate.
Expectations: A little bit of a revelation as we go into this review. My appreciation for HBO is obvious but the other passion I have is for natural history. If I had the academic acumen I would have been doing something in the field besides just being an avid enthusiast. But, I know all about the Evolutionary Theory, the trips of the HMS Beagle and The Origin of Species. Trust me, I am all over it. I am also a born and raised Christian, so I am versed in the Creation Story of Genesis. So, QUESTIONING DARWIN is most intriguing to me. I realize it might not be to others.
I have seen documentaries about the fundamental Christians and their adamant beliefs before. This film, however, offers a different angle as it talks about the creator of the contested theory himself, Charles Darwin. I expect it to be a fresh angle to the debate. I am looking forward to the hour.
Gut Reaction: I have rewritten this paragraph a couple of times. It is not because I don’t know what I want to say it is because I keep editing out many opinions and trimming it down. I’m not here to denounce the beliefs of the Christians presented here, though I can shoot holes through their arguments, and I am not here to tout my belief of evolution. I’m here to tell you whether or not this documentary is worth your time. It is hard to do so, however, without talking a bit about the subject matter.
This film fairly allows the creationists to state their opinions regarding their literal beliefs in the Holy Bible. They hold the description of Adam & Eve as fact which means they believe that God created all that we know in six days, that it is our fault that there is evil in the world because of Original Sin and that the dinosaurs were in the Garden of Eden. The documentary occasionally diverts off the main topic a few times as interviews dwell to long on the Original Sin issue. It quickly heads back to the creation/evolution debate though. How Charles Darwin fits into the debate and how he struggled with the debate himself adds an interesting angle to the piece. It prevents this documentary from becoming a back and forth yelling match or without getting too absurd.
In Conclusion: Regardless of your views on the issue QUESTIONING DARWIN does not and cannot settle the debate. It still baffles me how we can’t just accept that God created evolution. It still baffles me that there are people so adamant in their beliefs that no one else is allowed to think otherwise and schools shouldn’t teach alternative possibilities. It is a fascinating debate to wrap your head around and this documentary certainly can give you food for thought on the matter. I hope some of you do take it in and visit the comment section below afterwards.
Other HBO airdates are 02.13 at 5:30pm; 02.16 at 11:00am; 02.19 at 9:30am and 02.22 at 3:00pm. HBO2 still airs it on 02.21 at 10:15am and 02.25 at 12:30pm, plus it runs on HBOGO.