Last weekend I had hoped to see the movie Creation: The True Story of Charles Darwin. This is a movie that has had trouble in the United States since distribution companies felt it would be too controversial for American audiences. Believing that evolution is still a taboo topic in the most “advanced” nation on the planet is a peculiar conundrum. Why are we so sensitive concerning our natural pedigree?
Primatologists are constantly discovering new and unexpected connections between the great apes and homo sapiens. We share biological, and as we are increasingly aware, cerebral traits. Empathy and xenophobia, two features once believed unique to humans, are in evidence among our great ape cousins. We are on a continuum rather than a segmented train.
Bearing these provocative thoughts in mind, I was ready to head out to the theater, even if I had to go alone, to see the story of Darwin. I’ve read enough biographies to know there are some heart-rending moments in the story, situations that I would not be able to face – but it is a story of truth. It is ironic that we sometimes fear the truth, since religion is our effort to find exactly that. So, resolve firmly in hand, I searched for New Jersey theaters showing the film. None. The nearest show was in Midtown Manhattan. Add a twenty-dollar train ticket to the cost of admission, and to an underemployed academic the price was out of reach. Perhaps some day the movie will become available for general public consumption. Until it does, however, I’ll just have to lament my frustration to a local empathetic ape.