It is ok to lie for Jesus?

Is it acceptable to lie for your beliefs? Are you allowed to be dishonest, intentionally mislead others, and cheat and deceive when acting in the name of religion? A group of Christian creationists say yes. The end justifies the means. When you lie for Jesus, you work for God. From an outside point of view, this sounds more like Machiavelli’s The Prince than The New Testament.

New creationist documentary

Several of my colleagues had quite a shock when they were contacted by a representative from the British Science Association in 2009. They were asked why in the world they had agreed to participate in a creationist propaganda film. Quite a few of us had participated in various media contexts in connection with the Darwin Year in 2009. It is difficult to remember all of them. But no one could recall having represented themselves as creationists.

Meanwhile, that was exactly what the people behind the Australian production company Fathom Media was. Under the pretext of making a historical documentary, the unsuspecting scientists were lured to do interviews which subsequently were conveniently edited into a portrayal of Darwin as a well intentioned but unreliable scientist and the theory of evolution as a scientific aberration. Here, the statements made by the scientists of evolution were taken out of context and edited in with the statements of creationist experts in the same serious interview setup making it look like an equal and balanced discussion. However, that is not the case and you should not be fooled.

The production company deliberately covered up the intention of their interviews with scientists and historians of evolution. They have openly admitted to doing so, afterwards of course. The intension was that they wanted an “open discussion” that was not coloured by “prejudice” against Christian creationism. The contract they had with the scientists was airtight. The only possibility of interfering was through the courts. The idea of an “open discussion” is nothing more that an empty postulate. The creationist “experts” who were interviewed were well aware of the situation. One of them is even the mastermind behind the project and all of them belong to the global and financially powerful creationist movement Creation Ministries International.

Huge budget and great production

With a budget of over a million dollars, The Voyage that Shook the World financially blew the majority of even the largest productions produced for the Darwin Year out of the water. The result was an incredible documentary; technically superior and with fantastic nature shots from well chosen locations, a ship resembling the Beagle, a visit to the Galapagos Islands, and a crew of well casted locals from Tasmania in a historical dramatisation of Darwin’s childhood, adolescence, and adult life.

In the midst of all this, scientists of evolution appear and are the unsuspecting extras in a big creationist puppet show which is acted out quite cleverly. Contrary to most creationist material produced, the documentary is not meant to educate or enlighten the already converted i.e. those loyal to the Bible. No, the target group is the nonbelievers, the big secular audience. They are now to be convinced that there IS an actual controversy, that there IS a struggle between equal world views which has profound consequences for how we live our lives as well as for our morals and our relationships with others. They are to be convinced of the conflict.

International creationist movement

In this context, Darwin is not unequivocally a bad guy. However, there is no doubt that he was wrong and that the entire modern theory of evolution rests on a foundation of incorrect research results and leads to bad behaviour. The problem is that both the process of making and editing the documentary is filled with deceit, inaccuracies, and the manipulation of statements and material as well as historical and scientific facts.

However, that is insignificant according to the people behind the cobweb of the production company Fathom Media, the creationist distribution company Con Dios Entertainment and the confederation Creation Ministries International which is founded in Australia but has a substantial global network. In fact, the dishonesty is justified as long as it is in the “name of a good cause”. This phenomenon is now being discussed under the expression “lying for Jesus”.

The secrecy concerning the actual purpose of the documentary and the array of lies gave the crew access to the collections of Darwin’s works, his old dormitory room, and the dining hall with the glass mosaic at Christ’s College in Cambridge. Here, some are left behind embarrassed as well. But that does not concern the creationists. Because lying is allowed. It is not a new concept or something reserved for the wealthy Australian creationists behind The Voyage that Shook the World. American creationists have done this for nearly 100 years and in Europe comprehensive creationist manipulation is seen everywhere today.

What do you think?

Is it ok? Is it ok to take advantage of well meaning and unsuspecting scientists under false pretences? Is it ok to intentionally misrepresent the discussion and falsify evidence? Is it ok to deceive your target audience? Is it ok to lie for Jesus?

Peter C. Kjærgaard

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