Mr. Darwin’s Tree Set to Embark on Expanded UK Tour
A theatrical production centering on the life, work and theories of 19th Century naturalist Charles Darwin is slated for an expanded tour across the United Kingdom, according to a recent Christian Today press release. Written by award-winning screenwriter Murray Watts of “The Miracle Maker” (2000) fame and starring actor Andrew Harrison, Mr. Darwin’s Tree first debuted to the public in its November 2009 premiere at Westminster Abby.
Self-professed UK public theology think tank Theos is the driving force behind the production and says it is a larger component of their Rescuing Darwin project. The group for the past several months has been raising awareness concerning Darwin’s historical lack of interest in issues of faith, spirituality and theology.
Theos argues there is little reason for religious organizations and churches to continue to attack and/or view Darwin as the manifestation of all that is anti-Creationism. British daily newspaper The Guardian recently featured an online article written by Theos Director of Studies Nick Spencer. In his piece, Spencer posits that “The public has been turned off [to] evolutionary theory by its false association with reductionism, nihilism, atheism and amorality.” If successful, the production will serve to portray Darwin in a different light across several multicultural venues.
In fact, in May of this year over 800 people gathered at Westminster to view a public Theos debated entitled “Did Darwin Kill God?” Asserting the compatibility between Darwinism, evolution and belief in God, the controversial debate stirred mixed feelings among several religious groups and devoted Creationists.
As an organization, Theos declares that their perspective “is that faith is not just important for human flourishing and the renewal of society, but that society can only truly flourish if faith is given the space to do so,” according to their official web site. They also declare to “reject notions of a sacred-secular divide.”
Director of Theos Paul Woolley described the production as “A powerful and deeply moving piece of theatre,” adding that “the play explores Darwin’s questions about his science, himself, God and suffering, creating an intimate portrait of the man, his life and his work.” Woolley also added that the historicalness of the production is largely based on Darwin’s own personal diaries and foreign correspondences.
The long term social, political and cultural effects of the production remain to be seen, particularly in venues across the U.S. In the 2008 documentary film “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”, longtime comedian Ben Stein addressed the controversies surrounding the teachings of Intelligent Design in public education institutions.
In the film, Stein notes the amount of scientific research that has developed since Darwin’s 150-year-old theory of evolution and his writing of “Origin of Species.” This research has caused “a growing number of scientists to reconsider the simple view espoused by Darwin that life is random, purposeless, chance occurrence,” according to the official web site for “Expelled.” The site also adds that “The universe and life itself—is turning out to be far more complex and mysterious—than Darwin could possibly have imagined.”