Just when we thought Discovery Place was turning into Dogpatch before our eyes, a normal urban science museum snapped back into view. Last week, after taking a beating from non-Neanderthals for the decision not to show the IMAX film Volcanoes of the Deep Sea - at least partly due to the movie's supposedly "in-your-face" depiction of (gasp!) evolution - the science museum announced it will present three special screenings of the movie next Thursday, April 14. Discovery Place President John Mackay was backpedaling as fast as he could last week, stating that the museum never contended Volcanoes was inappropriate for DP, and all but denying that a fear of evolution-bashers had influenced the original decision not to show the film. The trouble, however, is that it's hard to run from your own direct quotes, no matter how keen an interest you may have in saving your butt.
For the record, Mackay did say that concerns about evolution were part of the decision making process, and you weren't hallucinating when you read in the daily paper that he said, "We've shown many films and exhibits that touch on evolution. But we felt the way this was phrased was over the top. It was put out there with such in-your-faceness. . .Filmmakers can be strident in their language — 'This is the way it is' — and what's held as theoretical is presented as fact."
We looked, and looked again, and finally realized something very surprising - there's not even one mention of evolution in the entire film!
We obtained a copy of the script of Volcanoes in order to see how "in your face" about evolution the filmmakers had been. We looked, and looked again, and finally realized something very surprising — there's not even one mention of evolution in the entire film! True, the filmmakers framed their explanations for goings-on in the ocean depths within the context of an overall acceptance of evolution, but "in your face" or "over the top"? It's just not there. The brave filmmakers dared, in these weird, reactionary times, to actually be in tune with mainstream scientific beliefs. But when you think about it, that's kind of what you'd expect to find in a science museum in the 21st Century. I guess it's also enough to make some Biblical literalists raise hell, but so what? If a science museum isn't the place for resisting ass-backward thinking, then what is?
For now, Discovery Place has barely escaped being a laughingstock within the scientific community, although Mackay still has visible egg on his face. In the end, we're just glad the movie will be shown and that someone locally has taken a stand, albeit a wobbly one, against the increasingly vocal knuckle-draggers among us. But, truth be told, it never should have come to this to begin with.
The film will be presented by reservation only on Thursday, April 14, at 5:30, 7, and 8pm. Admission ranges from $6.50 to $7.50. The film will also enter the Discovery Place regular schedule of films in August. For more information, call 704-372-6261, ext. 300.