The publication of Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of the Species” became a lightning rod for conflict between theists and non-theists alike that lasts to this day. Both are treated sympathetically in this exploratory dramatisation of Darwin’s home life and the struggle that surrounded his work. Against a background of the harshness of polarised positions, one side depicted by the cruelty and platitudes of a one dimensional vicar and family friend, and the other by an equally brittle and one dimensional depiction of Thomas Huxley, the tenderness and tragedy of human life plays out in Darwin’s family and marriage.
This brings a third voice to the strident debate between the so called “New Atheism” and the different expressions of “Creationism” and “Intelligent Design”. The debate doesn’t exist or continue in a vacuum that is divorced from the drama of human life – it is part of the warp and woof of human affairs.
The closing scene left me with a sense of open-ended hopefulness – the possibility that strongly and passionately held non compatible positions can not only co-exist, but find meaning together – and that within the mystery of life opposite perspectives can find a meeting place in synthesis. The challenge then becomes its articulation.