IMAX theaters Reject Science Shows under Religious Pressure

Some IMAX theatres are refusing to show movies that mention evolution or the Big Bang because of protests by religious groups who say the ideas contradict the Bible.

While the number of protests is small -- perhaps a dozen or fewer IMAX theaters -- the effect could be significant because only a few dozen IMAX theatres exhibit science documentaries, according to an article Saturday in The New York Times.

The bans, occurring mostly in the South, could affect decisions about whether to even produce some science documentaries in the first place, the article states.

Religious concerns have already affected the distribution of at least two IMAX films. The film "Volcanoes of the Deep Sea" discusses the possibility of life on Earth having started around subsea hydrothermal vents. It has been turned down at several science centers, according to Richard Lutz, a Rutgers University researcher who was the film's chief scientist.

Likewise, the Times reports, two other films have suffered in distribution: "Galapagos," about the islands where Charles Darwin pondered evolution; and "Cosmic Voyage," which examines everything from the subatomic world to galactic development.

The director of one museum said it chose not to show "Volcanoes" after some people in a previewing audience called it blasphemous.

The bans mirror a broader argument over evolution versus creationism that has become heated in recent years. A recently developed alternative, called intelligent design, has emerged to muddy the argument.

The fight is being waged partly in school districts, where intelligent design proponents say evolution is just a theory and should not be presented as fact. Humans and the rest of nature are too intricate, the argument goes, to have come about without some sort of intelligent intervention.

Scientists agree that evolution is just a theory, but they argue that it's a theory that best fits the evidence, which shows creatures change over time to adapt to their environments. Evolution holds that humans, like all plants and animals on Earth, evolved from lesser species that existed millions and billions of years ago.

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