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Kansas vs. Darwin

by Jeff Tamblyn

Darwin's theory of evolution is challenged by a Midwestern school board

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Even before they took place, the 2005 Kansas school board hearings on evolution were recognized as a pivotal battle in America's ongoing war over teaching evolution in the public schools. Organized by believers in Intelligent Design and convened by creationists, the hearings provided a testing ground for the successful legal and political tactics that drive today's ongoing actions by anti-evolution organizations in the US and around the world. On the pro-evolution side, they inspired a worldwide boycott of the event by mainstream science. Kansas vs. Darwin reveals the fascinating and sometimes baffling personalities behind the spectacle, with exclusive footage of the hearings and revealing, in-depth interviews with the major figures on both sides. Never revealing their own opinions, the filmmakers allow the characters to fight it out, with emotionally polarizing and often humorous results. The witnesses at the hearings include anti-evolution scientists, educators, and even a middle-eastern journalist. Their opinions are refuted in interviews with their pro-evolution counterparts. More than a political documentary, Kansas vs. Darwin takes you to the dark heart of the culture wars, examining the confusing crossroads of politics, religion, science and education. The film is delineated by chapters that guide the exploration of its various themes, including the meaning of evolution as it affects man's sense of purpose, the definition of science, materialism vs. spirituality, and the responsibility of educators regarding the religious beliefs of their students.

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quoteJeff Tamblyn of Unconditional Films, in his DVD “Kansas vs. Darwin,” has documented the KBE minority members' challenge to the theory of evolution in a riveting, personally frustrating (speaking as a biology teacher) and extremely entertaining video. Included with the video is a very useful three-lesson study guide with background for students that was written by Richard and Kenneth Bingham, both of whom have extensive experience in biology teaching, curriculum development, and teacher education.
Roberta Batorsky, Adjunct Professor of Biology, Middlesex County College, Edison, NJ
The American Biology Teacher
full review

quoteKansas v. Darwin is a must-watch film. As a documentary, it is perhaps the most clear and successful such film that I have watched that is without a narrator, showing the true skill of Jeff Tamblyn. It remains timely, six years after the events depicted, but I hope that its relevance shifts from the political to the historical soon. Our nation and our world may depend upon it with our future challenges, foreseen and, as of now, unimaginable.
Chris Halloran, Professor of Philosophy, Religious Studies, Miami Dade College

full review

quote"Kansas vs. Darwin" is a thoughtful and thorough introduction to a greatly misunderstood event: the 2005 Kansas Board of Education hearings on intelligent design and evolution. With remarkable footage of the hearings themselves along with candid interviews of the principals, the film presents both sides accurately and fairly, and with a healthy dollop of humor.
Eugenie Scott, Executive Director
National Center for Science Education

quoteI was both impressed and disturbed by this powerful film. Kansas vs. Darwin should be recommended viewing for students of the politics of education for several reasons. First, it raises central questions about educational policymaking: the role of outside experts and interest groups. Second, it highlights dilemmas about professional versus lay control of state boards of education, particularly curricular decisions. Third, it raises the question: can a modern state board of education responsibly distinguish between the will of the adult constituents it represents on the one hand, and what is in fact legitimate knowledge to be taught to the state's students/future citizenry on the other?
Elizabeth DeBray, Associate Professor, College of Education, University of Georgia

quoteKansas vs. Darwin is informative, engaging and balanced. It is a challenge to approach such a charged topic even handedly, but Tamblyn has done so. The occasional arrogance and frequent frustration of scientists is palpable, as is the unyielding faith and the smug anti-intellectualism of the creationists.
Ed Caudill, University of Tennessee, author, "Darwinism in the Press: The Evolution of an Idea," "Darwinian Myths: The Legends and Misuses of a Theory," "The Scopes Trial: A Photographic History."

More Reviews


  • Audience Award, Best Documentary, Secret City Film Festival
  • Gala Opening Night Screening, Tallgrass Film Festival, Wichita, KS
  • Official Selection, Temecula Film Festival, Temecula, CA
  • Official Selection, Reelheart International Film Festival, Toronto, CA
  • Official Selection, Kansas International Film Festival, Overland Park, KS
  • KTWU, Topeka Public Television
  • KCPT, Kansas City Public Television
  • KPTS, Wichita Public Television
  • Smoky Hills Public Television

Resources to Download

Download Here

16-page study guide created by National Teachers Hall of Fame inductee Ken Bingman. Feel free to download and examine before you purchase the film!

Visit the official website for Kansas vs. Darwin

Kansas vs. Darwin

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Appropriate for: Middle School High School College/University

Special Features:

Closed captioned! Also, 40 minutes of video extras and background information about the subjects and the conflict itself.

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