Smithsonian Reversal Over ID Noticed by Big Science
Both Nature1 and Science2 noticed the Smithsonian’s flip-flop over co-sponsoring The Privileged Planet at their Natural History Museum this month (see 06/01/2005 entry). Both noted the quandary that the Smithsonian found itself in. They could not back out because of a contract, but under pressure from evolutionists, did not want to appear to endorse intelligent design. This led them to return the $16,000 fee so that they would not appear to be cooperating with the Discovery Institute, and to remove their co-sponsorship while allowing the event to go forward.
Nature noted that email from “researchers and the public” prompted the backtracking, titling its news item, “Evolution row makes museum ditch donation” (even though the film is not about evolution). Science said the Smithsonian’s compromise, permitting the film to be shown privately but without their co-sponsorship or taking a fee, allowed the Institution to avoid the appearance of endorsing the film on the one hand, while on the other avoiding giving the “Discovery Institute yet another martyrdom story.”
Both articles agreed that Discovery Institute had done nothing wrong in scheduling the film. It was a routine procedure they followed. Science said that museum spokesperson gave the film a clean review, even though museum policies “preclude events with a religious, political, or commercial message.” A second review, after the hubbub, also concluded that “the film fell within the museum’s guidelines for such events.” Their basis for claiming the film violated their scientific research policy was explained by anthropologist Richard Potts, chair of the museum’s human origins program:
But it was very clear that the film was trying to situate science within the wider realm of belief. The idea that human beings have been placed on Earth to discover the principles of the universe is not a position that stems from science; it is a metaphysical and religiously based conclusion. (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
The Smithsonian frequently accepts donations for use of their auditorium. After the complaints by evolutionists, however, the Smithsonian is reviewing its policies to avoid confusion in the future.
Update 06/24/2005: The event apparently went off smoothly without acrimony or dissent; here is an eyewitness report from Salvador Cordova.
1Geoff Brumfiel, “Evolutionist row makes museum ditch donation,” Nature 435, 725 (9 June 2005) | doi: 10.1038/435725a.
2Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, “Smithsonian Gives Grudging OK to Film Backing ID Argument,” Science, Vol 308, Issue 5728, 1526, 10 June 2005, [DOI: 10.1126/science.308.5728.1526a].
This was clearly an episode about power politics, not science. Notice how the film passed two reviews that agreed there was no problem with the science; the museum backpedaled only because of the noise from barking Darwin bulldogs, most of whom have probably not even seen the film. And what a weak excuse; it’s not that the film said anything outrageous, but rather that the Darwinistas don’t want to grant any credibility to the source. That’s the genetic fallacy – can any good thing come out of Nazareth? Well, come and see.
Potts’ pot shot about the film putting the evidence into a metaphysical/religious context is absurd. As an anthropologist studying evolutionary human origins, has he no metaphysics? Of course he does: look at his chairing a series of lectures on “Science, Ethics and Religion” (in terms of human evolution, of course) for the AAAS recently; another example on National Geographic News shows him speculating about the evolution of modern human behavior (notice the absence of evidence). Are these kinds of metaphysical dialogues forbidden by the Smithsonian? Of course not. Evolutionists shamelessly pontificate about the metaphysical/religious implications of their beliefs, right in the halls of science and before the mass media.
For the Smithsonian to be consistent, they would have to outlaw films like Cosmos, Origins (09/29/2004) and Evolution (09/28/2001) and other pro-Darwinist films, which are replete with religious and metaphysical claims. The inferences drawn in The Privileged Planet are understated and balanced, many of them coming from astronomers and biologists with no connections to ID. They speak their own minds based on the evidence, something about which the Darwinians are profoundly silent. In Darwinian movies, by contrast, the metaphysics are dogmatic and polemical, often imagineered with reckless abandon with no opportunity for rebuttal. In sweeping generalities, Darwinians preach their philosophy of big-bang to man-as-god in homilies that would make a pope blush. They take an inch of irrelevant fact and spin a mile with imagination, delivering their sermon outlines to animators to fill in the gaps.
Like most institutions of Big Science, the Smithsonian has become a fundamentalist church of atheism (see next entry). Despite the increase in its lavish facilities, it has degenerated so far from the philosophy of its first distinguished secretary, Joseph Henry, it is truly sad to see how it has been co-opted by leftist anti-religious propaganda. Chief of the Darwinian KGB Eugenie Scott was “pleased by the swift steps the museum has taken” while other Party Faithful were even more aggressive, wanting the film canceled until they feared it would make martyrs of their political prisoners.
As long as the news media and reporters perpetuate the false dichotomy and equivocation of “science” (Darwinian metaphysics) vs “belief” (non-Darwinian metaphysics), this pathetic war of heat will continue. The Darwinians, the “most objectionable” fundamentalists according to Paul Johnson (see next entry), had better learn how to debate the evidence when the day comes that they can no longer take for granted their power to dominate the scientific institutions and prevent alternatives from being heard.