Darwinists Party Hardy, But Crash ID Events
As the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin of Species approaches in November, institutions are promoting Darwin in some bizarre ways. When other events are held critical of Darwin’s ideas, though, the sponsors know to expect trouble and media distortion.
Last night, the new film Darwin’s Dilemma (review) was shown in the auditorium of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, and the prior evening, Dr. Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute spoke about the thesis of his book Signature in the Cell; this received a fairly balanced review in the student newspaper Oklahoma Daily but with a rather unflattering photo of Meyer. According to Evolution News, Darwinist blogger PZ Myers said the university should be ashamed for allowing Meyer and the film on campus. “Where are the rational people of the state of Oklahoma?” he exclaimed, displaying his feelings about diversity and tolerance. “They should all be rising up in disgust to mock this ridiculous affair.”
Prior to the film showing, Museum Director Dr. Michael A. Mares felt it necessary to assure the university and museum visitors that Darwin was safe. In an open letter on the Museum website, he indicated that the university had to comply with diversity policies by allowing the film to be shown, because “The museum does not discriminate against recognized campus organizations based on their religious beliefs, political philosophy, scientific literacy, or any other factors,” hinting that the IDEA club that sponsored the events was motivated by other than scientific concerns. Mares listed 15 Darwin-friendly programs that had been held at the museum in 2009 and 11 more that were upcoming.
According to a live blogger at the IDEA Club, during the Q&A after the film, someone claimed that the interviews of Valentine and Morris had been made 9 or 10 years ago and that they had since renounced the claims in the film. John West on Evolution News quickly responded that this “Gotcha” moment fell flat, because it simply was not true. The recordings had been made in 2006 when the filming project began. The interviews were conducted with full disclosure and cooperation of the two Cambrian experts. Both had signed releases and accepted payment for the interviews.
Meanwhile, Darwin Bicentennial celebrations are continuing around the world and ramping up again for the 150th Anniversary of Darwin’s bombshell book. John Travis highlighted the new Darwin Centre at the London Museum of Natural History. Some Darwin celebration events consist of lectures, but others seem strange for honoring a scientist. Virginia Morell reported favorably on a British dance company presenting The Comedy of Change, “a distillation of Darwinian ideas about evolution, particularly sexual selection.” One dance features male dancers dressed in bird feathers who “vigorously shake their heads and necks while sliding across a stage—all while being critically observed by a gallery of females.” Whether this method of getting a date supersedes eHarmony.com remains to be seen.
A new website called the Darwin 150 Project shows Darwin surrounded by balloons. It’s trying to get a crowd of admiring fans: “Help our Darwin Facebook Group get to 1 million members!” the headline reads. “250,000 have already joined. Join now!” The campaign was promoted by Science magazine’s Darwin Bicentennial blog, Origins. You can follow Darwin on Twitter, too, by subscribing to “Darwin 150 Tweets.” A calendar on the page shows Darwin events worldwide. Since community organizing is trendy these days, Darwin gets his own grass-roots promotions, too: “If you’re not listed below or if you want to get involved in campus/community outreach and become a Darwin150 representative for your organization,” the website tells you where to write. The website also has a campaign to get the movie “Creation: the Movie” (09/16/2009) booked in U.S. theaters, as if distributors were afraid of the reactions of creationists, when in fact it has been getting poor reviews even from evolutionists (e.g., Science Origins blog). Those who want to voice their opinion about the celebrations can join the “Darwin Shoot-Out” and add their comments to the first entry, “Darwin rocks! Awesome mission. Definitely will be sharing with all my friends. :)”
If society can endure a few more months of silliness, the hoopla should probably quiet down a little in 2010. The impact of Darwin’s ideas, though, will continue.
As for Dr. Mares and his open letter, it’s understandable in terms of human nature. Ken Ham would probably write a similar letter if he allowed a prominent evolutionist to speak at the Creation Museum. The difference, of course, is that Oklahoma Museum of Natural History presents itself as an unbiased scientific institution. Despite the fact that Darwin’s Dilemma contains 100% science, no religion, and interviews with experts all with exceptional scientific credentials, and that lecturer Stephen Meyer has two PhDs, Mares painted them as religiously motivated and scientifically illiterate. He made it sound as if he had to tolerate the stench of intelligent design in the interest of complying with non-discrimination policies. His list of pro-Darwin events at the museum, though, contains many topics that are either irrelevant to Darwinian views of universal common descent or problematic for evolutionary theory. The list only makes a pretense of overwhelming support for evolution. None of the events provide an opportunity for debate. That’s the Darwinian method (artificial selection).
There’s a good side to the celebrations. They raise public awareness of Darwin and the impact of his ideas. The issues raised by his book are important. They deserve to be discussed. It would be good strategy for the Darwinists to show they are not afraid of challenge. Instead, they hype Charlie in ways that make them all look silly. More power to them. Let the public see the shenanigans for what they are – the actions of power-hungry, bigoted ideologues who mistakenly think that the way to win friends and influence people is to dumb them down and insult them with balloons and tweets and Facebook fan clubs. Darwin would have been insulted, too. Do a good deed for Charlie. When you see his grizzled visage caricatured with balloons and Twitter logos at the next Darwin Party circus, or at the next DODO Lecture Series (Darwin-Only, Darwin-Only), post his statement about balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question (see February page) by his picture, and draw some tears coming down his face.