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The Politics of Restricting ID


What follows is a self-explanatory internet exchange. It reveals that evolutionists, in their rush to crush ID, are every bit as committed to political maneuvering as the most ardent supporter of the “Wedge.” The context is the showing of the video “The Privileged Planet” at the Smithsonian later this month (go here for details).

—–Original Message—–
From: evoldir@evol.biology.mcmaster.ca
Sent: Monday, June 06, 2005 12:08 AM
Subject: Other: Thanks to the Smithsonian, a brushfire is out.
Dear Evoldir members,

As you may know, the Smithsonian Insitution’s National Museum of
Natural History has withdrawn its support of the ID-creationist movie
“The Privileged Planet” and has returned the $16,000 “donation” to the
Discovery Institute. I want to thank the many of you who wrote in to the
NMNH’s director, Christian Samper, and to share with you the response he
wrote in to everyone who emailed him:

Dear _______,

“Thank you for your mail and for sharing your views. Enclosed
please find a statement issued by the Museum on June 1. National Museum
of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution The Smithsonian’s National
Museum of Natural History recently approved a request by the Discovery
Institute to hold a private, invitation-only screening and reception at
the Museum on June 23 for the film “The Privileged Planet.”
Upon further review we have determined that the content of the film
is not consistent with the mission of the Smithsonian Institution’s
scientific research. Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor the
National Museum of Natural History supports or endorses the views of
the Discovery Institute or the film “The Privileged Planet.” Given that
the Discovery Institute has already issued invitations, we will honor
the commitment made to provide space for the event, but will not
participate or raccept a donation for it.”

When one of you wrote in thanking Samper for his actions, Samper wrote
the following response:

>My pleasure, I can further assure you we are taking steps to make sure
>this does not happen again.
Cristián Samper

So it looks as if we have won a small skirmish in the continuing battle
against ID. I suggest that it might be nice if we sent one more email
to Dr. Samper, thanking him for his action, which really is a
courageous one in today’s political climate.

His email address at the Smithsonian is: Samper.Cristian@nmnh.si.edu

Jerry Coyne

Jerry Coyne [j -coyne@uchicago.edu]

Just so you know, “The Privileged Planet” will be shown at the Smithsonian on June 23rd. The only change is that the Smithsonian has returned $16,000 to the Discovery Institute to avoid co-sponsoring the event. That strikes me as a good deal:

(1) “The Privileged Planet” gets shown at the Smithsonian anyway.

(2) Discovery Institute saves $16,000, for use elsewhere.

(3) The controversy over the Smithsonian previously co-sponsoring the showing of this video gets national attention, thus giving lots of free advertising to the video and to the ID movement as a whole.

(4) By giving back the $16,000, the Smithsonian provides an object lesson in just how illiberal and narrow the mainstream academy is — Jerry Coyne being a case in point.

By the way, if you dispute this last point, thinking that this video doesn’t deserve better treatment (i.e., that it deserves to be dissed), consider that Guillermo Gonzalez, whose work is the principal focus of the video, is by any standard one of the top young astrophysicists — it’s easy enough for you to check out his credentials.

I don't understand what the whole commotion is about? Are scientists like Jerry Coyne going to supress the evidence for a priviledged planet like ours? I don't understand why materialism and purposelessness has to be the main edifice for science. If someone like Jerry Coyne can't handle the truth then why even be a scientist? Isn't science the search for the truth? Science should'nt be taken hostage just because people don't want to face the evidence. I'm sick and tired of having the truth being dispelled. I can't believe someone like Randall Kremers is paying $16,000 to take down the PP from the Smithsonian theater. Instead, why not give that money to little children who need food or an education. How can one use that money to stymie a developing theory that might have some merit in the future? Humanity is a total contradiction! If I were the head of the smithsonian I would respect science and the evidence and not have my institution be swayed by obstinate scientists who can't handle the truth. Benjii
June 10, 2005
02:48 PM
I wrote the Smithsonian Inspector General alleging unconstitutional discrimination based upon religious beliefs in two instances: 1) The Discovery Institute getting the theater for no charge due to the religious beliefs of its principal members. 2) The Smithsonian refusing to co-sponsor the screening of "The Privileged Planet" due to the religious beliefs of the Discovery Institute's principal members. I got a personalized email in return signed by the IG promising to look into it. I suspect it was personalized because it contained a misspelling. I can understand the Smithsonian declining use of the theater or co-sponsership because of clearly religious material but in this case I can find nothing clearly religious except the personal beliefs of those associated with the movie's production and screening. This was not a case of discrimination against a movie based upon religious content but rather discrimination against individuals based on their religious beliefs. The former discrimination may reasonably be defended by the establishment clause but the latter discrimination is clearly a violation of the exercise clause. DaveScot
June 10, 2005
10:24 AM

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