# Smithsonian to Screen a Movie That Makes a Case Against Evolution

Staff Emeritus
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Fossils at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History have been used to prove the theory of evolution. Next month the museum will play host to a film intended to undercut evolution.

The Discovery Institute, a group in Seattle that supports an alternative theory, "intelligent design," is announcing on its Web site that it and the director of the museum "are happy to announce the national premiere and private evening reception" on June 23 for the movie, "The Privileged Planet: The Search for Purpose in the Universe."

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The museum, he said, offers its Baird Auditorium to many organizations and corporations in return for contributions - in the case of the Discovery Institute, $16,000. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/28/national/28smithsonian.html Sell-outs. :grumpy: I can't believe this. ## Answers and Replies Math Is Hard Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member Darn - I wish I could see the whole article. I would like to know exactly what they mean by "undercut" evolution. ID supporters certainly can't deny evolution. There's just too much evidence. So there must be some points where they have to agree and some where they disagree and I would like to know which these are. It's confusing. Evo Mentor The museum, he said, offers its Baird Auditorium to many organizations and corporations in return for contributions - in the case of the Discovery Institute,$16,000.
It sounds like the museum was unable to turn them down. If they let others rent out the auditorium for a "contribution" they probabably had no legal recourse. People just need to understand that the museum has to let these nuts use the place and are not endorsing them.

Here's the link to the policy right off of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum's website -

"SPECIAL EVENTS POLICY

Corporations and organizations making an unrestricted contribution to the National Museum of Natural History may co-sponsor an event in celebration of their gift. Your gift helps to support the scientific and educational work of the Museum. Personal events (i.e. weddings, etc.), fund raising events, and events of a religious or partisan political nature are not permitted. Cash bars, raffles and the display or promotion of commercial products are also prohibited."

http://www.nmnh.si.edu/specialevents/policy.html

also see http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/001078.html [Broken]

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I think the ID people have a right to explain themselves. The Smithsonian People need only make a point of saying this isn't their belief.

I kind of feel that ID is so stupid that anyone who believes it deserves to believe it.

Evo
Mentor
zoobyshoe said:
I kind of feel that ID is so stupid that anyone who believes it deserves to believe it.
Unfortunately it seems the majority of people in this world are stupid.

Evo said:
Unfortunately it seems the majority of people in this world are stupid.
I know. What actually bothers me is that creationists are going to me writing this situation up in their pamphlets with the facts migrating from "Smithsonian Unable to Refuse Presentation of Bad Science" to "Smithsonian Presents Case Against Evolution."

Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
I have a really hard time with this sort of stuff. On one hand, there are genuine experts in related fields of study who believe that evolution alone can't explain all that we see. And the idea that anyone has a problem with scientists, or even devotees making their case, connotes the idea of censorship; and even a sort of faith based pro-scientific fervor. The question is, will there be a scientific case made, or will this be some twisted version of the truth sold to an unwitting public desperate to believe what their faith based religions teach? Obviously most here assume the latter.

Has anyone seen the commercial for the Church of Christ, where some new-age fundamentalist church has thugs standing guard to decide who may and may not enter? The message is that all are welcome at the Church of Christ, but to me, the real point is how they portray the mentality of this new religious movement. Scary stuff!

I think many points of evolution are open to refutation, but not by a dumb argument like ID. ID is pseudoscience and probably has an agenda. Evolution, like everything else, should be questioned all the time, but by the presentation of evidence, and by showing any flaws in logic. The logic behind ID is like something out of the Stupid Quetion thread.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Sure, ID people have the right to explain themselves, and sure, any scientific theory should be open to legitimate critique. The thing that bothers me about this is that an esteemed scientific institution is hosting an idea not based on its content, but on how much money they're making off of it. This is sort of like a physics journal agreeing to publish a crackpot theory about perpetual motion or something because the author slipped the referees some cash-- that's an exaggeration, but there are obvious and troubling parallels nonetheless. Maybe Evo is right and they legally have no recourse, and yes, they have publically stated that they're not endorsing the content of the video. Maybe somehow the way the 'system' is set up is to blame more than anything else, and the people running the Smithsonian are more or less powerless here. But that doesn't completely wash the bad taste from my mouth. yuck.

Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
The thing that bothers me about this is that an esteemed scientific institution is hosting an idea not based on its content, but on how much money they're making off of it.

With the understanding that I've never heard of these people, but based on what I read here, I agree.

The one that surprised me more was when MIT hosted an alien abductee seminar.

Math Is Hard said:
Darn - I wish I could see the whole article. I would like to know exactly what they mean by "undercut" evolution.

http://www.bugmenot.com/

"Next month the museum will play host to a film intended to promote delusions and teach ignorance." :grumpy:

Pengwuino
Gold Member
I think those who criticize creationism as ignorance show their own ignorance in the belief that evolution and creationism are somehow mutually exclusive. But thats just in my opinion :D

Evo
Mentor
Pengwuino said:
I think those who criticize creationism as ignorance show their own ignorance in the belief that evolution and creationism are somehow mutually exclusive. But thats just in my opinion :D
It's not quite creationism, it's "Intelligent Design". They claim that life is too complex to be an accident and that it was specifically designed complete just as we see it today. They are the ones that are claiming that evolution doesn't exist.

Evo said:
It's not quite creationism, it's "Intelligent Design". They claim that life is too complex to be an accident and that it was specifically designed complete just as we see it today. They are the ones that are claiming that evolution doesn't exist.
From what I have read while there are those that think along the lines that you have pointed out there are others besides in the "Intelligent Design" community. There are those that believe there is possibly an inherant pattern in life that helped shape evolution along with natural selection. They don't discount evolution at all they just don't believe that natural selection by itself is a sufficient explination of how it happened.

----edit----

I'll also conceed that I have had difficulty finding much material by people with this view point. They aren't the ones that get all the press and very possibly are a small minority.

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Evo
Mentor
TheStatutoryApe said:
From what I have read while there are those that think along the lines that you have pointed out there are others besides in the "Intelligent Design" community. There are those that believe there is possibly an inherant pattern in life that helped shape evolution along with natural selection. They don't discount evolution at all they just don't believe that natural selection by itself is a sufficient explination of how it happened.

----edit----

I'll also conceed that I have had difficulty finding much material by people with this view point. They aren't the ones that get all the press and very possibly are a small minority.
This particular group falls under my explanation, if I'm not mistaken.

Evo said:
This particular group falls under my explanation, if I'm not mistaken.
Sorry, I thought by saying that they refute the existance of evolution you weren't taking them into account.

Perhaps its not too late for the Smithsonian Institute.

the JREF is willing to donate $20,000 to the Smithsonian Institution if they agree to give back the "Discovery Institute"$16,000 and decline to sponsor the showing of the film.

http://www.randi.org/jr/052705a.html [Broken]

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Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Well, it does describe the event as a "private evening reception," which means this isn't going to be something the general public is viewing during normal visiting hours. Most likely, it's only going to be aired to people who already believe this stuff. Many museums allow after-hours receptions to be held on their premises as a means of fundraising, and the receptions don't have to have anything to do with the museum's mission.

I'm not thrilled that it's hitting the headlines in a way that suggests the Smithsonian is endorsing it though. Of course, if they're going to air an opposing viewpoint, it would be nice to invite credible scientists who would have an opportunity to discuss and refute the contents of the film.

There is also a huge difference between pointing out where our gaps in knowledge are, which are the limitations of evolutionary theory, and in claiming those gaps support an alternative theory (gaps are gaps, they don't support any theory; even if somebody found some huge problem that truly knocked out evolution as a theory, it wouldn't automatically make either ID or creationism legitimate, because they still aren't consistent with the evidence we do have).

Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Vast said:
Perhaps its not too late for the Smithsonian Institute.

http://www.randi.org/jr/052705a.html [Broken]

Now that would really tick me off! I would tell Randi exactly where he can put his money.

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Pengwuino
Gold Member
Evo said:
It's not quite creationism, it's "Intelligent Design". They claim that life is too complex to be an accident and that it was specifically designed complete just as we see it today. They are the ones that are claiming that evolution doesn't exist.

Well, a lot of the tragic accidents we hear about in life (lol not implying humans are a tragic accident) are the result of a lot of complex things going wrong all at the same time so this intelligent design doesnt sound like something i'd buy into.

Got any links on it anyhow?

Pengwuino said:
I think those who criticize creationism as ignorance show their own ignorance in the belief that evolution and creationism are somehow mutually exclusive. But thats just in my opinion :D
I was taught by Catholic nuns in the 1960s and their means of squaring the bible with science was perfect. We were taught the bible wasn't literally true when it came to any conflict with science, but that it was always figuratively true. That is: the facts were unimportant, it was the ethical message in any story that counted. They pointed out, quite accurately, that it would have been counterproductive to explain that God created everything in his own good time via evolution to the simple minded, non-scientific Israelites and early Christians. Instead, all the true scientific explanations were set aside in favor of the stories and parables they could easily understand. The universe was created in seven days, they told us, but a "day" for God was millions of years for a person.

Having been taught this way, I can never believe the foolishness of people who take the Bible literally, or of those who try to use science to prove religious points, like the ID people.

Ivan Seeking said:
Now that would really tick me off! I would tell Randi exactly where he can put his money.

Evo
Mentor
My favorite description of Intelligent Design has to be by Douglas Adams "imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in. It fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well. It must have been made to have me in it!'"

Pengwuino said:
Got any links on it anyhow?
ID as a movement

The Intelligent Design movement is an organized campaign to promote ID arguments in the public sphere, primarily in the United States. The hub of the movement is the Center for Science and Culture, a subsidiary of the Discovery Institute, a politically conservative think tank. According to Reason magazine, promotional materials from the Seattle-based Discovery Institute acknowledge that the Ahmanson family donated \$1.5 million to the Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture for a research and publicity program to "unseat not just Darwinism but also Darwinism's cultural legacy".

Mr. Ahmanson funds many causes important to the Christian religious right, including Christian Reconstructionism, whose goal is to place the U.S. "under the control of biblical law" (sources: Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (), Oxford University Press, 2004, and "Avenging angel of the religious right (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2004/01/06/ahmanson/)" in Salon Magazine). Though outwardly secular in its arguments, the ID movement is religiously motivated by conservative Christians who wish to replace the current materialistic understanding of the universe and its origins with a Christian explanation:

"Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions."
(source The Discovery Institute: The "Wedge Document": "So What?" (http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&program=CSC Responses&id=2101)).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design#What_Intelligent_Design_is_not

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The way it was explained to me, is that it was an extension of the old Theist argument that some things are just too complex and well designed to have happened by accident. The fact such things exist argues in favor of some Intelligent Designer. As Evo has pointed out, despite the fact that the ID people never actually name the "Intelligent Designer" behind it all, they clearly have an agenda about the identity of that designer.

The movement has its main basis in the amiguity of the term "intelligent". Would a birds nest be considered an "intelligent" design? They say "yes". How about an anthill? They say "yes". How about the hole that seems to fit the puddle so perfectly?...........

Danger
Gold Member
ID is Creationism, pure and simple. They've just dressed it up in pseudoscientific guise to convince uneducated people that it is science.
It would appear from a reading of Evo's post that the Smithsonian is not at all obligated, or even entitled, to air this movie since their guidelines prohibit 'events of a religious or partisan political nature'. ID is both.