Friday, June 3 , 2005
1. PRIVILEGED RELIGION: SMITHSONIAN WILL SHOW A FAITH-BASED FILM.
Saturday’s NY Times had a story about the premiere of a movie, “The Privileged Planet,” to be held at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. The museum would co-sponsor the showing in return for a $16,000 contribution from the Discovery Institute. This is the organization that’s pushing “Intelligent Design” as a Bible-friendly alternative to evolution. If it’s the money, James Randi announced, he would offer $20,000 not to show the film. It apparently was not the money. Yesterday, the museum director stated that on further review the film is not consistent with the Smithsonian mission. The museum will not sponsor the film and will return the money -- but space for the event is still being provided. Is this the Supernatural History Museum? Yesterday, the WN team viewed the film. It went beyond the “intelligent design” of humans. It seems the busy Designer-In-The-Sky also designed a planet for us. Not just a place to live, but a room with a view, perfectly situated to let us discover the rest of the universe. It’s the old anthropic argument that the laws of Nature are fine tuned to make life possible, but with a discovery requirement tossed in. So what does the Smithsonian do? It lets them in free. That means taxpayers are subsidizing the Discovery Institute. Which brings up the next question: this is an expensive production – where does the money come from?
2. “FOLLOW THE MONEY”: THE ADVICE OF “DEEP THROAT” TO WOODWARD.
“The Privileged Planet” was produced by Illustra Media. When we asked who paid for it they said we would have to write their lawyers. We were able to identify the Crowell Trust, established by the founder of Quaker Oats, which promotes “the doctrines of Evangelical Christianity.” The film was based on a book by Guillermo Gonsalez and Jay Richards. It was published by Regnery, whose authors are at the extreme right of the spectrum. Richards is vice president of Discovery Institute, a non-profit educational foundation with deep-pocket contributors. Gonzalez is an assistant research professor at Iowa State. In the book, he acknowledges financial support from the Templeton Foundation.
3. UNLOCKING THE MYSTERY: THE OTHER DISCOVERY INSTITUTE FILM.
Back in January, the PBS television station in Albuquerque had scheduled a documentary on evolution, “Unlocking the Mystery of Life.” The film, which came from the Discovery Institute had been offered as a free feed by the National Educational Television Association. The Crowell Trust also helped on this one. When the station realized it was funded by evangelical Christian groups it pulled the film, saying there was a scheduling conflict. We viewed this one too. Like “Privileged Planet,” production values were high. It’s easy to see how it could pass as serious science to non-scientists unfamiliar with the issues. Watson and Crick might be surprised to learn that the discovery of the structure of DNA proved there was an intelligent designer. The important point is that we can now expect them to attempt to get Privileged Planet on PBS stations.