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Privileged Planet Critics Still Don’t Get It

Today’s Washington Post has a handful of letters about the dust-up at the Smithsonian over the screening of The Privileged Planet later this month, both good and bad. First the good.

CSC Fellow Jonathan Witt’s letter leads off making this point:

“The editorial said, “While ‘The Privileged Planet’ is an extremely sophisticated religious film, it is a religious film nevertheless. It uses scientific information . . . to answer, affirmatively, the philosophical question of whether life on Earth was part of a grand design.”

Notice that The Post granted that the film explored scientific information. It is the film’s conclusion that The Post and the Smithsonian find inappropriate. Curiously, the museum has no problem sponsoring events that advance the opposite conclusion. “The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be,” Carl Sagan regularly intoned in his PBS series “Cosmos.” Yet the Smithsonian sponsored “Cosmos Revisited: A Series Presented in the Memory of Carl Sagan” in 1997.”

A second letter was also supportive of free and open scientific inquiry:

“I accept that because the Smithsonian depends on federal funds, it should not promote religion. But should it discriminate against an idea?

Intelligent design is an intellectual starting point. People should decide for themselves if the intelligence needs a capital “I.”

Now the bad. There are two ridiculously wrong letters from ‘Darwinbots‘. These poor folks have obviously not seen the film, and so are complaining about something that has nothing to do with anything about this film.

“The Smithsonian should consider sponsoring a program on cosmology and evolution featuring reputable, mainstream scientists.”

Great idea! They could interview big name scientists like Robert Jastrow, Paul Davies, and JPEL big wig Charles Beichman. They could call it … The Privileged Planet!

This last letter should earn its author and intellectual Darwin Award:

“The logical pursuit of scientific facts has been plagued by religious dogma for centuries. In the case of evolution, the plague began after publication of “The Origin of Species” in 1859. As Benjamin Dann Walsh, a correspondent of Charles Darwin’s and a Smithsonian associate, wrote in The Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Philadelphia in 1866, “Surely, therefore, upon general principles, a hypothesis, which accounts clearly and satisfactorily for a great mass of phenomena, is more likely to be a correct one, than a hypothesis which accounts for nothing, and, while it mercifully spares our Reasoning powers, draws most largely and exorbitantly upon our Faith.”

Evolution is a fact. Natural selection is a theory that explains how evolution takes place.”

Too bad that The Privileged Planet HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH DARWINISM, NATURAL SELECTION, OR BIOLOGICAL EVOLUTION. What is it with these people constantly criticizing the film for something it doesn’t even deal with.

What’s worse is that the Washington Post knows full well what the film is about — columnists and reporters working there claim to have seen it — and yet chose this letter to represent the view of the letters they presumably received.

Robert Crowther, II

Robert Crowther holds a BA in Journalism with an emphasis in public affairs and 20 years experience as a journalist, publisher, and brand marketing and media relations specialist. From 1994-2000 he was the Director of Public and Media Relations for Discovery Institute overseeing most aspects of communications for each of the Institute's major programs. In addition to handling public and media relations he managed the Institute's first three books to press, Justice Matters by Roberta Katz, Speaking of George Gilder edited by Frank Gregorsky, and The End of Money by Richard Rahn.



__editedJonathan WittPrivileged PlanetWashington Post