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New Mexico Science Museum Would Rather Sponsor No Darwin Day Events than a Balanced and Objective One

Casey Luskin

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Last year we reported on a situation at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (NMMNHS). The state-run museum co-sponsored its 2014 Darwin Day Events with local atheist groups, and used the events to bash religion. When concerned local citizens inquired, museum staff sought to cover up evidence of their work with the atheist groups. Thankfully, those citizens had the foresight to file a public records request, seeking documents that could not be whitewashed — documents that told the true story.

In an ID the Future podcast on February 11, one of those citizens, Mike Edenburn, provided an update. In the last half of 2014, Edenburn and his colleague Dr. James Campbell met with staff at the museum and representatives of Governor Susana Martinez’s office. They asked that the museum issue a publicly apology for using a state facility to promote a religious belief, namely atheism. They also asked that, when sponsoring future Darwin Day events, the museum invite individuals to present multiple scientific views on evolution.

The museum refused both requests, which came as no shock. More surprising — or maybe not if you understand the mindset here — the museum’s next move was to call off any museum-sponsored Darwin Day events in 2015 at all. In effect, they cancelled Darwin Day.

This was emphatically not what Edenburn and Campbell were seeking. In a letter on January 15, 2015 to Gary Romero, Interim Director of the NMMNHS, they protested the museum’s decision:

On October 16, 2014, Charles Walter informed me by e-mail that the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science would no longer participate in celebrating Darwin Day. We were very disappointed to hear this. As we have expressed in prior conversations with representatives of the museum and the Department of Cultural Affairs, we feel strongly that the public is best served if the museum continues Darwin Day celebrations but uses them to educate the public about multiple scientific views in the debate over Darwinian evolution. We asked only for a balanced discussion, and we are concerned because it appears that the museum would rather sponsor no discussion than a balanced one. The museum’s decision seems opposed to its mission to educate the public about science.

Edenburn and Campbell’s position is eminently reasonable. They were not asking the museum to censor pro-evolution views, but only that it honor its educational mission by sponsoring a Darwin Day event that allowed the public to hear about diverse scientific views. Unfortunately, as they put it, the museum would apparently “rather sponsor no discussion than a balanced one.”

Their letter continues:

If this decision about Darwin Day changes at any time, or if the museum participates in any event that promotes Darwinian theory, please contact me (Science & Faith Seminars) and the Intelligent Design Network of New Mexico so that we can have an opportunity to participate and potentially offer a scientific viewpoint that disagrees with Darwinian theory. We believe it is necessary that a balanced view of controversial scientific topics be presented at any event in which a state institution participates and in which taxpayer dollars are expended.

Considering the anti-religious presentations at the museum, in which the museum participated on February 12, 2014, we believe that the museum must remain neutral with respect to religious views as well as inform the public about different scientific views on Darwinian theory.

We would like to suggest that sponsoring a debate on Darwinian theory would further the museum’s educational objectives and stimulate interest in science. We would be delighted to participate in such a debate.

To this date they haven’t received a reply, and they probably won’t. Suffice to say, this episode provides another illustration of how dogmatic Darwin advocates can be. Empowered by the media and scientific establishment, funded and protected by the state, they’d rather silence discussion altogether than concede to the public that there is a legitimate scientific debate to be had over Darwinian ideas.

Image by Asis Carlos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.

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atheismDarwin DayNationNew MexicoNew Mexico Museum of Natural History and ScienceNewsscience