…for canceling the showing of a creationist film, Darwin’s
Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record. The
background is on Greg Laden’s Blog, Los
Angeles Venue Cancels Intelligent Design Film:
You’ll recall that it was recently reported that the
California Science Center, which is loosely affiliated with the
Smithsonian Institution, had planned a screening of “Darwin’s Dilemma:
The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record” which is apparently a
Well, now, the venue has cancelled the showing and the ID people are
all lathered up about it.
There is some dispute about the reason for the cancellation.
Whatever the reason, the cancellation has spurred a lawsuit by the American
Freedom Alliance against the California Science
Center. The AFA issued a press release lauding themselves for
their action. It’s available in a PDF here.
As far as I can tell, the press release was not picked up by any
serious news organizations, but it is out there on the Internet and on
a few religious sites.
Their sub-headline: GROUP CLAIMS CANCELLATION OF “DARWIN’S DILEMMA”
RESULTED FROM ORGANIZED EFFORT BY SCIENCE CENTER TO SUPRESS [sic]
I’m not sure what the implication is of the allegation that it was an
“organized effort” by the Science Center. I supose that makes it
a more heinous matter, than if it had been a disorganized effort.
I’m not a lawyer, as the saying goes, but the suit seems as trivial as
one could imagine. They allege that “the museum officials were
fearful of having intelligent design discussed in any context.”
Even if true, so what? They go on to say “It is Orwellian when a
public institution tries to suppress particular ideas it deems
unsavory. It can be likened to a public library removing certain books
from its shelves because the librarian disagrees with the viewpoints
expressed in them.”
No, it is not comparable. The resources involved in putting a
particular book on a shelf are not at all comparable to the resources
that would have to be devoted to screening a movie. Furthermore,
the mission of a public library is to provide access to a wide variety
of viewpoints. The mission of a science center is, presumably, to
provide access to scientific information and scientifically-oriented
The go on:
The pro-evolution film, “We Are Born of
the Stars,” was meant to provide balance to a discussion about life’s
origin. The other film, “Darwin’s Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian
Fossil Record,” argues against evolution by questioning the absence of
any fossil record predating the Cambrian period. When the screening was
cancelled, the AFA scrambled to find an alternative venue and was
forced to cancel the screening of “We are Born of Stars” in the 3D IMAX
The lawsuit alleges that CSC officials conspired to drop the event
because they did not want the museum to be viewed as legitimizing
intelligent design as a scientific theory. It alleges that the museum’s
CEO/President, Jeffrey Rudolph, was pressured to cancel the event by
colleagues at the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Southern
California, the Huntington Library and elsewhere. The complaint further
alleges that because the CSC is a state agency, it violated AFA’s First
Amendment right of free speech by attempting to suppress legitimate
discussion of the controversial topic.
This is nonsense. It is not a conspiracy unless two or more
persons colluded to do something wrong. You have to prove
wrongdoing before you can say there was a conspiracy. The
allegations that the CEO was pressured by others is irrelevant.
The only part that might have some merit is the bit about the Center
being a State agency. But is access to an 3D IMAX theater a
necessary part of freedom of speech, and are all state-operated IMAX
theaters obligated to rent out their facilities to anyone who wants to
use such a facility?
The AFA “About
Us” page describes their activities:
The organization promotes networking, activism and education in the
following six areas:
- The Islamic penetration of Europe: View
the content and video recordings of AFA’ s famous 2007
international conference The Collapse of Europe?
held at Pepperdine University, the Identity Crisis
International Conference held in Rome , the AFA International
Fellowship Program, the European Freedom Alliance Website and more.
- Academic freedom: View the content and
video recordings of AFA’s acclaimed 2008 international
conference How Free Is the University? held at the
University of Southern California in Los Angeles and find resources you
can employ to advance academic freedom.
- Media Bias: View details of AFA’s
2009 International Conference Is the Real News Dead?
held at Pepperdine University in Malibu and discover resources
you can use to promote balance in the media.
- Missile Defense:
Visit the website for the EMPACT America National Conference:
Permanent Continental Shutdown and obtain links to the website for the
International EMP Council ( IEC).
- AFA Programs: Learn about AFA’s monthly
programs The Literay [sic] Cafe, Cinema
Gateway and Annual Lecture Series. And its weekly
programs The Western Word Newsletter and Western
Notice that they mention that there are six areas, then list only
Anyway, say that they wanted to use the Science Center’s theater to
show a film about “The Islamic penetration of Europe.” Would the
Center be obligated to show it? Of course not. It has
nothing to do with the mission of a Science Center, because it has
nothing to do with science. Likewise,
“Darwin’s Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record,” has
nothing to do with science. It is propaganda, nothing more.
It might be possible for the AFA to argue that they are merely
promoting honest discussion, if it turned out that they simply were
uninformed about the topic. But they list their “Vision” as
The American Freedom Alliance aims to build a national
people of faith and which involves writers, academics and
from around the world , who will join together through seminars,
conferences, publications and activist networks, to promote and protect
moral values, democracy and freedom.
It is not clear what this has to do with American Freedom, but there it
is, for what it is worth.
I agree with Bora Zivkovic, that All
Science vs. Religion Conflicts are Essentially and Primarily Political
Conflicts. The idea is that this is about power, not truth or
anything else. Previously, I have argued that the Discovery
Institute in particular is exploiting this false “dilemma” as a means
of making money. But this, in Bora’s view, is a subset of all
power struggles: money is useful only as a source of power.