Monday, October 5, 2009

"Intelligent Design" Film to be Screened at Smithsonian?

This is disturbing news. The religious pseudo-documentary, Darwin's Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record, will be screened at the Smithsonian Institute.

I know the Smithsonian is devoted to enquiry, and encourages honest scientific debate. But there is no debate, no "mystery," about the Cambrian explosion. The Smithsonian should be scolded for letting this pseudo-scientific religious propaganda into their theater.

[Update: See Marc's comment in the comments below. Apparently the Smithsonian is not sponsoring this event. Thanks, Marc, for pointing this out.]

This is yet another example of intelligent-design proponents callously and knowingly relying on the ignorance of their own audience. They find an area of science where there is either controversy, or (as in this case) where a thorough understanding requires considerable study. Then they shout, "Mystery!" "Scientists are baffled!" "They can't explain it!" They bring up arguments from a hundred years ago, quote scientists out of context, and baffle their audience with scientific sleight-of-hand moves.

And finally, when they've built up the "impossibility" of the Cambrian Explosion, they cry, "It must be God," without adding the qualifier, "... because you're too stupid to understand the real science!"

In this case, there is no mystery. The Cambrian Explosion was baffling to Darwin, but that's because he studied its fossils over 150 years ago. Surely we've made some progress since then! In fact, the mystery has been explained, many times. But the intelligent-design proponents who created this piece of religious propaganda are relying on the fact that their audience won't take the time to find the real facts. They're counting on ignorance.

It's a sad testament to their lack of faith in their God that they stoop to such low tricks. If their faith was strong, and their religion was true, it would stand up to scrutiny, wouldn't it?


  1. From the link, it appears it's showing at a Smithsonian Affiliate, not the Smithsonian. That means the museum pays a fee and has access to Smithsonian collections for display. That's about the extent of the relationship. There are hundreds of Affiliates and the Smithsonian doesn't control them.

  2. Marc, thanks for pointing out my error. I've added a note to my blog.

  3. The Smithsonian is not sponsoring the event, but the Cal Science Center is its designated affiliate - and there aren't hundreds of those.

    The film is Darwin's Dilemma and I trust that people will see it before they make unsubstantiated claims about it, or the people in it. There are clips, and an FAQ and other information at


Dear readers -- I am no longer blogging and after leaving these blogs open for two years have finally stopped accepting comments due to spammers. Thanks for your interest. If you'd like to write to me, click on the "Contact" link at the top. Thanks! -- CJ.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.