Intelligent Decision on 'The Privileged Planet'?

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Wednesday, June 8, 2005

The June 3 editorial "Dissing Darwin" defended the Smithsonian's decision to drop its co-sponsorship of "The Privileged Planet," a film exploring the ways Earth and the cosmos are fine-tuned for life and scientific discovery. The Smithsonian will still allow the film to be shown on June 23 but said in a statement that the film's content is not consistent with its scientific mission [Style, June 2].

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.

JONATHAN WITT

Senior Fellow, Discovery Institute

Port Orchard, Wash.

The writer co-authored the screenplay of "The Privileged Planet."

The Smithsonian Institution is to be commended for distancing itself from the showing of "The Privileged Planet." Co-sponsorship of the creationist film would tarnish the Smithsonian's reputation in the scientific community.

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

EDD DOERR

President, Americans for Religious Liberty

Silver Spring


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