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Intelligent Decision on 'The Privileged Planet'?

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As a onetime employee of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, I was puzzled that one of the world's premier museums engaged in research on evolution was co-sponsoring a screening of a patently religious and nonscientific interpretation of the origin and diversity of life. Museum policy bars events of a religious or partisan political nature. Despite what its apologists claim, the Discovery Institute is a de facto Christian organization.

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. Intelligent design is a hypothesis based on faith, not science.

DUNCAN M. PORTER

Director

Darwin Correspondence Project

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

Blacksburg

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Why must the Smithsonian reverse itself on "The Privileged Planet"?

Intelligent design offers a meaning beyond matter and ourselves. We want to know if God and science can coexist without destroying one another.

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."

DANIEL ARCHER

New York


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