Science Center settles lawsuit over anti-Darwin movie

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The California Science Center Foundation has settled a legal dispute with a creationist organization over its decision not to screen a documentary promoting intelligent design.

The American Freedom Alliance (AFA) booked the state-run center's IMAX theater in 2009 as the rather unlikely venue for a private event. It planned to showcase a movie called 'Darwin's Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record'.

But when the center discovered what the AFA had planned, it canceled the booking. The AFA claimed the decision violated its right to free speech, and called the decision 'Orwellian'.

It alleged 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' - which seems to have come as something of a surprise.

Now, in a deal rather reminiscent of a playworker settling a spat between two toddlers, the CSC has agreed to invite the AFA to hold a screening after all - and the AFA's agreed to refuse. This apparently soothes its hurt feelings.

The center won't pay any further compensation to the AFA, and both sides will pay their own costs.

The settlement was reached just before a scheduled court hearing on the CSC's call for summary judgment confirming that the center was blameless.

"The Center is pleased to put what it views as a meritless lawsuit behind it, and to continue working to advance its mission of stimulating curiosity and inspiring science learning," it says in a statement.

Explaining away fossils as a sort of divine con-trick appears to be just a sideline for the AFA. On its website, it describes itself as a 'non-political, non-partisan movement which promotes, defends and upholds Western values and ideals', and its main concern seems to be what it calls the 'Islamic penetration of Europe'.