The Privileged Planet invades New Zealand Schools

28 06 2008

Not even New Zealand is safe from the tendrils of the creeping creationism. I see that on the Stuff Website it has been reported that Focus on the Family, a worldwide evangelical Christian group with an office and bookstore in Auckland, has distributed 400 copies of the Privileged Planet CD and booklet to schools around the country.

This movie was produced by the Discovery Institute in the US and the central tenet of the movie is to push intelligent design. A review of the film can be found here at e-Skeptic.

Thankfully it would appear that the Ministry of Education have said that while the film will not be banned from the schools, the theory of evolution continues to underpin biology study.

In my view the distribution is likely to have a limited effect, the creationists have made very little headway in New Zealand schools and I don’t think the posting out of a DVD to each high school is going to change this.

The Privileged Planet




8 responses

28 06 2008
Culture wars come to New Zealand « Open Parachute

[…] See also: Unintelligent Design The Privileged Planet invades New Zealand Schools […]

28 06 2008

I have reviewed this documentary on my religion based blog here. I have to say I think the skeptic magazine over emphasised the ID aspect of the film – it never really appeared (despite plenty of potential for it to).

29 06 2008

Indeed, the Privileged Planet doco (save a few ‘hints’) mostly stays away from ID-talk, and consists largely (surprisingly?) of “evidence based thought”…
Not all will agree, of course, about the implicit (explicit?) suggestion that earth is ‘special’, but the doco mostly presents information (stats, figures, etc.).
People shouldn’t get too stirred up over this one, in my view.

30 06 2008

I take Ian’s point about the relatively pale version of ID in this film. But we should still see this in context. It was made by the Discovery Institute (ID think tank and prime mover behind a lot of the problems in the US) who are well known for applying a thin end of their Wedge. It was sent (with other [presumably ID] material) to schools by an organisation which actively promotes ID through books and films.

The organisation’s executive director said in justification “We’re a Christian organisation so we believe that God made the planet and God made the cosmos … Science takes a theory and tries to establish it as the truth, and that’s all this is.” This is a message they want introduced into science classes.

I would be interested in seeing the material that was sent with the film – and the covering letter.

Does anyone have access to this?

1 07 2008

I agree Ken, while the doco may be tame the overall effect of the campaign could still be very damaging. In fact all the damage would be done by a single “and therefore goddidit” by the person presenting the DVD.

I would also be very interested in seeing the material.

1 07 2008

Just as a side note I see that NZer ‘falsecut’ has made a post Here on how he encountered a rogue creationist leaflet inside one of Dawkins evolution books somewhere in Auckland.

2 07 2008

This incident is discussed in an interview on Radio New Zealand – spokespersons from Focus on the Family & the Ministry of Education. (see

Clearly, from this interview, Focus on the Family do see this material as supporting intelligent design (which they claim is supported by a large number of scientists) – they have done this with the intention of promoting ID in our schools.

It is the thin edge of the Wedge.

2 07 2008

Fair enough on the way that FotF is using the doco… Point taken.
It’s a shame, I say, because the doco itself isn’t worth fussing over – it actually has some worthwhile presentations of scientific observations in it…

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