The New Mexico Museum of Natural History canceled a series of events honoring scientist Charles Darwin after two local retired engineers lobbied for discussions on "intelligent design" to be included, KRQE-TV reported.
"It's a very controversial issue," said James Campbell, one of the men who contacted state officials. "There's a tremendous body of evidence against Darwinian evolution, and we think people should be aware of that."
Campbell and Mike Edenburn, both former employees of the Sandia National Laboratories facility in Albuquerque, wrote Gov. Susana Martinez's (R) office after seeing a flyer for the "Darwins Day" event listing the museum as a co-sponsor alongside groups like the Humanist Society of New Mexico, New Mexicans for Science & Reason (NMSR), and the Alburquerque chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
The events were slated to coincide with International Charles Darwin Day, which honors Darwin's "remarkable impact on biology, cosmology, and the scientific process."
The state Department of Cultural Affairs replied to Campbell and Edenburn saying the listing was a mistake. But Edenburn used a public records request to obtain an email showing a museum docent, Jim Peavler, rejecting intelligent design -- or "ID," for short -- as a topic of discussion.
"We recommend discussing how science leads to things of real value such as materials, medicines, procedures, and other kinds of answers to practical problems using notions from the Theory of Evolution," Peavler wrote. "ID does not even ask questions that lead to practical matters."
Edenburn told the creationism group the Discovery Institute earlier this month that he and Campbell met with both museum staff and members of Martinez's staff and asked the facility to apologize for promoting atheism, which they described as a "religious belief." They also asked that intelligent design be represented at any future events focusing on evolution.
The museum canceled the event without fulfilling the duo's requests. NMSR president Dave Thomas accused the institute of wanting access to the event so that it could "brag about how wonderful it was that their pseudoscience was presented at a prominent public institution."
For its part, the institute criticized the museum for the cancellation.
"Suffice to say, this episode provides another illustration of how dogmatic Darwin advocates can be," it stated on its website. "Empowered by the media and scientific establishment, funded and protected by the state, they'd rather silence discussion altogether than concede to the public that there is a legitimate scientific debate to be had over Darwinian ideas."
Watch KRQE's story, as posted online on Friday, below.
[h/t The Friendly Atheist]