No Discussion Allowed

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Yesterday I went to a press screening of the new film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. For those who are unfamiliar with this film, it’s an agit-prop documentary of the Michael Moore variety, with one main difference: it’s conservative. It’s about the evolution debate, and takes the position that Intelligent Design theory (ID) should at least be allowed a place at the table in discussions of biological origins.

The film stars Ben Stein as the Michael Moore/Morgan Spurlock/Al Gore figure—mounting an “op-ed” type argument that is less about why ID is right or evolution wrong as it is about why there is such a concerted effort by the mainstream science community to squelch any and all debate on the matter. The film begins by recounting about a half dozen cases of highly-qualified PhD professors at various universities who have been fired in recent years for daring to mention that evolution as a theory has some weaknesses. From here the film gives a general narrative of how the scientific and academic powers that be have aggressively sought to silence any dissent—either by ID proponents or anyone else with questions about Darwin’s theory.

I came into this film very, very skeptical, worried that it would be all about trying to disprove evolution and argue for creationism (thereby reinforcing stereotypes of anti-intellectual religious fundamentalists). I was worried that it would further reinforce the (false) binary that says Christianity and science are on two sides of a battle and can never have any common ground. But I was pleasantly surprised with Expelled on a number of levels.

First of all, it’s pretty funny and quite entertaining. Ben Stein’s hyper-dry way of interviewing people is great fun to watch, and his “everyman” persona makes him easy to sympathize with. His “anyone, anyone” Ferris Bueller character also makes him an appropriate choice for a film about the expulsion of dissenting ideas in the classroom.

Secondly, it’s a reasonably effective, well-mounted argument (if a tad on the manipulative side). The filmmakers interviewed many prominent figures from both sides of the debate, including an extended (and deliciously uncomfortable) interview between Stein and Richard Dawkins (atheist extraordinaire and author of The God Delusion). The film is smart to keep its focus on the glaring double standards and contradictions among the evolution advocates—who have built impenetrable walls around the sacrosanct theory of evolution and (in a very un-academic spirit) refused to allow any rational dialogue on the matter.

Indeed, the film hits a nerve in its critique of the contemporary American academy. As a graduate student immersed in academia and all its idiosyncrasies, I can attest to the pervasive and disturbingly hypocritical sense of close-mindedness that stifles the spirit of progressive discourse. It goes beyond the scientific communities in higher education and touches many disciplines. Quite simply: if you are not on the “right” side of the wall (whatever wall it may be), your voice is stifled, your work discredited, and your intelligence questioned. It’s gone beyond political correctness and is now something altogether more militant and sinister. Sadly, the academy today is less about the sharing and discovery of truth as it is about the wielding and protecting of power.

Critics will attack this movie and claim that it is manipulative propaganda, but if Michael Moore can get an Oscar for it, why hate on Ben Stein? Certainly the film has its faults. It is less-than-subtle at times and heavy-handed at others (the sequence on Nazism and Hitler as direct descendent of Darwinist thought is perhaps unnecessary), and overall it is very derivative of other films of this type. Obviously Stein knowingly mimics Michael Moore in his leading-question, “I’m going to make you look stupid” method of interviewing. But there are also direct parallels to Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth. Like Gore in that film, Stein gives a speech in a lecture hall, incorporates “deeply personal” elements, and plays on apocalyptic fears (in this case, the fear that free speech is increasingly suppressed, East Germany style).

But Expelled’s lack or originality and copycat style is, in a way, sort of the point. It’s a film that very deliberately presents itself as an alternative type of film—the anti-Michael Moore, perhaps. It is trying to argue that there is (or should be) room at the table for both sides, for multiple arguments on any issue. But more than likely the film will be denied wide distribution or much (if any) press coverage, just as Intelligent Design theory is either ignored or laughed out of most cultural discourse. Whatever you may think of ID or evolution (and I’m not saying either is wrong or right) it’s hard to argue against the injustice of denying the discussion. But unfortunately that’s just what is happening.

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70 responses to “No Discussion Allowed

  1. Really looking forward to seeing this, should be interesting and your review has only heightened my anticipation!

  2. Hey, Brett,

    I’ve been reading your blog since we met in Boulder, CO, last October (I’m Justin Smith’s friend), and I’ve enjoyed it.

    I second the previous comment. I’m glad to hear the movie plays up the “lack of academic freedom” angle as opposed to actually arguing for one point or another. That is definitely the impression I’ve gotten from the buzz that I’ve read, and I’m glad to hear that it is, in fact, true.

  3. So did the producers ask you to run an early review? They just savaged Roger Moore at the Sentinel for running one. Is there a double standard at work, and how do you feel about that?

  4. Greg- No I’ve never had any contact with anyone from the film- I just got an invite to an early screening (not as a member of the press) and heard nothing about “no blogging about this until the film comes out”… I could have written a scathing review like Roger Moore for all they know (but who cares? It’s my blog).

  5. Yeah, just curious — given the major deal that Moore made of the required “non-disclosure” agreement distributed at the screening he attended. My experience with those word-of-mouth screenings is much more like what you describe.

    As I suggest over at Hollywood Jesus, I suspect that Moore was set up — and took the bait.

    “I love the smell of controversy in the morning.”

  6. Whatever you may think of ID or evolution (and I’m not saying either is wrong or right) it’s hard to argue against the injustice of denying the discussion.

    I’ll bite.

    ID by definition deals with the supernatural— therefore it is not appropriate in discussion of the natural sciences, just as metaphysics is inappropriate in a discussion of physics. It is inherently unscientific because it proposes a philosophical, untestable hypothesis as solution to a non-problem: simply because there are things about the natural world that science does not yet know does not rationalize bringing in other academic disciplines to ‘help out’ science. To do so is intellectually dishonest, and to complain that pointing this out is denying a discussion seems to me to be either willfully obtuse or simply a gross misunderstanding of what constitutes ‘systematic knowledge,’ i.e. science.

  7. ID by definition deals with the supernatural— therefore it is not appropriate in discussion of the natural sciences, just as metaphysics is inappropriate in a discussion of physics.

    Yes but even though metaphysics may not be appropriate in a physics discussion, it is certainly appropriate in some discussion, wouldn’t you say? Are you suggesting that anything supernatural (which I’m not sure is a fair charaterization of ID… it seems to me that only in the final sum or implicit sense does it become supernatural) is off limits in academic discourse? If so, there is a lot of great philosophy and theorizing about that which we don’t know (the untestable, as you say) that we’d be deprived of. And I’m not sure that sort of thinking furthers any attempts at knowledge, systematic or otherwise…

  8. I second Tim’s opinion.

    Brett you say: Quite simply: if you are not on the “right” side of the wall (whatever wall it may be), your voice is stifled, your work discredited, and your intelligence questioned.

    That is only conspiracy talking. The thing is if you have a base for what you are saying then discussion is on. If the only thing you want to do is impose religious beliefs on the basis that discussion should be allowed then sorry no luck here. Discussion in the context of science happens when something scientific is there.

    Resorting to fallacious arguments like the arrogance of scientists, the close-mindedness, and similar is not helping either. If you want people to discuss your ideas then your ideas must make some sense and if not supported by evidence then at least there has to be a reasonable and useful hypothesis behind it. ID fails miserably in both. So why start a meaningless discussion? Then everyone with an absurd idea would like to discuss with scientists! I am sorry this is not how it works. Give us something plausible or backed by evidence and then maybe.

  9. Yes but even though metaphysics may not be appropriate in a physics discussion, it is certainly appropriate in some discussion, wouldn’t you say?

    I’m not suggesting that no one is allowed to discuss ID, even in an academic setting. I am suggesting that to discuss it in terms of scientific validity makes no sense, and that is what ID proponents want to do: inject it into the science classroom, which is exactly where it does not belong.

  10. Pingback: Christ and Pop Culture | Brett McCracken reviews Expelled

  11. The real problem is *not* that the scientific establishment refuses to fairly consider ID. That theory is simply less predictive, less helpful than evolutionary theory.

    The real problem is our society which, by-and-large, has come to regard science as the only valid truth-teller.

  12. a different jeff

    I sort of doubt I’m going to be able to see it in NYC until it comes out on DVD, and even then I’ll probably have to buy it.

  13. I see, ID isn’t discussed.

    Doesn’t that seem unlikely somehow? What other completely unscientific viewpoint gets a fraction of ID’s coverage, especially in academia?

    Or doesn’t the evidence that ID has an unmerited level of discussion not count for anything, any more than the lack of evidence for ID isn’t supposed to count against it?

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  14. I think the point that Tim Coe, stavros and Jeff K are missing is that even to mention a dissenting opinion with the theory of evolution on scientific grounds (not even bringing ID, or creationism, or religion into the discussion) results in the unfair treatment of the dissenting individual.

  15. “I’ll bite.

    ID by definition deals with the supernatural— therefore it is not appropriate in discussion of the natural sciences, just as metaphysics is inappropriate in a discussion of physics.”

    Just so you know, Tim, ID does not define itself this way. Instead, this is how its opponents define it. Part of the film’s point, as I understand it, is that the playing field isn’t level here. ID is being defined by its opponents…and as we know from Presidential politics, those who define the issues tend to win the election. (But is the public served in this way?)

    A good understanding of ID by its proponents may be found in book, “The Design of Life,” snippets from which can be found at

    I hope you take the time to go see the film. I believe the public would be better served by allowing a respectful dialog to emerge.

  16. Oops. Looks like that web site didn’t print.

    Here’s another try (and my last!):

    http://www.thedesignoflife.net/

  17. Jeff said: “The real problem is our society which, by-and-large, has come to regard science as the only valid truth-teller.”

    We don’t regard it as the only truth teller, but the truth is that currently science is the best (by far) method for discovering the truth. And the record is there for everyone to witness. If someone devises a better method then by all means show it to us and show why it is better. I presume that it will make less or different use of logic, reason, critical thinking and evidence?

    Brian S said: even to mention a dissenting opinion with the theory of evolution on scientific grounds (not even bringing ID, or creationism, or religion into the discussion) results in the unfair treatment of the dissenting individual.

    No, that is your assertion and is completely unsubstantiated. As I said before to accept something for discussion it needs to be backed up and not just made up. It is as simple as that. We cannot start processing every useless idea anyone has. We need to draw the line somewhere. And this line is drawn with the magic word that is “evidence”.

    Evolution is a fact. The *Theory of Evolution* that tries to explain why evolution happens is backed up by an enormous set of evidence from too many scientific fields to mention here. Natural Selection tries to explain the means/mechanisms by which evolution happens and is currently the best explanation for the *fact* of evolution. If someone manages to put these concepts in his head then you can see that it really is simple.

    The reason Evolution is being targeted is because of terrible misconceptions regarding the term “Theory”, the mechanisms, misunderstanding the central ideas, significant ignorance of biology, chemistry and physics, and many more.

  18. I’ll have to agree completely with what “An Observer” is saying. Here’s the definition most commonly used by ID proponents, goes something like this:

    Intelligent Design is a theory that holds that certain features of the universe and in living systems are best explained by an intelligent cause, and not a blind process such as evolution.

    The only other variant is that it is the study of patterns in nature best explained by intelligence.

    If you hear something different from that, then it’s probably best for you to tune out. And Design of Life is the best book I’ve ever read in my entire life (haven’t finished it yet, but it sure as hell beats the crap I have at school from Prentice-Hall).

  19. Nick (Matzke)

    Unfortunately, some of the commentators are are buying into the Discovery Institute’s deceptions about the One True Definition of ID. These definitions were invented in 2005 or so and are super-sanitized of anything hinting at the supernatural or creationism. The history of the movement just doesn’t bear out this sanitization.

    1. The ID movement is directly descended from the creationist movement and most/all ID proponents are either old earth creationists or young earth creationists (or agnostic on the age of the earth, an even more ludicrous position). Behe is literally just about the only one who accepts common ancestry (sort of).

    2. Just read the Wedge Document, Of Pandas and People, anything by Phillip Johnson, and most of the ID literature and you will see regular objections to natural causes and arguments for supernatural intervention — sometimes half-heartedly hidden, usually not. Heck, EVEN THE ONLINE PREVIEW FOR EXPELLED is explicit that the ID debate is all about whether or not God can be included in science. Distancing ID from supernaturalism is like distancing peanut butter sandwiches from peanut butter.

    Getting the supernatural into science and into school classrooms is the whole bloomin’ point of the ID movement. This is only denied, temporarily and inconsistently, for legal and PR reasons.

    PS: It was a nice move to include Caroline Crocker (unreconstructed young-earth creationist) and Gonzalez (member of Reasons to Believe, an old-earth creationist apologetics ministry) in the Expelled video. Proves the point that we’re basically talking about creationists here and the denials of this point are just smokescreen.

    Cheers,
    Nick

  20. Just so you know, Tim, ID does not define itself this way.

    This is an infuriating habit of creationists. Definitions are not relative; they are what they are. It doesn’t matter how proponents or opponents describe something. The only thing that matters is what a thing show itself to be.

    Why do creationists moan about relativism so much when it is THE central tenet in their lives?

  21. Is ID a legitimate exercise?

    Why not ask those who are at the forefront of the movement?

    The Wedge Strategy, leaked from the Discovery Institute:

    Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.”

    Phillip Johnson, farther of the ID movement:

    Johnson explicitly calls for intelligent design proponents to obfuscate their religious motivations so as to avoid having ID identified “as just another way of packaging the Christian evangelical message”. Johnson emphasizes that “the first thing that has to be done is to get the Bible out of the discussion”; “after we have separated materialist prejudice from scientific fact … only then can ‘biblical issues’ be discussed.”

    Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.”

    William Dembski:

    I think God’s glory is being robbed by these naturalistic approaches to biological evolution, creation, the origin of the world, the origin of biological complexity and diversity. When you are attributing the wonders of nature to these mindless material mechanisms, God’s glory is getting robbed. [...] And so there is a cultural war here. Ultimately I want to see God get the credit for what he’s done — and he’s not getting it.”

    ID is part of God’s general revelation … Not only does intelligent design rid us of this ideology (materialism), which suffocates the human spirit, but, in my personal experience, I’ve found that it opens the path for people to come to Christ.”

    Michael Behe:

    You can’t prove intelligent design by experiment.”

    In sworn testimony, Behe said: “There are no peer reviewed articles by anyone advocating for intelligent design supported by pertinent experiments or calculations which provide detailed rigorous accounts of how intelligent design of any biological system occurred.”

    So, it is all about having the academic freedom to subvert the scientific enterprise so that it “opens the path for people to come to Christ.” Nice.

    Of course, this has nothing to do with God, whatsoever! Honest.

  22. Intelligent Design is a theory that holds that certain features of the universe and in living systems are best explained by an intelligent cause, and not a blind process such as evolution. That’s not a theory or hypothesis – a guess maybe. Which features are are not best explained by design? What is an intelligent cause? Creationists (ID is simply another variety) have come up with this new category that lies between natural and supernatural – intelligent. Actually it’s just a new label for supernatural. Intelligence is studied in narrow terms using operational definitions and proxy variables. But this intelligence is certainly studied as something natural.

  23. I’m surprised to find no mention of consciousness in such discussions as this. Has consciousness become part of spirituality, hence counter cultural, or of religion? Is it now regarded as part of the supernatural?

    I’ve just publishd “Save Our Selves from Science Gone Wrong” which is about just this, that if physicalism is right natural selection can’t have evolved a conscious self. I take the position that natural selection threatens what used to be called “free will.” But that debate seems to have dropped out of sight. I’m finding no location in our culture where this issue is of interest.

    I can’t even locate any terms to search for it. Anyone got any ideas? A smart friend suggested Ayn Rand’s Objectivist groups, but I’d be disapointed if interest in “free will” has become so marginalized.

  24. FreedomFighterXL said:
    “Intelligent Design is a theory that holds that certain features of the universe and in living systems are best explained by an intelligent cause, and not a blind process such as evolution.”

    Can you not see that this is not a scientific theory but a “theory” as in “guess” as when we use it in everyday discussions? Not as Theory in science!

    Further, this definition shows that ID is totally useless! It doesn’t provide an explanation at all! It just says: “if you cannot understand something or if it seems too complex then God did it”. It just attacks Evolution because it is contrary to religious beliefs. Why not bother with other theories but only Evolution? Why not, say, Quantum Electrodynamics? Or Relativity? Or the Theory of Atoms? Or the Cell Theory? It is *only* because it is against the irrational religious beliefs. Nothing more. It is really pretty obvious.

    This definition also shows that ID proponents are either completely ignorant of the Theory of Evolution (by saying “blind process”) or are deliberately misleading the public.

  25. “Why not bother with other theories but only Evolution?”

    As a former athiest, I would say that Evolution is THE theory that made me believe there was no God. That is why people who are theists are targeting it. Once I started really looking into the evidence on both sides, it became very clear to me that Evolution is not a valid theory.

    If you say it is unscientific to challenge/debate evolution because it is currently “accepted as fact”, would you also say that it was unscientific for people hundreds of years ago to challenge the “fact” that the earth was the center of the universe? It is part of the scientific process to challenge theories. Right now, very intelligent people are providing data to show that evolution is not a valid theory. As a former athiest, I can say for myself that once I started honestly looking at the data, I was convinced that evolution is wrong – and there is no reason not to teach people about the evidence for and against a theory.

  26. You know Dave, for a “former atheist,” you’re amazingly unable to spell “atheist” right.

    Along with your inability to support any of your claims (btw, I was intelligent enough to recognize that by no means could atheism be inferred from biological evolution), I’d say that the thought that you looked at these issues knowledgeably is unconvincing.

    Plus, it’s only a dishonest talking point that it is unacceptable to challenge evolution, one that “Expelled” intends to drum into people’s heads sans evidence. It’s “challenging” evolution without any supporting evidence that is not allowed, nor should be, in science.

    If that were not the case, why would so many IDists, including one of the writers of “Expelled,” Kevin Miller, be interested in “challenging” the “foundations of the scientific enterprise”? It’s not because evolution is not allowed to be challenged, it’s because ID never produces the necessary evidence, which is the reason why IDists wish to change the rules of evidence (which would jeopardize our justice system as much as it would science).

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  27. Whether you are a “former atheist” or not, Dave, is completely irrelevant. Every theist is a former atheist.

    Perhaps you would care to tell us why Endogenous Retroviruses – the remnants of which can be found in exactly the same place in both the human and chimpanzee genome, when they attach randomly – is not compelling evidence for common ancestry?

    Nobody is saying that it is unscientific to challenge evolution. What is unscientific, as well as unethical, is to “invent” problems with evolution, misrepresent the scientific evidence, and look for the areas that have not been explained (of which there are, of course, many), and to say that it must mean that a “designer” was involved, without any method for us to ever be able to test and falsify supernatural explanations.

    That is why supernatural explanations are frowned upon in science. They both explain everything and nothing at the same time, and anyone of faith should be very, very worried about attempts to bring supernatural explanations in to the scientific arena. Firstly, it gets rid of the whole notion of faith, but also, science has a quite outstanding record of showing that things which we used to explain by appealing to the supernatural, actually can be explained by entirely natural means.

    And, once again, we see this happening with Michael Behe’s “Irreducible Complexity” argument. We can now explain much of the Flagellum evolution by natural mechanisms, after Behe had said that it was impossible. An appeal to ignorance has never been a good strategy. It seems that they will never learn, though, such is the desperation to sure up faith with a veneer of scientific credibility.

    I would also love to hear about this evidence that doesn’t point towards evolution, Dave? Thus far, all that I have seen is is misrepresentation, obfuscation, and unfortunately, flat out deception, in the attempt to make out that 150 years of sensational scientific discoveries don’t point towards the fact that life has slowly evolved on this planet for over 3.5 billion years.

    It is also important to point out that, even if there were evidence that didn’t point to evolution (and none has been presented), it does not become evidence for intelligent design creationism. Children deserve to be taught what is our best explanation for the diversity of life on this planet – an explanation that is backed up by mountains and mountains of evidence – not robbed of their education by people who can’t accept that we weren’t “poofed” in to existence. Those people need to grow up.

  28. Every theist is not a former atheist. Please. Behind that assertion I see a prejudiced assumption that religion is merely a pollutant, a virus introduced before we can be inoculated against it . This, in turn, betrays the belief that the presence of nothing is the natural state of things— a belif consistent with our original origins as postulated by evolution.

    But experience doesn’t bear it out. Ever see anything spontaneously appear? Do systems tend toward order, or chaos (or, in its positive sense, diversity)? It doesn’t even work on the existential level. We don’t emerge from the womb incredulous: “Wait a second, what’s this nipple in front of me? I’ll need to see some proof before I put that in my mouth.” It may not be God we believe in, but everybody believes in something, and nobody ever believed in nothing.

    What’s “poofed” into existence: being given life by a creator, or something appearing out of nothing? Granted, attempting to explain the former doesn’t exactly lead to the understanding of processes. Science is absolutely necessary for that.

    As such, ID is no science. And science is no religion. As evidenced by the “discussion” here, neither side can admit that about themselves.

    But such arguments are really beside the point, and Expelled appears to do itself (and intellectual freedom) no favors by being too undisciplined to restrict its argument to the atmosphere of disdain for faith in the academic/scientific community. (Though considering the political and social stupidity of so-called Christians, it’s easy to understand why that atmosphere exists.)

    Jesus is always going to be offensive. The Bible tells us as much, and our experience proves it. What’s more concerning, I think, is where actual dissent is suppressed. Presently, more telling to me on this front is the dismissal and outright rejection of skepticism, in academia and public scientific discourse, regarding climate change.

    Science, publicly, has become not so much a discipline as a tribe. Under attack from the violent reprisals of rabid creationists and right-wing demagogues, it’s circling the wagons. But is science really so feeble, that it can’t bear the scrutiny of dissent? The slings and arrows of a bunch of crackpots (if that’s in fact what they are) shouldn’t be so threatening to something as vaunted as Science.

  29. There have been lots of misrepresentations of data by evolutionists – example Haeckels Embryos. A blatant lie to try to convince people to believe in evolution.

    There is a lot of evidence being given against evolution by those much more knowledgable than I. To try to list it here would not be productive.

    If anyone reading this series of messages is really interested in seeing examples of data against evolution, go to http://www.discovery.org.

    One specific article that I would recomend is on the “Evolution” of the giraffe neck.
    http://www.discovery.org/a/4072
    But there are lots more research papers on a wide variety of topics.

    Do your own research and draw your own conclusions – don’t believe the “no evidence” claims. If there were really “no evidence”, then 700 PHDs from around the globe would not have signed a paper stating that they are skeptical of evolution:
    http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/

  30. If I am a young earth Creationist, it is news to me! I am not. What I am is a scientist who is willing to look at the science facts and think outside the Darwinian box.

  31. Greetings to all. I do not have time to get into a protracted debate here, so I’m just going to post one comment:

    One should be very suspicious when a person’s entire thesis is built upon the alleged dishonesty and complete moral corruption of their opponents. But that’s not the main reason why we should reject most of Nick “Discovery Institute’s deceptions” Matzke says. We should reject what Nick says because most of what he says is, well, just wrong.

    For one, and I quote Nick, Caroline Crocker is not an “unreconstructed young-earth creationist.” She just confirmed this writing above: “If I am a young earth Creationist, it is news to me! I am not. What I am is a scientist who is willing to look at the science facts and think outside the Darwinian box.”

    For two, the definition of ID has been the same since its virtual earliest days. ID proponents have long-maintained, long before Dover, that ID is not a supernatural explanation. Nick says we should read Pandas. OK! Let’s Pandas’ pre-publication drafts and the published drafts, each of which explain that ID is not necessarily an appeal to the supernatural: “[O]bservable instances of information cannot tell us if the intellect behind them is natural or supernatural. This is not a question that science can answer.” The same pre-publication draft explicitly rejected William Paley’s eighteenth century design arguments because they unscientifically “extrapolate to the supernatural” from the empirical data. The draft stated that Paley was wrong because “there was no basis in uniform experience for going from nature to the supernatural, for inferring an unobserved supernatural cause from an observed effect.”

    Another pre-publication draft of Pandas made similar arguments: “[W]e cannot learn [about the supernatural] through uniform sensory experience . . . and so to teach it in science classes would be out of place . . . [S]cience can identify an intellect, but is powerless to tell us if that intellect is within the universe or beyond it.” By unequivocally affirming that the empirical evidence of science “cannot tell us if the intellect behind [the information in life] is natural or supernatural” it is evident that these pre-publication drafts of Pandas meant something very different by “creation” than did the Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard, in which the Court defined creationism as religion because it postulated a “supernatural creator.” And of course the final published version of Pandas concurs that ID is not a supernatural explanation, nor is it a creationist explanation. Two quotes from Pandas will suffice:

    “The idea that life had an intelligent source is hardly unique to Christian fundamentalism. Advocates of design have included not only Christians and other religious theists, but pantheists, Greek and Enlightenment philosophers and now include many modern scientists who describe themselves as religiously agnostic. Moreover, the concept of design implies absolutely nothing about beliefs normally associated with Christian fundamentalism, such as a young earth, a global flood, or even the existence of the Christian God. All it implies is that life had an intelligent source.”

    “If science is based upon experience, then science tells us the message encoded in DNA must have originated from an intelligent cause. What kind of intelligent agent was it? On its own, science cannot answer this question; it must leave it to religion and philosophy. But that should not prevent science from acknowledging evidences for an intelligent cause origin wherever they may exist. This is no different, really, than if we discovered life did result from natural causes. We still would not know, from science, if the natural cause was all that was involved, or if the ultimate explanation was beyond nature, and using the natural cause.”

    Finally, Nick makes a big to-do over the fact that a given percentage (he doesn’t say what percentage) of ID proponents are allegedly “creationists,” as if that makes ID the equivalent of creationism. As I wrote at http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/07/another_way_to_defeat_the_id_c.html, this is a fallacious argument. Darwinists like Nick Matzke often contend that because a given proportion of ID proponents are creationists, ID must therefore be creationism. It’s a twist on the genetic fallacy, one I like to call the Darwinist “Genesis Genetic Argument.” As noted, it implies that each and every argument made by a creationist must be equivalent to arguing for full-blooded creationism. This fallacious argument is easy to defeat on logical grounds by pointing out that some ID proponents are not creationists, and in fact have been persuaded to support ID in the absence of religion.

    Last year William Provine and Gregory Graffin published the results a poll (http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/55593/page/1) that make the fallacy of Nick’s argument crystal clear: Provine and Graffin (both evolutionary biologists) surveyed 149 evolutionary biologists and found that 78% were “pure naturalists,” and strikingly, “[o]nly two out of 149 described themselves as full theists.” So if Nick claims that ID is creationism because some percentage of ID proponents are creationists, then what do we make of the fact that polls indicate that the vast majority of evolutionary biologists are atheists who reject traditional theism? By Nick’s logic in the Darwinist “Genesis Genetic Argument,” evolutionary biology would be equivalent to “pure naturalism”–i.e. atheism. Of course, that logic is false, which is why ID is not creationism any more than evolutionary biology is atheism.

  32. Greetings to all. I do not have time to get into a protracted debate here, so I’m just going to post one comment:

    One should be very suspicious when a person’s entire thesis is built upon the alleged dishonesty and complete moral corruption of their opponents. But that’s not the main reason why we should reject most of Nick “Discovery Institute’s deceptions” Matzke says. We should reject what Nick says because most of what he says is, well, just wrong.

    For one, and I quote Nick, Caroline Crocker is not an “unreconstructed young-earth creationist.” She just confirmed this writing above: “If I am a young earth Creationist, it is news to me! I am not. What I am is a scientist who is willing to look at the science facts and think outside the Darwinian box.”

    For two, the definition of ID has been the same since its virtual earliest days. ID proponents have long-maintained, long before Dover, that ID is not a supernatural explanation. Nick says we should read Pandas. OK! Let’s Pandas’ pre-publication drafts and the published drafts, each of which explain that ID is not necessarily an appeal to the supernatural: “[O]bservable instances of information cannot tell us if the intellect behind them is natural or supernatural. This is not a question that science can answer.” The same pre-publication draft explicitly rejected William Paley’s eighteenth century design arguments because they unscientifically “extrapolate to the supernatural” from the empirical data. The draft stated that Paley was wrong because “there was no basis in uniform experience for going from nature to the supernatural, for inferring an unobserved supernatural cause from an observed effect.”

    Another pre-publication draft of Pandas made similar arguments: “[W]e cannot learn [about the supernatural] through uniform sensory experience . . . and so to teach it in science classes would be out of place . . . [S]cience can identify an intellect, but is powerless to tell us if that intellect is within the universe or beyond it.” By unequivocally affirming that the empirical evidence of science “cannot tell us if the intellect behind [the information in life] is natural or supernatural” it is evident that these pre-publication drafts of Pandas meant something very different by “creation” than did the Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard, in which the Court defined creationism as religion because it postulated a “supernatural creator.” And of course the final published version of Pandas concurs that ID is not a supernatural explanation, nor is it a creationist explanation. Two quotes from Pandas will suffice:

    “The idea that life had an intelligent source is hardly unique to Christian fundamentalism. Advocates of design have included not only Christians and other religious theists, but pantheists, Greek and Enlightenment philosophers and now include many modern scientists who describe themselves as religiously agnostic. Moreover, the concept of design implies absolutely nothing about beliefs normally associated with Christian fundamentalism, such as a young earth, a global flood, or even the existence of the Christian God. All it implies is that life had an intelligent source.”

    “If science is based upon experience, then science tells us the message encoded in DNA must have originated from an intelligent cause. What kind of intelligent agent was it? On its own, science cannot answer this question; it must leave it to religion and philosophy. But that should not prevent science from acknowledging evidences for an intelligent cause origin wherever they may exist. This is no different, really, than if we discovered life did result from natural causes. We still would not know, from science, if the natural cause was all that was involved, or if the ultimate explanation was beyond nature, and using the natural cause.”

    Finally, Nick makes a big to-do over the fact that a given percentage (he doesn’t say what percentage) of ID proponents are allegedly “creationists,” as if that makes ID the equivalent of creationism. As I wrote at http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/07/another_way_to_defeat_the_id_c.html this is a fallacious argument. Darwinists like Nick Matzke often contend that because a given proportion of ID proponents are creationists, ID must therefore be creationism. It’s a twist on the genetic fallacy, one I like to call the Darwinist “Genesis Genetic Argument.” As noted, it implies that each and every argument made by a creationist must be equivalent to arguing for full-blooded creationism. This fallacious argument is easy to defeat on logical grounds by pointing out that some ID proponents are not creationists, and in fact have been persuaded to support ID in the absence of religion.

    Last year William Provine and Gregory Graffin published the results a poll that make the fallacy of Nick’s argument crystal clear: Provine and Graffin (both evolutionary biologists) surveyed 149 evolutionary biologists and found that 78% were “pure naturalists,” and strikingly, “[o]nly two out of 149 described themselves as full theists.” So if Nick claims that ID is creationism because some percentage of ID proponents are creationists, then what do we make of the fact that polls indicate that the vast majority of evolutionary biologists are atheists who reject traditional theism? By Nick’s logic in the Darwinist “Genesis Genetic Argument,” evolutionary biology would be equivalent to “pure naturalism”–i.e. atheism. Of course, that logic is false, which is why ID is not creationism any more than evolutionary biology is atheism.

  33. Dutch Delight

    Hi Casey, given that Caroline Crocker is a scientist looking outside the Darwinian box, and your allusion to a non supernatural designer, am I to conclude that you are actively researching the possibility that the designer is one of a race of advanced aliens? Can you share any light on this research and where you are taking it?

  34. I wouldn’t put too much weight on Matzke’s comment, he’s pretty much just cribbing Eugenie Scott. This is a man with literally no mind of his own left. Behe accepts common descent no “sort ofs” about it. This contradicts any notions that ID is creationism.

  35. Every theist is not a former atheist. Please. Behind that assertion I see a prejudiced assumption that religion is merely a pollutant, a virus introduced before we can be inoculated against it .

    While it is a moot point, really, I was simply making the point that people are not born with a belief in God. I would greatly appreciate it if you didn’t attempt to put words in to my mouth.

    Ever see anything spontaneously appear?

    Yes, we see it all of the time with spontaneous particle/antiparticle pair production. I have no idea what this has to do with evolution, however?

    Do systems tend toward order, or chaos (or, in its positive sense, diversity)?

    I hope that you aren’t make the second law of thermodynamics argument, here? It only applies to closed systems, and if you look at that big yellow ball in the sky, it is the reason that the earth is an open system.

    What’s “poofed” into existence: being given life by a creator, or something appearing out of nothing? Granted, attempting to explain the former doesn’t exactly lead to the understanding of processes. Science is absolutely necessary for that. As such, ID is no science. And science is no religion.

    There are many things about the universe that are mysterious and as yet unexplained, and if you prefer to replace what we don’t know with a creator, I have no problem with that. I also have great respect for the fact that you understand that ID is not science because it doesn’t explain anything. The argument is only with those who wish to bypass all of the protocol and insert ID in to science classes.

    Expelled appears to do itself (and intellectual freedom) no favors by being too undisciplined to restrict its argument to the atmosphere of disdain for faith in the academic/scientific community. (Though considering the political and social stupidity of so-called Christians, it’s easy to understand why that atmosphere exists.)

    I am delighted that you seem to understand this issue so well. It is true that many scientists are not religious, of course, but there are many, many scientists who are, and I would say that there is only really a very small number of scientists who actively voice there opinion about religion. I would hope that you would respect the fact that it is their right to do so, and that it could actually be seen as a force for good, in some ways, as nothing should be immune from criticism.

    What’s more concerning, I think, is where actual dissent is suppressed. Presently, more telling to me on this front is the dismissal and outright rejection of skepticism, in academia and public scientific discourse, regarding climate change.

    If I am honest, I really don’t know enough about the science of climate change to make an assessment here. What I do think is that, although it is entirely possible for scientists to be wrong about literally anything (as they are only human), we don’t have much choice as lay people but to accept the overwhelming consensus. Now, that is not to say that there will not be disagreement, but I hope that you question the motives of those who disagree with the consensus as much as you do with those who agree.

    While it may seem that there is censorship of opposing views in science, at times, I think that it is frustrating for scientists when they feel that there are people are attempting to confuse the public with misinformation, and that money is involved. I do not know if this is the case, here, but you must admit that there is an awful lot of money at stake for those who are polluting the atmosphere.

    Science, publicly, has become not so much a discipline as a tribe. Under attack from the violent reprisals of rabid creationists and right-wing demagogues, it’s circling the wagons. But is science really so feeble, that it can’t bear the scrutiny of dissent? The slings and arrows of a bunch of crackpots (if that’s in fact what they are) shouldn’t be so threatening to something as vaunted as Science.

    I can understand what you are saying here, but you must also understand that scientists work very hard, often for very little reward, and when they see that people, often with no credentials to do so, are attempting to subvert what is already a scientifically illiterate public, it is no wonder that many scientists feel under attack. We take for granted that there is almost nothing about our lives that doesn’t involve the work of science, quite often. I know that I do.

    Also, we cannot dismiss the fact that, unchecked, the number of those who would wish to subvert what is our best method of understanding the universe, will only continue to grow. Science is difficult to understand. Many people are seduced by those who tell them that certain disciplines within science are build on lies, and especially when science is contrary to deeply held religious beliefs. The US is 80% Christian, and if every one of those people were persuaded by the vast amount of disinformation out there, they could easily make their influence felt, politically. Science has to be funded, and if enough people were not willing to do so, the US would soon find itself in great difficulty.

  36. Am I missing something? Opponents of ID/Creationism say that such ‘theories’ are actually ‘guesses’, but that Evolution/Darwinism is a ‘fact’ – which, I therefore assume, means that no proof is necessary. Isn’t that the same ‘false’ reasoning that they accuse the ‘religious’ of using? By the way, instead of touting claims like ‘there’s so much evidence for Evolution (I refer here to the ‘microbes to man’ variety) that there is no room for it here’, why not just give ONE irrefutable example? Personally, I believe that Evolution is a religion (in the true sense of the word), and that any insistence that Science cannot function without it is fraud. On this basis, I fully support all efforts to keep religion out of public schools and politics.

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  38. Can someone hurry up and compare something to Hitler? That way we’ll know which side lost.

  39. Tens of millions of Americans, who neither know nor understand the actual arguments for or even against evolution, march in the army of the night with their Bibles held high. And they are a strong and frightening force, impervious to, and immunized against, the feeble lance of mere reason.
    — Isaac Asimov

  40. Benjamin C
    Would that be Isaac Asimov the well-known atheist? No further questions, your honour! By the way, it’s also a frightening force that seeks to suppress opposing views.

  41. “Can someone hurry up and compare something to Hitler? That way we’ll know which side lost.”

    “Expelled” did that long ago. Intellectually, though, they’d already lost well before they started filming. That’s why a pure propaganda piece like “Expelled” was produced, for if you can’t provide any evidence for ID, you can still accuse science of being “oppressive.”

    Glen D

  42. Benjamin C,

    Those 10’s of millions of Americans (that Asimov references) with their Bibles held high are a powerful force of good in this world – and they are not blind simpletons who have given up the ability to think.
    Are you wanting a communist state where God is forced out of the country? Look at Russia of the mid-20th century – it’s not pretty when God is removed.

  43. “Look at Russia of the mid-20th century – it’s not pretty when God is removed.”

    That is an entirely different subject, which I do not wish to discuss because teaching science in science classes (and doing science in the lab or field) is by no means the removal of God.

    The issue is whether ignorant theocrats (as opposed to the many decent theists) are going to be able to destroy religious liberty, and science in the bargain.

    The loss of freedom is what is truly threatening, whether that is done by theists or by atheists. Both the Nazis and the Stalinists were opposed to honest biological science, to “naturalistic evolution,” and apparently Stein and company want the same kinds of interference with science and the freedoms which underlie science that those oppressors effected.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  44. “the sequence on Nazism and Hitler as direct descendent of Darwinist thought is perhaps unnecessary”

    Why is it unnecessary?

    Perhap because it’s untrue?

    “Can someone hurry up and compare something to Hitler? That way we’ll know which side lost.”

    That’s right, it’s right in the show itself. Expelled loses. Thanks for playing.

  45. Brett McCracken:

    “the sequence on Nazism and Hitler as direct descendent of Darwinist thought is perhaps unnecessary”

    Casey Luskin:

    “One should be very suspicious when a person’s entire thesis is built upon the alleged dishonesty and complete moral corruption of their opponents. “

  46. I see you’ve been graced by good ole’ Nick Matzke. Since Nick is too busy telling you how dishonest all his opponents are too provide full disclosure for himself, I’ll do it on his behalf (you can thank me later, Nick):

    There was a part in the movie about Rick Sternberg, who was teamed up on by the NCSE and the Smithsonian, and ruthlessly hounded from his position over an article he published, correct? Well, Mr. Nick here, in addition to formerly being the NCSE’s official spinster in general, was one of the three NCSE hacks who authored that first hit piece against Sternberg (falsely) claiming, among other things, that Sternberg was an (eeeeeeevil) creationist.

  47. The Deuce

    It is shame that you haven’t deemed it necessary to provide the proper context to the situation that you describe. You have learned well, it seems.

    Here is some context for yourself (and others), though, from the publisher of the journal, the Council of the Biological Society of Washington:

    “The paper by Stephen C. Meyer, “The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories,” in vol. 117, no. 2, pp. 213-239 of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, was published at the discretion of the former editor, Richard v. Sternberg. Contrary to typical editorial practices, the paper was published without review by any associate editor; Sternberg handled the entire review process. The Council, which includes officers, elected councilors, and past presidents, and the associate editors would have deemed the paper inappropriate for the pages of the Proceedings because the subject matter represents such a significant departure from the nearly purely systematic content for which this journal has been known throughout its 122-year history. “

    This is from Sternberg himself:

    “As managing editor it was my prerogative to choose the editor who would work directly on the paper, and as I was best qualified among the editors I chose myself.”

    Now, you tell me why the journal is not within its rights to decide what is appropriate content for its own publication? And you are really going to have to provide some pretty strong evidence to maintain the position that you have just espoused. I would hate to think that it was simply your own, or Sternberg’s, opinion.

    It may well be correct that Sternberg was not a Creationist, but then I would have to ask why he was on the Editorial Board of a Young-Earth Creationist newsletter, the “Occasional Papers of the Baraminology Study Group” (OPBSG)? Baraminology is a Creationist pseudoscientific version of taxonomy, which focuses on the supposedly unabridgeable differences between organisms to identify the Biblical “created kinds”.

    I realize that in bizarro world it is perfectly natural to be on the board of an organization that maintains that the earth is 6000 years old, and then claim that people are smearing you when it is inferred that you must be a Y.E.C. Meanwhile, back in the real world, most people don’t think that a qualified scientist should be working for an organization that gets its science so wrong that some of its claims are the equivalent of saying that the distance from New York to San Francisco is 7 yards.

    And you didn’t mention that it was a government institution that dismissed Sternberg’s claims of religious discrimination because he wasn’t even an employee!

    That is quite a bit of information that you seem to have left out, don’t you think?

  48. “Look at Russia of the mid-20th century – it’s not pretty when God is removed.”

    Right, because what happened in Russian had nothing to do with communism, the economy, or the influence of the Cold War. It was all because God was removed. *rolls eyes*

  49. Russian communist leader Leon Trotsky (1879–1940), left, was a fanatical supporter of Marxism and Darwinism. In the Russian Civil War of 1918–20, he used the force of the Red Army to stamp out whoever he decided were enemies of the Soviet State. He confiscated food from peasants, brutalized the Ukrainian army of insurgent peasants, and killed its guerrilla leader, N. I. Makhno. He inflicted torture and violence against Christians, mercilessly trashed churches, and led the Society of the Godless to get rid of religion.

    Trotsky was mesmerized by Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. He said: “Darwin stood for me like a mightly doorkeeper at the entrance to the temple of the universe.” He said that Darwin’s ideas “intoxicated” him. And he could not understand in the slightest how belief in God could find room in the same head as belief in Darwin’s ideas.

    Like Hitler, Trotsky was a tyrant who saw Darwin’s theory of evolution as scientific justification for dismissing God’s moral laws. He clearly saw that the two ideas, God and evolution, were totally incompatible. His atrocities were consistent with this belief, for when you do away with the idea of the God who created you and who has given instructions for the right way to live, there is no reason to avoid despicably violent crimes. Even if this means murdering everyone who disagrees with you.

    Russian dictator and revolutionist, Joseph Stalin (1879–1953), was studying at Tiflis Theological Seminary when he started to read the works of Charles Darwin. One of his friends later said in a book that when Stalin read Darwin he became an atheist. The theological seminary expelled Stalin at the age of 19 because of his revolutionary connections.

    Stalin is regarded as the worst mass-murderer the world has ever seen. With God out of his way after embracing Darwin’s evolutionary ideas, Stalin had no restrictions of conscience or morals. He set up a terrorist police State, persecuted and murdered innocent communists, and instituted trials in which most surviving Bolshevik leaders were found guilty of treachery and were executed. He encouraged “Stalinist adoration,” which included naming cities after him (such as Stalingrad, Staliniri, and Stalinogorsk), and advocated homage given to him in virtually all public speeches and in print. He murdered Leon Trotsky.

    Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” ideas powerfully shaped Stalin’s approach to society. Oppression, atheism, self-glorification, and the blood of his many innocent victims flowed from Stalin’s rejection of his Creator after reading and believing Darwin’s evolutionary theories.

    And the most tragic aspect of all this? That while Stalin, Trotsky, and Hitler were turning their backs on their Creator, they were building their murderous, racist philosophies on a lie.

  50. Okay, well if you’re going to argue that Darwinism leads to amorality, you’re going to have to allow arguments that theism leads to crusades, jihads, and Matthew Shepherd. I don’t want to make that argument, because it’s stupid, but you’ve left the door wide open.

  51. Tim,
    Your arguement is not “stupid”, but I would make the following rebuttal.

    The attrocities of Trotsky and Stalin are “logically compatible” with evolution and atheism. If there is no God, and therefore no moral absolute, then it is perfectly logical for an individual to kill anyone he wants in order to try to gain power. If there is no heaven/hell or ultimate judgement, then why not do whatever we personally feel like doing – it’s logical if you’re an atheist.

    Crusades and other atrocities commited by people claiming to be Christians are “illogical” in light of what Jesus preached. Jesus never told anyone to kill other people to try to make them believe – anyone who did that was not following Him, and was acting illogically in relation to the Christian message.

    I am not claiming that anyone who is an atheist is an evil person and does the things that Stalin did. But, I am saying that atheism logically gives each individual the freedom to decide what is right or wrong for them to do. History has shown that is a dangerous mindset to unleash on the world.

  52. This is something that made me think about what I believe and helped me see some of the contradictions I lived with in my own life as a younger person. I hope someone finds it interesting (or at least amusing).

    Creed
    by Steve Turner

    We believe in Marx, Freud and Darwin
    We believe everything is OK
    as long as you don’t hurt anyone,
    to the best of your definition of hurt,
    and to the best of your knowledge.

    We believe in sex before, during, and after marriage.
    We believe in the therapy of sin.
    We believe that adultery is fun.
    We believe that sodomy is OK.
    We believe that taboos are taboo.

    We believe that everything is getting better
    despite evidence to the contrary.
    The evidence must be investigated
    And you can prove anything with evidence.
    We believe there’s something in
    horoscopes, UFO’s and bent spoons;
    Jesus was a good man
    just like Buddha, Mohammed, and ourselves.
    He was a good moral teacher
    although we think His good morals were bad.

    We believe that all religions are basically the same–
    at least the one that we read was.
    They all believe in love and goodness.
    They only differ on matters of
    creation, sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

    We believe that after death comes the Nothing
    Because when you ask the dead what happens they say nothing.
    If death is not the end, if the dead have lied,
    then it’s compulsory heaven for all
    excepting perhaps Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Khan.

    We believe in Masters and Johnson.
    What’s selected is average.
    What’s average is normal.
    What’s normal is good.

    We believe in total disarmament.
    We believe there are direct links between warfare and bloodshed.
    Americans should beat their guns into tractors
    and the Russians would be sure to follow.

    We believe that man is essentially good.
    It’s only his behavior that lets him down.
    This is the fault of society.
    Society is the fault of conditions.
    Conditions are the fault of society.

    We believe that each man must find the truth that is right for him.
    Reality will adapt accordingly.
    The universe will readjust.
    History will alter.

    We believe that there is no absolute truth
    excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.
    We believe in the rejection of creeds,
    and the flowering of individual thought.

    “Chance” a post-script
    If chance be the Father of all flesh,
    disaster is his rainbow in the sky,
    and when you hear
    State of Emergency!
    Sniper Kills Ten!
    Troops on Rampage!
    Whites go Looting!
    Bomb Blasts School!
    It is but the sound of man worshiping his maker.

  53. Hey Brent:

    Thanks for this review. The best I’ve read so far. You really nailed the issue that is at the heart of our film, especially with this line: “Sadly, the academy today is less about the sharing and discovery of truth as it is about the wielding and protecting of power.”

  54. sorry, i meant “Brett”!

  55. Crusades and other atrocities commited by people claiming to be Christians are “illogical” in light of what Jesus preached. Jesus never told anyone to kill other people to try to make them believe – anyone who did that was not following Him, and was acting illogically in relation to the Christian message.

    They are pretty compatible with Leviticus, though. Whereas Stalin and Trotsky may not be violating the philosophical underpinnings of their worldviews, Christians arguably are if they don’t put to death homosexuals.

  56. Kevin Erickson

    Brett, you will recall our conversation about the language of the political left being used to prop up standard conservative theological positions. Well, we’re seeing it again with stuff like this: ““Sadly, the academy today is less about the sharing and discovery of truth as it is about the wielding and protecting of power.””

  57. Jeff K
    Sorry, I have only just noticed your contribution of March 5. As a modest Mathematician, my knowledge of Biology is ‘sketchy’ to say the least. Could you therefore enlighten me as to how the Theory of Evolution is ‘predictive’ and ‘helpful’? Also, would you agree with the claim that Biology cannot function without it?

  58. There is no academic suppression of free thought. There is however a tendency for the academic world to reject theories with no merit.

  59. “Look at Russia of the mid-20th century – it’s not pretty when God is removed.”

    No, thats what happens when the person who is leading the nation is diagnosed as a psychopath. Also, atheists generally don’t want to force anyone to believe in anything, however they are compelled to believe in things that can be supported by scientific investigation.

  60. “And the most tragic aspect of all this? That while Stalin, Trotsky, and Hitler were turning their backs on their Creator, they were building their murderous, racist philosophies on a lie.”

    Actually they were building it on the misinterpretation of a science. Social Darwinism does not agree with evolutionary theory. Perhaps you should read the wikipedia article on this. It is quite interesting

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  63. Brett, I’m really curious as to what kind of “rational discourse” you would like to see.

    Will Provine and Allen MacNeill, both professors at Cornell University, invite advocates of Intelligent Design to give talks in their classes. Public debates between Intelligent Design advocates and scientists have been done – even though these are usually just indicative of who the best orator is. There have a number of rebuttals of Behe’s notion of Irreducible Complexity. Jeffrey Shallit has offered a critique of Dembski’s No Free Lunch. Several experts on the side of evolution actually bothered to show up at the Dover trial.

    To me, this whole persecution complex is just a tantrum thrown by the Intelligent Design advocates because they couldn’t make any headway into the public education system through Dover. Intelligent Design has been given enough time to establish its case as a valid scientific theory, but thus far all it does is offer sophistry e.g. “Explanatory Filters” and “Complex Specified Information”. If Intelligent Design really wants to establish itself as a science, it needs to start respecting the scientific process instead of crying on the religious right’s shoulder whenever they’re told science has standards like any other discipline. You can’t sneak a third-rate “review” into a journal and expect your theory to gain parity with robust scientific theories. You shouldn’t allow your publication record to falter while failing to secure research grants, and then complain when you don’t get tenured. It’s time for ID advocates to grow up and learn that if at all there is a hierarchy in science, it is one whereby the best theories occupy the top shelf. Behe’s already tenured – what’s stopping him from doing any ID research? I’m sure the Templeton Foundation would be more than happy to fund any research that would help draw science and religion together. Until there is compelling scientific evidence for design, there’s no reason why it should be considered any more significant than homeopathy or astrology.

    While they complain that “Big Science” is trying to maintain “power” (gah – the hyperbole!), papers that document speciation, mutations, new fossils, etc are being published and the evidence for evolution continues to mount. Meanwhile, the real controversies about evolution are being debated by scientists at conferences and symposia. The scientists engaged in these debates are doing original research to bring new data to the table.

  64. my my, is this a lively bunch. I’m looking forward to the movie. I’m begging my local indie 5plex to give it a go.

  65. What makes the likelihood of an intelligent designer any crazier a filter for explaining the unbelievable statistical unlikelihood of DNA and other apparently irreducibly complex systems than the currently popular cosmological explanation that there are an infinite number of parallel universes that make every outcome equally likely? This is just whimsy. It is no more intelligently dishonest to say, “God must be behind it,” than to say, “Infinite multiple universes are behind it.”

    Nobody knows the mechanism behind the astronomically complex makings of life. The annoying thing about this whole argument is that those in the scientific community say they do. If they would just admit that they might be wrong, maybe the argument would go away and real scientific inquiry could take place on both sides. Instead, the underpaid scientists in our nation can only get funding to do evolution-centric biological research. Let’s see…feed my kids or buck the system. I’ll feed my kids. There’s a natural selection.

    Also, somebody made the point earlier that scientific explanations for supernatural events undermine faith in some way. Not in a Christian worldview, they don’t. Christianity is the basis of all scientific inquiry. It is only because of the insistence on a rational created order that science ever sprung from the muck of superstition and magic in the first place. Without Christianity, there would be no science and we would still be throwing bones to make decisions and casting demons out of epileptics.

    Order is a God thing.

    Ed

  66. Very cool discussion. I’m very glad to hear so many diverse views on this subject. It interests me greatly.

    I’m not a scientist in the formal sense, but it seems to me that we all are in the common sense. So, I’m looking at the Scientific Method with a little common sense. And here are my “common” conclusions.

    First, the Scientific Method:

    * Ask a Question
    * Do Background Research
    * Construct a Hypothesis
    * Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
    * Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
    * Communicate Your Results

    Okay, here goes:

    * Ask a Question: How did the earth and everything that lives upon it come into existence?

    * Do Background Research: I’ve discovered that the earth, its ecosystems, its gravitational properties, and its position in the universe, as well as, the forms of life living upon it are extremely complex.

    * Construct a Hypothesis: Since it is irrefutable that the earth and the living beings upon it are complex and since other complexities in my experience have had an intelligent designer, I hypothesize that the earth and all living things upon it also had an intelligent designer.

    * Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment: I attempted to create a world with all manner of complicated systems and life forms. And: it worked. I’ve written several novels.

    * Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion: I’d be pretty surprised if the novels I’ve written showed up by accident or chance. I’m guessing the odds would be pretty steep against a coherent plotline could be randomly generated. I’ve also used a microwave oven to pop popcorn to munch while writing. I’m thinking it’s pretty obvious someone created this ingenious (and mighty handy) microwave.

    And I’ve also noted that, like my novels, other works of art have been purposefully created by intelligent artists. And when I look at the many paintings by a certain artist, I notice many similarities in style, medium, perspective, and subject matter–everything from brush strokes to color selection.

    Put quite simply an artist’s works have similarities that can be traced directly back to the artist. So when I see that chimps and people have similar features–or even Endogenous Retroviruses, I don’t see common ancestry, but a common artist.

    * Communicate Your Results: The most logical explanation for the appearance of a complex world and all its inhabitants is that there was an intelligent designer involved.

  67. Wayne – I like the way you put it.

    I have another arguement that I saw somewhere else (copied below) – I’m interested to know if this statement is accurate. Anyone have any feedback?

    Think about this – if you took a billion single-celled organisms and somehow punctured their cell walls and allowed all their inner parts to spill out into a test tube, do you think you could take all of that “life” material and use it to create even one single living cell from it? The answer is no – people have tried. With that scenario in mind, do you think that 4.5 billion years ago, in all the oceans of the world, there could have randomly assembled some amino acids, proteins, lipids, DNA (or RNA) -and that this first life form would have randomly had the ability to take in nutrients and grow, and have some mechanism for cell division?

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