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Why don't you ask Julie?

I saw it over the weekend on the one screen it is being showed in my city. I thought it was a well-made movie that presented itself fairly, if sometimes a little over-the-top. The climax of the documentary when Stein confronts the leading ID critic whose anti-religion world view guides his attack, comes at just the right time, at the verge of my thinking, "They can't keep building this up with no resolution, can they?!"

I particularly appreciate the documentary's analogy of the Berlin Wall during the Cold War to the wall that is being erected between Darwinism with all its blemishes as the "good" science, and ID, or any other contrary idea that may be supported by data, as the "bad" science.

The biggest shock was hearing that a professor was fired from Baylor University (a Baptist university) for running a blog about ID..

If I have to sit through Al Gore's questionable presentation on human-created climate change, then this movie about the erosion of academic freedom should get as much attention. But then again, this movie may somewhat explain why the theory of human-created climate change is rammed down the public's collective throat, but other ideas that are supported by the data are rejected wholesale as "ignorant" and "bad" science, just because they challenge the consensus. And as we all know, consensus gets the grant money.

I saw it and would recommend it. It's not a flawless film by any means, but it's pretty good. It should be seen first before buying into the red-herring and straw man attacks its critics have been offering.

It would have been nice if they would have spent more time talking specifically about what ID is, but I can understand why they didn't.

Also, that professor from Baylor wasn't fired. His funding website was shut down, that's all. (still very unusual)

It's been discussed in the mainstream media and all over the Internet for some time. Please see the discussion on Main Street Plaza: Does religious belief require creation science?

Are science and religion mortal enemies? Does evolution = atheism? Read the above-linked post and discuss!!! :D

check this link:
http://www.uncommondescent.com/philosophy/ben-steins-dangerous-idea/

Thanks for the link, CL. I'll also note the recent post at Mormon Matters, which discusses the documentary in more detail than this post.

I've seen it in the media quite a bit. The print media anyway and then it was heavily discussed by many blogs. I rarely both with television news since it is so universally bad. So I can't comment on that.


Scientific American did quite a spread on the movie, actually. Thanks for the link to Julie's post--she said what needs to be said much better than I will. Just quickly, ID isn't science because it isn't testable. There is no way to prove the existence or non-existence of a creator based on scientific inquiry. The argument that "life is too complicated to arise spontaneously" falls apart every time a specific example is forwarded, and it's boring. Evolution does an amazing job explaining how life changes in response to its environment. ID just throws up it's hands and says "we can't possibly figure it out, so it must be God," which just isn't intellectually stimulating as an attitude.

Most of the people "Expelled" pulls out as examples of those silenced for belief in ID were actually fired for other reasons. The guy who was supposedly "let go" from an editorial position at a magazine for having published a pro-ID piece actually waited until the last issue he was editing before publishing it--no firing was necessary, or even possible.

I have to agree with kristine N. To me it's not really science. I don't know how you would actually teach it in a class. You can basically summarize it in a one day class and after that what else is there to talk about? It's not like you can run experiments to validate the hypothesis, and there's no evidence of it to uncover, unless you consider a complex world evidence.

The movie probably won't come to my little Utah town, so I haven't seen it. But I have read the official web site and online reviews pro et con.

My judgment so far? The film's producers (like I.D. itself) are thoroughly disingenuous. False and exaggerated claims of academic reprisal for advocating I.D. are brought forward. People opposed to I.D. are interviewed and their words edited to make them look like idiots. Strong arguments against I.D. and for natural selection are ignored. Manufactured epithets (e.g., "Darwinists") are thrown around. Disgusting and unfair connections are made between belief in evolution and Nazi atrocities.

When this kind of stuff is done about the Saints we rightly call it "anti-Mormon". But when it's done against science and evolution, I suppose it's okay?

The critique that says ID just says "life is too complicated" is a straw man. That's NOT what ID is.

ID is falsifiable. It is the search for information and events which can only be caused by intelligence.

It is the same exact kind of science that SETI and CSI agents use every day. It's just applied to the origins of life.

Name a test that would falsify ID.

Clark, you will probably be stunned to hear that I basically agree with you and Julie on this issue. Science classes should deal with materialistic issues that are falsifiable and testable. ID is not falsifiable.

But I also kind of agree with Mike too. There is a room for ID science, but probably not in biology class. I took a cosmology class at Stanford that delved into the realm of philosophy that would certainly be a good place for ID science to be considered. More schools should consider classes such as "God in the Gaps: how intelligent design explains many of our scientific conundrums." I would have found such a class very interesting in college, and I wasn't even religious then. It seems such an approach would satisfy both the ID promoters and the ID haters like yourself.

Have you looked at a syllabus lately? There are all kinds of classes that would be a lot worse than a "God in the Gaps" type of class.

I'd be entirely comfortable and supportive of colleges teaching ID...as long as it is in the Pilosophy, Psychology, Sociology departments or (if a religious school like BYU) a Religion department. As a hard science it doesn't play by the rules, but that doesn't mean it should be ignored and destroyed (which is how many a biologist seems to react to it). ID should be accepted and studied as a science in the same way that psychology is studied and accepted as a science - a "soft" science. It makes untestable claims about the beginnings of life (which, it should be noted, evolution makes no claims about and steers clear from) and makes falsifiable claims about modern macroevolution centering around the idea of "irreducable complexity" (most of which have already been disproven). It isn't biology, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have merit.

I have yet to see this film, but if what I have been told about it is accurate, I would strongly agree with the idea that the scientific community should not fight against scientific ideas that are unpopular. I would, however, also strongly disagree with the idea that ID is being unfairly dealt with by the biological scientist community.

Name a test that would falsify ID.

Does DNA fit or not fit the definition of "information" that can only be produced by intelligence?


Also, it should be pointed out there is a difference between ID and contra-darwinism arguments.

I haven't seen the movie Expelled, but I am familiar with the individual cases of academic discrimination on which it is based. They are very real.

The assertion that "Intelligent Design is not falsifiable" is simply wrong. One of the major elements of ID is the falsification of the neo-Darwinian synthesis (of Darwin's idea of random variation and natural selection causing differential survival with the Mendelevian theories of genetic descent, which Darwin knew nothing about). Darwin's theory basically asserts that the development of all diversity in nature can be accounted for by a combination of (a) random mutation in DNA which (b) is sufficiently large to give the mutant an advantage in surviving and passing on its genes to larger portions of the population. In other words, EVERY mutation has to be significant enough to cause its owner to have a measurable advantage over non-mutated members of the same species. Yet the science of genetics tells us that we cannot expect more than a couple of genes to mutate at a time, so that any complex change in genes has to take place as an accumulation of small steps. Darwin says the selection is not being made by any agent that can foresee future benefit of a small change, but rather is done by "Nature" killing off non-mutants based on each small change. Living as we do in the age where we are deathly afraid of radiation or chemical exposure because it might mutate a gene or two, we all know that random mutations are almost without exception bad for us, because we LOSE a capability that helped our ancestors survive in the past. Most of the rest of mutations are at best benign and make no difference (because they are in unexpressed "junk DNA" such as that used as a "clock" to track divergence between related species like homo sapiens and chimps). Darwinists have not been able to quantify how likely it is that the random mutations of genes will actually be beneficial, but it clearly has to be a very small number. This is on its surface a rather weak generator of innovation. Even the enormous quantities of time in the past do not overcome the inherent lack of positive creativity of random mutation.

One of the critiques that ID offers is that there are many identifiable complex structures in living things, especially at the cellular level, that are really molecular machines, with a finite number of parts. They have specific functions. And many of them have NO apparent function if they are retrogressed in time to a simpler mechanism before the last, small Darwinian mutation. How could they have come about through the Darwinian mechanism if they cannot be explained as a series of accumulating small steps, each of which had a function so crucial that it killed other members of the species that did not have it? This is a "falsification" of the neo-Darwinian synthesis. It is the essence of what science is all about. And frankly, none of the attempts by biologists trying to offer Darwinian explanations for the creation of these mechanisms by Richard Dawkins' "blind watchmaker" amounts to more than hand waving. Simply stated, Darwin's theory just does not explain many mechanisms in living things. (It certainly can with much simpler mechanisms. So it is not useless, just incomplete, just as Newton's theories of motion fail at high speeds near the speed of light.)

This discussion is one of the essential points of the ID hypothesis. But how many of you were even aware of it? You would certainly never learn it from the pages of Scientific American (which I subscribe to) or most of the books that criticize ID theory. Rather, the rebuttals to ID just try to smear it as "Young Earth Creationism" under another name, and claim that it relies on the Bible rather than science, which is a lie. The science establishment's response to ID is all about censorship and reprisal, rather than intellectual debate and rebuttal. If ID were as vacuous as Dwakins claims it to be, it should be simple for him and other atheists to lay out a logical proof of this. But they don't and therefore I conclude they cannot. They try to play legal games of the "definition of science", as if there wewre some kind of Science Authority which had to approve of every theory as "scientific" before anyone could pursue it or use the label "Science"(TM) for it. That is balderdash. Scientists like to brag about going up against the establishment, although they all know that it is the establishment that hands out the credentials and the tenure and the grants. And the establishment is intent on suppressing ID theories, which is the subject of Expelled.

Mormon scholars have enough experience going up against the establishment in religious scholarship, ancient history, history and archeology to know that anything that even impliedly supports religious belief automatically is disfavored by many in academia. The new biography of Henry Eyring is very explicit in the Foreward by a non-Mormon scientist that it is very likely that Eyring's explicit religious faith was the major factor in denying him the Nobel Prize in chemistry. The feminist critique of the science establishment has been for decades that it has actively tried to suppress the advancement of female scientists, a viewpoint that led to the resignation of Harvard's president a few years ago just for suggesting that scientists actually put that belief to a scientific test. Since the science establishment is presumptively prejudiced and not objective about female scientists, why should we think that it is less subjective about religious scientists and any theory that might support them? The Big Bang theory was rejected initially by many leading scientists simply because it too obviously correlated with the idea of Ex Nihilo creation.

After all, if materialism is the true basis of reality, there is no reason to have any confidence in the inherent reliability of human reason, which is simply another random agglomeration of chemical actions in a brain. The notion that there is some kind of objective reality to the idea of "science" or a particular theory is just an illusion in a meat computer. Therefore, what authority does the scientific establishment's pet theories have?

You can have a rational discussion about ID, but the tactics and agenda of the Discovery Institute are undeniable. It is a demonstrable fact that they set out with a religious agenda. It is also a demonstrable fact that they recycled arguments made by creationists before them. It is also a demonstrable fact that they abandoned the word "creation" when it became legally untenable based on the First Amendment. As long as they remain the backbone of the ID movement, these points will continue to be raised, and legitimately so, in my opinion.

When ID ceases to be about culture war, sticking it to those evil materialists, and whining to the general public that they are not being taken seriously, then it may get more respect.

Wonder and skepticism. Two key elements of good science that are absent from ID. Wonder is lacking because unanswered question are simply offered up as proof of the divine. Skepticism is lacking for obvious reasons.

Kudos to those scientists who refuse to engage ID on scientific grounds. It is not science. It merely covets the cloak of respectability that science wears. It is ‘God of the gaps’ wrapped in fancy words lifted from the dictionary.

You are welcome to your ideas just don’t call the science and don’t teach them to my kids.

And no, I have no intention of wasting good time and money on Mr. Stein’s movie.

Thank you Tim. Great post. There ARE serious problems with Neo-Darwinism that the proponents would just as soon sweep under the rug, at least when they're talking to non scientific audiences. One effective rug sweep is to get apoplectic about the Discovery institute and the scary paranoid fundamentalists there. But this is smoke and mirrors. I recommend two books for anyone who really wants to understand these issues instead of just spouting the establishment party line. One is "The Evolution-Creation Struggle" by Michael Ruse, published by Harvard University Press. The author is an agnostic Darwinian evolutionist. But his careful history (though he does leave out a few things particularly embarrassing to fellow evolutionists, like Haeckel's faked drawings of embryos so that they seemed to corroborate his "ontology recapitulates phylogogy" theory.) is revealing. The Darwinian bandwagon was in full swing before there was any more scientific corroboration of this theory than differences in Finches bills on the Galapagos Islands. Thomas Huxley in England, Ernest Haeckel in Germany, Herbert Spencer and many others were on the stump,making elaborate, far reaching claims for Darwin's theory of the Survival of the Fittest before there was any sound scientific basis for such claims. Darwinism was crowned king with great excitement. "We have it! A theory that makes God dispensible!" Any honest cultural history of the 19th and twentieth century cannot deny that Darwin's acceptance was based on the fact that many were looking for something--anything--that could dethrone God. Thomas Huxley was called Darwin's Bulldog for his energetic advocacy of Darwinism. He is the man that coined the term "agnostic." Folks, this was all before anyone even knew what a gene was. This was naturalism as a philosophy and not science. Thomas Huxley himself defined science like this: "Science is... the results of exact methods of thought whatever be the subject-matter." These men thought that their approach was 'scientific' because they were building logical systems of thought. The philosopher Herbert Spencer waxed rhapsodic about "The Law of Progress." Everything was subject to it: "the development of the earth, of life upon its surface, of manufactures, of commerce, of language, literature, science, art, this same evolution of the simple into the complex, through successive differentiations, hold throughout." That's how it started and it is still a naturalistic philosophy, no matter what your science teacher told you. You cannot falsify the Neo-Darwinian synthesis any more than you can ID.

In the movie Expelled, this philosophy was shown expanding in Germany to mean inevitable progress from not only the simple to the complex but from the inferior to the superior. Ergo, the references to the Nazi era in which that government helped evolution along its trajectory toward an inevitable super race of blond teutonic ideal men and women. Evolution as a philosophical concept was found everywhere, including in Eugenics, the pseudo science of cleaning up the races by sterilizing inferior segments of earth's population. Margaret Sanger, founder of planned parenthood, being a staunch advocate of birth control for this very reason.
This is not anti-scientific propaganda. This is history. Just like mountain meadows is part of Mormon history. We have to deal with it and Darwinists need to look honestly at their own history. Ruse's book is a good place to start.

The post before this by Jared (a representative of the type known as a willing idiot) shows how thoroughly the naturalists have captured the intellectual territory and how loathe they are to engage in any truly scientific debate with people who have fundamental disagreements with naturalism. Heaven forbid that Jared should see the movie and have any questions arise in his neatly catoragized mind. We have the scientist on one side, here, and on the other side we have the fakers in their phony "cloaks of respectability." "God of the Gaps," "just don't call it science," "I wouldn't waste my money," "skepticism is lacking for obvious reasons", etc. The whole post is just name calling. No thinking.
If you want a quick course in just what shaky scientific grounds Neo-Darwinism is on, read "Not By Chance" by Lee Spetner published by Judaica Press. Dr. Spetner is a physicist by occupation. He is a thorough going scientist and his scientific analyses of the mechanics of mutations on a cellular level are clearly beyond me. But I can discern his main point. If so much of the Neo-Darwinian synthesis depends on variability which depends in turn on random mutations found in nature, shouldn't we study the specifics of such mutations before we make the sweeping claims made for Darwinism? Dr. Spetner has made such studies and reviewed others in the literature. One thing I found interesting was that ANY mutation in nature tends not to survive. This is the way nature works. Because it doesn't work this way for our families we tend to forget. But fish, for example, lay thousands of eggs because most of them won't survive to adulthood. This redundancy is necessary because so many newborn organisms wont grow up. A lot of this is random, is luck. But the numbers work against any one individual organism surviving, whether it has a mutation or not, whether the mutation gives some advantage or not. Then there is the nature of mutations themselves. They aren't really creative. We have no examples of mutations creating new structures. We have examples of bacteria adapting to antibiotics and forming new strains. But as Spetner explains, this is done by a loss of information in the genetic material of the bacteria, not a gain. There is no build up of new information, but a mutation in protein form that changes the shape of the "docking station" of the bacterium, thereby not allowing the antibiotic to fit into the bacterium and disrupt its life processes. Anyway, the book is fascinating reading and if you want to think hard and learn a lot of new information it's for you. (That is in opposition to those of you who want to hold up your silver crucifixes and chant "Begone! Curse you Bad ID'ers!")

Tim: Does DNA fit or not fit the definition of "information" that can only be produced by intelligence?

The problem is a non-question begging way of that definition. And how does one falsify such a definition?


Eliza-Anne: The post before this by Jared (a representative of the type known as a willing idiot) shows how thoroughly the naturalists have captured the intellectual territory and how loathe they are to engage in any truly scientific debate with people who have fundamental disagreements with naturalism.

Yup. You're really likely to convince people in that fashion.

There's no doubt there's still a lot unknown in evolution just as there is in physics. Thus far though ID just hasn't poked any serious holes in evolution beyond "we don't know" and hasn't offered any way to really falsify ID itself. Certainly one can be a critic of evolution without buying into ID. The question is what the nature of the criticism is. That is are they merely pointing out places where less is known that thought or are they providing alternatives that have far less support than what is already there.

I want to see it! Reading all these reviews has made me even more excited about it.

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