Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Except Maybe Aliens)

I watched Expelled: No Intellengence Allowed tonight. Kudos to The Rave in Chattanooga for playing it, though I guess they won’t get tenure now. Before I tell you about it, let me say I can see why some liberals will hate it. Not only does it argue that Darwinian Evolution has flaws, it criticizes abortion, euthanasia, eugenics, atheism, and closes with images of Ronald Reagan. That’ll boil the blood.

Expelled appears to be a solid, well argued movie. It’s premise is clearly communicated in the long trailer. I’m amazed in part by the effort the producers put into giving credible scientists deserved credibility. They spend no time arguing specific scientific findings, which would go over our heads probably. Instead they explain that Darwinian Evolution may be mostly correct, but Darwin’s theory is unclear and cloudy—to use one scientist’s words—and for a scholar to suggest Intelligent Design over random mutation as a cause for evolved life should not be unacceptable. The fact that good scientists and teachers have lost their jobs for either discussing or advocating an Intelligent Design theory argues for a clash of worldviews, not a clash over hard evidence.

Sidenote: Scientists, like journalists, want to appear objective. Some of them are; I assume most believe they are. And scientists, unlike many journalists, are highly educated, intelligent people, so when they draw a hard conclusion, they will naturally believe it is the rock solid truth. That’s why they argue about certain things as if anyone who could see all the tangible evidence clearly would draw the same conclusion they did. But piles of scientific evidence do not draw conclusions on their own; interpretation of that evidence does. And when researching the origin of species, one’s philosophy of science and origin plays a large part in one’s interpretation.

But Expelled is not content to argue against freedom in philosophy of science debates. It has to explain that Darwinism appears to lead many proponents to atheism, and that the two theories devalue mankind. As one professor, who seemed to be the least credible of all the people on camera, said, Darwinism explains away God, an afterlife, human purpose, morality, and free will. In the second half of the movie, a scientist says that while the link between Darwin and Hitler is not straight and bold, you have only to read Mein Kampf to see clear Darwinian ideas behind Hitler’s arguments.

Sidenote: Did Darwin support eugenics, the weeding out of weak men for the health of all mankind? You can read his book, The Descent of Man, here. Skip down to page 167 where the section “Natural Selection as affecting Civilised Nations” begins. He says it would be nice to “indefinitely increase” restrictions on the marriage of “inferior members of society,” but doesn’t think it would be possible.

Darwin would have us believe men are not created equal by anyone. We all sprang from an unknown, meaningless origin. Obviously, such an idea has metaphysical implications on the big questions of life purpose, morality, and destiny. Why should scientists fight a different metaphysical idea with better implications if the evidence at hand is still well-explained?

Perhaps because they dislike God so much that even suggesting the office of god, the generic idea of god, is a reasonable part of a scientific philosophy smells like death to them. Suggesting that aliens (who evolved somewhere else) seeded life on earth is more acceptable than suggesting someone like God designed life and everything else.

If you can’t see this in theaters, buy the DVD. It’s better than The History Channel and never mentions Nostradamus or UFO sightings once.

12 thoughts on “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Except Maybe Aliens)”

  1. Wow Phil, you were so close.

    Just since you clearly haven’t heard, Expelled has quite a few factual errors in their analysis. Ahh well that could just be random error, huh?

    for a scholar to suggest Intelligent Design over random mutation as a cause for evolved life should not be unacceptable. The fact that good scientists and teachers have lost their jobs for either discussing or advocating an Intelligent Design theory argues for a clash of worldviews, not a clash over hard evidence.

    right. it is not unacceptable. what is unacceptable is that folks purporting to do science should avoid giving any evidence for their claims.

    we’ve been over ID creationist claims for identifying design and their probability arguments from whistling past the graveyard for years now. your appeal to democratic fallacies is teling: you are not interested in who is right (just like Dr Dr Dembsi). In other words, Expelled is just more of the same old obfuscation propagation from the dishonest DI. If you are truly interested in academic freedom then you will get a handle on how you have been lied to.

  2. Intelligent design has several problems.

    First is that nothing about any lifeform on the planet shows any indication of being intelligently designed. Slapdash and marginally functional is the rule.

    Second is that the argument is evidence of absence. “We don’t know how it happened, therefore it’s divine.” This exact argument was used to explain the Sun, gravity, stars, just about everything that we now have better explanations for. There’s no reason to assume it’s correct this time.

    Third is that positing an intelligent creator posits an origin of that creator. This leaves us with TWO universes to explain instead of one, with no evidence for the first.

    Of course, the latter is possible, though unprovable (which is what faith is, by definition). It takes no faith to believe in the observable and known.

    It’s not the place of science to delve into philosophy or theology. There are some scientists who do, and they’re wrong to do so. What happened before the big bang? We don’t know. It came from somewhere, and it’s as likely as anything else that it was created. This brings us back to problem 2 and problem 3.

    Without any evidence to analyze, it stops being science. Science can only collect and analyze observations and facts. Those are all post-start of the universe, whether created, spontaneous, recursive or other.

    Problem 4 is that in the US, 90% of the proponents are pushing the Christian perspective of creation, and in the Middle East, near 100% are pushing the Muslim variation of the same. I’d feel it was a lot less motivated by the politics of religion, and more by serious inquiry, if they were to say, “This week, we’re going to analyze the Cherokee story of creation, next week the Norse, after that the ancient Chinese.” By assuming off the bat that all such are false, their bias shows.

    In discussions like this, I always like to quote a friend who is a devout Catholic and a gravitational physicist: “Genesis was the attempt of people at the time to explain God’s universe as they saw it. Physics is my attempt to explain it as I see it. We’re both wrong and far from a complete understanding, of course, but I think I’m much closer than they are.”

    Certainly the Theory of Evolution has holes. So does the Theory of Gravity. I’m not prepared to disbelieve in either.

    We went from a flat Earth to a round Earth at the center of the universe, to a round Earth orbiting the Sun, center of the universe, to a round Earth not doing anything important, to a slightly oblate Earth, to a slightly oblate Earth with a southern bulge. Every one of these descriptions is false. The latter, however, is more accurate than the former.

    One one other point: well over 99% of geneticists and biologists accept Evolution, even though most are religious. There’s no “controversy” in the professional community.

  3. So, Mike, do you agree or disagree with the basic premise of the film (if I understand correctly what I’ve read about it): That no one should lose his job as a researcher or academic for simply positing the idea of Intelligent Design as a theory for discussion?

  4. Thanks for dropping by, Erasmus, but I have seen that site. I looked at it a bit last night.

    Have you seen this movie? I am concerned about factual any errors, but I haven’t found anything disturbing yet. My first thought from what I’ve read is that in situations like this (people being fired, disciplined, or taking flak at universities) there will be two sides to each story. The site, Expelled Exposed, can’t just point to the boss’ side of the story and say the employee is lying for disagreeing with his boss.

  5. Mike, I agree that this is a philosophy of science argument, and origin theory is something of an argument from absence, but that part of the reason for our argument. ID proponents aren’t trying to tear down evolution. Like I said in the post, they agree or at least don’t challenge most of it like everyone else. They are arguing against the Darwinian mechanism of evolution. Random mutation in evolution, not the changes themselves, are what ID scientists are trying to counter. So you don’t have to give up evolutionary theory, b/c they aren’t asking you to.

    They are arguing against your first point, that life (and physics, geology, etc.) have signs of intelligent design. Who that designer would be is another question entirely.

  6. You said: “They are arguing against your first point, that life (and physics, geology, etc.) have signs of intelligent design. Who that designer would be is another question entirely.”

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/04/24/license.plate.ap/index.html

    In most states, a Christian vanity plate would be a total nonissue since vanity plate designs are available to any organization which requests one and meets a minimum order size. In Florida, however, vanity plate designs must be individually authorized by the State legislature. Permitting the Christian license plate would amount to a formal endorsement of Christianity by the State of Florida, and as such would be a blatant violation of the First Amendment. This is underscored by the fact that the the plate’s sponsor — Representative Edward Bullard — stated that he would probably oppose giving any other religion an equivalent vanity plate because he “isn’t sure all groups should be able to express their preference.”

    Also note that back in 2002, the State of Florida decided that a custom license plate — not a vanity plate — saying “ATHEIST” was “obscene or objectionable”. Indeed, they found it so objectionable that they forced the driver to surrender the plate immediately, rather than the standard procedure of not renewing it when it expired. An examination of the Florida custom plate registry shows that the state considers plates such as “ALL4GOD” and “GOD4ALL” to be perfectly ok; yet “ATHEIST” is obscene.

    “DARW1N” got thrown out, too. (It was on a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution ;))

    No, there doesn’t seem to be any question on which mythology they want to be state sponsored. Do please show me ANY EVIDENCE AT ALL that the ID proponents are discussing any deity other than the Abrahamic one.

    Error in the article: Indiana’s plate “In God We Trust” was being underwritten by the state. The courts mandated it be sold as a vanity plate. State gets the money, people get their plate. Win/win. It actually cost a little more than a standard plate, and that was the nature of the complaint, since the taxpayers were paying for it.

    Considering the origin of the phrase, and of the Pledge, and the type of people motivated by such emotionally-begging content, I’ve found them a convenient marker for people who are probably bad drivers. Most of the Christians I know didn’t bother with the plate.

    Lars: Depends on who’s proposing ID and in which venue. As I noted, there are almost no biologists or geneticists supporting ID (let’s be honest and call it “Creation.” As soon as someone lies about their motives, I immediately find against them). I’m aware of one who believes he can prove the point, and is doing research to that end. He’s well-enough respected for his work that he’s being watched raptly, to see what he comes up with.

    If someone outside a relevant field tries to teach it, I would imagine it depends on context. In a philosophy class it would be acceptable. In math class, it’s irrelevant. At that point, there’s a case to be made against doing so. If it persists, it’s grounds for disciplinary action. Would I be thrown out of a church for preaching a different faith, say, Hinduism? Or atheism?

    I’ll honestly say I haven’t seen the movie, because I regard most allegations of such to be melodrama, based on my experience. I can point you at a hundred sites with similar themes.

    At the same time, I recognize there is a vocal opposition to Christianity in some circles.

    Unfortunately, it seems to be akin to smokers. A few rude jerks have drawn so much attention that the majority suffer the backlash.

    I’ll stick with my initial point and expand slightly: A study of organisms shows there’s nothing about any so far that indicates any intelligence or “design.” If they’re truly created or directed, the force behind them is a drooling retard. Probably not something one should try to attribute to an all-powerful deity.

  7. With respect, Mike, it seems to me you’re making a lot of assumptions. You take it as a given that almost anyone discussing an ID hypothesis is a Christian activist trying to sneak theocracy into scientific inquiry. I don’t think that’s true. Certainly many of the proponents of ID themselves insist that they are not creationists, that they believe in evolution, but find the Darwinian explanation of its mechanism intellectually inadequate. You assume they are liars. I haven’t been convinced of that.

  8. http://www.expelledexposed.com/index.php/the-truth/crocker

    They’re liars, Lars. Lying about God to gain something.

    What does your scripture say about such people?

    They lie when they say they’re not pushing Christianity. They lie about what evolutionary theory is. They lie about how they’re treated. Lies on top of lies on top of lies.

    I’ve looked at dozens of events like this. They’re liars.

    Liars for God.

    Doesn’t sound like a group I’d want anything to do with.

    Obviously, the site above is a specific counter to this specific even, though they manage to tear Stein apart rather well.

    I do recommend http://www.talkorigins.org for some well-researched and clear explanations of what evolution IS.

    I could conceive of a creator (God, if you wish) setting up the universe as a program and letting it run. While not intelligent design on the micro-level, it would be so on the macro-level.

    Of course, being unable to gather data from outside the universe, I could neither prove nor disprove it.

    That makes it not science.

    I certainly have no objection to the philosophy, though. The universe came from SOMEWHERE.

    It is, however, ridiculously easy to prove that lions, tigers, leopards, cheetah, panthers and jaguars share a common ancestral species, as do donkeys, horses and zebra. We can show the evolution. A variety of new species are recognized every year. Makes sense. Old ones are becoming extinct.

    I have no objection to the philosophy that God planned it that way. But again, without actual evidence, it’s not science. Debates about it do not belong in the biology lab until and unless we get some observable evidence to support it.

    Now, obviously, we don’t have all the data. There’s a few hundred pages surviving about the Viking Era, IIRC, much of it secondary. That’s like tearing a page out of one book on each shelf of a library and putting together an analysis of our culture. But if someone were to claim (and some have) a Saxon expedition to Central America, we’d recognize that, while we can’t disprove it, it’s ludicrously unlikely.

    Here’s my lay explanation for how the study of the past works:

    The way fossil analysis works is this:

    We take a film reel of Star Wars. It contains about 4000 frames.

    We pick one at random from every 100 frames. We pick a second one at random from each 100 frame set in the last 30 minutes. We pick a third one from each 100 frame set in the last 10 minutes, and then the last 3 minutes.

    We layer them from earliest to latest in mud, latest at the top, pouring a layer on each as we do. A few will displace.

    These are “fossils.”

    Now, I start digging, finding one frame at a time, and reconstruct the movie. Okay, we have bad guys, good guys and unknowns. We have some kind of fight at the end that “extincts” the bad guys. It involves a large station and an explosion. Earlier on, we have interactions between the two.

    I can write a PLOT SUMMARY from that, once I find all the buried pieces. There are not enough there for me to do more than guess at dialog. I know more about the ending than the beginning.

    Every time I find a frame, you want me to tell you the whole story over again. Some reporter will summarize my summary without knowing anything about it, and will pitch it for headlines.

    You look at the paper and say, “Hey, you CHANGED YOUR STORY!!! Obviously you don’t know what you’re talking about. Now, I’ve never actually looked at any of the frames, but it’s obvious that GOD DID IT!!”

    It’s bad science and bad theology.

    Here’s the key question for these people: How will you feel if it’s proven that the Navajo were correct and Coyote created the world? That God as you know him does not exist?

    I’m fine with them having their beliefs. Their beliefs are not science and I have a right not to listen to them, certainly not to fund them with my tax dollars.

  9. I don’t see what license plates have to do with anything, and I think Florida ought to lighten up their plate regulations. Can’t the state dept. of trans. screen all requests for vulgarity and let the others go?

    Any god but the Abrahamic one? I think the history of Western Civilization would argue against finding that, b/c Christianity and Judaism (in part) helped build our sciences.

    But about that Caroline Crocker link you gave, I found an NPR transcript from late 2005 on her story. It think ExpelledExposed is spinning her story just to claim she’s a liar. The premise in Expelled the movie still stands. Here’s the pertinent part:

    Ms. CROCKER: I gave one lecture on the evidence for and against evolution, and at the end of the lecture I said to students, `Well, you need to make up your own mind. Think about it for yourself.’

    HAGERTY: A student complained to her supervisor that Crocker was teaching creationism. Her supervisor, she says, told her she would not be teaching the cell biology class in the spring as a disciplinary measure. Her supervisor declined to comment. Later, Crocker learned that her contract was not renewed. She believes it was because of that class. A spokesman for George Mason would not comment on the circumstance surrounding Crocker’s departure because it’s a personnel issue, but, he said, it’s not unusual for a contract to lapse.

    After Crocker’s talk on this Tuesday night, students told similar stories of ridicule by their peers and even teachers when they expressed doubts about Darwinian evolution. Jessica Young(ph), a senior, is majoring in biology.

    Ms. JESSICA YOUNG (Student, George Mason University): It does get overwhelming having it crammed down your throat every day in biology classes. I had–my animal biology professor said the same thing: `This is not a theory; this is a fact. This is–evolution is a fact.’ You know, it’s comforting to know that there are other people who question evolution.

  10. Gentlemen,

    Your discussion is interesting but lacks a specific element of contention: you don’t have to inject “God” to analyze by probability the impossibility that random event can make anything even the most simple form of life. 1:trillion trillion trillion equals the null potential. If you get the same factors to predict anything more complex, say ameba to paramecia, the numbers strain absolute impossibility. That is the case for ID. The impossible by chance MUST be designed. What you want to figure as the designer, God for some and little green men like Richard Dawkins was filmed to proffer is up to you. Science need to accept that there is a design factor that is detectable measurable and necessary to understand the vastness and intricacy of even the smallest element of life.

  11. Thanks for bring that up, Vox, but I remember the critics of the movie minimizing that point. I think they were saying that it doesn’t matter what the probability is, random mutation is the only acceptable explanation.

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