Friday, February 08, 2008

Expelled! And Deservedly So!

I wrote the following reply (rather humorous, I like think) on a friend's blog, but I thought I would repost it here for your benefit, my readers. It refers to the upcoming mockumentary called Expelled! No Intelligence Allowed, which pits Ben Stein and Intelligent Designers against the scientific community, guilty, according to the film's producers, of stifling dissent about alternative theories to the theory of evolution. That, of course, is junk.

Emmzee, I am glad to report that you misread me. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to clarify the intended meaning of my observation:

If holocaust deniers have found the way to raise enough money for their largely unpopular cause, it is not surprising that IDers will be able to raise tons of money to portray themselves as victims in a cause that is far more popular among mainstream Americans than denial of the holocaust.

That is what I meant and that is what I should have said. If the original phrasing led you to believe that I put Intelligent Design on par with the holocaust, I apologize.

However, for accuracy's sake, I should let you know that while my statement about holocaust deniers and IDers might have been unclear, Ben Stein was actively out tying Darwinism and the holocaust.

In a NY Times article titled "Scientists Feel Miscast in Film on Life’s Origin", published on September 27, Stein said that he thinks Darwinism leads to racism and genocide. If Stein had his way, the article reports, the documentary would have been called 'From Darwin to Hitler." I'll accept your apology on behalf of Mr. Stein.

How people like Stein can tie Darwinism, which teaches common descent with ethnic cleansing (if we descend from a common ancestor, the very concept of race and racism vanishes), has always been beyond me. The Origin of The Species, unlike--say--the Old Testament, does not contain any invitations to mass murder or ethnic cleansing, so Stein's position is certainly disconcerting to me.

As for your thanks for dismissing the film without having seen it (nor, I admit, the trailer), you are welcome, and you are right. But I did not express my sentiment about it in total ignorance of the mockumentary's contents. Opinions on it, from sources that I consider more reputable than both Mr. Stein or the Discovery Institute, are readily available, and provide enough ground for a negative initial impression of it. Here is one such opinion. And here is a review by someone who has actually seen the movie and has not signed the non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements that came with the invitation to see the movie.

In any case, a movie with the tag line of "No Intelligence Allowed" shows its attitude towards those who disagree (unintelligent?) quite eloquently, before the first image has even hit the retina. Nor did the movie make any effort to represent the views of religious scientists (for example Francis S. Collins, he of the Human Genome Project) who believe that ID is not a legitimate scientific theory and that the extent of the controversy about the theory of evolution is largely exaggerated by the Discovery Institute. Scientists like them, according to IDers, are too keen on maintaining their academic funding, and too careful not to upset the establishement, to speak out in favor of ID.

In other words, according to IDers there is no overwhelming majority of Christian scientists who think that ID is junk science (or, better yet, no science at all), just a large number of sheepish scientists (first) and Christians (second), ready to serve godlessness in the name of fame and power. Perhaps if Mr. Stein had had his way, he would have included them in the movie after all and portrayed them as a bunch of Dr. Mengeles, with a chuckle!


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