For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. ---Ephesians 6:12

"The age of casual Catholicism is over; the age of heroic Catholicism has begun. We can no longer be Catholics by accident, but instead must be Catholics by CONVICTION." ---Fr. Terrence Henry TOR, Franciscan University of Steubenville

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed

This You Tube video will take a while to load, so please be patient. It is worth the wait.

Ben Stein stars in his own documentary, which looks very good btw, about the persecution of scientists and academics who dare to argue in favor of Intelligent Design.

After so many anti-Iraq war films and other downer flicks for the past several years (like No Country For Old Men), it will be nice to return to the movie theaters for something that doesn't offend or insult my sensibilities. A one-time movie buff, I haven't been to a movie theater since The Passion Of The Christ. And not for a while before that.


Benjamin Franklin said...

This films’ main thesis, that anyone in the science community who believes in God, or is a Darwin dissenter is being “expelled” is false at its core.

In a New York Times interview, Walter Ruloff (producer of Expelled) said that researchers, who had studied cellular mechanisms, made findings suggestive of an intelligent designer. “But they are afraid to report them”.
Mr. Ruloff also cited Dr. Francis S. Collins, a geneticist who directs the National Human Genome Research Institute and whose book, “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief”, explains how he came to embrace his Christian faith. Mr. Ruloff said that Dr. Collins separates his religious beliefs from his scientific work only because “he is toeing the party line”.

That’s “just ludicrous,”
Dr. Collins said in a telephone interview. While many of his scientific colleagues are not religious and some are “a bit puzzled” by his faith, he said, “they are generally very respectful.” He said that if the problem Mr. Ruloff describes existed, he is certain he would know about it.

Similarly, Dr. Ken Miller is a professed Christian who wrote “Finding Darwin’s God” (which I suggest you read). Dr. Miller has not been “expelled” in any fashion for his belief in God.

The movie tries to make the case that “Big Science” is nothing but a huge atheist conspiracy out to silence believers, but only presents a very one-sided look at some Discovery Institute “martyrs”.

Carolyn Crocker “expelled”? - No.
Her annual teaching contract was not renewed. Was she “fired” for daring to bring God into research? - No. She was hired to teach Biology, and she decided to ignore the schools’ curriculum and substitute her own curriculum.

Guillermo Gonzalez “expelled”? - No.
He was not granted tenure. The film doesn’t bring up the fact that in all his years at ISU he had only brought in only a miniscule amount of grant money. Nor does it bring up the fact that in all his years at ISU he failed to mentor a single student through to their PhD. Nor does it mention that in his career at ISU, his previous excellent record of publication had dropped precipitously.

Richard von Sternberg “expelled”? - No.
Sternberg continued to work for NIH in the same capacity. Of course the movie doesn’t bring up his underhanded tactics in getting Meyers work published.

This movie attempts to influence it’s viewers with dishonesty, half-truths, and by a completely one-sided presentation of the facts.

If a scientists’ research is not accepted by the scientific community, it isn’t because the scientist either believes or doesn’t believe in God, it is usually because they are producing bad science.

Benjamin Franklin

St. Blogustine said...

How dare you compare Ben Stein to Michael Moore!

Evolution is a theory. Intelligent Design is also a theory, and a very plausible one at that. But schools across the country are allowing politics to get in the way of fair and balanced presentations because they are afraid they will have to teach the Holy Bible.

Of course there will be exceptions to the thesis of the film. Not all secularists are disrespectful of religious beliefs. But some are so paranoid of anything that remotely sounds religious that they will crack down and suppress for the sake of their own religion: secular fundamentalism!

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.

Benjamin Franklin said...

Sorry, but at this point intelligent design is not a scientific theory, it is really not even a hypothesis, it is merely an idea.

But is ID Science? Should it be taught in a science classroom alongside the Theory of Evolution?

Well, can it be tested? Are there falsifying observations? ID could potentially be disproved by observing a more primitive intermediate form of some part that has been touted as ‘too complex’ to be natural. But then, the individual running the ID experiment can alter his hypothesis to say that this new structure is that which was installed by the Intelligent Designer. Because of this, there is no part of ID that can be unequivocally falsified by material science.

The second part of ID calls for an external Designer. This idea is neither fully supported nor fully falsified by material observation. There is no scientific way to test for the presence or absence of the Designer, as the Designer is defined as unobservable, or at least, only observable by a chosen few.

One of the most important characteristics of scientific hypotheses and theories is the predictive power they provide. ID does not offer any new explanation or observation about these complex structures that the Theory of Evolution does not already provide. The observation that some structures in organisms are too complex to have originated from gradual change will not help scientists to develop a better antibiotic, for example. In fact, the idea that “some things are too complex” is anti-scientific, since it seems to suggest that we shouldn’t try to understand the origins of the complex structures. ID discourages us from looking and asking questions. True science, however, moves on. If it is later found to be the case that some structures in organisms do not have more primitive counterparts, science will observe and recognize this fact, and the new knowledge will be incorporated into evolutionary theory.

ID is not a scientific theory and should not be taught alongside the Theory of Evolution. It offers nothing to help students understand how science works. It is merely a statement of how complex life seems to be – not even worth an hour of classroom time.

St. Blogustine said...

Are you suggesting that Albert Einstein was superstitious? He believed in Intelligent Design because of the mathematical logic in the laws of the universe. And if this was only an "idea" of his, why should it be banned from schools?

The movie is about persecution of those who challenge Darwin's theory, not about religious professors who are barely tolerated by their peers.

You appear to have a lot to say, but somehow escape from directly addressing my points. Perhaps, Mr. Franklin, you should start your own blog. They're free on Blogger.

Thanks for the return visit.

Benjamin Franklin said...

I really don't think you have the full story on Einstein's conceptions about this.

Einstein did not dispute Darwin's theory of evolution. Further from reading Einsteins works, he would not have supported intelligent design.

Einstein denied belief in a personal God; the Creator he acknowledged was a personification of the laws of nature rather than an artificer of individual species or a judge of the quick and the dead.

This is from a lecture Einstein gave at Princeton, 1939, on Science and Religion-

A conflict arises when a religious community insists on the absolute truthfulness of all statements recorded in the Bible. This means an intervention on the part of religion into the sphere of science; this is where the struggle of the Church against the doctrines of Galileo and Darwin belongs.

The more a man is imbued with the ordered regularity of all events the firmer becomes his conviction that there is no room left by the side of this ordered regularity for causes of a different nature. For him neither the rule of human nor the rule of divine will exists as an independent cause of natural events. To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering with natural events could never be refuted, in the real sense, by science, for this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been able to set foot.
But I am persuaded that such behavior on the part of the representatives of religion would not only be unworthy but also fatal. For a doctrine which is able to maintain itself not in clear light but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress. In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests. In their labors they will have to avail themselves of those forces which are capable of cultivating the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in humanity itself. This is, to be sure, a more difficult but an incomparably more worthy task. (This thought is convincingly presented in Herbert Samuel's book, Belief and Action.) After religious teachers accomplish the refining process indicated they will surely recognize with joy that true religion has been ennobled and made more profound by scientific knowledge.
If it is one of the goals of religion to liberate mankind as far as possible from the bondage of egocentric cravings, desires, and fears, scientific reasoning can aid religion in yet another sense. Although it is true that it is the goal of science to discover rules which permit the association and foretelling of facts, this is not its only aim. It also seeks to reduce the connections discovered to the smallest possible number of mutually independent conceptual elements. It is in this striving after the rational unification of the manifold that it encounters its greatest successes, even though it is precisely this attempt which causes it to run the greatest risk of falling a prey to illusions. But whoever has undergone the intense experience of successful advances made in this domain is moved by profound reverence for the rationality made manifest in existence. By way of the understanding he achieves a far-reaching emancipation from the shackles of personal hopes and desires, and thereby attains that humble attitude of mind toward the grandeur of reason incarnate in existence, and which, in its profoundest depths, is inaccessible to man. This attitude, however, appears to me to be religious, in the highest sense of the word. And so it seems to me that science not only purifies the religious impulse of the dross of its anthropomorphism but also contributes to a religious spiritualization of our understanding of life.
The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge. In this sense I believe that the priest must become a teacher if he wishes to do justice to his lofty educational mission.

Did you get Einstein's drift? He would not have been an advocate of ID because to Einstein, his god would not be a meddler in nature, his god is nature and natural law.

I think I addressed your point on that - How about addressing some of the points I brought up in my post about the distortions and half=truths in Expelled?

I ask this because you are the one promoting Expelled, but I'm not sure that you really know about the lack of integrity it proffers.

St. Blogustine said...

I believe that Einstein, in addition to being a brilliant scientist, was also somewhat of a political animal. One must be in order to have his/her way at a university. Therefore Einstein may well have skewed his rhetoric in different directions depending upon whom he was addressing. For instance, I have heard him quoted as saying ”I want to know God’s thoughts. The rest are details.” Another quote I’ve heard which may in some ways sum up the speech you shared on my blog is this: ”Religion without science is dead, but science without religion is lame.” Again it may depend upon whom he was addressing at the time. And when I get the time I will read Walter Isaacson’s recently published biography on Einstein.

I promote Expelled by posting the trailer because I like Ben Stein, I believe in ID, and I have in my past been run out of a job for my beliefs. First they sabotage you, then they demonize you, then they ostracize you just before running you out the door on a rail. Then they black-ball you so you can’t prosper in your chosen field and exact revenge upon the aggressors.

I know nothing about the people mentioned in the trailer of the film. And I haven’t actually seen the film yet. But I will enter the theater with an open mind and expect a documentary more valid than Fahrenheit 911.

Now if Einstein thought that God was nature and natural law, was he also open to the idea that an intelligent designer created the universe, earth, and man and then sat back to see how it would all play out (without meddling)??? In other words, was Einstein a Deist like your namesake, Ben Franklin?

And is that your real name? My real name is on my blog...several times. Were you named for the great inventor? If not, then what is your real name? Just curious.

Paul said...

OK, let me jump in here.

I am neither a scientist nor a theologian.

But as a professing Christian, I have never sensed a necessary dichotomy between Creationism and Darwinism. God could well have created all life initially, and willed that it evolve over time (though that might cause some problems for literalist interpreters of the OT.)

Moreover, there is obviously existing fossil proof for "The Evolution of Species." Over the eons, a particular species has mutated, i.e., grown eyes or wings, etc., to adapt to a changing hostile environment.

But it's always been my understanding that there has never been verified proof of one species "evolving" into another species--which would seem essential to the current theory of evolution--though not necessarily to non-literal Creationism. (After all, if a monkey "evolved" into man, God could have infused a soul into that first "mutation" couple, and the rest of the Bible would remain intact--with Noah, perhaps, taking a couple of Wooly Mammoths or Sabre-Toothed Tigers on the ark.)

Anyway, despite their best efforts, scientists to date have been unable for over 150 years to discover that "missing link"--fossil evidence of one species "evolving" into another. So if Evolution is defined as amoebas gradually morphing into humans, it remains just as much a "theory" or "belief" as ID, and if one such theory is taught, so should the other one be.

I forget who first said it, but the question was something like, "If I take my pocket watch apart, and dump the several hundred pieces into a bag, and keep shaking them up, how long will it take until they re-form themselves into a a working pocket watch?"

That, in a nutshell, Mr. Franklin, seems to me the foundation of the theory of ID.

Benjamin Franklin said...


Yes, my name is Benjamin Franklin, and yes, I was named after the inventor. Old Ben and Einstein are two of my heroes.

I looked at your profile, and I too had a Desert Eagle 50 cal. Don't have it any more though, someone made me an offer I couldn't refuse.

By all means read Isaacson's biography of Einstein. I have read parts, and intend at some time to read the whole deal.

One small correction - Einstein's quote is "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

You asked if Einstein's theology was like Franklin's Deism. I'm not sure. I think that Franklin's God was more of a creator god, who started things going, and then sat back. Einstein, from his space/time multidimensional mindset, I think perceived God as more of time/energy than material. But since man thinks in 3 dimensions, we really cannot conceive of multidimensional universes, although I think Einstein might have been able to.

Some string theory physicists I studied with could "math" out n-dimensional space, but even that makes your head spin.

Einstein did not believe that God created man as a seperate species, I'm not sure about Franklin, but he probably did.

I have never seen Farenheit/911, so I really can't comment on that, but Expelled contains a lot of things that are just bogus. Bear in mind that the producers made the film for 2 reasons, first - money! They want to tap the lucrative faith based market that brought in tons of cash for Passion of the Christ.

In order to do that, they present a case that panders to Christians to the point that they lose objectivity and misrepresent the reality. They make insinuations in the film that science led to, and could lead again to the attrocities of the holocaust, which is utter nonsense.

In an interview with one of the producers of the movie, Mark Mathis said "Well, we do say that that may not have been the only factor", but when you watch the movie, you will see that they don't bring up anything else that could have been, and actually were the factors for Hitler's extermination plan. On that basis alone, the movie fails.

The other factor for the movie is to promote teaching creationism in the schools, which is a big priority for the Discovery Institute.

Now if the concept of ID (which most ID proponents (like Behe, Dembski, and Meyer) say is not dependent on God, but they really think and say that it is dependent on God), is going to stand, it has to win in the labs, and in the research facilities. This battle should not be one of popular vote, science is not a democracy, it is a meritocracy. If the idea holds up, and it might, it just might, then yes, it should be taught in schools. But certainly not until then. But in the meantime, ID scientists are not being persecuted, at least not the ones they present in the movie, there is a bunch of ID research going on, but after 17 years, they have yet to come up with anything concrete. Something that is testable, something that makes predictions, something that can be of some use or benefit.

You said you were a proponent of ID. What exactly is your concept of ID, because that in itself has never been really nailed down, and why do you support it?

St. Blogustine said...

Paul, thanks for weighing in. I agree with you about evolution. Your example of minor changes within a species has been referred to as micro-evolution while the unproven jump from one species to another is considered macro-evolution. I only believe in the former.

Your example of the disassembled watch shaken in a bag reflects my own view on ID. It's only common sense that something intelligent must have created things so intricate and complex. The laws of physics, as I stated, also strongly suggest an order too logical to have come about by chance. Norman Geisler and Frank Turek (forgive my spelling) wrote a book called "I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist," in which the example of a room full of monkeys pounding on typewriters is used. Never in a billion years will any of them type word for word Shakespear's Hamlet by chance. Too bad I left the book at home. They had good refutations Ben might be interested in.

Thank you Ben for the correction on the Einstein quote. I hate getting those wrong, but it was first read by me in the afore mentioned book which I left at home. Bummer. It sounds better in corrected form. And I agree with both parts.

Ben, you seem to liken ID research to alchemy, and that 17 years of research is more than enough time for a final decision to be made. But is that even long enough to scratch the surface? I see a danger in writing off the seeming likelihood of ID simply because some groups may have ulterior motives for pushing it into schools. Politics is everywhere in science, even in the global warming debate.

And I certainly hope the movie is better at arguing its point than you say it is, or I am going to feel ripped off.

Again, thanks for stopping by. I welcome dissenting opinion even from those who make the rounds from site to site. "Drive-by" posters of comments who attack and never read rebuttals I have no respect for. But you returned for follow-ups, and that is good.

Stop by any time, especially if you are as well versed in other topics.