Monday, April 14, 2008

Curmudgeon Recommends a Movie!

"Expelled: The Movie" is coming out Friday, April 18. It is a documentary on how Darwinists have unfairly excluded their critics from public debate. I hope my faithful readers will fill the theaters to overflowing. This one is about a serious subject; it is not a guilty pleasure. Everything I have heard about the film makes me think it will be well done and very significant for the cause of free speech in American, which is still covered by the First Amendment (I recently rechecked that).

13 comments:

Sirfab said...

I hope you and your readers enjoy the movie. Its significance for freedom of speech (which, by the way, is not at issue as far as ID is involved) is best explained by John Rennie, in a review of Expelled he wrote for Scientific American. And I quote:

"Like the decision to call evolution Darwinism, the omission of science from Expelled was a deliberate choice. In fact, it was crucial to the film's strategy. Because they know Americans revere freedom of speech and fairness, the producers cast the conflict between evolution and ID as purely a struggle between worldviews—a difference of opinions, a battle of ideologies—in which one side is censoring the other. They know that the public will instinctively want to defend the underdog, especially when that opinion aligns with the religious beliefs many of them already share.

It is a terrific strategy, but with one caveat: that airy skirmish of opinions must never, ever touch the ground of solid evidence. Because if it does, if viewers are ever allowed to notice that evolution is supported by mountains of tangible, peer-reviewed evidence gathered by generations of scientists, whereas ID has little more than a smattering of vanity-press pamphlets from a handful of cranks... the bubble pops."

You may read the rest of Rennie's excellent article on the Scientific American website (which Dr. Groothuis will no doubt attack as untrustworthy and biased, since it is part of the scientific establishment and has a vested interested in maintaining the status quo. Sigh.)

Doug Groothuis said...

One movie cannot do everything! This movie addresses harrassment and free speech, as I understand it.

If you want excellent DVDs on the scientific arguments:

1. Unlocking the Mystery of Life
2. The Case for a Creator
3. The Priviledged Planet

How many of those have you seen, Fab?


I agree with the idea that evidence is the ultimate issue regarding the truth of Darwinism or ID. I have read voluminously on this--both sides--for years. ID wins; Darwinism censors and defaults to naturalism (a philosophy) instead of slugging it out on the evidence.

John Stockwell said...

Douglas Groothuis wrote:
I agree with the idea that evidence is the ultimate issue regarding the truth of Darwinism or ID. I have read voluminously on this--both sides--for years. ID wins; Darwinism censors and defaults to naturalism (a philosophy)


It's interesting how the people who actually do the science disagree with your conclusion.

Sirfab said...

Dr. Groothuis:

I have not, and most likely will not see, any of the movies you list. If that makes me close-minded, so be it.

I have, however, found the evidence presented by Darwinist censors, as you characterize them, quite compelling, and their debunking of the work of Behe, Dembski, Wells, and others, equally compelling.

As a layman, I can only rely on some knowledge and my common sense. I may not be a scholar, but I trust my common sense, and I think I can tell a hack when I see or hear one.

My common sense tells me this: if you think that your theory is better than a competing theory, you do research to prove that it explains a natural phenomenon better. Proponents of IDs don't do that. Instead, they appeal to the ignorance of the public, and to their overwhelming belief in a creator, to win a controversy that does not exist in the scientific community.

From time to time, they come up with a flawed theory, like Behe's irreducible complexity, which is easily and quickly debunked by those who have first-hand knowledge of the subject matter (that does not include you, in spite of your voluminous reading, nor I). When that happens, proponents of ID cry foul and say that Darwinist censors are stifling them. That is what I know, and Expelled is certainly not going to change my mind.

Also, to paint Expelled as a movie about free speech is disingenuous. Given the obvious religious bias of the movie, and of the ID movement,(once again, see Rennie's article) it is an issue of the separation of church and state when it comes to public schools. Courts so far have agreed.

No one disputes the right of ID proponents to speak. But while academia can and should, to a degree, foster an environment in which competing ideas are presented, it also has a right to defend its credibility in the disciplines it teaches. If proponents of ID did any scientific research of weight to back ID, I am sure the university would hail that as a breakthrough. But proponents of ID cannot do that, because how do you show that something is a work of a designer, when the designer lies outside the ability of humans to prove it? So what ID does is this: it looks for gaps in a scientific theory, and instead of filling them with scientific proof, it says "ah ha! If that cannot be proven there must, by necessity, be a designer."

I find this passage from an article that Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins co-authored particularly convincing:

One side is required to produce evidence, every step of the way. The other side is never required to produce one iota of evidence, but is deemed to have won automatically, the moment the first side encounters a difficulty - the sort of difficulty that all sciences encounter every day, and go to work to solve, with relish.

What, after all, is a gap in the fossil record? It is simply the absence of a fossil which would otherwise have documented a particular evolutionary transition. The gap means that we lack a complete cinematic record of every step in the evolutionary process. But how incredibly presumptuous to demand a complete record, given that only a minuscule proportion of deaths result in a fossil anyway.

The equivalent evidential demand of creationism would be a complete cinematic record of God's behaviour on the day that he went to work on, say, the mammalian ear bones or the bacterial flagellum - the small, hair-like organ that propels mobile bacteria. Not even the most ardent advocate of intelligent design claims that any such divine videotape will ever become available.


You claim to have read voluminously on the subject for years. How, then, could you miss all the evidence contrary to Intelligent Design?

When I choose not to read or view the materials you suggest, it is not because I am afraid of being confronted with evidence contrary to my convictions. It is because there is no evidence, in a scientific sense, that the argument proponents of ID make. Why should I then waste my time on such materials, when there is an abundance of scientific matter from the other side, and my time on earth is limited?

Paul D. Adams said...

Sirfab:
"When I choose not to read or view the materials you suggest, it is not because I am afraid of being confronted with evidence contrary to my convictions. It is because there is no evidence, in a scientific sense, that the argument proponents of ID make."

This a priori position appears to indicate that you're unwilling to be confronted with alternative theories, hence, Dr. G's assertion re: being willing to be confronted. Speaking of being "incredibly presumptuous"...!

Sirfab said...

You are right Paul. I am close-minded. Bye.

Sirfab said...

On second thought Paul:

You call my rejection of ID fantasies a priori and incredibly presumptuous. I contend it is not, because I base it on the extensive debunking of the fantastic theories you support, done by people whose judgment I trust. I trust their judgment because of the evidence and contributions that evolutionary biology can boast in a number of scientific disciplines, based on an accumulation of scientific knowledge acquired by generations of scientists. The other side, creationists, have contributed exactly nothing to medicine, biotechnology, agriculture, not from an ID perspective anyway.

If Dr. Groothuis recommended a series of good films about alchemy, would I be obliged to indulge his recommendations just so I could earn the label of open-minded?

You would really do well to read the articles by Rennie and Coyne that I linked to here, but you have the right, which I would not give up for myself, to stay close-minded. If we both do, I know I will come out ahead.

Fab
Close-minded, incredible presumptuous, and proud to be so.

Doug Groothuis said...

John:

These are old chops. I have responded to them before. There are practicing scientists--Behe, Fritz Schaeffer, etc.--who believe in ID. Etc.

Doug Groothuis said...

Fab!

How can you know there is no evidence if you won't read the books and won't see the DVDs! That is patentl illogical.

I have read both sides. Darwinists commit a host of logical fallacies, as I have written on in The Denver Post. Co-option is the only hope against irreducible complexity and it fails because it leave 30 part unexplained, begs the questions that the Type III secretor system is a predessor (a peer review article questions this), and fails to even touch the DNA assemply instructions needed to build the flaggelum or the Type III secretor system. If you had seen "Unlocking the Mystery of Life" you'd have seen this. Of if you had read the appendix to Darwin's Black Box, 10th anniv. ed., you would see this problem..

It would just be that the Darwinists don't convince me...because they are wrong! But you will never know because you won't look.

Sirfab said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sirfab said...

Dr. Groothuis:

As I said before, I base my low opinion of intelligent design on the fact that the arguments presented by Wells, Dembski, Behe, have been examined and rejected by the scientific community as unscientific and indefensible.

I already admitted that my understanding of biology is hampered by my ignorance of the subject. I am not a biology major, and I cannot possibly understand all the nuances of in-depth evolutionary biology theory. If that disqualifies me from having an opinion on the subject, it should disqualify you as well, and all those who do not work in the field. I can only rely on the judgment of biologists who have worked their butts off to tackle unanswered question and tried to answer them. I will trust their opinion over Ben Stein's and the makers of Expelled any day.

You, on the other hand, think that you understand evolutionary biology well enough to disregard the opinion of generations of trained evolutionary biologist, paleontologist, zoologists, researchers, etc., because you have spent an extensive amount of time reading pseudo-scientist whose work does not pass master and has been systematically debunked, and who have made no significant contribution to the advancement of science an ID perspective.

Be it as it may be, Paul Adams thinks that I am incredibly presumptuous and you think my position is patently illogical. What can I say, the two of you are so humble, wise and enlightened, that I will just give in to you.

John Stockwell said...

Douglas Groothuis wrote:
John.
These are old chops. I have responded to them before. There are practicing scientists--Behe, Fritz Schaeffer, etc.--who believe in ID. Etc.


My point was that your opinion is not
an expert opinion in any field of science.

Furthermore, there are darn few
active scientists in relevant scientific
fields who support ID.

We have hashed this over, and presuming
you haven't deleted past posts of mine
on this, people can read those to see
my comments on the extreme weakness of
ID from the vantage point of the
scientific community, so there is
no need to belabor it.

Incidentally, how much money do you
receive from the Discovery Institute?

John Stockwell said...

Douglas Groothuis wrote:
1. Unlocking the Mystery of Life
2. The Case for a Creator
3. The Priviledged Planet


Unlike Sir Fab, I would like to see
these films, just as I will likely see
Expelled, just so I can know what people
are talking about.

I have seen "Unlocking the Mystery of Life", which is pretty much a science-free ad for the ID movement, which was presented on a Christian t.v. channel a few years ago.

I am not crazy about giving money to the ID movement, but if I could see these items for free, I would watch them.