Saturday, April 12, 2008

Myths About "Expelled"

Please read Charles Colson's commentary on the new film, "Expelled." The Darwinian thought police have made several preemptive strikes against it--all false. This is one film I will see, probably on opening night.

13 comments:

Sirfab said...

Greetings, Dr. Groothuis.

How appropriate that you should say that the "preemptive strikes against [Expelled are] all false." Such an absolutistic statement perfectly epitomizes the difference between ideology and science, and is as unscientific as the theory that you support (ID). Besides, it is demonstrably false.

Richard Dawkins says that, on a scale of 1 to 7, 1 being absolutely certain about God's existence, and 7 being absolute certainty that God does not exist, he would vote 6. When asked why 6 and not 7, he replied that while he is reasonably sure that pink unicorns do not exist, he says he cannot scientifically state it as incontrovertible science.

Ironically, but fittingly, Colson's article starts with an obvious falsehood, labeled Myth #1. All you have to do to see that Myth #1 is itself a lie is a Google search. (But if you are too lazy or disinclined to do it, here is a link, here is another, and another, and another..., well, you get the gist, don't you?)

Thank you, then, for posting the link to Colson's article, because it is a perfect example of the spin perpetrated by supporters of the movie, and of why one should not rely on sloppy accounts (Colson's) but should do his or her own primary research for evidence instead, before linking to the opinions of others.

Finally, I will not go to see the movie. Not because I am afraid of being confronted with evidence of Christian persecution by the scientific establishment, but because many have already suffered through the movie on my behalf so I would not have to reward a lying, dishonest clique with even a cent.

I hope, Dr. Groothuis, that you will see my reply for what it is: a humble contribution to your blog's committment to sniffing out the truth and exposing lies and spin.

Best regards,

Fab

P.S. Those who are interested can find the articles I posted on my own blog about the movie here. The National Center for Science Education is getting ready to launch a full response to the movie at its website, Expelled Exposed - Flunked, Not Expelled.

Sirfab said...

My apologies for inadvertently duplicating one of the links in my previous post. I meant to link to this article instead.

Doug Groothuis said...

Fab:

Dawkins book is mostly a sham. Did I give you my review of it? It was published in The Christian Research Journal.

I expose myself to things I disagree with, buying hundreds of books on atheism, pantheism, etc. Why not see the film and think it over?

Doug Groothuis said...

PS:

From what I've heard, Dawkins, et al, say nothing that they already haven't said in print. So, why are they complaining? It is because they don't want their views used as part of a film that exposes the Darwinists' tactics in supressing debate?

I will see the film as soon as it comes out, I hope. Then I can say more about the whole issue. Why not come with me? I'll pay. Then you don't have to have a bad conscience about supporting the IDers!

hobie said...

Sirfab:

Thanks for providing the links to the New York Times’ objection to the ethics of Expelled. I am not taking sides in a “he said/he said” collection of allegations about the understandings of the participants regarding the intention of the producers of the film in question; this accounting feels more like damage control and not a search for truth. However, I feel the need to mention the Times’ current contribution to the lack of productivity in the discussions between scientists and theologians over the concept of evolution.

I refer to the red herring implicit in the writer’s statement that “there is no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution as an explanation for the complexity and diversity of life on earth.” My question: who said that there is? This is a subtle attack on the intelligence of any thinking advocate of intelligent design (and believe it or not, fab, there are signs of intelligent life on this side of the argument). I am perfectly willing, as an advocate of the Biblical account of creation, to not only concede but to assert that evolution as an observable process explains “complexity and diversity of life on earth.” There is no question in my mind that adaptation, or microevolution, explains variation; consequently, I feel unconflicted in my agreement with the statement attributed to Ben Stein about the likelihood that “Darwin was on to something.”

Having said this, my issue is not that adaptation does not exist; it is that adaptation does not offer an observable process that explains the origin of life on earth. The Times’ statement clouds this real issue and further trivializes this controversy as an argument to be won rather than as a forum to support understanding of the interaction of some basic themes of science and religion.

It appears to me that your efforts to “sniff out truth and expose spin” in this case may have been neither thorough nor impartial. Again, this doesn’t make your statements worst than those of others on this matter, but that might be the point. I would love to see more effort expended clarifying this issue and less effort on trying to be declared the winner of the argument.

hobie

David said...

At this risk of it seeming like I'm defending the tactics of Mr. Mathis and others, it does strike me that the original invitation for the interview (I think written to PZ Myers) does explicitly mention that the topic of intelligent design will be addressed, and that the theme of the conflict between science and religion will be a central scope of the interview.

So while the filmmakers certainly should have been more forthcoming about the exact intention behind the film, it's not as if those interviewed were completely blindsided by the kinds of questions that were eventually asked. In fact, on Myers' own weblog, he even admits that if he had known in advance the purpose of the film, he still would have agreed to the interview.

In my opinion, the more serious criticism could be leveled in the event that the film serves to mischaracterize the views of those interviewed, or takes their comments out of context, or somehow develops a straw-man to more easily defend intelligent design. And I have no doubt that these kinds of criticisms will surface once the film is released--whether they are ultimately justified or not.

Sirfab said...

Dr. Groothuis:

The fact that, in your opinion, Dawkins's book is a sham has nothing to do with the fact that Colson's claim (Myth #1) is factually inaccurate and most likely a bold-faced lie. It just underscores the fact that it is easier to attack the messenger than to dissect and attack the message on its merits.

I also expose myself to things I disagree with (A Christian Manifesto), and trust me, it is not a pleasure. The list of non-sequiturs in the book is too long to even mention. But there is a difference between reading opposing ideas and dignifying lies. I do not want to reward liars with my money.

Hobie: case closed. No amount of contrary scientific evidence will convince you that there is a world of scientific difference between saying "I disagree with evolution" and "Intelligent Design is a legitimate scientific theory which does a better job at explaining the diversity of life on earth). If none of the thousands of peer-reviewed articles in favor of evolution (micro and macro) can convince you, there is no chance that I, a science layman, can say anything to accomplish that goal.

The origins of life and the mechanisms by which life evolves are two distinct topics. As a scientist, Dawkins is right in saying that, if we allow that life on earth was designed by an external entity, we must allow that the entity in question might be extraterrestrial intelligence. It is no more ridiculous to state that than to say that God made the earth, the heavens and the seas. It is just another possibility that science can try to explore, no matter how ridiculous it is.

Exposing spin means that when someone makes a claim as ridiculous as Dr. Groothuis's, that all preemptive strikes against Expelled are false, one should expose the sheer inanity of that statement, particularly as many of Dr. Groothuis's readers have a tendency to see in him the dialectical equivalent of the the ability to walk on water.

I rest my case and will say no more on the subject (I am not a fan of flogging dead horses).

Doug Groothuis said...

Fab:

Fab:

Whatever the producers of the movie said to Dawkins, et al, the film recounts the unfair persecution of people presenting ID. That cannot be refuted.

I read The NY Times article long ago, and saw all the marks of the closing of the ranks and a preemptive strike. I think that has been born out. The Times is hardly objective on this issue. The real issue is if Dawkins, et al, have been taken out of context in their comments. That is possible, because it has happened to me on TV years ago. But I doubt it.

I think I'll withhold further comment until I see the film. There needs to be an entire book on how ID people have been persecuted. Maybe the film will be made into a book.

Michael said...

"There needs to be an entire book on how ID people have been persecuted."

Good point. I study religion at Harvard Divinity School (ThD), and I would say that proponents of ID are treated with deep scorn. We view the vast majority of them as Bible-thumping, ignorant fundamentalists who lack serious scientific training. Their opinion is only brought up as a joke. They are modern day flat-earth thinkers with zero intellectual capital.

I would buy this book! It would be very funny to see such a ridiculous philosophy denied and denigrated. But, unfortunately, the book would be written by some fundamentalist--so all the research would be shoddy and misleading.

I’ll watch the movie, but I’ll be sure to pirate it. I wouldn’t want to financially support “Left Behind” movies. That goes against my conscience.

Doug Groothuis said...

Michael:

Your perceptions are flatly false. You need to do some research and stop letting the NY Times think for you.

William Dembski has two doctorates, one in math, one in philosophy. He also has a Masters in statistics. Mike Behe is a tenured biochemist. I could go on. Over a 1,000 scientists with doctorates in science have signed a statement of dissent from Darwinism. See it on www.discovery.org.

You have succumbed to elitist ignoranticism. ID people have published sophisticated defenses of their theories and continue to respond to their critics, even though they are generally locked out of peer review journals.

The sociology of knowledge explains the ridicule (substituting for argument) by so many elitists at universities. They generally control the discourse and need not descend to the level of empirical argumetns and philosophy of science. They have the power, so why listen or respond? The responses I have seen are a cluster of logical fallacies, particurally begging the question by asserting naturalism. Then there is poisoning the well: You are religious, you cannot do good science. And on and on.

Doug Groothuis said...

PS: If you pirate the movie, that is stealing, which is both illegal and immoral. This movie has nothing to do with "Left Behind." That is guilt by false association. Ben Stein isn't even a Christian, but a Jew. The film is about persecuting ID proponents (many of whom are not Christians or religious at al). Your "tar the fundamentalist brush" is out of tar.

Sirfab said...

So, Dr. Groothuis, all who think that ID is a sham, to use an expression you used about Dawkins's The God Delusion, have "succumbed to elitist ignoranticism?" Isn't it possible that they are capable of informed discrimination instead?

And all who don't believe in ID have had their opinions shaped by the NY Times, and not by several science publications, peer-reviewed articles, or books about science? (Incidentally, Michael does not mention the NY Times in his sarcastic post. I did, in my first response here. And it was not because I believe the NY Times is a paragon of journalism. I actually quite dislike it.)

And isn't your attack ad hominem? You accuse others, using much latitude, of using ad hominem attacks, but it is okay when you do it?

GentleSkeptic said...

"Over a 1,000 scientists with doctorates in science have signed a statement of dissent from Darwinism."

Mr. Curmudgeon -

After browsing through your blog, I simply cannot allow this little gem to go unanswered. The following is borrowed from The TalkOrigins Archive in reference to the 'Steve-O-Meter.'

"Since the early Twentieth Century, evolution deniers have been fond of creating lists of "scientists" who do not accept evolution. This tactic is an attempt to give the erroneous impression that, among scientists in general, support for evolution is in decline or that evolution is a "theory in crisis. Project Steve is a parody of these lists conducted by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). It is a listing of scientists with doctorates who support the following statement:"

'Evolution is a vital, well-supported, unifying principle of the biological sciences, and the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the idea that all living things share a common ancestry. Although there are legitimate debates about the patterns and processes of evolution, there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism in its occurrence. It is scientifically inappropriate and pedagogically irresponsible for creationist pseudoscience, including but not limited to "intelligent design," to be introduced into the science curricula of our nation's public schools.'

"The catch is that the NCSE tied an arm and two legs behind its back by making an arbitrary requirement that the scientists be named "Steve," "Stephanie," "Stefan," or some other form of "Stephen." It estimates that about one percent of the population of the United States has such a name. When the Project was first publicly announced on February 16, 2003 it had 220 Steves, which corresponds to about 22,000 scientists with doctorates agreeing with the statement. By May 23, 2003 that number had increased to 367 Steves which corresponds to about 36,700 scientists. The current total can be found by consulting the Steve-o-meter. (POSTER'S NOTE: it's at 877 Steves as of 04.22.08) The NCSE expresses the hope that in the future when lists of "scientists who doubt evolution" are presented that it will be asked "but how many Steves are on your list!?"

The list of Steves is far more prestigious than any list of living scientists the creationists have ever produced. It includes Nobel Prize winners, members of the National Academy of Sciences, and influential authors such as Stephen Hawking. It is telling that creationist lists tend to be lean on practicing research biologists. In contrast, about two-thirds of the scientists on NCSE's list are biologists, who are the most qualified to evaluate whether the evidence favors evolution. Another point is that the NCSE's list includes the information on where the Steves got their degrees and their current position. By not doing so, the creationist lists do not make it obvious how many of the people listed are not practicing scientists."

Just thought you should know, in case you thought the numbers game would win it for you.