January 25, 2010

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

The other night I had a chance to watch Ben Stein's Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a film about the scientific and academic conflicts between the Darwinian establishment and the proponents of so-called Intelligent Design. The film tries to illustrate an unscientific dogmatism in the academy which leads to the persecution and professional ruin of those who wish to explore ID. Also detailed are the darker chapters in the history of Darwinism, such as forced sterilizations, eugenics, and even Nazism. The abiding institutional child of the eugenics movement, Planned Parenthood, is also exposed at its rotten origins, and one (non-religious) sociologist articulates clearly the link between the theory of evolution and the acceptance of abortion and euthanasia.

Of course I must confess that I am receptive to such a film; back in theological studies I once submitted a term paper titled, "Why I Still Don't Believe in Evolution." It was coolly received. I am not really a fan of ID, but I do believe that evolution has ceased to be a theory that might explain certain natural phenomena, but has ascended into a irreproachable and universal dogma that informs every aspect of the contemporary worldview. It enforces a competitive model upon reality, reducing us to the Hobbesian "war of all against all." It removes from the human person (and every creature) any intrinsic privilege. In this way it paves the way for abortion, euthanasia, preemptive war, and the many other crimes against life which are destroying humane culture.

These ideas began to occur to me a few years ago during a lonely summer assignment where I read Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations and noticed some striking similarities to On the Origin of Species. Apart from the dangerous doctrines therein, one has to say that they are both beautiful examples of the English language.

The film has been poorly reviewed, but I suppose that Stein would say that this confirms his complaint that one is not allowed to say such things. Nevertheless, it's an interesting work, and I would recommend it.


Buck George said...

If you enjoyed the movie, you might also enjoy reading David Berlinski who appears in the film. He's a critic of both ID and evolution and a real hoot to read.

Brother Charles said...

Sounds great! Thanks for the tip!

Warren said...

Roger Ebert, whom I respect very much, has nothing but vitriol for this film. I think that the weakness of this film, that the reviewers comment on, is not so much that it makes a point that one is not allowed to make about science and its growing hubris (although the way I see it, that's the key issue), the film by using the "comparison to nazis" thing, reduces to a trick of rhetoric what ought to have been a dialogue.

Natural selection is the fundamental process by which all our modern understanding of biology works. What I don't understand about ID is what exactly they are claiming. Are all of them, or only some of them claiming a multiple-descent form of evolution, starting with a certain (unknown and unknowable) set of "kinds" derived from Genesis? How do we mix observations on the natural world, and interpretations of sacred texts, and call the combination either good science, or good theology? I do believe our Holy Father likes to hold the two in tension, and observe that there are no conflicts created, other than in an overheated mind, by the sum total of the knowledge gained by observing the natural world, and the sum total of revelation in the deposit of faith. For what more could we possibly ask?


Brother Charles said...


I agree that the 'Berlin wall' metaphor and some of the nazism material is distracting and over-wrought.

Jeanne said...

I'm curious, though. Do you believe in a very strict interpretation of Genesis? If so, then how do you account for all that we know of the fossil record, etc? I'm never quite sure what to think, actually. I believe in science but I believe in God, and sometimes I can't wrap my head around both...would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Brother Charles said...

I believe in a strict interpretation of Genesis, though not a literal one. I do not deny natural selection in the development of biological diversity, though I reject evolution in the over-arching meta-narrative for all being that it has become.

Qualis Rex said...

Father Charles - OOOOH! Way to hit the "hot button" there! : P Actually, I agree and share your strict and not literal interpretation of Genesis (and other biblical texts). It is overwhelmingly apparent from Jesus' own words that parable, allegory and numerology were the speech patterns of the day; whereas today we prefer a very literal style; and the two simply do not mesh when dealing with the bible.

Evolution is a fact: societies, language and technology all evolve. But the Darwinian theory on human evolution is NOT a fact, and accademia has yet to find a comfortable middle-ground on the subject here. It's as if you are either an "ID Freak" or a "Darwin Inquisitor" (no offense to the original Inquisitors there).

What amazes me is outside of "classical physics" how fluid science really is. Think of all the "changes" in our perception and paradigms that have occured in the last 30 years in biology, archeology and astronomy alone (O, Pluto, where art thou?). For anyone, scientific or not, to espouse Darwinian evolution as fact, and not simply the working theory that it is, does a disservice to scientific method AND society on a larger scale.

Anonymous said...

For more on Eugenics and abortion get a copy of the film: maafa21 - http://www.maafa21.com

Warren said...

The Jews never took the Genesis 7 day creation think literally. A literal "7 x 24 hours" reading of Genesis makes so little sense. How long is a solar day, before the sun is created, or the earth to go around it? How many "kinds" of animals does Genesis expect me to believe were created in individual acts of creation by God?

And yet, if you take this far enough, you have to ask yourself, "was there one man, named Adam, who sinned". At some point all of us who believe in God get off Darwin's roller coaster, and we call "human being" a unique creation, at least. The rest of the created world lacks something that we have. Something that the materialist does not believe is real, but is rather a fantasy, like a dragon that lives in my garage, that only I can see, but that I am quite sure exists.


Qualis Rex said...

Warren, I have spoken to many rabbanim (orthodox, reform and "progressive"). And while they agree on precious little between themselves, they all seem to agree with what you said about not taking the Genesis story literally. In fact, there is a mishna or two saying how 1 day to God equals 1,000 years (this was also plagerised by the Mohammedan Qur'an) to explain this away. So, it would appear that only the Christian sects waywardly take Genesis (and the rest of the OT books) as literal. And unfortunately, being as vocal as they are on the subject (see: obnoxious), they are the ones quoted and looked to the news as spokespeople for the "Christian" perspective.

Max Marie, OSF said...

I felt the film raised a lot of very important points. Things people accept, in general, that really need to be questioned.

As to the issue raised here of "Natural Selection" - that's just another one of Darwin's ideas that is being (perhaps -has been-?) debunked by modern scientists. Just as "Survival of the Fittest" was debunked.

Consider: Mother's milk has a much higher protein content for a baby born premature than a baby born full term. Consider: Within 8 hours of an infant being exposed to a virus, mother's milk contains antibodies.

There is the general idea that humans evolved from the same line as apes, and yet, on a genetic basis, we are far more similar to dolphins. (3%dna v. 1%dna) However, if you suggest to a Darwinist that humans evolved from a similar line as dolphins one is mocked.

Why is it that every fluid on the earth freezes from the bottom up, except water?

Brother Charles said...

Water is a very curious case, because it isn't a creature in the same sense as other liquids...water was already there when God began to create. :)

Hidden One said...

It's interesting that the comments have yet to bring in the Early Church Fathers on these issues. The ECFs weren't exactly silent about Creation.