I saw Ben Stein's "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" last night. It was as good as the trailers indicated it would be.
The film starts with black and white scenes of the Berlin Wall going up in Germany, and the analogy is quickly drawn that while on one side you have freedom (e.g. freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of inquiry, etc.), on the other you have repression.
There is also the analogy of separation--where "science" is on one side, and theism is on the other, and the dominant scientific community refuses to even consider the existence of anything on the other side of the wall.
Expelled makes the case that rather than an environment of open-mindedness and freedom of inquiry, the modern scientific community has become a police state that vehemently denies ideas that don't fit the politically correct paradigm, and ruthlessly punishes transgressions into verboten territory.
Though there are a number of scholars featured in the film who have felt the brutal heel of the academic establishment, the primary case study is that of Richard Sternberg, a journal editor from the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. Sternberg approved the publication of a pro-intelligent design paper by Stephen C. Meyer of the Discovery Institute. As a consequence of allowing such a "scientific heresy" to be published, Sternberg was forced to resign from his job and cast into academic outer darkness.
"Questioning Darwinism was a bridge too far for some," Sternberg says. "I was viewed as an intellectual terrorist."
(I had to chuckle at the irony of this, knowing how on one hand the elites tend make excuses for terrorists who blow up innocent people, but on the other hand get so indignation at even considering an idea outside of their politically correct orthodoxy.)
Dr. Caroline Crocker from George Mason University was punished for a passing mention of intelligent design in a couple of slides in a presentation.
Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor was hammered for making the statement that doctors didn’t need to study evolution in order to practice medicine. Tell me: what great medical advance will be missed, or what ill may befall a patient, because a doctor doesn't study evolution?
Were scientists like Newton, Kepler and Galileo the slightest bit impeded in their research by their belief in God? Many scientists who have believed in God considered their faith helpful in their investigation of science; after all, in believing in an intelligent designer, they expected the universe to make sense, to conform to certain behavioral norms, to have intelligent design that could be reverse-engineered.
When Baylor University found out Professor Robert Marks believed in intelligent design, they forced him to shut down his website and return grant money. What was this college professor thinking--that he could just think what he wanted, believe what seemed reasonable to him???
Even journalists who give a fair shake to theories outside the evolution sphere get smacked down. The establishment is thorough and systematic in its intolerance of dissent: from the academy, to the watchdog groups, to the media, to the courts.
When Stein interviewed David Berlinski, Berlinski said the question should be considered: "Is Darwinism theory clear enough that it could be correct?" Berlinski says the theory is muddled and, "It's a mess."
The high priests of evolution disagree. Dawkins says unequivocally in the film: "Evolution is a fact." He says he is an atheist and that there is absolutely no evidence for the Christian God. "Most people who don't believe in evolution are ignorant." (Apparently that includes not only rubes like me, but a lot of PhDs who are "ignorant.")
Expelled also points out that despite the disingenuous contention of some evolutionists that Darwinism wasn't about origin of life--only the evolution of life--the title of his famous book is "On the Origin of Species." It obviously deals with origins. After all, the first organism had to come from somewhere. Where did it come from? How did it come about? What were those circumstances? The contention that we might examine theoretical changes in organisms without considering the origin of organisms is so silly it borders on being lunatic.
In fact, Stein asks in the film how can there be a theory about life without addressing the origin of life? He asks some evolutionists about the origin of life and gets some, uh, interesting answers: maybe lightning struck just the right set of chemicals (without frying them?), maybe it was crystals, maybe aliens seeded life on earth (but where did THEY come from?).
Expelled points out the incredible complexity needed even for the simplest life form: 250 proteins in just the proper order. What are the odds that these could come together on their own? Pretty astronomical, but belief in an intelligent designer is supposedly less rational. Uh huh.
It became obvious through the 90 minutes of the film: the scientific establishment is willing to believe pretty much ANYTHING (crystals, aliens, etc.) as long as the process was NOT intelligently designed. No wonder the subtitle of the film is "No Intelligence Allowed." (I think maybe there's no intelligence allowed in the scientific establishment).
Another thing became clear through this movie: evolutionists are terrified that the intelligent design movement is a disguised effort to "teach creationism in school and get prayer in schools."
Dismissing for a moment that many serious creationists don't have much that's positive to say about intelligent design (some believe it's a cop-out not to consider God as that intelligent designer), this prejudice exposes a bit of the real agenda of the evolutionist establishment. Not only do they adamantly oppose consideration of the idea that God might have created the universe (a contention that has not been disproved or found to be impossible in the slightest degree), it would be even worse if our school children went back to praying, like they used to do back in the dark ages of the 1950s and earlier. In short, the evolution establishment has a deep and profound contempt for God.
The most benevolent sentiments from the evolutionist camp about religion was that religion is "Something fun that people get together and do over the weekend, but it doesn't really affect their lives." (Isn't that what Christianity has become for a large segment of church-goers today?)
There were funny, illustrious clips interspersed throughout the film, most in black and white. One featured the scene from the Planet of the Apes where an intelligent ape uses a fire hose to spray down Charleton Heston's astronaut character in a prison cell. Another illustrated the war between evolution and everything else with a couple of gunslingers; after one shoots the other, the victor spits out in a disgusted tone: "Creationists!" Or the clip of the Wizard of Oz revealed behind the curtain (the revelation that there's nothing remarkable behind evolutionist ideas, maybe?)
If the theory of evolution were really so solid, so sure, so proven as its disciples claim, why the religious indignation displayed any time it is questioned? Why not dismiss those who disagree as we might casually dismiss the flat-earther or UFO-believer today? Why the Stalinist-type academic purge of verboten thought? Could it be a deep insecurity about the soundness of the theory? Could it be that there is something much larger at stake?
A statement made by Richard Dawkins near the beginning of the film was very much correct: "The battle over evolution is only one skirmish in a much larger war."
Dawkins' meaning in this statement is never explicitly elaborated upon, but regardless of what he meant, it is correct because the war in which evolution theory is only one part of the war of worldviews. It is near the center, but it's not the whole thing.
The interpretation of scientific evidence is only one part of what makes up a worldview. Worldview also involves the interpretation of history, philosophy, the arts, work, human nature, government, family and the community.
A worldview is essentially the lens of interpretation through which we view the world. It's a philosophical lens crafted from a set of foundational assumptions.
There are basically two worldviews: (1) belief that God is the Creator of all things, and the orderer of that creation, and (2) belief that the universe is the result of random, unguided happenstance with no design, and with no transcendent or absolute truth, and no moral accountability in this life (and certainly no other, since no afterlife exists).
Right now in Western culture, a battle between these two worldviews has been raging for some time. For most of the last 2,000 years, the West has embraced the creation worldview. Around the turn of the Nineteenth Century, a new worldview began to arise which looked for alternate theories to explain the universe--an explanation that did not involve God. That worldview was propelled into dominance through the widespread acceptance of Darwin's theory of evolution and natural selection--which has, incidentally, been mostly abandoned in its original form even by those who claim to adhere to it.
As one person in the film put it, "It is no longer about science; it's now a religious war." This statement would be abhorrent to evolutionists because they are utterly blind to their religious bias. It is a bias against theistic religion, but a religion nevertheless, in that their belief system meets one of the definitions of religion: "a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith." The ardor is self-evident, and since there are a number of foundational tenets of evolution/naturalism/materialism which are impossible according to the natural laws of the universe (not to mention that there are no records of evolution taking place, and it has not been observed in the laboratory), then obviously a lot of faith is required to believe in evolution.
William Provine of Cornell provides insight into the religious motivation behind the fervor of evolution apostles: if the worldview claims of evolution are true, there is no God; if there is no God, there are no transcendent moral values. If there are no transcendent moral values, not only are we not eternally accountable for our behavior, we can establish any system of "morality" we find convenient...and we can cast off any tenets of morality we find inconvenient, just as Hitler and Stalin and a host of other Darwinists have done.
When the correlation between Darwinism and communists/facists like these are pointed out, disciples of evolution quickly get into a lather. That's understandable: the harmony is logically undeniable, and it illustrates to the casual observer the danger of this philosophy.
Expelled visits some sites in Germany where not only Jews were systematically exterminated (being one of the "unfavored races" as Darwin put it), but the handicapped as well. When you consider some of the basic tenets of evolution (that there is no transcendent morality, and that evolution can improve a species), it makes perfect sense to rid society of people who have physical defects or other undesirable traits. As the tour guide at Hadamar, the place where the handicapped were exterminated, pointed out, these people were judged to make no no significant contribution to society, were only consuming valuable resources, and polluted the gene pool. So why not get rid of them? Under Darwinism, such a position is PERFECTLY LOGICAL. That's why Hitler, Stalin and many other disciples of evolution murdered millions in the last century--it was logical in their worldview.
But such evolutionary logic didn't just take place overseas; we've had our share of it in America, too. The eugenics movement of the early 20th Century was behind the forced sterilization of many people who were deemed "unfit to breed."
Planned Parenthood's roots with Margaret Sanger are evolutionary and racially elitist. Sanger was very much into eugenics, and believed that things like contraception and abortion could do much to end breeding among the undesirables of society. As the racists leanings of Planned Parenthood have shown recently, this apple hasn't fallen far from Sanger's tree.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the worldview war, Christ's teachings call on us to protect and help the poor, the weak, the needy, the outcasts. This has little to do with their ability to contribute to or improve society or an ethnicity, but because of their inherent human dignity, being created in the image of God Himself.
Stein wraps up the film with the contention that the traditional American values of freedom (freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of inquiry) are imperiled today, and only someone invested in prosecuting that war against freedom could reasonably disagree.
But there is hope. "No lie can live forever," Stein says, while images run of the Berlin Wall being bashed down by the citizens of Berlin.
He's right. Expelled is evidence that people are picking up the sledge hammers and moving toward the wall. The fact that a few people are starting to question the monolithic but unproved assertions of the evolution establishment are evidence that the wall may come down.
And perhaps the best indication that the wall may come down is the hysterical terror displayed by those who have a moral and religious investment in the hope that evolution is correct. They know that if it is commonly revealed for the empty house of cards that it really is, the whole framework of moral relativism is imperiled.
The idea that we are morally and eternally accountable for how we treat one another can be scary. For that matter, simply being subject to the power of an almighty being can be terrifying. It's no wonder evolutionists want to avoid a return to widespread acceptance of such a a worldview.
But a little humility before that almighty being Christians know as God can erase that terror, with the realization that He really does love us, and really does want what's best for His created ones.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I saw Ben Stein's "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" last night. It was as good as the trailers indicated it would be.
Posted by Bob Ellis at 3:00 PM