Ben Stein Is Very, Very Wrong: Problems with Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

Wolfgang Pauli is a legendary figure among physicists. He is remembered for having both one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century and one of its sharpest tongues. One student’s paper he dismissed by saying: That’s not right; it isn’t even wrong. (Or words to that effect in German; Pauli was Viennese.) If a theory isn’t relevant to the facts at hand, if it can’t be tested, if it doesn’t advance our understanding, then it isn’t that the theory is not right, it’s not even really a theory, it isn’t even wrong. It simply isn’t a tool for scientific understanding. Congressman Rush Holt once used Pauli’s expression in response to the claims that creationism, now often called Intelligent Design (ID), could be an “alternative” to the theory of evolution. Creationism isn’t even wrong because creationism can’t explain anything in the sense that science understands the word “explain.” Most advocates of creationism accept that evolution works at some scale and explains some things but for anything evolution does not explain they then assert that God, the Intelligent Designer, simply made it so. This is a valid religious belief. But what is the testable hypothesis? What is the prediction? What is the deeper understanding of mechanism? There isn’t anything there for a scientist to grab hold of. As far as science is concerned, creationism isn’t even wrong.

In contrast, Ben Stein has just released a movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, that is very, very wrong, indeed. (I confess, I have not seen the movie yet. It opens later today. This essay is based on Ben Stein’s extensive interviews, the movie website, and an extended, nine minute trailer available on the website. I will see the movie this weekend, although it pains me to give him any of my money.) I won’t argue about creationism here; it has been discussed in depth elsewhere. That “Intelligent Design” is a phrase designed in a transparent attempt to teach creationism without using the word “creationism” is well established. Ben Stein’s charges of unethical suppression of creationist spokesmen has been repudiated. But what is so very wrong about Ben Stein’s movie is not just the science; what I want to discuss here is his portrayal of how science works.

The theme of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, indeed the title, is that there are two possible foundational explanations for biology, evolution (which Ben Stein consistently refers to as Darwinism, as though it is a cult ideology like Leninism, even though biologist rarely use the term any more than mechanical engineers would refer to their field as Newtonism). Ben Stein asserts that neither evolution nor creationism is rock solid; that there is room for serious debate between the two. But woe to anyone who questions the scientific “orthodoxy.” If you are not on the “Darwinist” bandwagon, you will be hounded, threatened, and soon unemployed. On the movie’s webpage, Stein says “Those who challenge the status quo rarely go unpunished.” This is where he gets the process of science wrong: The idea of orthodoxy.

Nothing will win you a Nobel Prize faster than explaining to everyone that everything they thought was true is wrong. Ideas that energy is quantized, that time can run at different speeds in different frames of reference, that light might be bent by gravity, all of these things upset the established view of the time of how the universe is put together. Just a few years ago, astronomers discovered that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. Surprise! This discovery sent theorists running back to the drawing boards. And they love running back to the drawing boards. That is the sort of thing that makes reputations, gets you tenure, and wins you prizes. Other fields have similar stories: in geology, the idea of plate tectonics, that the continents moved around, was considered revolutionary.

Is biology different? Hardly. The rate of expansion of knowledge in biology should make physicists blush with shame. A decade before the discovery of AIDS, no one imagined that retro-viruses (of which, HIV is one example) even existed. A few years ago Robert Pruitt at Purdue University did an experiment on a mutation in a type of mustard plant, Arabidopsis. Just as biologist would expect, the offspring of the plant carried the mutation, and their offspring, and then…the next generation was back to normal. What? This finding was not only totally unexpected but had the potential to upset the very model of how genetic information is passed from one generation to another and, therefore, the very foundation of genetics and, or course, the basic mechanism of evolutionary as we understand it. (As far as I know, no one has fully explained how the DNA repair happens.) So how was this scientist punished, how was this dangerous information suppressed? By plastering a photo of the little plant on the cover of Nature magazine, the most widely circulated science journal in the world.

There is a reason that creationists are not common in science departments: Creationism, now called Intelligent Design to circumvent prohibitions on teaching religion in public schools, is not science. Even so, Ben Stein’s argument that creationists are systematically excluded from research has been refuted. If fact, the “debate” about ID is far more extensive than is warranted by any scientific controversy. We don’t have a big debate going on about whether the Earth is the center of the universe; but we would if the Earth’s position still challenged religious views of mankind’s place in the world.

Should every cosmology department have someone who believes the Earth is the center of the universe? Thinking the Earth is the center makes some sense. I can’t feel myself moving, so presumably the earth isn’t moving. I can see the stars turning around me at night and, if I am not moving, then they must be rotating around me, hence, I am sitting at the center. The idea wasn’t ridiculous. But, as new instruments, for example, the telescope, and new theoretical tools, for example, calculus, were developed, the idea was abandoned through a process we call “science.” The change was resisted by religious leaders not because they had better data or theories or instruments but because it assaulted their view of mankind’s role in the universe. That is a valid religious belief, but it isn’t science, and anyone who believed today that the Earth is the center of the universe would probably not get tenure in a physics department based on that idea and they would have a hard time getting the idea published without supporting data. Of course, if, based on scientific observation supported by a good theory, you could show that the Earth was, in fact, the center of the universe, you would be on the cover of Nature and on your way to Stockholm.

Some additional great links:

http://www.expelledexposed.com/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiNGK3y5Ypg

http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/design2/article.html

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Added the morning of 25 April.

Well, golly. I never get so many comments when I write about nuclear weapons. You should all see my next blog on the military budget; it is quite good. I will be able to respond only briefly on the comments below.

I write now because I finally saw the movie. Clay below writes “When I read that you had not even seen it yet I did not even bother to read any more of your dribble.” Several others make the same point. I assume he means “drivel” not “dribble,” but I state quite clearly I had not seen the movie and what I was basing my comments on and and I say what I was talking about. I was talking about an idea in the movie, not the movie per se. If Ben Stein were going around talking about how funny his new comedy is, I would have to see the movie to judge how funny I found it but Stein has been all over the place giving interviews and doing his best to promote the ideas in the movie and I was talking about one of those ideas.

Now that I have seen the movie I can say it is not a very good movie. It drags. It is only showing in one cinema in DC that I know of. I went to the 5:00 p.m. show and there were only three other people in the audience. I sat near the front as I always do, I forced myself to sit through to the end, and when I got up, I was the only person there; the others had left early. Silly things like being lost looking for something (the Discovery Institute in this case) were half charming and half stupid when Michael Moore did it but just don’t work when repeated. The cutting in with old black and white clips to humorously editorialize was a blunt instrument and constant return to film of the Berlin Wall to symbolize modern science is, at best, heavy-handed. So now Ben Stein has won $10.50 of my money.

There are many factual errors in the film and outright misrepresentations, starting with his first interviewee, Richard Sternberg, whose case of suppression is seriously distorted. (See my SciAm link above.)

One thing that does come out of the whole movie that is not clear from the trailers and website and interviews is that Stein makes it clear in the last half hour or so that he is advocating a values-based science. Science should be informed by a sense of man’s purpose in the universe, with an awareness of a higher power. He sees a global struggle between godless science and god-inspired science and he clearly supports the latter.

I am surprised at the number of comments. I don’t have anywhere near enough time to respond to them all (and I will just accept but not respond at all to favorable comment, still, thank you), but let me make a start:

Blake asks, “Are you a scientist? Do you understand the basic tenets of science?” Yes, on both counts, I have a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago and a PhD from Princeton, both in chemistry but my PhD work was really in nuclear physics. I have done research at the National Labs and taught physics and conducted research in nuclear physics at the Technische Universitaet in Munich. I have several papers in Physical Review and two Physical Review Letters. He goes on to state, “We don’t have that data for speciation (macroevolution)…” Of course, we do, they are called fossils.

Brad makes an interesting and common point: Atheist scientists like Dawkins can talk about atheism, why can’t religious scientists talk about religion? I think the answer is that anyone can talk about religion all they want but once you invoke supernatural explanations into nature it is no longer meets the definition “science.” Stein says that is precisely the problem: we should include values and our perceptions of higher powers in our science.

GailGal writes, “Truth will prevail no matter how hard you try to gag it.” This is, I believe, true, especially in the age of the internet. As the current dialogue proves, getting tenure does not stop debate on evolution; the ideas can still get out there. The “surfer dude” who proposed a theory of elementary particles did not have an academic position and his ideas are being seriously reviewed (and found wanting).

Black5 writes, “If you have done little or no reading on this issue then your viewpoint is one from ignorance.” While this is a true if-then statement, it does not apply to me.

Albert Moore writes, “Intelligent Design has not been refuted but rather censored.” This is precisely the problem with intelligent design: it can’t be refuted. Anything that evolution can explain it is allowed to explain and anything it cannot explain is asserted to be by design. If someone comes along and then explains what was previously unexplained, the IDers can just move on to the next unexplained thing because there will always be something left unexplained. During Darwin’s life, the focusing eye was used as an example until intermediate cases were demonstrated. Then bacterium flagella were a case of “irreducible complexity” until intermediate cases were discovered. Now I think certain cell chemistry is most popular, which has the advantage of leaving no fossil record. ID makes no claims that, by the normal scientific approach, can be, even in theory, disproved to the point that ID would have to be abandoned as an explanation.

Croath below writes, “It only takes one example in the history of science, where the correct theory was rejected unfairly, to support the premise of the movie Expelled.” This is a good point. I give examples from the past, but so what? We can make an even stronger statement: even if no idea had ever been suppressed in history, that doesn’t mean that ID is not being suppressed today. But I would take it another step: even if people were being fired from faculties for thinking about ID does not mean that the idea is being successfully suppressed. Certainly there is some university somewhere in the world where ID ideas can be explored, hypotheses developed, experiments conducted, and data collected. So we have to distinguish some large-scale problem with faculty from the validity of the idea. They are related but not identical issues.

He quotes me as “Creationism, now called Intelligent Design to circumvent prohibitions on teaching religion in public schools, is not science.” And goes on to write: “This displays equivocation that borders immoral. Creationism is usually equated with young earth creationism. Intelligent Design includes young earth creation, but is not identical to it.” I am basing my statement on evidence that came out of the Dover School Board case in which it was shown that, in the text of the The Panda’s Thumb, the word creationism had been removed and simply replaced by the words intelligent design.

Brandon writes, “Great post, one note though: the arabidopsis hotheat mutant experiment you’re referring to has been largely discredited. Turns out that the mutants are highly susceptible to cross-pollination, and this could only be discovered by growing the plants in labs that don’t work with arabidopsis or private homes.” I was not aware of the next chapter of the story but this strengthens by point. A radical observation is made, the experiment was repeated by other experimental groups and tested. Seems to turn out that the original observation was wrong but this is a great example of how science is done.

Jim M writes, “But I doubt that you have the courage or intellectual fortitude to support your own contentions here in an honest debate.” Hmmmm…… What is true is that I will run out of time before Jim does.

Toni Bourlon writes ‘Some have proposed putting those words on textbooks, along with the heresy that evolution is only a theory…” Saying that something is “only” a theory reflects a common confusion about the word theory. Be careful when borrowing scientific words for normal English. We use words all the time like pressure, force, energy, power, entropy, even “a quantum leap” and nobody pretends to respect the precise scientific definitions. Quantum theory, the theory of relativity, electromagnetic theory, these are all pretty solid. Theories are more than musings.

Brian Hanley writes “It’s a dirty little secret, but science can not duplicate the creation of life, from non-life.” First it is not a secret. Second, there are a lot of things science cannot duplicate, like black holes, the big bang, planet formation, dinosaurs. Evolution will never explain everything simply because the data are not available and never will be and scientists understand that. For example, we know a great deal about the evolution of mollusks but little about the evolution of jelly fish because the former make good fossils and the latter do not, so we will probably remain pretty much in the dark about ancient jelly fish. There simply is no fossil record of the first moment of life so we won’t know and scientists accept that. Even if we could produce simple life forms in a laboratory under early Earth conditions, that only shows that was one way it could have happened, it does not prove that was the way it in fact happened.

Cee has written a long comment and some will accuse me of shirking but I just don’t have time now so this is a good place to stop. Maybe later.

51 thoughts on “Ben Stein Is Very, Very Wrong: Problems with Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

  1. think you missed some things. Are you a scientist? Do you understand the basic tenets of science? No one believes the Earth is at the center of the solar system or the galaxy based on observable data. We don’t have that data for speciation (macroevolution), and yet many of my professors (I’m in medical school) have assumes there is as much evidence for speciation as for the speed of light. And if any student implied he didn’t wholeheartedly agree with macroevolution, he was chastised. So there are two major problems with Darwinian speciation. First, there isn’t concrete evidence of any complex biochemical system being developed through chance. Second, macroevolution is treated with special privilege in science. Articles have been published to refute the idea that the speed of light is a constant, but there are few who challenge Darwinian macroevolution due to the punishment invoked. This film tries to highlight both of those points. I think it’s worth seeing.

  2. I believe the real issue is being missed here – the fact that leading evolutionary scientists such as Dawkins have crossed the line into theology (proof…a book titles “The God Delusion”). Thier non-belief in God is only an opinion – as much of a leap of faith as believing, and they admit as much.However they dable in theology and then defend thier theology under the cloak of being scientists.

    If they would stick to science, the need for the intelligent design theological view to offset the athiest theological view would be eliminated.

    Can’t have your cake and eat it too–

  3. Correction: Caught my own typo! Never send a note before you have coffee!

    Do see the movie! I believe you will be surprised!

    Lisa

  4. Hopefully “Expelled” will enlighten the public that wants to be enlightened to the agenda of the evolutionists/atheists/agnostics to shut the Christians up by their taunts and mockings, curses and belittling but, when people know the Truth, they cannot be stopped. This movie is causing almost as much stir among the evolutionist community as The Quest for Right book which was just released. It has a ring of the truth also and the atheists/evolution gangs just hate it and have jumped on it like ravaging wolves out to kill, and few have even read it yet. Truth will prevail no matter how hard you try to gag it. This nation used to be a nation of free speech, but no longer. Everyone can talk but the Christians yet the Christians were the ones that founded this nation. This nation was meant to be Christian no matter what the godless society say or think.

  5. If you have done little or no reading on this issue then your viewpoint is one from ignorance. Google “Intelligent Design” and spend an hour finding answers on your own. If you wish to discuss this issue further come over to the ‘Evolution and Origins’ forum at http://www.talkrational.org/

  6. I just saw the Ben Stein movie and I think it is excellent. If a credible scientist had evidence that the Earth was the center of the Universe than he should not be censored but rather refuted. Intelligent Design has not been refuted but rather censored. In the movie, Dawkins himself admits that it is possible that an intelligent source created. He just would not fathom that intelligence being GOD.

    Within kinds/species evolution is obvious, but as an explanation of the origin of species it takes just as much faith as any creationist.

  7. Intelligent Design is too shallow, and conveys nothing of much value, other than “life is too complex to have developed on it’s own”. Beyond that, what does it tell us? Does it tell us why there are extinct life forms in the geologic strata? Does it tell us why and when prehistoric mankind lived and disappeared from the face of the planet? Does it tell us when and why an extra-celestial battle was fought over “control” over our universe? Does it resolve the differences between what science has discovered and what unskilled people have perceived to be written in Genesis?

    Instead of wasting time with ID, and only teaching the insanity of evolution, we should be seeking the correct literal interpretation of Genesis, and climb out of this abyss of ignorance.

    Herman Cummings
    [email protected]

  8. You are plain wrong, and you defeat your own argument yourself:
    “Nothing will win you a Nobel Prize faster than explaining to everyone that everything they thought was true is wrong.”

    You back this up by showing numerous cases where people were wrong and the scientific thought changed as a result. But you fail in your own quoted example, “in geology, the idea of plate tectonics, that the continents moved around, was considered revolutionary”. Wegener’s ideas were rejected by his peers, and not accepted until after his death. How quickly was Wegener able to get a Nobel Prize?

    What is important is that scientists be allowed to research and promote ideas for which they can get grants, and not have orthodoxy define what is allowed and what is not allowed to be examined. Scientific revolutions come about necessarily by being different from the prevailing thought of the day. Expelled is all about scientists who hold a view that opposes current orthodoxy, and they simply want the freedom to keep their jobs, and research if they get funding, without prejudice. As you so carefully pointed out, ideas that are initially regarded as fundamentally wrong can turn out one day to be the actual case. And what’s your response? Essentially you think we can know a priori what answers science will provide – such arrogance.

    You say, “So how was this scientist punished, how was this dangerous information suppressed? By plastering a photo of the little plant on the cover of Nature magazine, the most widely circulated science journal in the world.”

    So what? What relevance does this have to Expelled? Plate tectonics, an example, provided by you, was a case where being wrong wasn’t accepted with open arms. It only takes one example in the history of science, where the correct theory was rejected unfairly, to support the premise of the movie Expelled.

    “Creationism, now called Intelligent Design to circumvent prohibitions on teaching religion in public schools, is not science.”

    This displays equivocation that borders immoral. Creationism is usually equated with young earth creationism. Intelligent Design includes young earth creation, but is not identical to it. Intelligent design also includes the idea that the earth is 4.5 billion years old, that all life shares a common ancestor. For you to say “Creationism is now called Intelligent Design” is to depend on popular understanding of the words and distort them to your own ends. Sure, you might say “I only meant creationism as referring to a creation of life at some point”. But you know as well as I do that most people when they hear “creationism” think of young earth creationism. Your sentence would not carry the same rhetorical weight if you just stated the obvious: “A theory that involves creation of life at some point by an intelligence is now called Intelligent Design”. Would your statement hold the same weight? No. Instead, you rely on equivocation and commit a fallacy. Clever propaganda, but ultimately wrong. And that’s what we’re talking about, isn’t it? What is the correct view and what is incorrect?

    The point of the movie Expelled is this: Some scientists think there is strong evidence of an intelligent designer of life, and that there are problems with evolutionary theory. They want to be able to hold these views and not lose their jobs as a result. They want to be able to do research which flow from these ideas when they can get funding. Who are you to judge whether or not their ideas are going to be the next plate tectonic theory – rejected by peers, but vindicated after they die? And we should not be so naive as to assume that plate tectonics is the only case of unfair abuse and rejection by peers about a theory that later is vindicated.

    Your entire article misses the mark, and merely displays your ignorance of the issues involved. You have no idea what is being debated, but instead participate in towing the party line instead of encouraging academic freedom for scientists to pursue new theories. You stand amongst the ranks of those who rejected plate tectonic theory and who put Galileo under house arrest. You are party to the suppression of freedom, to a tyrannical attempt to define what is science according to dogma, rather than letting scientists see where the evidence takes them. And like those others you align yourself with, you embark on a misguided campaign to set science and religion at odds, as though that were somehow relevant.

    Your article is an embarrassing rambling that would fail to convince no more than the choir, because only they could your inability to comprehend what is really going on here. There are other portions of your article that are irrelevant and only serve to confirm your ignorance of the matters at hand. I can only suggest that you actually take the time to understand what you criticise before you commit further crimes against reason and rationality. You would have us believe that an intelligent designer of life, even if he existed, would be undetectable to science. That there is no conceivable scientific project on which we could embark. But your poverty of imagination shouldn’t be taken as a rule for the rest of us. Archaeologists find ways to analyse what are artifacts of designers, detectives investigating a murder can find traces of design and intention, so can those who search for digital fingerprints in electronic communications, find hidden messages. To turn around then and say that these evidences would be absent in nature if an intelligent design created life is a testament to your ineptitude, not that of the Intelligent Design theories. You are an enemy of reason and freedom to research against the orthodoxy.

  9. Kudos, kudos, kudos. Clearly, irrefutably stated. Great talking points should this debate ever come up, but perish the thought that anyone I converse with should believe the tripe. Religious belief is indeed untestable, and thus not worthy of the discipline known as science. Case closed.

  10. I suspect Mr Stein has decided to cynically exploit his
    reputation and the ignorant christian fundamentalists
    by making a movie that panders to their prejudices and
    seeks to pack away a nest egg from this.

    I suspect either a bad divorce or some recent setbacks
    in his real estate portfolio and he finds it less embarassing
    to do this “entertainment flick” then to get a job.

  11. That one sentence is the whole enchilada:

    ‘We don’t have a big debate going on about whether the Earth is the center of the universe; but we would if the Earth’s position still challenged religious views of mankind’s place in the world.”

    This is what it is all about. Religious people, who know little about science, trying to use science to prove that the Bible is infallible.

  12. Of course you’re right on all points; however- you really ought to have waited until you had actually seen the movie to post this, if only to have avoided having to begin what will be seen as (and what advertises itself as) an attack on the movie, with an admission that you haven’t seen the movie. Nothing would have changed in the article after having seen the movie, but you would have done it a lot of good. Now any proponents of creationism who read this or are faced with this will be able to dismiss it out of hand. It wouldn’t have killed you to wait a few days; but not having waited a few days will ruin your argument’s chance of getting a hearing (if indeed that was what you wanted).

  13. Win Ben Stein’s Skunkwork.

    I want to write a textbook explaining that the government should cut tax revenues in half and double total spending, that we should pay for this by having the Treasury Department crank up the printing presses, and that we should have wage and price controls to take care of the resulting inflation. Oh, yes; we should also have a protective tariff to insure that our stimulus benefits us.

    Textbook in hand, I want to apply to Prof. Stein’s Economics Department at Pepperdine University. See if he will give me the same academic freedom in a Social Science that he demands of a Biological Science. I don’t expect a job–even if I had the credentials of the ID agitators. I would get a documentary out of it, probably better than Expelled.

  14. Actually, it is your pre-review of EXPELLED, not the film itself, which is so off base that it “isn’t even wrong,” to quote Pauli against you. But I doubt that you have the courage or intellectual fortitude to support your own contentions here in an honest debate.

  15. See, this kind of pigheaded response to the question is why I truly dislike evolutionists. You really think that Creationism, or Intelligent Design, is going to put people back in the dark ages thinking the Earth is at the center of the Universe – how insulting! Obviously you don’t know ANYTHING about us, and yet you act as though you do. Evolution, quite simply, does not explain everything, and it CAN’T explain everything because it’s based on tight parameters, and anything outside of those parameters (according to evolution) does not exist and cannot be discussed. So yes, the evolutionists HAVE shut down the debate, and they’ve used the Courts in many cases to do so. I mean really, what’s wrong with telling High School students to think about this critically? Some have proposed putting those words on textbooks, along with the heresy that evolution is only a theory, and the paranoid evolutionists have even shut that down through the Courts, claiming that somehow the words “think about this critically” are teaching religion! So maybe Ben Stein’s movie goes overboard, but so do the evolutionists, who won’t allow ANYTHING but evolution to be taught in High School. Apparantly no critical thinking is allowed, either.

  16. Fantastic! I had been struggling to figure out how to say what was wrong about both the movie and the whole idea “creation science” and I think you hit it out of the park. Thank you.

  17. It’s a dirty little secret, but science can not duplicate the creation of life, from non-life. Yes – it has been falsely touted in textbooks that Miller-Urey in the 50’s recreating our ancient atmosphere (from methane, ammonia, water and hydrogen) was able to created amino acids, and that these amino acids
    are the building blocks of life.

    Where did this experiment go wrong? Miller assumed what the atmosphere was like (he assumed no oxygen, but the oldest rocks on earth shows oxygen when they were formed) and they also fail to mention that Miller cheated by using a trap door in his experiment (I did not know they had trap doors in “primordial soup”). The last and most important thing they fail to mention is that Miller created only left/right handed amino acids which can NEVER support life. It is erroneous to say that Miller experiment produced even the building blocks necessary for life. Miller failed and people that hold to abiogenesis need to see that their emperor does not have any clothes.

    There is plenty of evidence that contradicts unintelligent mindless design. When asked how life began the scientist have no answer. They scratch their heads and may speak about aliens planting life on Earth. Anything but God!

    However that was not the point of the movie – instead it was about squashing debate and persecuting those which want to engage in it. Ben Stein seeks to show proof of this, and academia should be ashamed.

    Thank you. Your review only serves to illustrate bias of the media.

  18. See the movie and please respond to the following claims made by Mr. Stein:

    Those scientists who are performing duties not related to the origin of life or evolutionary biology are yet speak publically about a belief in God and a creator are made to feel ostracized or even threatened by the scientific establishment.

    Those scientists who proclaim great animosity towards religion (the great example in the movie was Richard Dawkins), are actually anti-religion ideologues first, and scientists second. This approach would at least eliminate an objective mind to an intelligent designer for the origins of life on our palnet.

    Richard Dawkins admits to his belief that possiblity, an alien lifeform deposted life on earth and from there, natural selection took over and gave us, with time, all that we see. This theory is as provable as the ideas professed in Intelligent Design yet, Mr. Dawkins ridicules the latter as nonscientific and dismisses it out of hand. Explain how this is not a hypocritical stand.

    The complexity of the cell, along with the basic foundation of all life, the self-replicating. self-“proof reading”, self-repairing and self-regulating molecules that give us proteins, cannot be explained by natural selection. What is the biological theory on how once inorganic matter turned, spontaneously, into organic compunds capable of complex activities like replication and repair. Mutations would not explain this becuase there was no “competition” to select out the winner. Darwinian evolution cannot be applied to the formation. What natural, provable theories are there and why are they “scientific,” and the existance of an intelligent designer is not one possibility?

    Why do opponents of ID never address the dead end of eugenics theory? I was a biology major at a secular, state University and Darwin’s connection to eugenics and the application of his ideas in the first and middle third of the 20th Century was never discussed. Was there a negative social influence coming from Darwinism and does Darwin, himself, support such conclusions in THE DECENT OF MAN? Mr. Stein quotes Darwin himself about “savages.” Do scientists who believe Darwinian evolution as the only source for life in the universe support Darwin’s conclusions in total?

    Is science more important to mankind than relgion as some of the interviewed scientists suggest? If it is, why? Please give rational examples and support for this opinion.

    Can a scientist who believe in a supernatural creator of what he/she is observing be a great scientist? Should those with strong religious beleifs pursue science realted careers?

    How would the scientific community deal with such strong believers as Sir Issac Newton? Would he be able to write about his belief in the creator while still being respected as a man of science? Is there a prejudice among scientists against believers in God?

  19. Kudos—this movie sounds scary.
    Although I would never get involved in a fundamental argument about “evolution” versus “creationism” I feel your points are very valid. When thinking of scientific inquiry and/or logical/theoretical debates, one must always be wary of the touchtones, fundamentals, and assumptions that are being made. One cannot argue with a person on a different level of fundamentalism. If the idea that a supreme being is the basis of the arguments, any argument trying to get at an even deeper causal relationship is bound to fail (the levels af assumption have been met). As part of the same problem, people’s level of what can be reasonably accepted differ, and once a fundamental is challenged the emotional/non-logical barrier will be broken and the argument will lose any chance at a productive element.

  20. How is this movie an important problem of national security? Even if you could make the case that it is a problem, or related to a problem, is it important? Does this issue of Intelligent Design vs. evolution keep us from making better weapons, or stopping terrorist acts, or encouraging political, religious, or social freedom around the world? Why are you analyzing this movie or issue on this website?

    I would submit that unlike the fundamental scientific shifts that you mention, Intelligent Design threatens the religious worldview of evolutionists. And the disappearing mutation in the plant didn’t threaten to change their worldview; it just presented another challenge within it. If the mechanism changes, and it still purports that time + (essentially) nothing equals everything, it’s kosher, no matter how ridiculous or untestable it is.

    And let’s dispense with the charade that real scientists are too smart to have a religious worldview. If you are an atheist or a deist, and most evolutionary scientists are, then that’s your religious worldview. Religion, like science and philosophy, boils down to origins and mechanics. If one can figure out how something started and how it continues, then one can, and naturally will, at least infer a reason for its existence. Believing that everything came out of nothing is and that everything means nothing is no more a testable hypothesis than the belief that everything came out of something, or someone, and that there’s a point to all of it. That leaves us to logically induce from the results what the mechanism was, since we can’t start it all again from scratch, and infer from our observations the origin of the current state of the universe as well.

    Similarly, no scientist has ever, by design or accident, created one new species of organism out of another, so any links or suggestion of such are speculation, not fact, and are sometimes drawn by outright manipulation of the evidence, but have never been directly observed or produced and documented by man.

    Spontaneous generation is the accepted origin of life from an evolutionary point of view. Sounds religious to me. What is the testable hypothesis? What is the prediction? What is the deeper understanding of mechanism? There isn’t anything there for a scientist to grab hold of. And science isn’t concerned about anything; it isn’t thinking, and has no opinions. Science is an approach to thinking, and one which is not congruent with mortals, whatever their profession or title, who refuse to apply it when it confronts their own fundamental beliefs.

    The scientists suggesting an honest, open discussion about Intelligent Design in Expelled are not kooks or lackies who have been stirring the pot for decades, and finally the scientific establishment has had enough and is blacklisting them. They are, instead, widely praised contributors to the scientific body of knowledge, until they suggest that that body might not have just mindlessly and randomly formed itself. Humans don’t accept that explanation for anything else on a smaller scale that has order. Why the whole universe?

    The bottom line is, meaningful change can happen, but most of us, including scientists, require more than facts to change our worldview, and we get a little testy when anybody tries. That’s what Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is discussing, and like its topic, it is not welcome.

  21. The creationists need to understand that evolution is a theory that explains how life changed over billions of years. It does not explain how life was created. How life was created is one of the few remaining questions (there use to be many) that science has not yet explained. It is natural for Ben Stein to frame the debate at one of the few points (4 billion years ago) that Science can not make a quick retort.
    BUT where would evolutionist and scientists frame the argument if they made a movie?? Simple – The Intelligent Design guys from The Discovery Institute ALL believe the earth is only 7 thousand years old. The real argument is whether you want to believe the earthy is 4 billion years old or 7 thousand. If it is 4 billion then evolution makes the most sense. If the earth/universe is 7 thousand then yes you would need an all powerfull being to put things together so quickly.

  22. Scientists are protective of science’s strict standards for a good reason: it’s what makes science work! If an actual scientist in an actual lab had credible evidence that A) disproved evolution or B) proved intelligent design, and his tests and calculations were repeatable, and his evidence found under peer review to be sound, then Science would integrate the new information into existing theories, and re-write them if necessary.

    ID can’t show A or B, and because it has no actual scientific case to make, THAT’S why it’s left out of the discussion. You can’t muddy up Science using non-evidence. You aren’t being persecuted because of your BELIEFS, so get over it. They aren’t interested in thoughts about the creation of life if there’s no evidence to review or hypothesis to be tested. They also don’t make a case for creation that ISN’T supported by evidence. This has nothing to do with religious persecution.

    “Spontaneous generation is the accepted origin of life from an evolutionary point of view” Wrong. No evolutionary scientist would make a claim about the origins of life.

    “The bottom line is, meaningful change can happen, but most of us, including scientists, require more than facts to change our worldview, and we get a little testy when anybody tries”

    No, we get testy when you try to introduce anything but facts into Science, which would totally discredit the very IDEA of Science.

  23. A couple of things. First, don’t critique a movie you have not seen. Also, Expelled” Not Intelligence Allowed” does not seek to be the answer to all questions and debate. Don’t make it more than it is. It is a piece of work that adds to the debate, sheds light on it, but isn’t the whole answer. So don’t take it as the work of the entire ID movement. It is ONE response to the ever-growing bullying tactics of evolutionists within the scientific community. It also acts as A response (not THE response) to the growing voice of new atheists popping up who claim they can, in the name of science, explain away God. For being atheists (Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, Christopher Hitchens’ God Is Not Great, etc), they certainly do talk about God a lot. Finally, intelligent design is not, as you say, a new word for creationism. Intelligent design is a scientific theory that holds that the universe, and the mechanics of the universe, are designed, as opposed to being products of random chance. There is much evidence for this theory in all areas of science. ID never purports to claim who the designer is – just that the evidence points to there being one. Creationism, on the other hand, is the belief that the designer of ID is God, as it states in the Bible.
    So is the driving force of this universe design or random chance? Post your view at http://www.designorchance.blogspot.com now.

  24. @ cee

    “Richard Dawkins admits to his belief that possiblity, an alien lifeform deposted life on earth and from there, natural selection took over and gave us, with time, all that we see. This theory is as provable as the ideas professed in Intelligent Design yet, Mr. Dawkins ridicules the latter as nonscientific and dismisses it out of hand. Explain how this is not a hypocritical stand.”

    Easy. ID in the sense of a Supreme Being requires that such a Creator outside the realms of evolution (Dawkins himself repeatedly points out that claiming “evolution can’t explain us therefore there is a God” is unscientific because such a being *must be at least as hard to explain scientifically as we are*). The idea that our own evolution was kick-started by an alien race which *themselves evolved* does not.

    This debate is about more than how life began. It is about the use of anti-science, in which people explain situation X by positing situation Y, which in itself is less explicable, then turning round and saying that X is impossible to explain any other way, but Y is definitely true because you have faith in it.

    Also, “equally provable” does not mean equally reasonable. It is currently equally provable that Proxima Centauri is orbited by no planets and that it is orbited by one planet, eighty miles across, made of cheese and carved into the shape of Will Smith’s head. This does not make the latter alternative equally reasonable.

    And please don’t take this objection to just one of your points to be a tacit endorsement of the others. This was just the most fun to dissect.

  25. To respond to Brian Howell, if we think long term there is significant impact of this debate on national security. Let’s step back from this specific controversy between science and the powers that be and look at others. Global warming is yet another debate where the vast majority of scientists believe is a pressing issue. I don’t want to say ‘science’ is under attack, but the quest for knowledge appears to be. In a country where math and science scores are beginning to decline compared to the remainder of the world, these are the very traits that will keep the US a world leader.

    The US needs to remain a producer, but we cannot compete on farming or manufacturing or resources. Our remaining commodity is knowledge. Knowledge and ideas not only help grow the economy, but aid in defense. We have better and more secure systems. We can develop smarter better weapons. As we educate our citizens, we move up the ladder to higher paying opportunities. Science and innovation have been a cornerstone of American progress. By dismissing science and its methods, we are contributing to our own demise.

  26. Ben Stein has lost his mind. Everything in his movie is little more than the same tired old arguments used by Creationists for years. All these points have been soundly defeated and refuted by scientists on numerous occasions. Yet Creationists continue to cite them. Why is that?

    The basic problem with ID/Creationism (yes, they’re one in the same) is that they start with the premise “God did it” and then selectively exclude any data that fail to support that hypothesis. They resort to the exact tactic they accuse the scientific community of engaging in. If evolutionary biology, cosmology, physics, or any other discipline doesn’t agree with “God did it,” then it’s evil, “materialistic” (a meaningless term), and atheistic (a clear pejorative designed to paint scientists as Godless heathens). This is a scientifically dishonest process, and shows their unwillingness to confront the facts.

    A second problem is that Creationists are fixated on Darwin, and falsely label evolution as “Darwinism” in order to paint it as just another belief-based “ism” like Creationism. They seem to have no clue of the massive amounts of data gathered since Darwin’s time. All of if – ALL of it – supports evolution. There’s no such thing as “Darwinism.” There’s evolutionary biology, which is so strongly supported by fact and data that it’s practically unassailable.

    If ID proponents have valid scientific data gathered using real scientific methods, then where is it? Resorting to the old “it’s being suppressed by the establishment” dodge places them firmly in the same category as free-energy fanatics and people who believe oil companies are hiding engine designs that run using water.

    Stein’s movie is filled with falsehoods, many of which have been published in gory detail by Scientific American and other publications. See
    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=six-things-ben-stein-doesnt-want-you-to-know for a list of 6 major transgressions. It’s lies upon lies, with selective editing and out of context remarks used to promote the filmmakers’ agenda.

    I suspect a prior comment about this article is correct, and that Stein was simply using the Creationists’ agenda to pad his bank account. Shame. He should have stayed with “Win Ben Stein’s Money,” which was at least amusing.

  27. No reason to waste a lot of ink here. Your movie “review” is actually a reflection upon the plausibility of the underlying science related tangentially to the premise of the film. Finding scientists who attack those opposing evolution is as easy as locating abortion supporters at a NOW convention.

    Let me take issue with this, “Most advocates of creationism accept that evolution works at some scale and explains some things…” No, simply not true. The notion that non-evolutionists accept the broad outlines of the theory is absurd. Are you really so out-of touch with the people who disagree with your ideas?

    Step back from your wholesale embrace of evolution and get a bit of distance from the topic so you can actually review the movie, instead of weighing in on the implausibility of the premise.

  28. Quote from Karl: “Let me take issue with this, “Most advocates of creationism accept that evolution works at some scale and explains some things…” No, simply not true. The notion that non-evolutionists accept the broad outlines of the theory is absurd. Are you really so out-of touch with the people who disagree with your ideas?”

    I think the author was referring to the “micro vs macro” evolution concept here, though I could be wrong.

    As for the idea of “getting a bit of distance” from evolution, how do you propose that? There’s simply no other method supported by sufficient scientific evidence. No data have ever emerged to provide a valid challenge to evolution as the mechanism by which organisms change. ID isn’t it — it’s not even a theory in the scientific sense, since it provides no testable hypotheses or mechanisms (this is one of the problems with IDers…many seem to believe “theory” means “guess” and that’s simply not the way the term is used in a scientific context).

  29. “creationism, now often called Intelligent Design (ID”

    Nonsense. That’s not even close to the truth, and it’s at the start of the post. How can we possibly take any of this seriously if the very first section contains this bogus distortion?

    I assure you, VERY FEW creationists would ally with ID theorists. Even old earth creationists like Hugh Ross’ group won’t ally with IDists, and they attack ID constantly…Most major ID theorists have NO problem with common descent and that natural selection was a major driving force behind that descent. In no way, shape, or form could you call an idea that accepts common descent but takes exception with the overall power of NS a “creationist”. So, claiming that ID is creationism with a different name is as bogus as it gets.

  30. Darwin produced a “theory”… a theory of “evolution of species”, if you will. A “theory” is just that… it is not a scientific fact as many evolutionists would have us believe. Darwin’s theory has never been scientifically proven in any way by acceptable evidence to make it a scientific fact. Rather, many pseudo-scientific exhibits have been “created” as so-called evidence, but they have been proven to be “fraudulent creations”.
    The factual reality is that the observable evidence of the whole of creation with all the intracate interrelationships of all its natural parts, and the absolute necessities for their existence as a part of the whole, provide all the evidence needed to prove an “intelligent design” to all that exists.
    If there is an “intelligent design”, then of necessity there must also be an intelligence that designed it. In the end the argument is about “who” and “what” the entity is that is the “intelligent designer”… i.e., about what we should call the “intelligent designer”. Well, out of respect for the unfathomable intelligence of that entity, for which we human beings can only have such great awe that we worship that entity (if you are not overwhelmed with awe when you contemplate all that exists there is something grossly wrong with you), why not call it “GOD”? After all, “GOD” is just an invented symbolic utterance referring to the perceived existence of that “intelligent designer”, and not a personal name of identification.
    To the “intelligent designers” the origin of the expanding universe, which we all agree began with the “Big Bang”, also logically necessitates a purposeful causality of the “intelligent designer”. The argument of an “accidental spontaneous explosion of matter” producing all of the intracies of the universe makes no sense whatever. The universe was “purposefully created” by “intelligent design”, whether you want to call it “science” or “religion” (actually both bring us to the same final conclusions, and the more you learn of both the closer they come together). You can argue the unknowable “how” of the Big Bang all you want to and still never arrive at an answer. The answer is beyond the capacity of our finite brain to understand. God exists.

  31. It seems to me that people have lost sight of one the main the objectives of Science. The search for truth. If the goal is to ascertain what really happened, and how we really came to be here, then honest scientific debate can hardly hurt, can it? If a viewpoint or theory is in error, then why censor? The truth will out eventually.

    If we really do have that wonderful childlike faith that evolutionary biology will evantually have the explanatory power to answer all our difficult questions, then why engage in tactics more akin to a dictatorial political organization.

    I find name-calling childish and distasteful, and I don’t believe it to be a useful tool in rational debate. If people want to attach labels, then like any good science, care has to be taken to make the right categorization; for example is evaluating ID to Creationism a correct conclusion based on the facts at hand, I think not.

    Lastly to affirm that a theory is invalid because no ‘useful’ science could result, seems to be a surprising affirmation with my (admitted limited) understanding of deductive logic.

    A theory is right or wrong, we have to live with the consequences.

  32. “‘Spontaneous generation is the accepted origin of life from an evolutionary point of view’ Wrong. No evolutionary scientist would make a claim about the origins of life.”

    Sorry, Chrism, but Wrong. You cannot honestly claim that that isn’t exactly what our children are being taught today – that evolution naturally explains the origin of life. In our schools today, there is absolutely no distinction made between the evolution of species and the origin of life, not even in the most cursory way. In fact, to attempt to even make that distinction is decried as attempting to bring theology into the classroom.

    Both the reviewer and the commentators here are missing the point. You are misstating the issue as an opposition between theism and science, when the opposition is actually between the ontological views of theism and naturalism.

    As a more learned writer than me has so rightly stated: “I would like to point out that you are conflating science and naturalism, which is a basic category error that [most naturalists] also commit. Science is about objective phenomena, and naturalism is one particular view about the reality that produces these objective phenomena. There is a big difference between the two. You rightly point out that there is no objective evidence for theism, but it seems you fail to notice that there is no objective evidence for naturalism either. Indeed science can only tell us that reality can’t be such as not to produce the objective phenomena that science studies, in other words science can only falsify a particular ontology. And, surprisingly enough, scientific facts appear to contradict at least the naive naturalistic view that [those like] Dawkins epitomizes. Today we know for a fact that the kind of physical universe people think is objectively out there, well isn’t. The physical universe we all observe around us is only a representation of reality, and it’s not a particularly accurate representation even if you happen to be a naturalist. For example when we look around we see a lot of colorful things but there are no colorful things in reality.”

    If only the “darwinists” would stay out of the arena of theism, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. If only. Seems to me to be fair enough for theists to want to get into the darwinists’ sandbox, don’t you think?

  33. I enjoyed the movie, and I believe that it raises important questions, the greatest of which is why shouldn’t the idea of intelligent design be discussed (it seems to make as much sense as the theory of evolution, given the complexity of the universe and all the interrelations and interdependencies of life and, indeed, non-life). Discussing the artistic qualities of the movie isn’t really helpful to the general discussion, and the reviewer’s comments in this regard deal more with matters of personal taste than with art, anyway.

  34. I enjoyed reading your article. I was thinking of seeing the movie until you wrote this.

    As a die hard agnostic I never understood this debate of intelligent design vs no intelligent design. Any scientific theory is by nature incomplete. Therefore it stands to my reasoning that there will always be room for something “supernatural”.

    On the other hand, any “God” would have to be supernatural, and hence unexplainable by mere logic. Unfortunately logic is all mere humans have to go on. Those with faith would be better off remembering that faith is a choice, beyond reason. If “God” could be explained, there would be no reason for faith.

    Basically, whether or not you believe. Belief in the supernatural is outside the realm of science. Science is the study of our observation of physical phenomena. Last I heard, God wasn’t in the habit of making himself available to human observation.

  35. Science helps us move in the world. Creationism tries to claim birth of this world. The Big Bang isn’t creationary theory per se. Its a theory of our Universe’s creation. Some believe in Multiverses and that leaves an escape where one can say, ‘God created the Multiverse and the Big Bang created the Universe.’ Why not just admit we are all agnostic and continue to use science to improve our standard of living as best we can and leave god as a wonderfully interesting open question.

  36. Thank you for this article. It is informing just as one about defense spending, and I truly appreciate quality and logic over fairy tales.

  37. Nice Article. So many responses, you likly won ‘t read this, but for what it’s worth, I think you made some valid points. I’m not sure I agree with your insistance on calling ID creationism, but that’s somewhat trivial. You seem to be a more civil person that dawkins. That guy grates on my nerves. I don’t deny the plausibility of evolution and I still feel like he is attacking me in everything he writes.

  38. I’d seen a preview for this flick and wanted to read a professional scientist’s take. Predictably you are defending Big Science as it were. I hadn’t any idea this film would be this controversial (clearly hated by you, enjoyed by others posting here); I guess I’ve got to see it for myself.

    Churches, school administrations, courts and legislatures are far too involved in this issue to prevent its becoming a sharply partisan, patently unscientific matter. It recalls the dismissal of Ignaz Semmelweis, M.D. (first medical advocate of hand washing) or John Harrison’s trials at the hands of the British Board of Longitude. Science is diminished whenever scientists refuse to seriously consider dissenting opinions.

    Though not statistically valid, I have personally known quite a few professional scientists (in the physical, biological and medical sciences) with reservations about evolution. Few are gutsy (or stupid) enough to publicly admit it. As an older biology teacher, I’ve never really felt certain about it myself. But I pity any teacher who crosses their school district on the issue. In this way, at least, Ben Stein’s thesis is correct. I’d have to agree this is motivated by something other than empirical and dispassionate scholarship. Interestingly, of the five biology teachers I’ve known to retire within the district, three (all AP bio teachers also) publicly denounced evolution at their retirements explaining that they were in no position to say anything earlier. None was a religious person and one even had posters in his classroom with these quotes from Carl Sagan, “It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” and “The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.” That one continues to be a friend, and is a vocal atheist who truly esteems science above all other human activities. Yet he sees, as I do, that standards are the threshold is diminished and the facts carefully chosen to support this single idea among the multitude of more solid theories. Further, this idea is feverishly advocated and disseminated to the youngest of students. This evokes evangelism, religious intolerance or missionary brainwashing far more than it suggests the skeptical and critical inquiry fundamental to good science.

    Comment #10 by Croath is absolutely correct about so many things. Academia is quickly becoming a business rather than a search for facts or fundamental truths. Many Nobel prize winners have faced rejection and died poor and unrecognized. Science is becoming a competition for grants in which researchers grovel at the feet of a secular priesthood rather than the Roman Catholic preisthood. Same game, new players!

    Your response to #21, Toni Bourlon, compares quantum theory, the theory of relativity and electromagnetic theory to evolutionary theory. That’s quite a stretch. I am my school’s AP instructor for most things math and science (Calculus, Chemistry, Physics and Biology) I hold a triple B.S. in E.E., microbiology and mathematics and double Masters in chemistry and secondary science education. Note that it’s a simple matter to test, observe, (and if I have disagreeing data) falsify any of the first three theories you’ve mentioned. Could I, I’d be rewarded by being featured (as was surfer dude) in all sorts of scientific literature, inviting all manner of serious scrutiny. Conversely, you must admit there’s no way I’d experience the same treatment if I had data which conflict with evolutionary theory; I’d be summarily fired. But the really insidious fact is that I can not test or observe evolution beyond simplistic adaptation and gene activation. No one has demonstrated significant evolutionary differentiation (even with the best fossils yet doscivered) to include novel colinization or substantial niche modification. These observations come from my students and they are correct. For the last 10 years these issues have also been banned from our science fairs as pseudo-science (Stein’s point I believe).

    In the classroom, I’m careful to neither build up nor to tear down evolution. Fifteen years of really smart kids–many of whom have gone on to accomplish great things as scientists, doctors, lawyers and leaders–remain largely unconvinced about evolution. In particular, they are routinely offended when I teach required “evolutionary facts” (which they must know in order to reason through evolutionary problems on the AP Biology exam). In contrast, I’ve experienced no such issues with thermodynamic laws, the various conservation laws, universal gravity, gas laws, any part of mathematics, or even quantum uncertainty (though that concept surely occupies (a distant) second place). I’m also sobered by another thing Sagan once said, “I am often amazed at how much more capability and enthusiasm for science there is among elementary school youngsters than among college students.” Where are we going wrong in science education? Perhaps doctrinaire complacency intrinsically repels the curious and open minds of our children.

    I believe that you and numerous commentors have made a mistake best summarized by #14, ronnyg who said, “Religious belief is indeed untestable, and thus not worthy of the discipline known as science. Case closed.” My point is that he is correct. The problems begin when science begins to act like a religion instead of what it is supposed to be, a system of acquiring knowledge based on scientific method, supported by reproducible results and testable hypotheses (something lacking in cosmology lately as well). Parsimony is a handy rule, but it does not confer factuality. Newton’s mechanics are absolutely a simpler model than Einstein’s relativity except that they fail to explain observations. Had Newton placed a coefficient in front of every one of his terms with a footnote explaining that all these terms presently appear to equal one, but may reformulated to be as complex as necessary to describe any future observations people would have called him a charlatan instead of a genius. However, this is precisely what we see with evolution. The theory is poorly formed and continually re-invented to address any criticism thrown at it. While acceptable in philosophy, theology or even in a business model, it isn’t kosher within the standards of descriptive and predictive science.

    Therefore, I think that the response by “Dr. Dogbert” is of vital importance to the future of science and even the future of free thought in society! Maybe we should really just let kids focus on observational science rather than feeding them a bunch of theoretical science and conjecture. We certainly ought to in classrooms below AP Biology. Besides, the average elementary or middle school teacher is roughly as incompetent teaching this theory as his or her students are incapable of critically understanding it.

    P.s. All this honesty really is dangerous to my career–I hope my school board reads this but doesn’t figure out who wrote it.

    P.p.s I notice that message #44 from Dr. Dogbert is now missing. Do I smell censorship? I think it’s the most important content on this page including your original article!

  39. For the record, “Dr. Dogbert” is a close friend with the most amazing mind of anyone I’ve ever known. I wasn’t sure what I thought of his post, but now I think he’s right. He came over and posted his comments from my computer (in order to avoid being tracked back to the university–they have a mutual non-aggression agreement). He’s sent quite a few things from my system in the past year. In fact, he is clearly being blacklisted–and I fear it could touch me–but he thinks I’m safe. I find it truly fascinating that you moderated his comments off your repsonses. I really loved what he wrote in light of what everyone else wrote. It seems that he’s just too damn intelligent, honest and ethical for anyone to deal with. I’d really like to name a lot of names–but I would end up facing retribution if I did that–at least it’s safe to say suppression is alive and well at the FAS!

    A.G.

  40. Ah the joys of self-righteous indignation. I think we see less of that in Wisconsin because we drink more. Anyway, as a Christian, I wonder if all this effort wouldn’t be better spent helping the poor. Working on homelessness doesn’t provide the same adreniline rush as chastizing the the sinner. But I ask you: How many childrend died of malnutrion while these posts were written? I don’t think this is where Jesus would put His time.

    I understand that non-Christian scientists find this all very important. That they may chose to debate the fossil record while “Rome burns”. Why do those who claim to be have been touched by Him focus here? I can find passages in the Bible about visiting those in prison. I can’t find anything about insulting people who disagree with you. Did I get that part about turning the other cheek wrong?

    A Packer defensive end recently said about his conversion to Christianity: “Christain can be a noun or a verb. Growing up I only knew the nouns. In coming to Green Bay a met the verb.” I would suggest that the posters here are the nouns. If, however, you posted from a Habitat for Humanity build site in Honduras, please accept my humble apologies.

  41. I can’t believe the amount of energy wasted on this argument. The literal interpretation of the bible’s creation is impossible. That doesn’t preclude the existence of God. Scientists have only scratched the surface. Any “scientific” argument for or against carries the same weight as any faith-based interpretation. In the words of Paul Simon, “the infomation’s not available to the mortal man”. And if you KNOW the truth, no one will believe you anyway.

  42. Allan #44 says: “Parsimony is a handy rule, but it does not confer factuality.” This is technically correct. However, using the formal mathematical expression of parsimony DOES confer a maximum probability of factuality, which is all science every really can claim. For technical details, see the papers:

    C. S. Wallace and D. L. Dowe; “Minimum Message Length and Kolmogorov Complexity”.

    Paul M. B. Vitányi and Ming Li; “Minimum Description Length Induction, Bayesianism and Kolmogorov Complexity”.

  43. To the author of this article.

    Because some religions were wrong about the world being flat or that the earth is the center of the universe, does not disprove a Diety or that religion is a hoax etc.. It just shows the falts of men and their interpretations. Case in point, if you read the Bible carefully, how can all the religions be true? Obviously, many were created for whatever reason, but the bottomline is, they can’t all be true or the same/exact church that was created by the very Diety described in the Bible. Does that make religion wrong? No. It just proves that men are causing the confussion. I guess that is why it is so importatnt to have a living prophet like it talks about in the book of Amos chapter 3. Science is wonderful and it produces great answers and technology. But it won’t be able to answer the origins of life completely since there is a world that can’t be measured by the emperical method, at least maybe not yet? We know we can feel that hidden world if we are tuned into the spirit. The emperical model could not measure what you feel from the spirit, or love, or hate, or I.Q. for that matter. It can only measure physical things. I am not determined, I am a free agent making choices.

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