Thursday, May 01, 2008

Ben Stein's Movie Expelled Has Some Intelligence

Last night I took off after church and after tucking in our kids and went and saw Ben Stein's movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. This film is a documentary that seeks to:

1) Show that intelligent design (ID), the theory that life shows evidence of being designed rather than randomly evolving from a single organism, is being excluded from the academic debate;

2) Show a link between evolution and atheism; and

3) Show a link between amorality (not having morals) and evolution.

As to the first, it is certainly taboo to question the established scientific worldview that all of life evolved spontaneously from a single organism without a creator. I am sure that this academic oppression occurs, though I do not know if the people who were cited were good examples of this or not. It is the nature of those who question paradigms to be shunned, ostracized, and even persecuted. Note Galileo. Until there is an alternative theory, people will stay with a worldview even if it doesn't really work until there is another theory to replace it. And usually it takes the old generation who believed in the previous theory dying off for the new theory to become accepted. There is a great book on the nature of scientific revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. Fascinating stuff for those interested in science and worldviews. (You'll have to google it--I'm writing quickly).

As to the second, certainly many who have accepted full scale Darwinian evolution have become atheists. But there are many theistic evolutions, people who believe that God used evolution to bring about the species and guided it along the way. (By the way, all scientistis, Christian or otherwise, believe in small scale evolution, that change happens within a species. Viruses, bacteria, animals, etc. all evolve). So this is a bit of a one-sided portaryal.

As to the third, not all atheists are amoral. But the "natural" implications of atheistic evolution can certainly lead to the believe that there is no right or wrong. The film well brings out the link between Hitler, Eugenics (breeding a superior human race and killing those who are unfit), abortion, euthenasia, and atheistic evolution.

While critics can rightly cry that certain viewpoints were not equally represented in the film, the climax of the movie was quite profound. Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion (a book I am reading) and a proponent of atheistic evolution is caught making some amazing admissions.

Dawkins admits that he doesn't know where life came from.

Dawkins admits that he doesn't know how the universe began.

Dawkins says that there is some evidence for intelligent design, but that this design was performed by aliens.

As to the first two, I have always said that no matter what a person believes about evolution, that is not really the question. The question is, where did the universe come from? Evolution assumes a world, a sea, lighting, and amino acids floating around. And a sun, and a moon, and a galaxy, etc. These were created in a big bang. Okay. I think God could have used that too. But the athetists must ask, where did the big bang come from? This is a question for which they have no answer. Evolution might describe a process for how humans came into being--which people can accept or reject--but it does not explain how the world and the universe came into being. In short, it answers very little, and would do so even if it were absolutely correct.

As to Dawkins' last point, I find it hard to believe that he let himself be taped saying this. Panspermia? You've got to be kidding. So life here shows sign of intelligent design. But aliens from another plant came and planted the seeds of life here and left. But these aliens (or designers as he says) must have evolved without a designer. Something that didn't happen here, according to this theory, but happened somewhere out in space.

I'll have more to say about this later. I will just say that anyone who believes in aliens planting on earth rather than God somehow, in some way, creating us, has more faith than I do.

Have you seen the movie? What do you think of panspermia?


Balrog62 said...

Okay, I've been lurking for a little while and now is time to de-lurk.

I've not had a chance to see the movie and I am curious to go see it. But my dilemma is that I am also a science teacher in a college prep school, one in which evolution is taught as a fact. So, it's a struggle trying to be a light here.

From the reviews I've seen from both sides of the argument, I'm torn about how I will receive this movie. As a Christian, I'm glad that someone is out there asking the tough questions and putting the hardcore evolutionists to task. However, as a scientist and (I hope) an intelligent person, I have no problems understanding little or micro evolution where a virus evolves and mutates into a deadlier form or using genetics to create a helpful virus to combat cancer. So, the zeal that some creationists/intelligent design supporters/anti-evolutionists exude often comes across as anti-science or even anti-learning.

I am glad you mentioned the flaws in some of the arguments. No biologist can point to, or will even try to point to, evolution as an answer to the question "Where did life come from?" Mainly because the theory of evolution does not address this. It is just not part of the theory. Just as "Why is the sky blue?" is not a part of the theory of gravity. Gravity holds the atmosphere on the planet but doesn't answer what happens with the atmosphere that is held there.

Sorry for the long rambling comment. This is an issue I really struggle with. And I am glad that you're up there thinking about all this, James.

Steve Balog

Garth said...

Rebecca and I went to see this movie about a week ago and I thought it was witty and edgy.

I think Ben Stein is a genius for picking and highlighting institutions of higher education that probably are not considered all that liberal.

You should have seen everyone in my theater looking at each other when Baylor was singled out!

But, ultimately it is very concerning that academia is so controlling and would not desire freedom of inquiry.

Let there be Light!

Kevin M said...

creationism, evolution, young earth, flat earth, macro evolution, micro evolution, natural selection, intelligent design, theistic evolution.

And that's just off the top of my head.

It's hard for a body to keep up with all of the theories. Most discussions I have had on this matter with people who are ardent supporters of one theory or another stereotype the opposite argument. Classically it's Man came from Apes versus strict young earth creationists. The reality for me is there is such a wide variety of ideas to pull from that "how" the universe and earth work is a great topic to think about. I definitely think, as I believe was stated in an earlier comment or in the post itself, that the main question is where did the universe come from. And to that answer I have no doubts.

I'm excited to go and see the movie.


Mr. E said...

My wife and I really want to see this movie before it leaves the theaters. I'm glad to read your review. I'm guessing it will be to "over the head" for our children (11 & 13). If we can't catch it at the theater, we will at least catch it on netflix.

Where did the aliens come from Mr. Tom Cruise, opps, Mr. Dawkins?

Mr. E said...

My wife and I watched this movie Sunday after church. It was a great documentary. You do have to remember though it's more of a documentary on the opression of Free Speech in the Scientific Community against the ideas of "Intelligent Design" or "Creationism", more than it is Science v. Religion. But by surpressing these ideas, it does take on a anti-religious twist. (Read my review of the movie on my blog.)

James said...


Glad to have you join the discussion! we've got a lot of lurkers out there, and that is okay too. I always love to hear people bring their perspective, though.

I feel for you. I'm sure that as a Science teacher, you face a lot of pressure to never question the "company line."

I don't think that you have to worry about Stein's approach being anti-scientific. He is tacking the bias that is out there, not science itself. I'll be interested in your thoughts on this once you see it.

James said...


You are right--we need to focus on the big picture. The main thing that we want people to believe is that there is a God. How God created us is a much lesser issue.

Having a Biology (Pre-med) degree, I often cringe at how many Christians approach the subject of science and the Bible. There often are ignorant claims that are made that turn a lot of sciencetific people off.

I encourage people to not try to argue about the age of the earth or evolution, but to get at the root question--where did the universe come from? Why am I here? Etc.