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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

More on Expelled, the movie

I have not seen Expelled, the recent movie about Intelligent Design (ID) and academic freedom. I did post, linking to two reviews of the film by Christians. I have discovered an even more extensive treatment of the film, and the issues it raises, on the web site of the American Scientific Affiliation, a group of Christian scientists.

The article is by Jeffrey Schloss. He seems to have been careful, and thorough. Schloss considers three main points.

First, on the linkage between evolution (which, unfortunately, Schloss does not define) and atheism, Schloss concludes that some views of evolution are, indeed, atheistic, and that that is a legitimate concern. However, he says of the film "What appears to be waved off without consideration is even the possibility of mutually enriching commerce between faith and evolution."

Second, on the matter of whether ID advocates have been unfairly treated by academia, Schloss concedes, after a discussion of the evidence, that that is possible. But he raises a more fundamental question: What is the ID movement all about, anyway? What does ID propose? He points out that Ben Stein, the narrator of Expelled, asks whether presenting ID in some academic settings should be forbidden. Schloss indicates that teaching that the earth is flat should be forbidden in a geography class, and that holocaust denial shouldn't be allowed in history courses. But, says he, about whether Expelled answers Stein's own question:
Unfortunately, on just this question - the one on which the entire point of the film most crucially hangs - it remains almost completely silent. In order to assess the point, we need to know what “the idea” of ID entails, and then what some of the arguments might be that support it, and then whether such arguments are properly scientific or perhaps better dealt with in philosophy. Even the first question is left hanging. What, besides believing that an intelligent Creator made the cosmos, does ID actually stand for?

Schloss says that the film doesn't answer that question, and this is not surprising. Young-Earth Creationism (which is not the same as ID) whether right or wrong, does present a falsifiable thesis, namely that the earth is only a few thousand years old. ID does not.

In his consideration of this second question, Schloss rejects ID's claim that ID is merely science, not religious. (I have written more on this question, and agree with Schloss on the matter, based on publications from the ID movement, itself.)

Third, on the claim that Darwin led to Hitler, Schloss concludes that this is not true.

Finally, Schloss concludes:
Sadly, the film contributes to an approach that has raised rather than lowered walls between Christians and the surrounding culture. Sadly, it raises the already growing walls of suspicion about any scholarly attempts to explore the relationship between science and faith. Sadly, it raises walls that don’t protect but constrain the spiritual growth of our students, if they are driven to believe they must choose between God and evolution. And most sadly, it is raising all these walls unnecessarily, along a border that is never demonstrated to have been accurately surveyed, much less to be in need of defending.

Thanks for reading!

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