Sunday, April 13, 2008

Just how open do you want your mind to be?

A friend of mine recently sent me a link for a new movie that's coming out (but I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for it to get to a theater close to you) called Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. I had heard of it before, and I had even considered blogging about it. It wasn't until I spent a little more time on the official site that I felt moved to write something.

The movie is about Intelligent Design, and it takes a decidedly pro-ID stance. Its title comes from the fact that supposedly some scientists have lost their jobs and their standing in academia for positing the idea of an intelligent creator. Apparently, "Big Science" is trying to squash critical thinking while ignoring the proof for an all-powerful designer who created the universe.

Yawn! Aren't we done with this yet? Apparently, there's one more Japanese soldier out there in the Pacific who still thinks that World War II isn't over and the Japanese might still win.

The thing is, I like to think of myself as being open-minded. I like to hear both sides of the argument before making up my mind. That's why I haven't blogged on global warming yet. Mainly, it seems to me like the people who are saying that humankind is having an effect on climate change are the ones with science on their side. Still, I haven't read enough of the opposition to feel as though it's safe for me to comment. When it comes to Intelligent Design though, that's another matter. I know quite a bit about it and what its arguments are. I also realize that the very premise of it is unscientific, and I've yet to hear an argument as to how it IS scientific. But what about this movie? Might it have that hidden bit of evidence that has eluded me all this time?

Perhaps, but even if somebody lent me a copy of the DVD, I don't think I'd waste my time with it. I'll assume that the makers of the movie had some say in the trailers, and the trailers are enough to tell me that it's the usual bullshit. One of the trailers has the narrator, Ben Stein, in a classroom asking an increasingly frustrated teacher what started life. The teacher can't answer the question, and then Ben Stein suggests that an intelligent designer started it all. This gets him kicked out of the class.

Oh, ID proponents, you certainly are a bunch of fuckin' martyrs, aren't you?

Another trailer has him talking about how he believes that there's an intelligent designer, as the universe couldn't have happened by accident.

Yawn, yet again. It's the same old, tired arguments. Nobody's saying that everything is an accident, and nobody's saying that it's "random." Richard Dawkins even points out in his book how natural selection is as far from random as a thing can get. Why argue the actual point though when you can make one up and argue that?

The thing is, I've stated before that I have no problem with a philosophy where one looks at the universe and feels as though there must be some intelligent force behind it all. The problem is, your interpretation of what's going on around you does not constitute a scientific theory. What's beginning to happen though, as people like Ben Stein keep pressing this issue, is that I'm starting to amend my feelings about this as well. It's an awfully selective way of looking at things, isn't it? I mean, what about all the black holes in the universe? What about the fact that most of this planet is unihabitable? What's up with all these completely useless planets and empty space? Why are there comets that threaten to completely smash out all life as we know it? Why the Sam Hill do I have nipples? They do nothing for me! NOTHING!

People who believe in a god need to know what the strenghts of their position is, which means that they need to stay out of the arena of science. If it's true that people lost their jobs for extolling ID, then that's actually a good thing. If somebody wanted to talk about pink unicorns as science, he or she should also get canned. If they're going to continue to push their not-so-hidden religious agenda where it doesn't belong, then they're not going to like the results. After all, you have people like Richard Dawkins who are more than willing to look at the probability of God from a scientific perspective. Trust me, it doesn't look good for God when you do that. Just back away and leave that one alone, okay?

This documentary also seems to be making the typical argument of trying to disprove evolution, mainly by using all sorts of arguments from ignorance and well, let's call it what it is: LYING about it. But let's say that they're right. Let's say that there's no evidence, or very little evidence, for evolution. That's ridiculous and ignorant of the facts, but I'm willing to give them that for the sake of argument. That STILL doesn't mean that ID is science!

Lastly, I'd like to point out, while realizing that it has little to do with the veracity of their claims, that having Ben Stein narrate a documentary is arguably the worst idea ever. I mean, wasn't the whole joke in Ferris Bueller's Day Off that he had the most boring speaking voice imaginable? Sure, he was laying it on thick for the movie, but he's not exactly the most dynamic orator around.

So, if you see the movie and there's some evidence that shows how ID is actually science, without relying on the usual debunked debunkings of Darwin, let me know. Otherwise, I'm not going to bother with it.


Benjamin Franklin said...

You are very open minded, and correct in your assumptions about Expelled.

For more information about it, go to

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Well, there's a founding father heard from, so I'm all set. Thanks! ; )