Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

KC KernDiscrimination, Mormon, news, questioning 68 Comments

expelled.jpgBen Stein is prominently featured in an upcoming documentary called “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” where he takes a stab a neo-darwinism, and seeks to bring increased legitimacy to the intelligent design camp. The creation vs. evolution debate is of course nothing new to Mormons, as the early and mid 20th century saw a good deal of postulation and debate on this matter among LDS Church leaders. Typically, Mormons seem generally untroubled by the issue, often finding resolution with “religion tells us why, science tells us how.” Mormons tend to be willing to accept the fossil record and the geological data all while acknowledging the role of a Creator, but without apologizing for the Genesis account. I perceive that latter-day saints figuratively sit back, munch on popcorn, and enjoy the show as the young-earth-creationist-evangelicals duke it out with the secular darwinists.

Ben Stein however, finds himself in a unique category. From what I gather, he is Jewish, but he is not pushing any religious agenda nor is he sponsored by or endorsing any Christian group or creationist museum. In fact, what I see as most significant about his endeavor transcends the creation/evolution debate entirely: he is dealing with the issue of academic integrity and authoritative suppression of information.

In an age where the increased accessibility of information is playing a more and more significant role in people’s religious experiences, there is a growing tendency to resist and resent the suppression or manipulation of relevant information, especially when that suppression happens on an authoritative level. What Ben Stein is attempting to expose is that the tables are now turned, and its the secular camp that is now guilty of making the conclusions first, and cherry picking the evidence next.

Please take a moment and watch the trailer for the film:

Here are also some links to other media appearances Ben has made:

What I find most admirable is that he openly admits that he may be completely wrong in his views on intelligent design, and even goes as far as to laud Darwin’s theory as brilliant for its time (referring to the O’ Reiley clip).  But more than pushing just another theory, he is sticking up for those who have been ostracized, alienated, ridiculed, or otherwise “expelled,” for challenging the established orthodoxy that darwinism has attained in the scientific community.  He apparently has a large body of evidence that demonstrates that scientists who question darwinism, or explore/expose the uncomfortable gaps and holes in the theory are summarily discredited and written off as scientific apostates, as it were, who no longer have a place in the scientific community.

In this situation, the parallels to institutional religion should be fairly obvious. The great irony, of course, is that now its the religionists who have a growing case against the academics in terms of closed mindedness, denial, defensiveness, silencing, and suppression.

What can we learn from all this?  If we are exceptionally confident in the correctness of our own world views, do we welcome or shun differing views?

Comments 68

  1. I thought that it was quite telling that at a screening of the movie, PZ Myers, who appears in the movie, was prevented from entering. He was expelled from the movie due to his academic views on the subject. This is above ironic, especially since Myers guest was allowed into the theater. That guest was Richard Dawkins who is also in the film. The makers of this film lied to Dawkins and Myers and Scott, in order to interview them. It makes me doubt the integrity of the film and not want to see it.


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  3. It is amazing to me that this man with a beard (an obvious throw back to our evolutionary past) was not allowed in. I refuse to not wear a beard due to the fact that it grows on my face. I trim but never shave. I protest the need to shave based on the fact that it is my monkey right to due so. Dawkins is a man of integrity. The creator used evolution to start not only the universe but also solar systems and mankind. If he she it, did not then I am wrong and will whither in the grave. I hope we survive death but if not I will not know. What a lovely spell we are under.


  4. KC…..Fantastic post. I was fully engaged the whole way through. I look forward to seeing this film. After watching the trailer and the interviews I cant help but wonder if the problem he is pointing out is the conformity demanded in the educational system rather then Darwinism.

    Edward Bernays is a great psychological figure in learning about the individual pressures of conformity to “mass-think”

    I believe bery much in challenging authority and this goes for both sides of this dialectic. I personally find his argument against Darwinism as weak. He offers no scientific data and no probabilities of Evoluation being wrong.

    A Catholic evolutionary Biologist of Brown University, Kenneth Miller, has done an excellent job in pushing forward the Darwinian side of the debate and flaws of Intelligent Design.

    But the important point is that intelligent design is not science. Yes there are holes in Darwins theory but there is fantastic evidence in favour of it. Yes we need to challenege current held scientific theories but we need to have better evidence….evidence that is more probable…and unfortunately for theists miracles are not “probable, verifiable, and repeatable.”

    Cheers for this KC.

  5. Simply put, shunning those with views that are so diametrically opposed to ours (being exceptionally confident in the correctness of our views) is absolutely the right thing to do, particularly when it comes to anyone who would promote young world creationism or intelligent design as valid scientific theories. They aren’t; they are theological arguments wrapped in pseudo-science. And if you believe that the scientific community should welcome these people, then you should believe that the LDS church should allow Sonja Johnson (?sp) or Paul Toscano to speak at general conference.

    Do you think that the scientific community should welcome anyone who argues that gravity is only a theory becuase the scriptures tell us that angels fly? Or maybe the scientific community should take Dianetics seriously? How about telekinesis and telepathy?

    The fact is that there are certain fundamental scientific views (ie. orthodoxy) – gravity, laws of thermodynamics, etc. For most scientists, there is enough evidence to place evolution among these fundamental laws. If those who promote creationism and ID want a place at the scientific table, they must play by the rules of science; presenting actually testable and verifiable theories. Currently they either won’t or can’t do that; they make arguments (sometimes valid, sometimes not) against the current evidence and interpretion thereof only to claim supernatural intervention.

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    Yes, Stephen, I believe the issue here is not wether is darwinism right or wrong, but rather about the issues of academic freedom, and suppression from de-facto authorities.

  7. Kari, I loved you comments, especially the Paul Toscano analogy.

    The ID crowd needs to play by the same rules of the scientific method and peer review that every other scientific field has to. Instead they claim they are being discriminated against when they insist that they be inculded in the conversation right from the start, before they do any work or provide any evidence. Indeed they work in the opposite way that the scientific method is suppose to work. They start with their conclusion and then try to find ways to make the evidence fit that conclusion, a bit like FARMS does. It is not science, it is faith pretending to be science and should not be given equal time until they do the research and pass the peer review process.

  8. K.C.
    I disagree that Mormons will sit on the back row and watch both side duke it out. In my experience, few people in the mainstream Church are familiar with the disagreements amongst the brethren on this issue in early and mid-parts of last century. I believe that many members of the Church are sympathetic to those who hold creationist and intelligent design views, and might consider themselves part of one of those groups.

    As I see it, the views of John Widstoe, B.H. Roberts, and James E. Talmage diminished after their deaths and have been supplanted by the ultra conservative views of Joseph Fielding Smith j.r. (who wrote Man his origin and destiny), and Bruce R. McConkie who condemned organic evolution as heresy in a BYU devotional.

    I believe that mainstream members of the Church who are aware of this movie and even those who see it, will welcome it as a defense for things they believe are doctrines of the Church.

  9. Kari, just so I am clear on what you are saying and not misinterpreting it:

    The religious leaders who shunned and persecuted the early scientists for claiming things that were not in harmony with the commonly believed theories of the time were “absolutely doing the right thing” simply because those leaders were “exceptionally confident in the correctness of (their) views”?

    If not: Those scientists who shunned Einstein for his theory of relativity, those who shunned early proponents of string theory, those who shun scientists now who question global warming and man’s impact on global temperature change – anyone who bases their shunning of others on the extent to which they are “exceptionally confident in the correctness of (their) views” – all of these people are “absolutely doing the right thing”?

    If so, do you apply the same standard to religious discussions? Are evangelicals justified in classifying Mormons and Catholics (and others) as non-Christian and “shunning them” due simply to their own confidence in their views? We aren’t talking about a justification for disagreement; we are talking about a justification for shunning – for excluding someone from the marketplace of ideas just for having different ideas. We’re talking about changing from a free and open market to a closed, by-invitation-only market.

    Are you willing to make the same assertion if you find yourself on the other end of the spectrum – as the one being shunned for unpopular views?

  10. KC,

    The issue is not academic freedom of suppression from de-facto authorities, and it’s delusional to think so. The issue, as I pointed out earlier, and Bob H also points out, is this: If the scientists who support ID or young-earth creationism want to be taken seriously in the scientific community, then they need to perform their work, research, and publishing in an accepted scientific manner. If they can’t or won’t do that, then why should they be taken seriously?

  11. Btw, I agree completely with Bob H’s second paragraph in #7. My question to Kari was focused very narrowly on confidence and shunning.

  12. Ray,

    I should not have used the word shunned. I think that was an unfortunate choice of words, both on my part and in the original post. But you are speaking of not just shunning in your examples, particularly with church/science discord surrounding the workings of the universe. Those were active persecutions and executions, which I adamantly oppose.

    With regards to ID/creationism v. evolution, the scientific community has the right and responsibility to speak out. Creationists and ID’ers don’t want to play by the scientific rules that require theories that are testable, verifiable, and open to change if the evidence supports that change. The simply aren’t doing that.

    There is current debate about the cause (ie. human caused) global warming. There are those who interpret the data as not supporting the conclusion that global warming is caused by human activity. And as long as they play by the rules of scientific inquiry, the will always be welcome at the table, even if they represent a minority opinion.

    Nor am I arguing against the free marketplace of ideas, but not all marketplaces are equivalent. The scientific marketplace runs differently than the sociological or theological marketplaces. And those marketplaces are different than the exchange of ideas within the LDS Church. That’s just to say that if we want to be part of a marketplace, we must understand the rules and language of that marketplace and keep with them. If not, then “shunning” (i.e. telling them to take their ideas to a different market) is appropriate.

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    Chris #8, I guess my perspective comes from my BYU Physical Science class, where the professor shared scriptures about the purpose of the creation then went through an overview of the fossil record, the geologic evidence, and even natural selection, and seemed fine with presenting both. He mentioned the young earth creationists, but with a wave of the hand he summarily dismissed their arguments.

    I do know that Joseph Fielding Smith was an avid creationist, and his writings and views have certainly spilled into some mainstream Mormon thought, but at least on the academic side of things, I perceive that Mormons don’t seem bound to these ideas the way that “bible-believin'” Christian creationist pseudo-scientists do. (At least as far as my perspective allows)

    Kari #10,
    You mention an “an accepted scientific manner,” which unavoidably makes me think of an “unwritten order of things.” I fully grant that many ID arguments are tenuous at best, but I think that science amputates itself as soon as it becomes unwilling to reinvent itself. The most destructive, or rather counterproductive, stance a scientist can take is that he or she has all the answers, and is loathed to consider anything else.

    The truth is that intelligent design doesn’t actually provide any real answers other than “God did it.” The worthwhile element I feel it brings to the scientific table is that it identifies the areas where darwinism falls short…a service I would imagine a scientist would welcome in order to lead to increased robustness or even bullet-proofness to a theory.

    Also, its worth noting that there are various camps within the non-darwinists, including the young earth creationists, old earth creationists, and the more liberal advocates of ID in general who color in the gaps where they see holes… I think its worthwhile to acknowledge their differences, as I’m sure they would resent being lumped all together.

  14. This film, and it’s Michael Moore-esque style, is the subject of quite the stir among the Bloggosphere. There are many bloggers who are in support of the film (or at least are against the exclusion of scientists with differing points of view as portrayed in the film) and there are many who are opposed to it.

    The basic argument boils down to whether or not certain scientists are being excluded from the scientific community for their views. One side feels that they are and the other side feels that they are not.

    Jared has a very interesting collection of blog posts at http://ldsscience.blogspot.com/2008/04/expelled-exposed.html

  15. “I believe that many members of the Church are sympathetic to those who hold creationist and intelligent design views, and might consider themselves part of one of those groups.” I think I just had a seizure when I read that sentence. It’s like hearing Amanda (on Grant & Amanda) gushing in orgasmic delight about Stephen’s hot cocoa. There are just some things that create an involuntary neurological reaction.

    “There is current debate about the cause (ie. human caused) global warming.” And as long as the only media representative willing to provide access to dissenting viewpoints is Sean Hannity, that will remain a minority opinion, despite the fact that even NASA comes out in that dissenting camp. On the whole, we only have access to the opinions that the media puts forth.

    Personally, I think a great response to the “ID deserves equal play” argument is the Flying Spaghetti Monster argument posed by Bobby Henderson “to protest the decision by the Kansas State Board of Education to require the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to biological evolution.”

    From his letter to the board:
    “I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.”

    Henderson explained, “I don’t have a problem with religion. What I have a problem with is religion posing as science. If there is a god and he’s intelligent, then I would guess he has a sense of humor.”

  16. KC,

    By accepted scientific manner, I mean the scientific method. Stolen from wikepedia:

    1. Define the question
    2. Gather information and resources (observe)
    3. Form hypothesis
    4. Perform experiment and collect data
    5. Analyze data
    6. Interpret data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis
    7. Publish results
    8. Retest (frequently done by other scientists)

    Anyone who wants to participate in the scientific marketplace should follow these simple steps, otherwise, what they do can’t be called science. It’s not about “the unwritten order of things” its about simple, basic, scientific research.

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    Kari, I figured that’s what you were getting at 🙂

    The scientific method is indeed an effective and legitimate way of drawing conclusions about the world around around us. If a theory has thoroughly gone through this process again and again, then dissenting views should be water off a duck’s back, and step 9 of ostracizing those with differing views would be largely unnecessary if the evidence truly does speak for itself.

    Given the time scope of this particular example, carrying out steps 2 and 4 of the process are essentially impossible to do effectively, since its unfeasible to get a sample of the primordial soup or wait around x million years to test hypotheses. With these critical links virtually missing, it seem awfully presumptuous on anyone’s part to claim to have any solid conclusions based on strict adherence to the scientific method. Of course, I don’t think anyone’s claims are actually that bold, but I do start worrying when when one scientist’s “best guess” starts bullying another. (and this goes well beyond the realm of darwin vs ID)

    I suppose it’s the progressive part me that gets uncomfortable with norms, paradigms, and over-established traditions. To me, science is about exploration and discovery, and I believe that there reaches a point where truth becomes self evident, and at that point, any falsehoods are welcome out in the open, because they will do nothing but dissolve in the light. Perhaps that’s a bit too idealistic of me, and incorrectness should be micromanaged by those who know better. I guess time will tell.

  18. I think that ID’ers should stop trying to push their junk off as science. It isn’t science. Intelligent design in the sense that God was behind it, is true. But to make such a statement isn’t science, but religion.

    To acknowledge what science is and what science teaches is one thing. Its important to have that knowledge. What you do with it from a religious perspective is something entirely different, but has no place in a science class, except perhaps at BYU.

    I for one do not believe in evolution as the origin of original species at all. I believe evolution is a process that keeps going on, worlds without end, with species evolving into other forms but being moved from planet to planet. I believe in panspermia and/or transplantation of species by angels. This isn’t science. This is a religious idea, and were I to try to pass off my religious belief as science would be wrong. Science is evidence-based thinking. And religion has no place in it since religion isn’t evidence based, but is rather testimony and faith and revelation based. I may interpret science with my religion, but the mix I come up with in this interpretation is still religion, not science.

  19. “Those were active persecutions and executions, which I adamantly oppose.”

    Thanks for clearing that up, Kari. *absolutely huge grin*

    I think we pretty much agree on this one.

  20. If you have said 1) that Intelligent Design isn’t science or, 2) that its proponents haven’t done any science, then you need to do a little more homework.

    I don’t know if this made it into the movie, but the example I know of is mathematician William Dembski, who was using mathematical theorems at Baylor University to show the implausability of Darwinian evolution. The faculty was enraged when they found out what he was doing, and shut down his research center, even though none of the investigating faculty had the neccessary background to understand his arguments.

  21. For those who support the idea that our church leaders should welcome all ideas and not “shun” any. How would you like to have Jeffs for your Bishop or LaBaron for you Stake President.

    As far as science goes how would you like to wake up some day and see a “mawocow” on the morning news. A being created in a lab that is 33% ma (man), 33% wo (women), and the rest a cow.

    You think it’s not possible, I don’t know, but google this Headline in todays news:

    Cow-human cross embryo lives three days

  22. This is not just a problem with evolution, but in all scientific fields.

    I have repeatedly had people tell me that “Scientific” means that the majority of the scientists in that field agree with it.

    That is not science. It’s simply arguing that the majority is right.

    Science is about inductive reasoning following the scientific method. More broadly it’s about (flawed) logic- and therefor is not dependent upon credentials. At all.

    Let me repeat this- credentials do not matter at all in determining the correctness of a hypothesis using science.

    So much of what passes for science today is argued this way: “All the reputable scientists in the field believe X, therefor X is true” It’s a logical fallacy known as appealing to authority.

    What’s the difference from this statement: “God says X, therefor X is true”- the only difference is that God is more dependable.

    Now an authority can be a legitimate way of finding truth (aka: My parents told me so)- but it does not fit into the method of finding truth known as Science.

    This means that several things passed off as science simply aren’t. Evolution is most prominent because it simply can’t be tested using the scientific method. That doesn’t mean evolution can’t be true, but it isn’t science- not under any meaningful definition of science. Belief in God is not scientific either- because His existence can not be tested. Yet the term “science” has been seized upon as a way to shut down disagreement as illegitimate. Not through appeals to reason, but in an appeal to the authority of science. (This is particularly ironic as science is by design logically flawed- it’s simply very effective despite it’s flaw).

    Another common fallacy is to throw up statistical numbers as if they are “proof” without any consideration of statistical theory, auto-correlation or proper modeling.

    In my experience once you start using these methods of finding truth instead of a rigorous scientific method then truth becomes very malleable to political pressures and ulterior motives.

    The reason evangelicals are so upset about the whole evolution being taught in schools is not even really evolution as much as that they sense an ulterior motive on the part of the instructors to diminish their children’s faith in God. So I completely understand why they so worked up about it.

  23. These guys did a fantastic job of demonstrating how they really feel about free and open exchange of ideas when they expelled one of the stars of the film from a screening.

    If it’s about academic freedom — not about pushing one’s religious views — then why is it being marketed through Christian networking channels and shown to groups of pastors in exclusive pre-screenings? (see NCSE on Expelled)

    If you want to believe that God guided evolution, fine, but the reason “Intelligent Design” doesn’t belong in the science classroom is that it isn’t a scientific theory. For an idea to reach the status of a scientific theory, it has to pass rigorous standards of research and evidence — scientific consensus is not a hollywood popularity contest.

  24. I had hoped this debate wouldn’t be necessary or if it came here it would remain polite. Ugh.

    Here’s the deal: I don’t mind the idea of scientists defending a tenable position, or even using an evidence-based argument to reject a new, competing theory (even if they are eventually proven wrong), but to reject a position simply because it does not fit with the settled consensus is simply not part of the scientific method. Let me repeat: consensus is not part of the scientific method. It is very easy, however, to confuse data for consensus.

    As an example of this, let me explain what I’m getting on about in terms of statistical techniques. There is in psychology a growing use of meta-analysis. It is a statistical technique that aggregates the correlations (or covariances) from many studies looking at similar phenomena and attempts to determine the true effect size of the relationship between two variables when the effects of other variables are accounted for. Sometimes these are quite subtle, and other times they are not. What it does do is allow us to understand quite complex relationships between variables that do not show up in single studies. This is especially true in psychology where it is often unethical to manipulate all of the potential variables in a study.

    My point in all this is fairly simple–arguing about ‘scientific opinion’ and ‘scientific consensus’ is a time-wasting exercise. The data are the only points of interest. If the data support the conclusions, then the current position holds, but as soon as someone points out a flaw in the data or the method, then the reaction should be to investigate that flaw regardless of how politically unsavory the implications of that investigation might be. This means that we do not hold back in a scientific community because our investigation might lead us to an unpopular or unusual conclusion–rather we move forward to go where the data and logic dictate. If that tells us that the commonly held opinion that evolutionary theory as a source for life is somewhat flawed in its current conception, then we do not flinch from that. It also does not mean that we run to the camp of saying that crackpot theories are the most likely alternative. We simply state that the current conception must be re-examined. Similarly, if it leads us to conclude that the science behind global climate change is flawed, then we must reject it and come up with new models, regardless of how politically unpopular this is. Because that is the scientific method.

    At the same time, however, scientific inquiry is generally much messier than any entry on wikipedia or description in a textbook is likely to demonstrate–and every scientist knows this. The reality is that funding is not easy to come by, and jobs are easily lost if you don’t bow to political pressure. Why do you think that consensus, then, is such a big watchword? Because it is an easy way to make everyone happy. But it has no place in the scientific community except as a way of saying–the data is reliable and valid to this degree. The models agree on this outcome to this percentage point. If the scientists start using mushy and subjective terminology, then you know that they are not being scientists any longer, but are being human beings with political motivations, not scientific ones. Unfortunately, when they are using numbers, the numbers may not lie, but unless you understand where those numbers came from, how they got those numbers, and the statistical and mathematical processes behind those numbers, you have no idea whether or not they are speaking as a scientist or as a politically/monetarily motivated creature.

    Is intelligent design a valid scientific theory? No, but evolution, for all its trappings, is both a scientific theory and a load of religio-political wash that I’m not sure I care for. As a theory of the origin of life on earth evolution is untestable and untested. I am certain that from the perspective of determine whether or not a planet was formed by an incredibly intelligent and loving God with (to us) exceptionally advanced abilities or formed naturally would be nearly impossible to tell except to one who had nearly as advanced abilities as the one who created it–which we do not. I think the same is nearly true of designing a complete ecosystem and implementing it in a stable fashion vs. allowing it to develop on its own, presuming that such a thing could happen (abiogenesis seems very likely)–we are simply not in a position at this stage to tell the difference between the two, and I don’t know if we will be for a VERY long time.

    All that said, evolution as a matter of species divergence is nearly undebatable, but as I said before, being open to new evidence and new information is absolutely critical for the scientific community to work. I believe that the same is essentially true in a somewhat modified form for a religious community. First, the source of new information is different in a religious community–it comes from God. This is different, but it also requires that those who are leading the religious community be open for God to reveal new and unusual ideas to them–they cannot lock themselves to thinking about ideas in the same vein as everyone else has for generations–how else will God reveal new information to them if they will consider nothing new? This is often given as the exact reason God chose an unschooled 14-year old to restore the church rather than an established minister–he wouldn’t have to relearn as much and was open to new ideas.

    That does not mean that the scientific community or a religious community needs to put up with those who are crackpots or whose goals are chaos or the destruction of the community, but that they do need to be respectful and culture those who are trying to remain within the community but question long-held beliefs without destroying the community. This may be just as difficult in both instances, but is ultimately necessary.

    Just my thoughts–sorry for the long comments.

  25. RE: “If you have said 1) that Intelligent Design isn’t science or, 2) that its proponents haven’t done any science, then you need to do a little more homework.”

    Uh, no, actually, science is something that means you can prove something with evidence. It is the scientific worldview that things are evidence-based. Only evidence based things are science. ID is a philosophy based on religious belief that interprets science, that seeks to propose that the cause of a process observed by science was caused by an intelligence behind it. There is no evidence for this. It is not science. It is a religious belief out of the realm of science, not that I’m finding fault with it, but it is creationism by another name. I believe in ID, I just believe in calling it what it is and not try to pass it off by what its not.

  26. “This means that several things passed off as science simply aren’t. Evolution is most prominent because it simply can’t be tested using the scientific method. That doesn’t mean evolution can’t be true, but it isn’t science- not under any meaningful definition of science.”

    You mean, you can’t find a particular species with a lifespan of just a few days? I don’t know, like a fruitfly maybe!? Take a bunch of the little buggies and segregate them into 2 groups. Subject each group to VERY different environmental conditions (temperature/humidity) isolated away from the other group. Now, let the generations tick away for two years. That’ll give you somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 generations of divergence. Now try and mate individuals from each group. Wow! They can’t mate! Sexual isolation was produced as a byproduct of selection. Speciation has occurred! Of course, we can’t test this on humans as speciation would take hundreds of thousands of years, and I’m a little too impatient for that! But, as all life is basically made from the same genetic junk, we can understand our species by experimenting with others! Cheers!

    State your sources: The above was in reference to “Sexual Isolation as a Byproduct of Adaptation to Environmental Conditions in Drosophila melanogaster: Kilias, et al. (1980) exposed D. melanogaster populations to different temperature and humidity regimes for several years. They performed mating tests to check for reproductive isolation. They found some sterility in crosses among populations raised under different conditions. They also showed some positive assortative mating. These things were not observed in populations which were separated but raised under the same conditions. They concluded that sexual isolation was produced as a byproduct of selection.”

  27. What’s the difference from this statement: “God says X, therefor X is true”- the only difference is that God is more dependable.

    Unfortunately, deity hasn’t seen fit to personally show up and explain his/her/its actions to the “common folk.” Ergo, what you are truly saying is “This person told me that God says X, therefore X is true.” It’s all very nice that you believe that the person claiming to speak for deity is reliable, but the fact is, you’re not relying on deity at all. You’re relying on the word of a mere mortal (or in some cases, the bastardized, edited remnants of an old book—also written by one or more mere mortals).

    What’s that you say? Deity told you that you need to accept the words of a mere mortal as if they came directly from the mouth of deity? Wrong again. Deity never told you any such thing. Rather, a mere mortal told you that deity commanded you to believe that mere mortal’s words, as if they came directly from the mouth of deity. The difference is enormous.

    So now what do you argue? Well, naturally, you tell me that when you listened to that mere mortal, and then prayed about it, you felt really, really nice, and that means deity really did tell you directly! Nonsense. When did deity directly tell you that deity communicates in such a way? Never. Rather, a mere mortal told you that deity communicates that way. To make matters worse, that same mere mortal told you that if you didn’t get those nice warm feelings, then you just weren’t good enough, or praying seriously enough, or “wise enough” to be able to see the Emperor’s fancy new clothes.

  28. I also want to point out along with Stephen that I believe this criticism is a criticism of the failures of the scientific academic community. As it is with darwainism, so it is with global warming, political science, and other hot topics. The peer review system, grant funding system, publishing, and tenure systems all have their ideological dark alleys. I think it is inherent upon all of us who are critical thinkers to realize that no human instiution is immune from bias and falsehoods.

    (7) “The ID crowd needs to play by the same rules of the scientific method and peer review that every other scientific field has to.”

    I’m not a fan of ID as a precursor, but I find that the so-called “rules,” “peer review” methods, and funding mechanism are biased in favor of the establishment. I’m not opposed to science not wanting to recognize a poke at Darwainism as a logical preamble to “thus, ID.” I think that IS pseudo-science, but a poke at Darwainism nonethess, without any quid pro quo should be allowed and encouraged. Often, it is not because agendas are assumed. This is one of the failures of the “rules.” Again, if you think the rules are perfect, I’ll challenge anyone to a debate about man-made global warming, which is undergoing the same process of ensconcement.

    (16) Kari, the scientific method is wonderful . . . in a vacuum. If I could have all the funding in the world to test my hypotheses, and then publish it on CNN, then I would hail it as heartily as you do. Carol Quigley in his book, Tragedy and Hope discusses the funding mechanism for most universities and public educational testing (at least in the 1950’s and 1960’s), the Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations. These are the same foundations that fund the military industrial complex, meet in secret, and have known agendas of formulating a one-world govenment under the auspices of socialism. You can say I’m waxing conspiratorial, but let’s give these foundations the benefit of the doubt of being more benign. All organizations have agendas, ideologies, and biases. They will fund those tests and hypotheses that agree with their stated agendas and ignore ones that don’t. That’s a flaw in the system or the rules. Then, say someone wants to publish something controversial to the foundation’s agenda in a mainstream article. They must get “peer reviewed.” Well the stated goal of the peer review is to examine the science and make sure it’s sound, but it’s also to publish material that will continue getting the academic instution grant money for more tests.

    Unless of course, you want to provide that all foundations, academians, and scientists have not an ounce of human ambition, I’ll accept your argument that this is not how things works. We’ll throw prophets under the bus however for their human frailty and decide to abandon Mormon orthodoxy for less.

    (21) “I don’t know if this made it into the movie, but the example I know of is mathematician William Dembski, who was using mathematical theorems at Baylor University to show the implausability of Darwinian evolution.”

    This would be a GREAT example of how the rules are flawed. This man was shut down. I don’t even know if we was an IDer, but that’s beside the point. If genetics and the DNA level don’t subscribe to the current view of Darwainism, let’s point it out and hopefully find new facts and truths that either substantiate Darwain or go in a different direction.

  29. RE: “Rather, a mere mortal told you”……

    Mr. Literski,

    Are you an atheist or something?

    Do you not believe in getting answers to prayer?

    I may believe in separation of the scientific from the religious in academic settings, but I do believe in God as well as ID, and I do know my prayers are answered. Consider that a testimony borne.

  30. Pingback: Does religious belief require creation science? | Main Street Plaza

  31. Have you mischaracterized the church’s position? Considering the recent Ensign article on evolution, I see a clear disdain for science and Darwin. With the current level of correlation, it seems the church may be moving into the arena of science bashing.

    Any thoughts?

  32. Post
  33. The Silent Observer: “If you have said 1) that Intelligent Design isn’t science or, 2) that its proponents haven’t done any science, then you need to do a little more homework.”

    A more ridiculous statement I have never seen. Jabulon did a nice job refuted this; I won’t be redundant.

  34. I hesitated to get involved with this discussion simply because of time constraints and the large nature of the issue. It was hard, however, to read some the big misconceptions that are being perpetrated and not at least address a few.

    First, IDer’s are not being ostracized/expelled because they have a differing viewpoint, but it is because the evidence that they are presenting is rubbish, creationism dressed up in a cheap suit as one gentleman put it. If we want to take the ID “theory” and put in the classroom then one can apply any number of “intelligences.” Raelism and Scientology would be just as valid as any other ID explanation. The thing is that there is no need for an intelligent designer for evolution to work. It has been observed in many different ways and Darron S. provided one such example. Simply put, evolution works and intelligent design does not.

    Secondly, many are confusing origin of life hypotheses with the theory of evolution. The theory of evolution is perhaps the most well-supported theory in science. It has backing in nearly every scientific field (biology, chemistry, physics, etc.) What I see happening is the old god of the gaps, personal incredulity fallacy, fallacy of benefit and conspiracy, false premise, and basic ignoring of facts and evidence (either willfully or by ignorance).

    Next, very few scientists claim perfection of their field, any who do are ignorant of the many holes that fill science. With that said, science has been one of the greatest acheivement of humanity, if not -the- greatest. It may not be perfect, but it is the best we have and it works well. As far as the dark underbelly of science funding, yeah, a few scientists put aside their morals and standards to accommodate some funding. Yet, there are thousands who continue to do some great and valuable work of which we all benefit. The stalwart theories that grace the sciences are not maintained because the scientists are scared of having their funding cut or because they might be wrong; these theories stay because they work! Most researchers are always looking for loopholes or the next big thing, but they do it in the realms of the scientific method. Who of them doesn’t want to become the next Einstein or Darwin? Who of them doesn’t want to win a Nobel Prize?

    Finally, the idea that evolution is “a load of religio-political wash” is misdirected. The theory of evolution is neutral; it is people’s interpretation that is loaded.

    Evolution, warts and all, makes its predictions and so far they have been correct and have helped humanity is numerous ways. It remains valid in medicine, genetics, and every other biological science. ID has nothing to offer except maybe a possible way of how life began, that is it. Even that is stretching it when we know that there are other more natural possibilities to explain the origins of life.

    By yelling “It’s no fair! We’re being persecuted for our beliefs!” Expelled is just another strategy of IDers to get their Judeo-Christian philosophies into the classroom. To me, it seems to be a one more head of the hydra that will be summarily cut off and burnt at the stump.

  35. #31:
    Mr. Literski, Are you an atheist or something?

    Neither. I am a human being, in many ways like you. I am not an atheist, nor am I “something.”

    Do you not believe in getting answers to prayer?

    I believe that prayers can be “answered” in many ways. As Joseph Smith said (after making a fairly significant mistake that he took for revelation), some revelations are from god, some are from man, and some are from the devil. In other words, that one’s background, experience, and understanding can affect what one considers an “answer to prayer,” and sometimes, no matter how certain we might be that deity has provided that “answer,” we find out we were wrong.

  36. (35) “Yet, there are thousands who continue to do some great and valuable work of which we all benefit. The stalwart theories that grace the sciences are not maintained because the scientists are scared of having their funding cut or because they might be wrong; these theories stay because they work! Most researchers are always looking for loopholes or the next big thing, but they do it in the realms of the scientific method.”

    I belive in the laboratory most scientists ARE scientists. The directionalization of research and funding is what I’m talking about. All I have to do is drop you into a 1900 scientific discussion on the theory of light and ether and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I belive it’s loaded. You can believe and apply all the noble motives you want to the whole scientific process, but I refuse to divorce the passions of humanity to a peron or a group of people just because they happen to have PhD’s and are researchers.

    I just don’t understand how those that are the reasonable and logical among us are so quick to be label the modern scientific process a messiah of perfection when its obvious that it isn’t. How about some ambiguity?

    Here’s what’s chilling. Let’s put ID aside here, because the argument is more about the process of marketing scientific research to the public. Every one of you that is arguing against ID has probably done so because they’ve read something in the media or in your particular cicles that castigates it as pseudo-science, and you BELEIVE what you read about it. You take it on your implicit faith in the scientific community or a particular scientific journal, or maybe just a certain PhD on Youtube. At least with revealed religion, prophets ask you to test your claims on the Holy Ghost. How many of you have examined the individual empirical claims of some of these experiments that poke holes in Dawainism and the Origin of Life theories and determined them null and void? How about with man-made global warming? Time magazine says the debate over man-made global warming is over so we take it at face-value. I mean, the journalist must have done their due dilligence and has no ideological or political agenda? Right? How many of you will see this film before you determine a) whether it’s propaganda or b) whether it has something to say about the flaws in the modern scientific process? You can still believe in Darwainism and think that ID is a philosophical and not scientific discussion but still be concerned about moral hazards in scientific tenure and publishing. I think we get off topic when we sidebar this to a discussion about ID.

  37. NM Tony (35): ID does belong in the classroom. Any merits it offers for the arguments of abiogenesis should be explored. All of its limitations to furthering science should be confronted. I contend that ID belongs in the philosophy classroom, not the science classroom, but that is splitting hairs when many rabid secularists these days don’t want religion-influenced topics to be discussed in any public classroom, in any topical setting, lest any sympathy for it be encultured.

    This latter point is what I see Ben Stein so aptly highlighting.

  38. Jabulon, Nick’s point, as I read it, is that such answers simply cannot be established scientifically as valid – therefore, they have no place as proof or evidence in a scientific discussion. They shouldn’t cloud a scientist’s **practice** of science (implementation of the scientific method), even though they can, do and must influence that scientist’s interpretation of the results. I agree with Nick 100% on this.

    Further, Mormonism teaches VERY clearly that prophets are human and fallible, that ancient texts are the word of God “as far as (they are) translated correctly”, that “we see through a glass darkly” and that our own modern prophets sometimes confuse their own beliefs for the word of God – leading to the need to move away from former teachings in the light of new revelation and insight and understanding. Frankly, that’s why I am thrilled that the Church hasn’t issued an official statement on evolution since 1909 – that it explicitly has left open the possibility that our physical bodies were created through an evolutionary process (that the body of the first man might have started as “a germ embryo”.) Individual GA’s differ in their personal views, but that 1909 statement still is the last official statement on the matter – and it is NOT anti-evolutionary.

  39. Why is that I never see anyone asking, “Why do we care about the origins of life?”

    I’ve been through this age-old debate enough to know I don’t want to weigh in on *this* forum as well. I think some excellent points have been made on boths sides, as well as some not-so-excellent points which I can’t be bothered to comment on.

    But again…why *do* we care? More to the point, why do we care enough to engage in such heated debates, about this subject, over such a long period of time? I see scant little debate over a legion of other ideas, but on our origins? As I said–this is a long-term debate.

    Perhaps if we took time to examine *why* we want to know, we may be better able to understand where we ought to look for answers. Truth is independent of such feeble classifications as “science” or “religion,” and I don’t believe it ought to be held hostage by either camp, since neither side is omniscient, and both sides are populated by fallible human beings. Let’s not forget that both camps also serve markedly different purposes.

    Let’s examine possible outcomes of one side being right, and the other being wrong. That’s silly, I know, since experience tells us that we’re not likely to find such clear-cut “black and white” results in matters like this. But humour me.

    Case 1: Science is right, religion is wrong. Somehow, the existence of a supreme being gets undeniably proven to be a fallacy. Result? Religious people have to redefine their paradigms, and lose whatever comfort they found in religion. Or they simply cling to their old beliefs, and delude themselves into thinking there is a loving God to take care of them.

    Case 2: Religion is right, science is wrong. God’s existence is undeniably proven. Those who did not believe in God suddenly have great cause to admit they are wrong, that they really *don’t* know as much as they thought they did, and perhaps even make some significant lifestyle changes. Or they simply cling to their old beliefs, and delude themselves into thinking that the evidence is faulty, and go on living however they see fit.

    But where is Case 3? That, maybe, just maybe, there’s truth to be found on *both* sides. Does that bother us? Why or why not? What does that tell us about ourselves?

    Why do we care about this? Really?

    Answer that to yourselves, and then make an honest effort to find truth. By “honest” I mean “honest with yourself,” and “willing to admit that you might not know everything.” I also mean “be willing to examine all sorts of evidence.” If you think something is false, then you shouldn’t fear it, because only real truth can ultimately justify itself. Take a look at ideas you may not believe, try to understand where those ideas may be valid, and strive for a more comprehensive view of the matter, rather than bandying semantics about in an effort to bend others to your worldview.

    When you’ve found the full truth on this matter, please come back and tell me, because I know next to nothing about anything.

  40. ID belongs in the Sunday School classroom, not in the public schools.

    NM Tony, excellent post. Much better than the response I was working on.

    Peter Brown , I think that you are too quick to ascribe particular motives and conspiracies to modern science and those that fund science. Despite having never personally applied for research grants, I am familiar with the process, having worked in research while and undergraduate and during my medical residency. Proposals get funded based primarily upon the anticipated outcome. No one today is getting funded to research and determine whether light is a particle or a wave, it’s been clearly shown to behave as both. Very few people today (outside of the Army) get funding to research smallpox, botulism, or VX, GB, or GS (and that research is being directed towards treatment). And no one is getting funding to show that ibuprofen isn’t an effective treatment for Parkinson Disease.

    If you want your research to be funded, your proposal has to be clear and concise, specifically when addressing the question that you hope to answer. And the funding source/agency must find value in the anticipated answer to your question, or they will spend their money elsewhere.

    This is why the ID/creationists will never get funding – they can’t propose way to prove or disprove the intervention of a supernatural power (i.e. they are not making a scientific argument).

    You are correct that it is difficulty to get funding that goes against something that has become accepted by the scientific community. Why is that? It’s because for these areas, there have already been many, many studies that have lead to that understanding. It’s why it is hard, but not impossible, to get funding to show that global warming may not be man-made. If you want to make such an argument, then you’ve got to be able to write a strong proposal; and you must be able to show that it is likely to support your hypothesis.

    Is that because of bias on the part of the scientific community and those that fund research. Yes, to a certain degree. People want their money (whether public or private) to be utilized effectively, and therefore judgements must be made on the value of the proposed research. No one claims the process is perfect. Akin to what Winston Churchill said about democracy (“Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried”), the scientific method is the worst way to come to understanding, except for all the other ways tried, including religion/revelation.

  41. Nice articulation Kari (42), but what we’re talking about here, if you were to listen to the intent of “Expelled,” is scientific free-thinking particularly in relation to abiogenesis. Science and its methodology has not settled this issue, nor will it likely ever, as it reaches into the realms of philosophy. It is beyond the realm of testability and empirical verifiability. Now it _is_ tempting to say, “well, if the reasoning process by which we can demonstrate germ evolution can result in benefit A or B, then, therefore, that reasoning process can be trusted to settle that which cannot today be proven.” This is mentally-soothing paradigm orthodoxy, axiom supremacist thinking and completely foolish to be embraced unilaterally by an educational establishment.

    I’m saying this as a long-time James Randi Education Foundation supporter, I am extremely suspicious of pseudoscience, and religion out-stepping its place. But in this regard I’m with Ben Stein and his Producers. I agree that ID does not belong in the science classroom, but it should be quite welcome in education’s philosophical inquiry (including that of the philosophy curricula of public schools). That it is not thus accepted just goes to prove the bias of secularists who want to manhandle the educational institution to serve its axiom unilaterally.

  42. Stan 41 – I think you took a left turn in Albuquerque. Are we debating whether science or religion is right and that they are mutually exclusive? That’s not a view most Mormons espouse in my experience. That sounds like an evangelical argument. All the Mormons I know (please step forward if there are dissenting Mormon views on this one) believe that true religious views are compatible with true science (which doesn’t mean every scientific theory, just what is actually scientifically true).

    The problem with ID is that it’s not a scientific theory, but its proponents want to introduce it into the scientific dialogue as if it were. I agree it can be introduced into religious or philosophical dialogue (not in High School, BTW, unless they’ve started teaching philosophy & religion in HS since I last attended). Evolution does not take God to task; it is neutral on the topic of God.

    But I do agree with Stan that I don’t really have a dog in this fight. I’m not a scientist, nor am I in a science-related or education-related field.

  43. We studied philosophy and religion in my AP European and AP Literature courses in high school. But that was back in the 80s; may be verboten now. I’d hope not.

  44. Jabulon, Kari:

    I’m pretty sure neither of you have any idea what you’re talking about. Simply saying over and over that ID is not science does not make it true. Yes, science is supposedly evidence-based. But there is no evidence for the proposed evolutionary pathways of certain biological structures that I modeled as an undergraduate researcher. Would you call those proposals unscientific? William Dembski’s No-Free-Lunch theorems that I mentioned earlier may be wrong, but to call them religion or “not science” is just name-calling.

  45. I would think we could all agree to a few points (but apparently not):
    1. The scientific community’s objection to ID is justifiable on the basis that it is “not science because [it] cannot be tested by experiment, do[es] not generate any predictions, and propose[s] no new hypotheses of [its] own.”
    2. Scientists who believe that the theory of evolution is the final word are not being scientific either. There should always be new theory and more assumptions to question. Even if intelligent design doesn’t meet the qualification for scientific discussion. I admire Ben Stein’s contrarian perspective, yet I can’t agree this is a viable scientific theory.
    3. Intelligent design is simply not ready for prime time as a viable subject for public science education, as legal ruling confirms. (In Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, a group of parents of high-school students challenged a public school district requirement for teachers to present intelligent design in biology classes as an alternative “explanation of the origin of life”. U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III ruled that intelligent design is not science, that it “cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents”, and concluded that the school district’s promotion of it therefore violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.)

    The stated purpose of intelligent design is to investigate whether or not existing empirical evidence implies that life on Earth must have been designed by an intelligent agent or agents. IMO, evolution does not mean that God doesn’t exist. Intelligent design’s attempt to disprove the idea that man came from mud struck by lightning (Ben Stein’s words in the clip) is not the conflict. The conflict is only there if you see evolution as contradicting religion, which I don’t.

    JfQ – I’m jealous. We did not have AP courses like this back east where I went to HS. However, given the continual cuts in education funding and the “No Child Left Behind” incentives, AP philosophy class is probably the first on the chopping block.

  46. Perhaps those who favor ID should merely be contrarians; Rather than assert intelligence behind a First Mover (which is philosophically sound” they should stick to the realm of science and show how evolution fails to address the issues of abiogenesis. This radical contrarianism would be quite welcome, perhaps, merely to show that which materialism and reason/scientific methodology can prove and that which it can’t. And, as soon as the scientists can plausibly and demonstrably observe amino acids coagulating into life, I’d appreciate if they’d be honest enough to stick to the realm of philosophy, too.

  47. Post

    If I may again weigh in on the issue of what defines a scientific theory, I’ll first quote wikipedia:

    “The defining characteristic of a scientific theory is that it makes falsifiable or testable predictions about things not yet observed.”

    First, the part that stands out for me is that a theory must be falsifiable to be legit. Since disproving God is as impossible as proving him, this puts ID on unstable ground, since the falsifiability element is out of the picture.

    However, this falsifiability argument also takes a stab at the spontaneous generation postulate (ie lightning + mud as Ben Stein said) The current models rely on various atmospheric variables, the proper sequencing of amino acids, electric stimulus, organic compounds, proper temperature, etc to explain the first organic being. But even the most ardent advocates of spontaneous generation will concede that the conditions needed to generate an original spark of life are astronomically improbable in a statistical sense. Yet, the fail-safe for the argument lies in framing the model within an indeterminately gargantuan span of time. Any statistical analysis that argues against the theory can be dismissed simply by adding zeros to the proposed time frame, thus eliminating the possibility of falsifiability.

    It seems that at the core and root of the issue, no one really has any solid answers that are up to snuff for legitimate science, which I feel makes the issue all that more fascinating.

  48. Just a side note – my 13 yr old sz they heard abt this movie in science class this week. The teacher did a slide show explaining that there are 4 main theories that people believe with regard to the origin of life: evolution, solar nebula theory, ID, and creationism (interesting that creationism and ID got separate shout outs since most believe that ID is creationism posing as science). No mention of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but I did educate him on that alternate theory. So, for good or bad (probably for good), this is topic is getting people thinking and talking, at least at one AZ middle school.

  49. Silent Observer, I’m pretty sure you have no idea what you are talking about. There, were at loggerheads. How to get past this. Should be base our compromise on testable, verifiable, and falsifiable (at least potentially) theories and evidence, or should we appeal to hawgrrrl’s flying spaghetti monster?

    Your are correct, the proposed evolutionary pathway for most biological structures (for example, alpha-hemoglobin) is not proven, and at this point in time there is no clear evidence to support. But it is a theory that is testable, and may in the future be proven correct or incorrect. However, as we have said all along, there is no testable way to show the presence (or absence) of an intelligent designer. And to be required to discuss ID in a science class is simply untenable. Once the proponents of ID/creationism can produce a theory that is testable, I’ll listen. Until then, there arguments belong to the realm of philosophy and theology.

  50. JfQ (#43),

    I agree with you that many outspoken scientists (i.e the “secular darwinists” such as Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers) are too quick to claim that evolution explains the beginning of life on earth. It is unfortunate that what we get is fundamentalists arguing with fundamentalists, when the vast majority of scientists, imo, would put themselves in the middle. And I also agree with you that we should put evolution as an explanation for the beginning of life in the science classroom. But, we can certainly discuss it as a scientific explanation for human life.

  51. JfQ (#43),

    I agree with you that many outspoken scientists (i.e the “secular darwinists” such as Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers) are too quick to claim that evolution explains the beginning of life on earth. It is unfortunate that what we get is fundamentalists arguing with fundamentalists, when the vast majority of scientists, imo, would put themselves in the middle. And I also agree with you that we should put evolution as an explanation for the beginning of life in the science classroom. But, we can certainly discuss it as a scientific explanation for human life

  52. #44:
    Are we debating whether science or religion is right and that they are mutually exclusive? That’s not a view most Mormons espouse in my experience. That sounds like an evangelical argument. All the Mormons I know (please step forward if there are dissenting Mormon views on this one) believe that true religious views are compatible with true science

    To both evangelicals and LDS, religion trumps science. The only real distinction between the two is that LDS tend to optomistically believe that science will eventually figure out that the LDS religion is right (thus discovering, as you put it, “true science”), whereas evangelicals tend to believe scientists are actually intent on destroying christianity.

  53. Nick (54): I agree with you here, in general, but let’s not paint all evangelical-oriented Christian churches by the same brush. At our church we’ve discussed this issue, not at Sunday worship service, but among the pastoral leadership and theological-oriented study group. I’d say we favor God not being eliminated nor explained away, which is not only religiously agreeable but philosophically sound. Where it comes to considering the Bible being infallible on matters of science and cosmogony, we take a liberalized approach, defining the Bible as most useful in how it defines doctrine and God’s search for a relationship with man, etc. Therefore not quite fair to say religion always trumps science. We don’t interpret the Bible through a strict Transformationalist axiom (like Ron Miller, et al), yet we consider ourselves — though non-denominationally aligned — leaning evangelical (in that we think it is important to proclaim the good news of the Word).


    Kari (53): The theory regarding evolution isn’t just evolution but evolution _by natural selection_. Therefore, I do agree the theory merits teaching in science, not ID, yet natural selection does not yet favor a strong correlation to explaining issues of abiogenesis. I agree it is the best paradigm science has, but I also favor in the science classroom that more teachers (and texts) were iconoclastic in highlighting the drastic limitations that the evolutionary paradigm has in addressing the beginning of life. Without doing this, how do we inspire future freethinkers who may spark the next paradigm shift? ID, agreed, is not a falsifiable theory, but it is useful, as Hawkgrrl noted by way of Ben Stein, to shake up the axiom orthodoxy of the educational scientific establishment. Can that happen if philosophical free-thinking is summarily excluded from the process of education? This is, after all, a strong root from which past paradigm shifts have occurred.


    Hawkgrrrl (50): Wow, it sounds exciting that your daughter’s science teacher appears to be a freethinker in exploring the merits and limitations of various postulates about the origin of life. I also think this teacher sounds excellent in that they have, accurately, placed ID apart from creationism, in the discussion.

  54. JFQ, you certainly make a good point. I was speaking in broad generalities, both in terms of evangelicals and LDS. There are certainly individuals and groups within each of those categories, who are unafraid of scientific progress.

  55. “To both evangelicals and LDS, religion trumps science. The only real distinction between the two is that LDS tend to optomistically believe that science will eventually figure out that the LDS religion is right (thus discovering, as you put it, “true science”), whereas evangelicals tend to believe scientists are actually intent on destroying christianity.”

    Nick makes a good point. However, LDS would not insist on a religious belief that is clearly contradicted by science and would generally remain more willing to let science take the lead in the dance. I don’t hear that same version much amongst evangelicals (of course, fundamentalist viewpoints tend to talk louder than others–perhaps more moderate evangelical voices are being talked over). LDS belief has absolutely bent to scientific fact (e.g. the very recent addition of ‘among’ to the title page of the BOM).

    IMO, LDS differs due to 1) non-literalist view of scripture, or at least some skepticism about the authenticity of some scripture, 2) “revealed” doctrine that is constantly unfolding (at least in theory), and 3) a more scientific view of scripture due to additional scriptures (e.g. Kolob stuff), 4) lay clergy vs. paid clergy, which means that church leaders (on the whole) have had to operate in the secular world in a variety of careers (and many happen to have scientific backgrounds).

  56. Hawkgrrrl (57): I think your conclusions are only true if you are comparing moderate LDSism to fundamentalist Christianity. While the LDS church strives to be corporately homogenous, actually a hidden benefit of extending the title of “prophet” (and its ancillary benefit of speaking authoritatively for the divine) to the First Pres and all the Qof12 is that many voices join the mix, and LDS adherrants hear and cling to the voices that more closely mirror their own. That the doctrine is so malleable allows a flexibility that is often not ascribed to traditional Christianity. While some fundamentalist Christians will criticise the LDS church harshly for this reality, I think it actually is pretty impressive in how it helps to preserve institutional allegiance. In other words, since LDS congregants do not generally enjoy the privilege of “shopping around” to find a ward in which they feel more at home, this multi-nuanced “voice of God” allows the ill-fitted congregant to still hear at the “top level” a sympathetic voice, preserving their allegiance to a divinely-directed paradigm.

    On the other hand, re: your point #4: I was just speaking a couple nights ago with an associate who teaches at a local Christian theological seminary about the polarization of Christianity, where more fundamentalist voices are rising in response to the perceived threat of secularism, and drowning out the more moderate Christian voices. He mentioned, specifically, how the more moderately aligned seminaries, and moderatley-aligned congregations are struggling more with participation than fundamentalist-aligned ones.

  57. Kari, “Very few people today (outside of the Army) get funding to research smallpox, botulism, or VX, GB, or GS (and that research is being directed towards treatment). And no one is getting funding to show that ibuprofen isn’t an effective treatment for Parkinson Disease.

    If you want your research to be funded, your proposal has to be clear and concise, specifically when addressing the question that you hope to answer. And the funding source/agency must find value in the anticipated answer to your question, or they will spend their money elsewhere.”

    Yes, true, but I’m talking about people that have legitimate funding concerns, such as PhD’s associated with NARTH who have reasearch to pulish showing homosexuals can change. Can’t be published because it’s not the political consensus of the APA. Can’t be funded because they don’t match the ideological bents of academic universities. We’re not talking about proving that the sky is red here. Again, ID is philosophy, no science, so it probably shouldn’t be funded as such. Not my argument. ID is a weaker case for an industry full of moral hazards that we take as face value, putting our full faith in trust in the modern scientific discoverty process. I believe it’s more riddled with politics, religion ideology, marketing schemes, and money that you may. Nevertheless, when I read a scientific study that’s concise, rigorous, and accurate, despite its propogandized approach, I’ll believe it in its own vaccuum. You state that the process isn’t perfect, so where do YOU see the flaws? I gave you my take on why its not perfect. I guess you can say I’m post-modern about the peer review process. I see too many human, economics, and political flaws in my own critical thinking. Because of this, I have to lean upon my intution as much as anything to tell me through the spirit what the media filters don’t catch. Darwain wasn’t an atheist, but the atheists made Darwain an stheist. That filter has colored the conclusions of may faithful Christians. I feel the Spriit in Darwainism, so I know its true. I haven’t read Origin of Species, nor have I replicated his experiments. We don’t have time to all be empiricitst. Thus, we still have to rely to some measure … on FAITH.

  58. Kari,

    What you propose is ludicrous. If only testable hypotheses were allowed discussion in science classrooms, there would be no teaching of evolution either. As has been mentioned, no one can incubate primordial ooze for millions of years. In fact, Darwinism is impossible to prove wrong by your standards, because one would actually have to prove that no evolutionary pathways exist by testing every single one. So how come we let this untestable, unfalsifiable hypothesis discussion in our classrooms? Because it’s the best answer that science has at the moment for the diversity of life on the earth. That’s all. And ID would fit in quite naturally in a discussion on evolution, while talking about the various strengths and weaknesses of the theory. The reason scientists don’t want this to happen boils down to dogmatism.

    I used to be a lot more dogmatic myself in my view that evolution was the process God used to create life on earth. Then I got tired of looking like an idiot. Seriously. I had my ass handed to me by creationists who pointed out that what I thought was the strongest evidence for evolution was overstated. The Miller-Urey experiment and Haekel’s ontogeny were both in my BYU biology textbook in 2005 despite both being debunked ages ago.

    So now I take a less dogmatic view, and “let the chips fall where they may” as Dr. Eyering said it.

  59. JfQ – ‘this multi-nuanced “voice of God” allows the ill-fitted congregant to still hear at the “top level” a sympathetic voice, preserving their allegiance to a divinely-directed paradigm.’ I love this idea!

  60. Hawkgrrrl: #44– I’m still curious about why we even care about our origins. That’s my question. I’m not even going to start debating this issue again. Without fail, in my limited experience, the same arguments are used over and over and over by both sides. Neither “side” seems interested in finding any middle ground, or attempting to discern whether the opposing side has any validity to their statements.

    A big lexicon is no substitute for a truly open mind, in my opinion. This debate, specifically, seems to be one that closes minds quicker than most other debates I’ve seen, so I’ve long since lost interest in even *trying* to debate. I don’t care whether anyone agrees with me–I just care whether they’re even willing to give what I have to say a fair shake, and some real thought. I’d like to think I extend that same courtesy to others.

    Silent Observer: #60–I’d be interested in knowing which arguments of yours you had debunked, and how those arguments were debunked. Kudos to you for being flexible in your opinions.; that seems to be an increasingly rare thing, these days.
    I don’t mind trying a fundamentally different tack, though. Which is why I ask, “”Why do we actually care about this issue,” especially to the extent of often making ourselves look silly in trying to sound smart enough that we can disprove anyone and everyone who voices an opinion different from our own?

  61. Stan Johnson:

    I briefly mentioned two of them:

    1) The Miller-Urey experiment was conducted in the 1950’s to show that the building blocks of life (amino acids) could be synthesized out of the chemicals present in the earth’s atmosphere billions of years ago. However, the theory has fallen hard times since research over the past 40 years indicates that the earth’s atmosphere was nothing like the experiment assumes. But it’s still in Chapter 1 of every biology textbook.

    2) In the late 1800’s Haekel sketched the development of human and animal embryos that showed remarkable similarities, including gill slits and a tail on the human embryo that are eventually reabsorbed. But he was exposed as a fraud about 10 years later when someone checked his work. Also, biologists use the term “gill slits” as slang to describe grooves in the neck; human embryos don’t grow anything like gills. They do grow vestigal tails (the coccyx), which is still a pretty strong indicator of common ancestry, but not as strong as gills would be. The evidence is there, it’s just overstated. But that doesn’t stop scientists from publishing Haekel’s bogus sketches in textbooks to this very day.

    And, a third is:

    3) The fossil record. As you dig deeper, you find simpler and simpler life forms. But what is conspicuously absent from these discussions is a thing called the “Cambrian Explosion,” where in the geological blink of an eye (a period of 5-10 million years) the fossil ancestors of just about every animal phyla known today emerge out of fossil worms and sponges. Science is still trying to explain this glitch, which throws a wrench in the otherwise elegant working theory of slow, incremental change over millions of years.

  62. Stan Johnson: “This debate, specifically, seems to be one that closes minds quicker than most other debates I’ve seen.” This does seem to be a hot one, a lot like abortion, where the opposing sides are not interested in dialogue with each other and to each the debate is only over exactly how wrong the other side is. But I suppose that was the point Ben Stein was trying to make in his video.

    The real issue for me is when people try to mix religion and science (e.g. use science to bolster OR to disprove the claim that there is a God). It always makes me nervous because religion disagrees with religion. And the Scopes trial swung the pendulum the other way. I prefer that science be neutral on religious topics. But some people think religion should be an intrinsic part of every discussion. And some scientists like to go to the other extreme and use Darwinism to “prove” there is no God and the Bible is wrong. IMO, they are in the wrong just as much as those who try to put forward an unprovable religious assumption as science. But maybe it’s wise to introduce more philosophical and ethical discussion into science. Philosophy and ethics may be bridges between science and religion that would enlighten debate between the two.

    Every time I see a car with a Jesus fish or a car with a Darwin fish (the one with feet), I always think it would be best to have a Jesus fish with feet.

  63. Apologies for the slow reply.

    Silent #63: thank you for sharing. I didn’t read through all the posts, due to time constraints, so I appreciate you re-posting those.

    Hawkgrrrl #64: Yes, I suppose that is Stein’s point. That, then returns to the question of why we really care so much about this. Abortion seems to have easily-discerned reasons for people getting a bit hot about it: “my life, my body,” vs. “slaughtering the unborn.” But whether we can use scientific theories to prove or disprove the existence of a deity?

    Yes, I agree that science ought to remain neutral on points of religion. As far as using it to “prove” anything, I’m of the opinion that the proof–not evidence–is a very personal matter, and that the only person that can “prove” anything to anyone is that person. I say that because proof is merely a function of accepting given evidences as sufficienty true. Such a choice can only be made individually, in the end, regardless how many other people accept a given body of evidence to be the unshakeable truth.

    So yes, science should just go on seeking its own, and if individuals choose to see the hand of God in any of it, then that’s their choice. But I don’t believe God forces His opinions on anyone, so I can’t imagine that *we* have any substantial right to attempt such an imposition.

    It is lamentable that religions disagree so often. It’s no wonder people have rejected many religions wholesale. If those who are *supposed* to know about God can’t come to any conclusion, and if authority on the subject is so variable, then of course it makes sense to put one’s trust in a method that’s more stable, and can be independently verified.

    Again, thank you both for your thoughts.

  64. Hey, I finally went to see this movie tonight (with my son for extra credit he sorely needs in science). It was better than I expected, although some of the production values were questionable for the big screen. And sneakers with a suit? Oy vay!

    A few points it scored (good questions raised anyway):
    1 – Is consensus a valid test for scientific truth?
    2 – Is US education less valuable because of governmental oversight that exists here but not in other countries?
    3 – Is it ever possible to be completely objective in pursuing scientific theory (e.g. fact comes from evidence comes from experimentation which comes from theory. Theory is based on research driven by opinions and interests that are influenced by personal beliefs and biases)?
    4 – Is it a good idea to force scientists to relinquish religious beliefs in order to be credible?
    5 – Darwinism in fact does not explain the origin of life as some claim. All scientists in the program agreed that no one knows that. The theories of the Darwinists were just as “outlandish” as the ID theories, but the ID theories resulted in those scientists being discredited as religious wingnuts. One theory shared by the Darwinists is “alien seeding” that sounds a heckuva lot like ID, although, like ID, it doesn’t answer the original question: whence the first spark of life?
    6 – Does Darwinism devalue human life in practical terms (evidence was cited that it was basis for mass sterilization, eugenics, Planned Parenthood, and even the Holocaust)? Not that Darwin intended it, but the movie questioned some of the social applications that have initially gone unchecked because of strong “natural selection” sentiment.

    Anyway, thanks KC for the post!

  65. Bob H, #1, by that criteria (directors/producers not fully divulging their motives/goals to people who appear in the film/documentary) we should also boycott all films by Michael Moore and Sacha Baron Cohen, all TV specials by Jerry Rivers (aka Geraldo Rivera) and most episodes of 60 Minutes. (Which I already do.)

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