Expelled

Dawkins admits that life could be designed — Is ID therefore scientific?

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Joseph Farah at World Net Daily is one of the select few who has seen an advance screening of Ben Stein’s EXPELLED. I’ve been to three advance screenings, giving a little talk on ID at the one on Times Square in New York a few weeks ago.

To me the most amazing part of the film is where Dawkins gives away the store by taking seriously a scenario in which a designer might have brought about life on Earth. Farah agrees: go here for his review of the film.

I expect that Dover was not the end of litigation involving ID. In the next court case, it will be interesting to depose the people on the other side who appear in EXPELLED as they try to argue that ID is religion given their huge concessions in this film.

Thank you Ben Stein. Your interview of Dawkins is masterful, simply masterful!

33 Replies to “Dawkins admits that life could be designed — Is ID therefore scientific?

  1. 1
    poachy says:

    It would be awesome to be there in person to see them forced to admit it. I can only imagine how rewarding it would be for you to be part of the team that tighten the screws.

    Go get ’em!

  2. 2
    SeekAndFind says:

    Bill,

    Just to correct the name of the author of the Worldnetdaily article you linked to — his name is JOSEPH Farrah.

    Thanks,

  3. 3
    jerry says:

    Joseph Farah has some screwy ideas. He believes there are pterodactyls in Africa and Asia and that there are sea monsters.

    I am not sure I would want Expelled to be hyped by someone with these views.

  4. 4
    p.noyola says:

    jerry: is it Joseph or John Farah? Same guy?

    Dr Dembski: we’d love to see a transcript of that portion of the interview! is there a transcript or (better yet!) video snippet??

  5. 5
    Ahmed Aouin says:

    This is very interested. In Türkey election triumph of AKP (Islamist partei) is forcing thought of simplist creationimus in schools, university. This is not scientific, not like Intellgent Design. But in Türkey main candidate of Intellgnet Design is Harun Yahya, very controversial man. Maybe a good film will be perswading people in Türkey to teaching of Intelligent Design!

  6. 6
    Gerry Rzeppa says:

    Great review by John Farah. And with no less than five unapologetic references to God!

    I’m pretty sure that Ben Stein understands that, at bottom, this whole thing is a religious (and not a mere intellectual) issue.

  7. 7
    jerry says:

    The link points to Joseph Farah and he believes in dragons too. It is guys like this that give ID a bad name. I would run from his as fast as possible.

  8. 8
    SCheesman says:

    Dr. Dembski: One more correction required for “Joseph”, farther down in the post.

  9. 9
    SCheesman says:

    That was fast!

  10. 10
    Tim says:

    I don’t know anything about Mr. Farah except what I read in his article. It rang true. So jerry, instead of running, you might say that even a moron like Mr. Farah can see truth for what it is . . .

    (Note: I have no idea whether or not Mr. Farah is a moron; IMO he was able to write a thoughtful, coherent and accurate review of the film.)

  11. 11
    jerry says:

    Tim,

    This guy is on record as believing in flying dinosaurs in Africa and Asia, sea monsters and dragons. He just did not put it in this article. Go here:

    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/n.....E_ID=41977

    I would not want somebody like this on my team as I try to use science to back up my ideas. He would taint anything he was associated with on science.

  12. 12
    Borne says:

    Jerry: “Joseph Farah has some screwy ideas. He believes there are pterodactyls in Africa and Asia and that there are sea monsters.”

    Are you so sure there are not? Have you seen the evidence? Read testimonies of eye witnesses? Have you gone through the large number of accounts by missionaries and travelers written down? Have you any viable evidence to the contrary?

    Upon what basis would you claim that no such thing is possible?

    Descriptions by eye-witnesses, of large flying creatures resembling pterodactyls have been noted both in remotes regions of Africa and Indonesia. Can you prove them all wrong?

    There is a detailed anatomical description of a fiery “dragon” in the book of Job (41) under the name Leviathan. Ancient accounts of flying serpent or reptilian like creatures abound in nearly every culture known.

    It is completely untrue that we have already discovered everything that lives on earth and have explored every last region.

    Taxonomists have named approximately 1.7 million species so far. Each year, about 13,000 more species are added to the list of known organisms. And an estimated 13-14 million species are believed to exist (Global Biodiversity Assessment).

    One is not “out to lunch” or unworthy of credibility for believing that some such creatures may have survived in remote locations. Indeed, it is entirely likely that some “survivors” of supposed extinctions remain.

  13. 13
    jerry says:

    Borne,

    If you want to associate with these ideas, be my guest. But don’t wonder about the intensity of the reactions against ID when you have people who believe in these things as major supporters of ID. It reinforces every stereotype that has been put forward.

    There are no flying dinosaurs, there are no dragons, there are no sea monsters. And anyone who suggests there are is up for ridicule. And if these people who believe in this nonsense push ID then ID is justifiably up for ridicule.

  14. 14
    Frost122585 says:

    I would say yes, but who ever paid any attention to what Dawkins says?

  15. 15
    Frost122585 says:

    Dembski, I hope the next time there is a court cause that you go and spell out your universal probability bound and explain to the judge that mathematical logic is how all scientific reasoning is done and hence the design inference is by necessity scientific.

    And if you guys manage to win the next court case please send a letter to Dawkins from all of us here at UD thanking him for his accidental true statements.

    I sense a very bright future for ID and I want to thank you Bill for your work- especially your two books NFL and DI- their contributions have proven to be priceless and perhaps in the not to distant future you will have accomplished what only a very select few “greats” have managed to accomplish- to swing the paradigm of science away from materialistic narcissism and back towards due respect for the divine designer of all things.

    The movie Expelled is a sign that you (and us) are on the right track despite what the media says. Cant wait to see the movie.

  16. 16
    Tim says:

    Jerry,

    Apparently belief in dinosaurs as dragons and pterodactyls living in Africa has little bearing on Mr. Farah’s ability to watch and comment on a film.

    I am not so sure that “whose team you are on” is a the most complete descriptor of the situation. If this is a “culture war”, perhaps an ally would be a better descriptor. Although team-mates are to “buy into” one goal, allies aren’t expected to agree on everything; they just work together. Finally, could ad hominem attacks (this time based on association) get any worse than they already are?

    Forget the messenger; what is the message? The movie is worth watching. I assume that Mr. Farah has an audience, perhaps even thousands, that respects his opinion and will therefore consider watching the movie. How many people who think Mr. Farah is a moron will avoid the movie because of what he wrote? 22.

    I want Expelled hyped by everybody.
    We can sort out the bones later.

  17. 17
    jerry says:

    Tim,

    If someone came up to you and said they believed in flying dinosaurs, dragons and sea monsters and then by the way you should see this movie that tells you how people are being conned about evolution, how much attention would pay to him.

    The correct answer is none and you should rightfully suspect his judgment about what he is promoting. If he believes in one nonsense, how do you know the rest isn’t nonsense. And then you find out that this guy has been given special access to the movie so what are the producers doing associating science with people who have such ideas. It says we have no standards.

    Given this, I am getting a little queasy about this movie. I hope it doesn’t backfire on ID. My guess is that the producers want to get their money back and are looking at the lowest hanging fruit to make a quick return. But what if the initial impression is that this is a fundamentalist Christian movie and ends up just preaching to the choir because of it. Hopefully, not.

    The only thing that gives me solace is Ben Stein and that it is apparently well produced. I had planned to give each of my children a copy of the DVD because each believes the evolution debate is all a hubbub by fundamentalist Christians. But if the movie gets that image, they will not want to see it.

    As far as allies, we were forced to pick the Soviets as allies in WWII and had to give up a third of the world in return. I would be careful who I walk arm in arm with. My guess is that this is turning into a money concern and not an attempt to set the record straight. Again, I hope I am wrong.

  18. 18
    JAB says:

    From the review: “They will attribute the possibility of design to visitors from other planets and even to crystals. The two things they cannot tolerate are consideration of God’s role and any of their colleagues deviating from their own ideas about origins.”

    So the possible candidates for the Designer is A) God, B) Aliens or C) Crystals (whatever that means.)

    One of these things is not like the others. Which of these three choices would a scientist be incapable of commenting on if he relies strictly on the scientific method?

  19. 19
    Tim says:

    Jerry,
    I understand your concerns.

    If someone approached me in the way that you described, I’d drop him with a left hook. Luckily, that has never happened!

    I should disclose/remind you that I have seen the movie. Mr. Farah has described it accurately. I find that the assumptions about the movie are far, far wilder coming from its detractors than from the people who are actually reviewing what they saw.

    Compare PZ Myers’ comments, Mr. Farah’s comments, and the movie and you will find that it is Mr. Myers who has got it all wrong. [More disclosure here — I have no idea what Myers has said about the movie, I am merely guessing that it was wrong, we’ll see. 🙂 ]

    If your children still avoid the movie because of an pre-conceived “image”, believe it or not, that’s on you.

  20. 20
    Dembskian says:

    This is very exciting. I wish my grandpa had lived to see this movie.
    He always wanted see people getting excited about God again.

  21. 21
    landru says:

    My nieces were among many hundreds who saw an advance screening of Expelled at the national conference of Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) in January.

  22. 22
    Venus Mousetrap says:

    does anyone know if this film is coming out in the UK? I’m looking forward to actually seeing ID theory spelled out by the side that produced it, instead of by its opponents. Maybe people will even come away from the film able to apply design inferences in real life!

  23. 23
    gleaner63 says:

    Jerry,

    “…there are no sea monsters…”
    I’m not yet willing to concede that point. With 75% of the Earth covered with water, much it unexplored, who knows what we will find? I think the most science can say is thus far there is no hard-core proof of sea monsters. If a coelacanth (sp) can survive with only minor changes over tens of millions of years, perhaps others unknown creatures may have also.

  24. 24
    jerry says:

    gleaner63,

    Giant squid of Jules Verne fame. From wikipedia:

    “Giant squid, once believed to be mythical creatures, are squid of the Architeuthidae family, represented by as many as eight species of the genus Architeuthis. They are deep-ocean dwelling animals that can grow to a tremendous size: recent estimates put the maximum size at 13 metres (43 ft) for females and 10 metres (33 ft) for males from caudal fin to the tip of the two long tentacles (second only to the colossal squid at an estimated 14 metres (46 ft), one of the largest living organisms). The mantle is about 2 metres (7 ft) long (more for females, less for males), and the length of the squid excluding its tentacles is about 5 metres (16 ft). There have been claims reported of specimens of up to 20 metres (66 ft), but no animals of such size have been scientifically documented.”

    and

    “By volume and weight, the largest known animal ever to have lived is the blue whale, an endangered species whose official record length is 33.58 m (110 ft 2 in), and weight 210 tons (for a pregnant female). The largest land animals today are male Savannah Elephants; one known example weighed roughly 12,272 kg (27,000 lb), although some extinct species, including many dinosaurs, were much larger.”

    No Loch Ness monsters and maybe in the deeps of some of the oceans are even bigger aquatic animals. But no dragons or flying dinosaurs and even these giant squid are hard to be classified as monsters though I would not want to meet one just as I would not like to meet a great white.

    What does persist over the ages is people’s imaginations but maybe we will meet a real sea monster some day. It is possible since so much of the sea as you say is hidden.

  25. 25
    gleaner63 says:

    Jerry,

    Thanks for the kind response. You are one of the reasons I like this forum. Most people here are very courteous and that is a wonderful thing when compared to most of the internet. And by the way, Jules Verne might be my favorite author; I keep a copy of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with me at work for late night reading.

  26. 26
    PannenbergOmega says:

    In this link (kindly provided by Dave Scot), Richard Dawkins says that “life might indeed have a designer but that designer almost assuredly was a more highly evolved being from another planet, not ‘God’.”

    AMAZING.

  27. 27
    didymos says:

    Yeah? What link?

  28. 28
    PannenbergOmega says:

    http://www.cashill.com/intelli.....review.htm

    Read the whole article.

  29. 29
    didymos says:

    OK, nevermind. Found it myself in another UD entry. Umm, so anyway, that’s rather misleading to attribute that quote directly to Dawkins. The review actually says:

    “To Stein’s astonishment, Dawkins concedes that life might indeed have a designer but that designer almost assuredly was a more highly evolved being from another planet, not “God.””

    I’d like to see the footage of Dawkin’s response in his own words, preferably unedited. It may very well be an unedited response in the film, but there’s no way to know that from a secondhand account written by an unapologetic advocate of ID on whose site one can find prominent promotion of the movie.

    I tend to doubt that Cahill’s interpretation of Dawkins’ response is accurate, because Dawkins has discussed this notion of “Extraterrestrial Design” before in “The Ancestor’s Tale”. It was hardly a ringing endorsement of the concept, and was in fact a critique of ID in general and IC in particular:

    “It is perfectly legitimate to propose the argument from irreducible complexity as a possible explanation for the lack of something that doesn’t exist…[t]hat is very different from evading the scientist’s responsibility to explain something that does exist, such as wheeled bacteria. Nevertheless, to be fair, it is possible to imagine validly using some version of the argument from design, or the argument from irreducible complexity. Future visitors from outer space…will surely find ways to distinguish designed machines such as planes and microphones, from evolved machines such as bats wings and ears. …They may face some tricky judgments in the messy overlap between natural evolution and human design. If the alien scientists can study living specimens…what will they make of fragile, highly-strung racehorses and greyhounds, of snuffling bulldogs who can scarcely breathe and can’t be born without Caesarian assistance….[m]olecular machines — nanotechnology — crafted on the same scale as the bacterial flagellar motor, may pose the alien scientists even harder problems.
    Francis Crick, no less, has speculated semi-seriously in ‘Life Itself’ that bacteria may not have originated on this planet but been seeded from elsewhere. In Crick’s fantasy, they were sent in the nose-cone of a rocket by alien beings, who wanted to propogate their form of life… Crick and…Orgel, who originally suggested the idea with him, supposed that the bacteria had originally evolved by natural processes…but they could equally, while in the mood for science fiction, have added a touch of nanotechnological artifice…perhaps a molecular gearwheel like the flagellar motor…
    Crick himself — whether with regret or relief it is hard to say — finds little good evidence of his own theory… But the hinterland between science and science fiction constitutes a useful mental gymnasium in which to wrestle with a genuinely important question…how do we, in practice, distinguish [evolution’s] products from deliberately designed artefacts? … Could there be genuinely persuasive examples of irreducible complexity in nature…? If so, might this suggest design by a superior intelligence, say from an older and more highly evolved civilisation on another planet?” [549-50, Trade Paperback]

    So, clearly, this is not some shocking, new admission on Dawkins’ part, considering that he put it in print almost four years ago. Neither is it so outlandish as Cahill’s review suggests because just as clearly, Dawkins views the whole notion as intellectual play — a thought experiment like Schrodinger’s proverbial Cat, as evidenced by language such as “while in the mood for science fiction”, “fantasy”, and “mental gymnasium”. He is certainly not putting any of it forward as a serious, fully-formulated hypothesis. So, yes, the possibility of design is conceded, but it always has been. Absence of evidence is not, well, you know the rest. As to the assertion that Dawkins considers ID-via-ET more likely than ID-via-Deity, I buy it. What else would you expect from a man who identifies himself as an atheist? Of course he considers intelligent alien life more likely to be responsible for some hypothetical example of ID. That doesn’t mean he considers either scenario all that likely in absolute terms. And, in fact, it’s pretty obvious he doesn’t take the whole alien idea very seriously at all.

    It did make for one of the better stories from Star Trek: TNG though, but maybe that’s just nostalgia — I haven’t watched it in years. I think it may even have been a two-parter.

  30. 30
    PannenbergOmega says:

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if Richard Dawkins espousing some form of design theory?

    Like Anthony Flew or Fred Hoyle.

  31. 31
    didymos says:

    Sorry. It’s Cashill, not Cahill. Honest mistake.

  32. 32
    willyhoops says:

    After a lifetime of rubbishing Intelligent Design theories one of the worlds most famous Darwinian proponents has begun to accept them (that’s very very big news).

    Dawkins once said Darwin enabled the intellectual atheist to sleep at night, now his Alien Design theory has stepped into the breach. Even if Darwin doesn’t work on earth, Dawkins can now sleep soundly dreaming of godless evolution elsewhere, and no one can ever prove him wrong. The goal posts, so to speak, have been moved to outer space where the opposition can never reach them.

    I have written about it over at my blog:

    http://www.willyhoops.com/rich.....aliens.htm

  33. 33

    […] Dawkins admits that life could be designed — Is ID therefore …Mar 6, 2008 … Joseph Farah at World Net Daily is one of the select few who has seen an advance screening of Ben Stein’s EXPELLED. I’ve been to three … […]

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