In an essay that is ten times the length of the following extracts, Jeff Schloss, a Christian College professor, weighs in on Expelled. He says Expelled misses the central issues. Unfortunately his essay also missed the central issue. His own personal religious views have led him to write the way he does.
ID is about scientifically detecting design.
In an especially disappointing long section, Schloss questions whether IDers really are expelled. Unlike most people, he is in a position to know precisely how the system works. He could have simply admitted truthfully that the system he is part of, does engage in such expelling practices.
He then wonders whether there is really anything wrong expelling dissenters. Isn’t ID too vague? I mean, what does it really claim that the rest of us haven’t already agreed to? Being an evo-theist he has the strong personal conviction that while God may have, or must have designed aspects of the world, such design cannot be scientifically detected. It must remain forever in the subjective, personal realm.
I am afrraid Jeff Schloss’ contribution seems designed to confuse people of faith.
The Expelled Controversy
Overcoming or Raising Walls of Division? Jeffrey P. Schloss
“All Christians believe that the earth and the history of humanity are not the accidental byproducts of a purposeless cosmos, but the creation of a wise and loving God. Moreover, God has not left Himself without witness, and His creation bears wondrous testimony of its Creator (in ways not all agree on).
In a sense Christianity is the ultimate conspiracy theory, involving the disturbing proposal that the self-deceiving vulnerabilities of human personality and the self-justifying mechanisms of cultural control are tilted away from God’s testimony, and are largely blind to the direction of this tilt.
If there is bona fide scientific evidence for design, it’s in the details; and if there is institutionalized commitment to suppressing such evidence, it’s in the details as well.
We should begin by taking to heart the advice of Proverbs, which exhorts us to unwavering self-honesty: “He who gives an answer without first hearing of the matter, it is his folly and shame.”
There are at least two different debates involved in what is often thought of as the singular “ID controversy.” The first is a scientific claim about the adequacy of evolutionary theory versus alternatives proposed by ID advocates and others.
The second is a philosophical dispute, not just about Creator or no Creator – this we’ve always had – but also over whether evolutionary science is necessarily wedded to atheism. The movie takes a very clear stand on this crucial question. Despite what some compromisers “would lead us to believe,” Ben Stein says, it “appears Darwinism does lead to atheism.” This is a hugely important claim, which is undoubtedly the core issue in the cultural debate over ID. It is the reason the ID movement musters such passionate commitment and why it is, in fact, a “movement” at all.
It is not just ID advocates, but also many of the world’s leading evolutionists who think Darwinism is completely incompatible with theism or any other tenets of the major religions
It is clear that atheism must entail evolution: for anyone who rejects the possibility of an intelligence behind the cosmos, there is no viable alternative to some sort of naturalistic evolutionary account of origins.
Thousands of scientists simultaneously accept evolution and embrace a vibrant religious faith, and many testify that their belief in God has actually been deepened in light of evolutionary science and the grandeur of life’s history.
Some interpretations of Darwinian theory are indeed incompatible with some understandings of divine purpose, and waving the wand of happy imaginings does not make conflicts disappear.
“Implicit in most evolutionary theory is either there is no God or he can’t have anything to do with the world,” the typically very fair-minded journalist Larry Witham asserts.
There is surely a leftward ideological tilt in academic life.
It is absolute professional suicide to be a young earth creationist in a geology department or an anti-evolutionist in a biology department at any institution outside of a few parochial colleges.
It may be just as bad to be an ID advocate in any science department.
Richard Sternberg has two Ph.D.’s in biology and a significant record of published research related to evolution. He is a Christian and a supporter of ID.
The worst case scenario – which does not seem altogether unlikely – is that Sternberg indeed experienced a hostile work environment. It seems clear that colleagues viewed him as having betrayed the standards and reputation (but not the policies) of the organization, they were ticked with him, and as is not uncommon in such situations, he was subjected to gossip and the diminution of discretionary professional courtesies.
It is still reasonable to ask whether Gonzalez’s support for ID contributed to the review process, and if so, did it tip the decision? The answer to the first question is clearly yes; the answer to the second is that there is some evidence that argues for yes, but it is more difficult to assess.
Academic freedom does not involve the liberty to say absolutely anything in the name of ones discipline.
Surely it is possible for some ideas to be so thoroughly discredited and so incompatible with academic integrity that anyone who endorses them justifiably relinquishes credibility as a competent practitioner of a discipline.
Is it that ID argues there are reasonable grounds for believing in an intelligence behind the universe? But many critics of ID accept this as well. Is it that science is unable to explain the origin of life and design is? But Gonzalez’s book doesn’t claim this. Is it that evolutionary common descent is false, and design explains origins of taxa? But Michael Behe –perhaps the most famous ID advocate in all the world (and not included in the film) – doesn’t believe that. Ok, is it just that there are some things that natural law is inadequate to explain, which point to an intervening intelligence? But fine-tuning arguments for design don’t rest on the inadequacy of law, rather on their wondrous endowment pointing to an underlying but not necessarily intervening intelligence.
To ask whether we have a solid majority candidate, for an explanation of life’s origin. We don’t. The danger in science is in pretending we understand when we don’t. So this is a welcome point for the film to drive home: we don’t know. But it is not actually a relevant point to the question of what ID is and whether it should be allowed or suppressed – for several reasons.
Crocker and Sternberg were challenged over claims that rejected the theory of evolutionary common descent, virtually universally regarded to be the central and one of the best established ideas in modern biology.
The origin of life question is a red herring.
The question of life’s origin has nothing to do Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.
Not having a good naturalistic theory doesn’t tell us that ID is a good theory, or whether it is even a scientific theory of any kind. But even having a natural explanation for life’s origin wouldn’t preclude being designed.
Nearly everyone familiar with the western intellectual tradition, and even most critics of ID, consents that the issue of an intelligent creator of the cosmos involves an intellectually legitimate question.
It may sound like I’m asking for far too much in a popular documentary.
The historical record amply and indisputably confirms the fact that references to Darwin and to ideological principles attributed to the evolutionary process were frequently employed by the intellectual architects of the Reich, at the very least in this way. That Darwin was used (or abused) in Holocaust thinking seems uncontestable. The film claims that Darwinism involves a “deprivileging of human life,” which was instrumental to the Holocaust. There is absolutely no question that Darwinism, when wedded to atheism, can and for some does lead to this devaluing, and many Darwinians not only recognize but also overtly endorse this.
Sometimes walls are necessary to protect freedom. All communities, including academic communities and their disciplines, stay healthy – and free – by balancing liberties and constraints, and also by distinguishing between those who have and do not have appropriate credentials for membership.
Expelled doesn’t ever ask what kind of wall we’re dealing with. I don’t mean to suggest, as some do, that ID advocates or Darwin deniers are necessarily intellectual terrorists needing to be walled out. A gentler though still contentious image might involve that of the illegal resident. Are those who reject common descent (for example), in a sense “illegal residents” in biology departments in a way analogous to a geocentrist in an astronomy department or a young earther in a geology department?
There are millions of Americans, including Ph.D.’s, also including some of my very dearest friends, who believe the earth is 10,000 or less years old. Is Expelled: The Sequel going to be about tearing down academic freedom’s Radiometric Wall and getting young earth views into university origins classes? Is Expelled III is going to take on unfair exclusion of geocentrism?
Baylor – a private, religiously-affiliated university featured in the film – is portrayed as offending academic freedom by failing to allow a full range of positions, including ID and rejection of common descent.
Will Expelled, and the larger movement it represents, tear down or build up the cultural walls that so destructively inhibit pursuit of truth in general and, in particular, the credible expression of what Christians believe to be God’s truth? Sadly, it seems almost certain that walls will be, indeed are being, raised.
The bold assertion made by the film – and the legions of statements that have been made to support it – that the ideas and institutions and individuals associated with the “Darwinism Machine” are not just thinking wrongly, they’re doing wrong. They’re not just errant, but bad.
Even Bill Dembski, who predicts they’ll be a tumblin’ down, nevertheless acknowledges that people either love or hate the movie based on what they already think. What kind of walls to truth are overcome by a process that doesn’t open but rather hardens and polarizes people in what they already think?
What do we gain if we get enough people who already believe in God to pass a law that makes it illegal to exclude speaking of a designer in the science classroom – and in so doing – perhaps compromise science, and certainly make it much less likely that those who do not believe, will consider listening even outside the classroom?
Sadly, the film contributes to an approach that has raised rather than lowered walls between Christians and the surrounding culture. Sadly, it raises the already growing walls of suspicion about any scholarly attempts to explore the relationship between science and faith. Sadly, it raises walls that don’t protect but constrain the spiritual growth of our students, if they are driven to believe they must choose between God and evolution. And most sadly, it is raising all these walls unnecessarily, along a border that is never demonstrated to have been accurately surveyed, much less to be in need of defending.”