Open Forum: Ben Stein’s Expelled

There has been a steady buzz about the new documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. This post is an open forum for us to talk it over.

SAS Blogging About The Expelled Movie

SBC Voices Blogging About The Expelled Movie

What Do You Think About Expelled?

I haven’t seen the movie yet. So my opinion may be less informed than most. From what I’ve read, the movie does raise the right questions and go after the naturalistic domination of our education system. On the other hand, I don’t get too excited when people talk about movies like they are the Messiah.

Do you think this movie will open minds?

Does the movie present a truly biblical (i.e. Gospel-centered) worldview?

Will the Evolutionist counter attack nullify the film’s effect?

(If this is your first comment on Said at Southern, then your comment will be moderated before it appears. But please post anyway, I’ll be glad to allow divergent opinions.)

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21 Responses to Open Forum: Ben Stein’s Expelled

  1. Darron S says:

    Disclaimer: I’m an atheist.

    I’m glad the movie is coming out, as it leads to discussion on the subject of evolution. I think that Ken Miller’s video discussing Intelligent Design is a good summary of my feelings on the subject. Please have a view, as he’s in a unique position, being both a Christian AND and Evolutionary Biologist:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=aO5us0qHcwc

    Cheers!

  2. Brother Hank says:

    I think the movie will embolden ID’ers more than it will necessarily open the closed minds of the world. But emboldened ID’ers is a good thing for science, and a good thing for free speech.

    As far as a biblical worldview, it falls short of accomplishing it – although I do not think that was its intentions to begin with. For something to be Gospel-centered it must carry with it aspects of creation, fall, redemption – pointing ultimately to Christ. The film doesn’t go past the idea of an “Intelligent Designer” whomever it may be. Although there are some similar aspects of the worldviews presented, I’d have to oppose the idea that Expelled presented an accurate “biblical” worldview.

    The Evolutionists don’t need to “blatantly” attack the film, because they’ve already been opposing similar ideas for year in every aspect of culture. From popular literature to 7th grade curriculum, they’ve already mounted their counter-attack on countless fronts, and its about time there’s been a offensive push in the other direction…

    Brother Hank’s last blog post..God’s Gift To Godly Single Women

  3. Tony Kummer says:

    Darren – Thanks for the link and for stopping here. The video you linked was a fair counterpoint. However, he didn’t account for the underlying philosophical presuppositions that would weight those scientific discussions toward Evolution. Since the enlightenment, our study of nature has assumed a closed universe. You will realize that such a starting point virtually determines the outcome and will not account for evidence of design in nature.

    SAS People – Debate nice with Darren.

  4. Darron S says:

    Hey Tony! Thanks for the friendly welcome.

    You’ve hit on a very good point with regards to “presupposition”. One of pillars of the scientific method is that any presupposition used in a scientific theory must be falsifiable (testably disprovable). Unfortunately, a God is unfalsifiable, so should not be used as a presupposition in scientfic theories. But that’s exactly what Intelligent Design attepts to do. That’s not good for science. None of our existing scientific theories rely on this type of unfalsifiable presupposition (atomic/gravitation/germ), so why would a Scientific theory of Evolution via Natural Selection, based on the same methodolgy (the scientific method), need such a presupposition?

    Cheers!

  5. Tony Kummer says:

    Darren – Excellent question.

    Most of the formulations of intelligent design theory I’ve heard does not specify God. They are much more modest and postulate a rational mind capable of making things with irreducible complexity (i.e. organisms/adaptations that require a certain level of development before they would even function like the cell or eyeball).

    Could you explain how the idea of no God can be falsifiable (testably disprovable)? It would seem that naturalism could no more establish the closed universe presupposition by this standard.

  6. Darron S says:

    Hey Tony! Unfortunately, Irreducible Complexity has been refuted in peer-reviewed research papers and has been rejected by the scientific community at large, based purely on its evidenciary claims. To put it simply, scientific evidence shows that Behe’s hypothesis is factually false. Not to sound like a Ken Miller cheerleader, but check out this quick video disproving Behe’s irreducibly complex mousetrap:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=rW_2lLG9EZM

    As to your last question, unfortunately, you don’t disprove negatives. For example, nobody would ask you prove the non-existence of purple unicorns. You are only asked to prove the existence of positives. The onus of proof lies on those making the positive claim for the existence of something. All presuppositions for naturalism are based on observable, repeatable, and testible evidence. I challenge you to find something in any accepted natural scientific theory (atomics/gravity/electromagnetics/germ/etc) that we take on faith as opposed to evidence.

    Wow, the thunder/lightning here in Texas is CRAZY tonight!

    Cheers!

  7. Brother Hank says:

    No Darren, that’s just Texas for you…j/k.

    Brother Hank’s last blog post..God’s Gift To Godly Single Women

  8. Tony Kummer says:

    Darren,
    Thanks again for the video of Ken Miller. I can always appreciate a guy using a mousetrap as a tie clip. He seems like a very gregarious fellow.

    He did mention that no research journal has published findings on Behe’s proposals. Assuming that’s correct, it seems curious if irreducible complexity is that easy to refute. So which scientific evidence is showing Behe false?

    If I understand the mouse trap question, which I admit I may not, the point is that the function of catching mice could not evolve. The tie clip may be a fun, but he doesn’t seem to be dealing with Behe’s actual argument.

    Obviously the mouse trap refutation is simply to refute his primary illustration. What about eyeballs and even gender itself?

    Regarding the onus of proof, this is also a very philosophically loaded question. I will defer to my more accomplished fellow students to answer that question.

  9. I wonder, would a public school teacher in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, be allowed to say the following:

    “It is interesting to contemplate … [all the many forms of life on earth] … so different from each other, have all been produced by laws acting around us. … There is grandeur in this view of life, HAVING BEEN ORIGINALLY BREATHED BY THE CREATOR INTO A FEW FORMS OR INTO ONE; and that from so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.”

    Just imagine a public school teacher who says those words: that God creates life and places it on the earth in a few forms, and then that life evolves according to the physical and natural laws that God put into place in the universe.

    Would that be allowed?

    Actually, it should be REQUIRED FOR THE TEACHER TO SAY THAT.

    Why? Because the quote is from: On the Origin of the Species, Chapter XV, Recapitulation and Conclusion, By Charles Darwin.

    If you are going to teach Darwin’s theory of evolution in public schools, you should teach what Darwin actually wrote about it.

    Michael S. Class
    Author

    Anthony and the Magic Picture Frame: The History Book with a Message for Today’s Young Americans

    Read the book. Remember the truth. Share it with your children.

    Web Site: http://www.MagicPictureFrame.com

    Watch the Video: http://www.magicpictureframe.com/home/watchthevideo.html

    ———————–

  10. Darron S says:

    Hey Tony,

    An scientific example of evidence showing Behe’s claim of irreducible complexity is false would be in work done to explain the evolution of the eye. I believe in the late 90’s Behe published “Darwin’s Black Box” which claimed that the eye was an irreducibly complex system. Unfortunately for Behe, the fossil record, and now genomic records, fully support the evolution of the eye starting in the Lower Cambrian period about 540 million years ago! We can trace the development of the eye through fossils, and we can compare the various implementations of the eye in living species. For a full writeup with references please see this wiki page!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_the_eye

    I’d write more, but I’ve got to get back to my TPS reports now! Let me know if you have any questions with regards to the evolution of the eye! Cheers!

  11. Darron S says:

    Michael,

    Are you inferring that teachers in public science classes should refer to books written well over 100 years ago? Darwin was correct about some things and wrong about others. There are many more mistakes to be found in On the Origin of Species as well. That’s the beauty of the scientific method. We take what can be scientifically verified and discard that which isn’t supported by the evidence. Darwin would recognize some of our current Evolutionary Theory, but much of it would be very unfamiliar to him, as we didn’t have an understanding of genetics back in the 19th century.

    To use that line from Darwin’s book as a justification for teaching about god/religion in public schools is not an intellectually honest stance.

    Ok, back to my TPS reports!!! Cheers!

  12. Pauli Ojala says:

    I think an analogous documentary film should also be made out of the DINOGLYFS or dinolits:
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/dinosaur.htm

    It seems that the ancient man not only saw but also documented the last megafauna (gigafauna, I should say, really!)

    pauli.ojala@gmail.com
    Biochemist, Finland
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Expelled-the-Movie-Evolution-Intelligent-Design-ID.htm

  13. Toney Sauls says:

    “I challenge you to find something in any accepted natural scientific theory (atomics/gravity/electromagnetics/germ/etc) that we take on faith as opposed to evidence.”

    it is a known and excepted “fact” that atoms are comprised of electrons, protons, and neutrons. however, no one is able to provide a photograph or “accurate” rendering of any of these three items, only hypothetical suggestions of what they may look like.

    the whole field of atomics is theoretical and probability laden, yet we “know for a fact” that they exist.

    sounds like faith to me. neither of these atomic parts can be seen, tested, proved, falsifiable, or anything else for that matter.

    prove me wrong and post a link to an actual photograph (not drawing) of any of the atomic parts mentioned above.

    P.S. if you choose to use the technology-has-not-caught-up-to-science argument, that still proves faith over science.

    i look forward to being proved wrong, i would love to see what those little buggers look like, what with them being the building blocks of all creation and what not!

  14. Darron S says:

    Hey Toney, here’s a picture of a bunch of iron atoms written across a copper block as viewed with a scanning tunneling microscope. It says “atom” =)

    http://www.almaden.ibm.com/vis/stm/images/stm11.jpg

    Now, I will do better than showing you a “picture” of an electron… we can actually show you MOVIES of electrons in motion. All you need is a vat of supercooled liquid helium, which most universities have access to. Pictures of the electrons and a full article about how to get the shots can be found here:

    http://www.physorg.com/news100354343.html

    The video of the electrons moving through the helium is at the bottom of the page!

    Also, please note that I said “evidence” as opposed to “facts” above. We still don’t have a picture of a black hole, but there’s TONS of evidence supporting their existence. And here’s a cool little article explaining how we knew atoms existed before we could see them in much the same way we know blackholes exist without being able to see them!

    http://www3.nsta.org/main/news/stories/science_and_children.php?news_story_ID=51054

    Honestly, I’m not trying to be confrontational here! I’m all about discussion, debate, and enlightenment! I hope you find some of this stuff as interesting as I do! There is actually talk of being able to detect individual QUARKS (the pieces that make up sub-atomic particles!) early next year when the Large Hadron Collider goes live at Cern! I can’t wait to see what they come up with! Cheers!

  15. Toney Sauls says:

    Darron-

    thanks for the link to the video. the article was more enlightening than the clip. i stand corrected, but with two caveats.
    1. in order to “see” the electrons, they had to expose them to conditions that are not natural and therefore unobservable in a natural state -but its a start.
    2. as you stated several times already, “there was tons of evidence” for atoms, black-holes, etc. my friend, there is no room in the scientific method for evidence of things unseen, even if there is tons of it. this is realm of faith. for millennia, thinkers have postulated about the atom, but where unable to prove it. nevertheless, there have been entire fields of study and careers based just on this “known” yet unseen thing. these researchers where either precognitive (and therefore thoroughly unscientific) or they had faith that one day atoms would be proven (also unscientific).

    i have no doubt that human researchers will be able to identify long postulated ideas about this grand universe in the near and far off future, but the point here is that scientist have been operating as theologians (albeit accidental) for some time now. in the New Testament, Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

    the scientific method cannot be set aside until proof is available for ones hypothesis. if the scientific method is in fact set aside, then the idea is a theory, not a fact.

    kudos for finding the clip, but you know i am correct. prior to 2006, that clip did not exist and all that science was pure speculation; cryptozoology comes to mind.

    as far as being confrontational, well, you threw that cat out the window when your first words were a proclamation that you were an atheist! i do not believe in atheists myself, but there is tons of evidence for them, so perhaps there are some around! =)

    this has been fun, i am glad you decided to post here. i would love to understand why you are not convinced that there is a personal God. shoot me an email if you care to discuss it. awsauls@gmail.com

  16. Darron S,

    Unfalsifiable Postulates are Dubious – You seem to have dazzled heads a little with your wit when you suggested that the scientific method cannot allow for an intelligence to be used as an explanation because the postulate of God is incapable of being falsified, and unfortunately, according the a hard-line scientific method: “any presupposition used in a scientific theory must be falsifiable (testably disprovable).” It seems that on this basis you have come to believe that the postulate of a creator God must be deemed, in your own words, “not good science.” (see comment #4).

    Your Can’t Prove Science Guilty of Faith – You believe this method is to be contrasted with “faith” in something which is not falsifiable. By following these principles, you seem to enjoy thinking of yourself as unbiasly faithless in your approach to your worldview, whereas we Christians are gambling with our faith. Whereas we believe in things uncertain (by the scientific method as you understand it), you yourself only hold to “presuppositions … based on observable, repeatable, and testable evidence.” From this platform you make your challenges to us “find something in any accepted natural scientific theory … that we take on faith as opposed to evidence.” This is quite an impressive use of words.

    Invisible Marhons on the Dark Side of the Moon Argument – You also say that it’s not the burden of science to disprove negatives so the burden of proof rests on the one making the positive claim for the existence of something. And we all agree that it would be a waste of time to send the brilliance of scientists on a goose chase to disprove invisible marshons on the dark side of the moon. So then, it seems (to you) that if we agree to that, we should also agree that it’s just as silly to expect science to disprove God. This way science can proceed without necessarily being able to disprove God, and no more loose it’s philosophical/intellectual credibility than someone who dismisses the idea of invisible marshons on the dark side of the moon who eat invisible green eggs and ham (yes … I realize if it were invisible it couldn’t be “green”). Again, very impressive argument.

    Bradley Cochran’s last blog post..Critical Evaluation of Bonhoeffer on Discipleship (Part 2)

  17. Counterpoints Par Excellence – Your counterpoint to Michael: touché! You don’t have swallow everything someone say’s to adapt their more credible ideas. This should be easy for all to see. Fair play there.

    Toney brings up the existence of atoms as a known “fact,” in response to your challenge. A quick reference to some updated scientific materials quickly put his challenge into a blush. He replies, “I stand corrected.” (and I’m glad he said that)

  18. The Presuppositional Elephant in the Room (if you ask me)

    For someone without a well trained eye for the ultimate presuppositions in play here, it might seem that Darron has embarrassingly outwitted us (and maybe he has). But there is one thing which seems to have been overlooked in this whole discussion.

    Your main points (propositions) seem to me to be your most vulnerable points once the presuppositional elephant in the room wakes up and blows the trunk trumpet.

    Here are your main points as I understand them: 1) “any presupposition used in a scientific theory must be falsifiable (testably disprovable),” 2) anything less than proposition one is “not good science”, 3) science method only allows for the use of “presuppositions … based on observable, repeatable, and testable evidence,” (the flip side perhaps of proposition one), 4) proposition three makes science faithless as opposed to Christianity.

    It seems to me that the scientific theory itself, however, does not start from presuppositional scratch. It takes advantage of the laws of logic. The law on non-contradiction. The laws of uniformity. The laws of inference. These laws are more fundamental than the scientific method itself. These are the living cells, if you will, which make the organism of the scientific method a living thing. But are these laws falsifiable? How would you falsify them without first assuming them? Since the scientific method makes plenty use of them, where is the “observable, repeatable, and testable evidence” for them?

  19. If my analysis is right, it would seem that the scientific method Darron wishes to champion is “bad science” based on his own proposition (see prop two above). It also seems that Darron’s understanding of science as only utilizing empirically verifiable presuppositions is more naïve than believing that scientists should spend their precious gifts and fundings disproving invisible marshons who eat swiss cheese on the dark side of the moon. Contrary to proposition D3 (Darron’s third prop in my summary), science not only utilizes presuppositions which are empirically unverifiable, but it actually completely and foundationally dependent on them in a most fundamental way. According to D4 + Darron’s understanding of what “faith” is, his own scientific method is a religious temple held up by all sorts of unverifiable pillars. If faith is taking into account the unseen and empirically unverifiable realities of the universe, then the scientific method is not only a practice of faith, but is religious to the core. Darron challenges us to “find something in any accepted natural scientific theory … that we take on faith as opposed to evidence.” Well, absolute/universal laws of logic (assumed to yield objective truth) are not only part of every particular natural scientific theory, but they are the very heart of science itself.

    The elephant has blown his trunk.

  20. a word of clarification: I have in mind emperically verifiable evidence that proves that those things we call the laws of logic exist in the way we assume them to—namely, in a way that leads to certain absolute truths (the product of science) which directly correspond to reality as it is

    Bradley Cochran’s last blog post..Critical Evaluation of Bonhoeffer on Discipleship (Part 2)

  21. patrick says:

    just saw Expelled… Ben Stein’s goal in making this flick (i gather) was obviously not to win any popularity contests, but rather to promote free thought, especially more thinking about motivations that drive American academia and a lot of other behind-the-scenes worldview that we tend to take for granted.

    patrick’s last blog post..Ben Stein’s Expelled — Science Ain’t Expained Nothin’

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