Michael Shermer Exposing Himself?

Ben Stein’s film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed was released on the April 18th. I didn’t have an opportunity to see it right away but have been encouraging others to go to the movies. A friend, Dr. Ron Allen, emailed to let me know that he had seen it and thought it was very well done. He and several others have mentioned that the interview with Richard Dawkins at the end is worth the entire price of the ticket. Another friend emailed and said she hadn’t seen it but had read some negative response from some of those from the anti-intelligent design camp who had been interviewed for the film. The Center for Science and Culture published a fairly lengthy (three parts), although not exhaustive paper by Casey Luskin titled, MICHAEL SHERMER’S FACT-FREE ATTACK ON EXPELLED EXPOSES INTOLERANCE OF DARWINISTS TOWARDS PRO-INTELLIGENT DESIGN SCIENTISTS On Monday Joy and I decided to take in the movie in the afternoon and am very glad I did. Shermer exposed himself as not being at all neutral in spite of his claims to the contrary, in this discussion. Unfortunately, unlike Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” Ben Stein’s effort did not receive the same vocal support by the church.

It is true that Stein is not a Christian but this film was probably more important in challenging the culture than Gibson’s portrayal of the crucifixion. Why would I say that? The Passion was largely a film to instill deep emotions about the historical event of the crucifixion. Individuals like Michael Shermer don’t reject the faith based on emotional hype or lack thereof but for other reasons. Shermer contends that he rejected faith as a result of taking a class on evolutionary theory and hasn’t looked back since. To be honest, “Exposed” isn’t really designed to persuade Shermer or Richard Dawkins or other committed Darwinists that were interviewed but is done to bring the case to culture that there is bigotry in the academic world which is being exerted in order to protect a pet theory. This theory is in reality a religious commitment to a faith claim which currently is not provable by scientific means. Those interviewed provide their definition for science which precludes the possibility that any non-naturalistic explanation could be scientific. In their definition in order to qualify as science the answer must be testable and reproducible. However, if we apply their definition to their view we would have to conclude that Darwinism isn’t scientific.

What to I mean by that? We can see that change and adaptation occurs in the micro level. There are changes within species or kinds and these can be seen in controlled experiments in some cases. We can also see by observation that there are various adaptations among humans, animals, fish, plants, etc. What we do not see is a transition from one kind (say, a monkey) to another kind (say, a human). They come to his conclusion by inference by trying to apply what we see happening on a micro level to explain what happens on a macro level. But, by their own definition this isn’t science. It isn’t observable, testable and repeatable.

The problem gets worse when we look at origins. Where did everything come from? Each side applies their faith story to this question but where does the evidence most likely point? An uncaused explosion of nothing by nothing which resulted in everything? That hardly seems scientific but seems to be what many of them opt for primarily because it excludes God not because it is scientific.

What about questions of feeding the starving, helping the weak, sick and handicapped? If Darwinism is true there really is no place for that. Those issues are simply nature’s way of weeding out and breeding out the inferior less able to survive. Let them die, no big deal. This was only touched on in brief in the film as Ben addressed the issue of Social Darwinism which was as widely accepted in the United States as it was in Germany in the 1920s and 30s. The primary difference being that Hitler had the political clout and will to use it consistently with the Darwinian views. This section too will bring out things that the general populace is unaware of regarding abortion, infanticide and euthanasia.

Ben was able to show that those in the Intelligent Design Movement come from all sorts of worldviews. Some Christian, non-CHristian, some agnostics even. World class scientists (over 700 of which have signed A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism) and philosophers are involved who are pointing out that there is little evidence for Darwinism on a grand scale and the evidence we see over and over is that the complexity demonstrates an intelligent designer of some type. Ben Stein discusses the pet theory of Francis Crick (one of the discoverers of DNA) called directed panspermia.

‘Directed Panspermia’ suggests that life may be distributed by an advanced extraterrestrial civilization.

Life was brought here advanced E.T.s from another planet somewhere else and the earth was seeded. Evidence? There is none but it moves the question of beginnings back to a place that we can never get to in order to test it in habited by intillegent life that we will never meet. Doesn’t sound at all scientific to me based on their definition and is rooted not in science but in Greek mythology:

The Panspermia hypothesis suggests that the seeds of life are common in the universe and can be spread between worlds. This idea originated with the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras

Like others, I agree that the interview at the end with Richard Dawkins was worth the price of admission. Dawkins agreed that life on this planet may indeed be the result of intelligent design as long as the intelligence isn’t God. He could accept directed panspermia but not any God at any time for any reason and in spite of any and all evidence.

This is a film that can generate some great discussions. Take some friends to see it while it is still in theaters. Buy it when it is out on DVD and have friends over to talk about it over dinner. For more than 10 years I have been working in an attempt to develop funding for a film that would challenge culture and raise the big questions to no avail. Here we have a film by a non-Christian which poses the very questions that need to be raised and discussed. Don’t let grass grow under your feet on this one.


Comments

Michael Shermer Exposing Himself? — 2 Comments

  1. Those interviewed provide their definition for science which precludes the possibility that any non-naturalistic explanation could be scientific. In their definition in order to qualify as science the answer must be testable and reproducible. However, if we apply their definition to their view we would have to conclude that Darwinism isn’t scientific.

    I agree with this. I’m not a scientist, but I look at it this way, not as testable, but on the basis of assumptions (although I do agree the process cannot be reproduced). We, being finite, can’t pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. In most things we do, and this includes science, we make observations, form hypotheses, and test them. However, we cannot do this without making assumptions.

    It appears to me that the assumption of evolutionists is that since an intelligent designer is not something testable, then we are to operate on the existence of life in all its diversity occurred by natural processes without intelligence. All life that we see came from the evolution of a single cell or sub-cell. From there somehow cells got together to form tissues, then organ systems, then whole animals and plants, with built in information back at the cellular level (where it started to mushroom) as to how they could reproduce themselves as whole animals and plants. Because we see similarities in animals and plants, this is why we say they have a common ancestor.

    Then there are assumptions made on the basis of other assumptions. Dating methods. Dating layers in rocks and fossil beds, and on and on it goes.

    “Oh, no,” some of them exclaim. “We are not saying anything about whether there was or wasn’t a designer.” But if you look at their ideas, you quickly understand as far as life on earth goes, they assume it all came from a common source, ie, that individual reproducing cells of some kind set the whole chain in motion via naturalistic processes.

    The problem is, the bottom line of what is claimed by evolutionists for how life got here in all its diversity is so improbable on a naturalistic basis alone (there are experts in probability who study these things) as to be quite safely called impossible.

    Without a designer, that is.

    That “panspermia” idea is a convenient hypothesis that enables [certain people] to say in their hearts, “there is no God,” or even, “there is no designer.” You are right. It just pushes the question back farther to where one doesn’t have to think about a Designer.

  2. First visit here Don and I must say…..its both refreshing and informative.

    I can’t imagine how any critical thinker is not open to the evidence for bias in this matter, as it has been shown and documented countless times. Especially on college campuses across the US, and Europe for that matter.
    Unless of course, they aren’t really critical thinkers but have an ideological/religious agenda.
    If they’d argue Christians do as well….at least we’re on the same playing field and can then debate the relative merits of each view. Something that is consciously and purposely waved away as juvenile thinking (bandwagon/ad hominem fallacies anyone?), in order to avoid for any possibility that ID has merit.
    In not allowing this, any suggestion of open minded and critical thinking is thrown out the window. In my opinion anyway.
    Talk about closed minds.

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