"Expelled" Off-Shoot #1: Discussing the premise of the movie

foolish, I don’t know your educational background, or whether you’ve taken a biology class or not. The profession of biology is replete with exciting arguments and discussions about evolution; indeed, challenging theories and attempting to falsify hypotheses is what science is all about. Scientists question all the time whether evolutionary theory can satisfactorily account for structures, behaviors, and relationships. Intelligent Design will be taken seriously as science when its proponents propose an argument that can be empirically tested. So far none has been offered. ID is a fruitless theory, as it has not generated testable hypotheses that can be the subject of research programs

I don’t quite understand why IDers complain bitterly about being excluded from academe. Theories are always being generated and discarded, and their proponents are hurt by this, but they usually pick up and move on. Phrenology – the “science” of analyzing bumps on the skull to learn about the psychological predispositions of people – is now excluded from academic meetings because it proved fruitless. It would be pointless for phrenologists to complain about being excluded from scientific meetings and journals, because there is nothing there.

The same is true of ID. If IDers feel discriminated against by existing universities, why don’t they start their own? Why don’t they seek grants to test their hypotheses against the empirical evidence? Why don’t they found scientific journals in which to publish their results? This is a free society, and there is no reason institutions that are so inclined couldn’t found Departments of Intelligent Design Biology. Ben Stein’s rant does nothing to address these questions.


Foolishmortal. I’m sorry, I just noticed that I left off the second half of your name. No slight was intended!


Thanks! I did not notice the error. I haven’t seen evidence of one creature becoming another. That is why evolution shopuld not be taught as fact.
It seems that scientists will consider panevolution before considering ID. In fact, a movie was made about the former. That is the way science is going in the universities.

The Bible and science, as well as other fields, can come to play in the discussion. Despite the PAS’s discrimination, even the Catechism of the Catholic Church hasn’t made any definitive decisions. They had the Catechism of the Council of Trent still in full use, I’m sure (if the Baltimore Catechism was in use, I don’t know what it said, though I think Fr. Hardon Catechism gave more weight to theistic-evolution), when Pope Pius the 11th, I believe, said both theories should be side-by-side. Einstein said science and religion need to be in conversation with each other. Yes, I think science alone is not going to solve this argument. Maybe the atheists just don’t want to listen. Maybe they don’t have enough proof to make macroevolution king of the origins of man debate. Maybe the ID scientists don’t have the proof for ID, but I think they can disprove macroevolution or put it seriously in doubt to where it’s not one unproveable theory reigning supreme over another;

The fact that Stein wrote for Ford and Nixon shouldn’t put him on the champion throne of Catholic or Protestant conservatives (conservative about everything). I don’t know what he believes, himself, but it would be worth knowing. That be said, I think the problem, that is with what I ended by last bulk of thought, needs to be posed and a big name is good for getting the conversation ball rolling.

Oh yeah…I forgot to mention conservative Jews, Muslims and even atheists. A religion conservative can have different views. Conservatives of a Protestant nation could see Catholics or other Christian faith traditions and other religions as radicals and the same can go in countries of other countries with a religious majority or an irreligious majority (though those coming in would be varying shades of threat; the lifestyle of those irreligious nations are making it easy for the fundamentalist Muslims to get a grip on their society, ironically enough–kinda like how Hitler got elected except this is a poverty of any boundaries of behavior and/or blind tolerance under the banner of freedom of religion or multiculturalism).

(1) Evolution is taught not as fact but as the best explanation for species diversity. In fact, it is so good at explaining it there are no serious alternatives. Evolution is a theory, like gravity, plate tectonics, atomic theory, etc. And it is a very well-subtantiated theory.

(2) Intelligent Design has no theory to offer science, except “God did it; it’s irreducibly complex; put away your test tubes and microscopes; don’t you dare do any more research!”

(3) You seem to be confusing the theory of evolution and the debates about life’s origins. They are quite separate.

(4) The Catholic Catechism is irrelevant to scientific investigation, as it is irrelevant to plumbing, dentistry, chemotherapy, etc. The Catechism is not a scientific manual, and has nothing to contribute to scientific discussion. It has everything to do with moral and doctrinal theology.


Petrus: You sound pretty angry about this film. You’ve been dismissing it throughout this thread as if it were a silly child’s tantrum. I believe that’s the whole point the movie is trying to make: Why should we allow a point of view to be disregarded as silly without even listening to the arguments? Have some class. Explain why you feel the theories they offer are not useful. Don’t just hurl insults like Dawkins.

Come now, did they really say that, or are you trying to degrade them by making up silly statements like this?

Sounds like a polite way of saying “by the way I’m intellectually superior to you on this subject, so don’t try to tell me I could be wrong”. Seriously, hasn’t everyone taken a biology class at some point? The poster doesn’t sound like a child.

So you’ve lumped them in with Phrenology now? And is the word “rant” meant as a descriptive term, or is this also a slight you couldn’t help but slip in there?

Ahh…so now they join the company of astrologers too. How about palm readers, can they join too? UFO abductees?

As determined by who? You? Or the scientific community in general, which is the whole point of the movie. They feel they are being ignored and ridiculed by a scientific community that has decided to reject all theories that suggest God might be the creator of our world.

I’m pretty sure that you just used the fact that they are in your other arguments. And you explained why these unscholarly “martyrs” deserved their fate.

Seriously Petrus, its as if you were personally attacked in this film and can’t get over it. Have you even seen it? I think the readers of this forum would prefer to hear specific criticisms rather than your own personal “rant” against ID. Sorry about the sarcasm, but I was beginning to feel the spit on my side of the screen.

(1) Yes – I’ve reviewed this film extensively. I’ll give you the link in a few days when the review website goes live. One particularly disgusting segment tries to derive Nazism from evolution, which is no more convincing than linking Nazism to Hitler’s Catholic childhood.

(2) Intelligent Design has been reviewed (e.g., at the Dover trial) and found not to have any scientific basis. There simply is no science there, nothing empirically testable. Complaining that scientists ignore it is on the same level as complaining that they ignore astrology or alchemy. I assume you would understand why the latter are not given a hearing at astronomical or chemistry conferences.

(3) Science is no position to evaluate God, as it is not theology. Science is methodologically naturalistic. Science can no more insist on putting God into biology classrooms than it can insist on including God in plumbing or engineering or chemistry or electronics classes.

(4) The makers of this film are fundamentally dishonest. They phoned me last June to set up an interview with members of our office, and lied about the subject of the film – they represented it as a general film about the relationship between science and religion, rather than a not-so-subtle attack on “atheistic science.” When we discovered they were lying we pulled the plug on the interview (I had already gone to some trouble to book a venue).

(5) Theology recognizes a creator, and of course it is perfectly fine for Catholics (such as myself) to interpret the world theistically, and to see the glory of God reflected in the world. It’s not all right to insist that we have a right to insist on inserting Christian theology into biology textbooks and classrooms, as the Intelligent Design lobby would argue.

As for #1 I would say that even though all those are scientific theories, the more complex the theory is the more likely there can be complications with the theory. If you had thought all fundamental forces in nature is solely gravity, you may have the theory of gravity right, but you’d still be a off.

Also I think it would be foolish to acknowledge that the natural world can only be summed up with ideas we can run experiments to detect. I am sure there is many aspects of nature that we are not yet capable of detecting by experiment, but one day we may be able to do so.

It could very well be the case that evolution happens. It could be the case that by some mechanism that we are occluded from really being able have much understanding of an intelligent designer my form species. It could be either, neither, or both.

Now I don’t really think I said anything to contradict your point. I think part of this movie is about intellectual freedom. In trying to teach you can easily get into some untenable position situations. On the one hand you would like to place things as if they are set in stone, but on the other there are some cases where they don’t hold up. In order to really to really make breakthroughs in our body of scientific knowledge sometime we may have to break want can seem sacrosanct. On the other hand just because one has an idea that goes against the grain doesn’t make it so.

What I fear about this movie though, and happens a lot in this Evolution vs ID or Creationism debate is that people start to say more than what is there. As I think you’ve brought up the Evolution/Nazi connection. That would really be more of a non sequitur as far as the validity of Evolution, any more than the abuses by someone of the clergy proves God is untrue. Which also brings me to #2. I don’t think that you can prove to me ID inherently means that proponents of it automatically want to stop all research; that would seem more of something based on the person, but not tied to the hypothesis.

That brings me back to a fundamental point. We need to teach better what science is and what we can learn from it, and what its limitations are. Evolution and ID are not identically analogous to true and false. We ought not go the other way to say we cannot mae a judgment on how they fall between true, false, and unsupported either way.

Granted you may not like teaching that because its not science proper, but sometimes if you want to run a business effeciently you cannot solely focus on buying and selling, your going to have to manage your overhead correctly to set youself up in that position.

jman507, thank you for your interesting post, with its many points. Let me respond to a couple of them.

(1) As a Catholic, of course I believe the world was created, and of course I believe God constituted it in such a way that eventually evolution would bring forth a creature capable of moral consciousness, spiritual awareness, and the possibility of reciprocating God’s love. But I don’t believe science could ever detect the subject of this Catholic belief.

(2) Expelled is simply wrong to assume there is a conspiracy in academe against ID. Academe has limited funds for departments, courses, conferences and publications. It cannot entertain all ideas. If I seriously proposed that the Apollo astronauts had missed the fact that part of the moon is made of green cheese, and I wanted ten million dollars to test that theory, no doubt you would agree with them that I could not legitimately complain when NSF turned down my proposal. As a theologian I’ve had to review proposals, and I’ve turned some of them down. One man recently seriously proposed testing the theory that “Jesus” was not a human person, but the code name given to an hallucinogenic mushroom in the Middle East, around which a worship cult had developed. This may be an interesting idea, and the man is free to entertain, it, but academe has a right to refuse to fund the proposal.

(3) Whatever we Catholics and other Christians may think of it, the idea that the universe was intelligently designed simply has no meat to it, no traction as an idea to be tested. That is why – although it has been given a hearing at Dover Pennsylvania – the judgment has been that it does not have sufficient scientific merit to warrant teaching it in schools. By all means teach it in churches, in philosophy or religion classes. Just don’t pretend it is science!

(4) You say, “I think it would be foolish to acknowledge that the natural world can only be summed up with ideas we can run experiments to detect.” I partially agree. Arthur Eddington once said that if a fisherman cast into the sea a net with three inch holes, and pulled up only fish larger than three inches, he would be wrong to conclude that there were no smaller fish. He needs a new net. Similarly , for science to say that the only reality that exists is that which science’s methodologically naturalist “net” can discover is wrong. Religious traditions have always taught a reality deeper than the merely empirical, as Haught argues in Deeper than Darwin. Science is competent to examine the natural world, but not the transnatural.


As far as point 4 I would extend it even further. There many be many things in the natural world that may be beyond our current scope to be able to fully empirically study, due to our limitations of technology and our current ways of thinking. Then there is also the case that other phenomenon is supernatural.

As far as ID it may not really be able to be fully empirically studied. It seems to me right now though it functions mainly as a “negative” hypothesis, until it can really propose a set of mechanisms by which the “designer” works. Even if they are supernatural and beyond our scope of being able to find out, there would have to be some natural phenomenon going on in conjunction with it, so it would be worth trying to understand what we can of it.

There is plenty of science that may happen before it can go under the rigors of full empiricism. As science become more complex, to gain an advance in understanding concepts a lot of theoretical work may need to be done to find out if it is really worth trying to experiment with. Even some things may be a bit beyond really being able to verify directly by experimentation. Bioinformatics may really be needed to set up some molecular biology experiments.

I wouldn’t say it would be way off base to say a hypothesis saying natural selection is not enough to explain all the diversity among organisms today. A dumb mutation here and there may be a bit beyond the scope for some developments in certain organisms. It may really take a coordinated set of cascading mutations. As I put that down I notice that natural selection may be a bit more than a just dumb mutations.

Perhaps there is just more to the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology than we current think. If something may happen rarely that would contradict it, chance are it may really be difficult for that to be observed and understood. If it happens just once it may be ruled out as an anomaly. We may not have an idea of how to really control for it.

So what do I feel when it comes to what should be taught? What perspective am I coming from. Well, I am a Catholic and I like my science. As far as I am concerned when it comes to science, I am uncertain of everything, but all ideas run on spectrum of doubt. The writers of the Bible do not come off as caring to make sure that everything that is written so that it could all be justified to a correct scientific account. As far as our scientific knowledge, I believe we are more in ignorance than in knowledge. So any attempt to really come up with a sure way to justify the two together would seem premature. That doesn’t mean give up, that just means realize your going to be looking at trees and may never really be able to fit it into the perspective of the forest at large.

I would say, one doesn’t need to teach ID just like evolution, I wouldn’t say that there is much there in ID compared to Evolution. If anything, it would seem to me ID would just need a paragraph in a book, or a brief mention in a lecture. The explanation of the mechanisms explained by ID and Evolution are asymmetric in length. What to me is more important is, and should be well drilled into the students (much like in A&P and chemistry structure helps dictate function) is that all ideas in science are tentative and none completely certain. The conventions of science are our best arguments today, but some of the speculation today may yield the new conventions of tomorrow. At the same time probably most of the speculation today will just be scrapped.

It would seem to me when ID and Evolution are so controversial right now, just to leave an explanation of how they relate in the hands of religious and philosophy teachers seems rather silly and lazy on the part of science experts, and fraudulent treatment of the lay person. In the end, it just ends in this being a controversy when it really doesn’t need to be. It also makes me wonder why in the world do scientist want the non scientists to frame what science is? If you want to give it a proper frame you need to say what it is and what it is not.

As far as the movie, I highly doubt I’ll ever care enough to watch it. From the commentary on it I’ve heard involved with it, I think the idea of intellectual freedom is valid. I can see them making the case of conspiracy in giving tenure. The process itself leads to people having plausible deniability, while at the same time those making the claim are going to have some proof, but not near enough to support or not support the claim. I suppose I fear the most is that the movie is going to spend a lot of time just trying to put evolution in a bad light, not with the idea itself, but by making some of the proponents look bad.

Jman seems to be handling this better than I. I believe in a multidisciplinary approach to what is and so I leave this discussion with this:

Science can no more insist on putting God into biology classrooms than it can insist on including God in plumbing or engineering or chemistry or electronics classes.

I doubt Einstein would agree.

Saying that you believe God created the world and such because of your Catholic belief, but it has no place in science is like saying I personally am opposed to abortion by my Catholic beliefs but justice is blind so…oh well. I guess I can’t bring my beliefs into the courtroom. God created the world, law, justice, science, etc. and these creations should not be idolized. Otherwise, we would have no say about abortion because it is theological. These fields should be in cooperation with each other and not one or all together held against Catholic theology.

The Church uses science to determine if one is demented by possession or by a bad life experience and maybe some oppression added in. Science is to be subjected to the Church as the Church is the bride of Christ and science is a gift for better understanding and appreciating the other gifts. Does science explain weeping statues of Mary? Perhaps, they cannot exist as science is naturalistic. No, science tests whether they are real tears and whether the statue is not a device with a pump and microscopic holes in the eyes. Science is a tool and what it deems likely is not to be held as dogma.

BTW Hitler worshipped Nordic gods by the time he had his Nazi thing happening. I read an article that said that Darwin was very theologically conservative so I stand corrected when I said that he went out to make stuff up for eugenicists. However, that doesn’t mean he did not change into one or have some shared thoughts. Science was and still is, I believe, truly in the hands of Gnostics in the academic realm and, like the Masons, there are those who are not in the loop. That’s just my opinion. Does that, like the movie’s angle and its filmmakers who turned you off, make my arguments or theirs bunk? I just want to say that a theology is putting its views into science and it ain’t Christianity. As monarchies gave up the Holy Roman Empire to revolutionaries and Western lands gave up most of their holdings (interestingly, mostly to communist dictators, so has the Church given up God’s truth (its study being theology) in many areas which should be under its mantle, despite the Galileo thing–boo hoo, big whoop, a mistake was made by fallible minds–but I digressed, starting with “As monarchies”
. The Church only makes dogmas about theological things, yes, but the scientific community has made dogmas that contradict it (such as on contraceptives and such). I’m sure, if Christ was here for the first time to redeem us, science would have him trying to prove Catholic doctrines on abortion and contraceptives before a scientific tribunal and they’d say, theology plays no part in it. You are the weakest link. Goodbye.

BTW Comparing ID to a mushroom worshipping cult pretty much sums up your bias. There is no comparison…not even close. This is biased devaluation. Despite fancy arguments, the principle behind your arguments is critically flawed, I believe. It’s not to mean everything you said is wrong. We are not the flying spaghetti monster cult. I think I can speak for ID people when I say we believe science is a tool and not a church of its own.

Foolishmortal, I never suggested that ID is like a mushroom cult. I only said that research budgets are limited, and conference time is limited, and evaluations must be made on the basis of the potential fruitfulness of a proposed line of research. There is enough historical information confirming the existence of Jesus to justify rejecting spending time on a proposal that “Jesus” was an occult term for a hallucinogenic. There is enough information about the workings of a cell and its chemistry to justify science rejecting spending time on the claim that the cell is “Darwin’s black box.” That’s all I meant.


Jman, everything in science is provisional; it does not declare dogmas. If it did, we would still believe in geocentrism. Rather, geocentrism was the central organizing principle in cosmology until the evidence discovered by Kepler, Galileo, and others confirmed Copernicus’s shifting the frame of reference.

Likewise, evolutoin is not a dogma, but rather a central organizing principle in biology, without which nothing makes sense. It is certainly possible that if evidence begins to accumulate that cannot be assimilated by the evolutionary paradigm, that paradigm will ultimately be overthrown. (Behe proposed that the cell is a “black box”; biochemists now know that it is not a black box, that we understand its working and evolution.) We’re not yet seeing such evidence, so call for the overthrow of the evolutionary organizing principle is premature. As Catholics we believe that the Holy Spirit works in the world, so we have faith that when the time is right, the Spirit will guide scientists to see the light.


Nothing good can come of this creationist, pseudo-scientific propaganda. Let’s hope the whole thing blows over and everyone gets on with their lives.

The Church can make no official announcements about the validity of a scientific theory (it’s beyond her domain), but she is decidedly in favor of Darwin as a whole–and as am I. Three papal endorsements and ever-mounting hills of evidence in evolution’s favor, and yet still the superstition of creationism still taints the minds of some Catholics. A shame. I’m very blessed to say that everyone in my parish who has disclosed their viewpoint on this matter to me has taken Darwin’s side, as well.

Open-mindedness is something most scientists, just by virtue of their profession, seem to possess. Their rejection of Intelligent Design is no different from their rejection of other forms of creationism: It is not on the basis of some personal bias, but on the simple facts, which do not smile upon biblical literalists. Yes, I’ve read The Case for the Creator, and am familiar with the basic tenets of Behe’s objections to evolution–but these are not only EASILY refuted but also are derived from a preexisting bias of their own. And they have the gall to say scientists are slanted? Take the log out of your own eye, me tinks.


Rant completed. Anyway, like I said, hopefully desperate men with less-than-convincing data aren’t going to make a fool of the faith once more.

From Chance or Reason, by Cardinal Schoenborn, author of the CCC.

From page 165 (my bold): “The aggressive way in which many oppose the group of American scientists who are devoting themselves to investigating ‘intelligent design’ does not have much to do with science. One may criticize their methodological approach. **Yet the question as to the origins of the obvious ‘intelligent design’ in living things is an entirely legitimate one; ** indeed it is a question bound up with man and his human reason.” You have fallen for the smear that ID is creationism in disguise. It is not. It is true that some creationists hijacked the name and used it to try and force religion into schools. But ID has thousands of years of history before Dover came along.

ID believes the vast majority of scientific evidence (even the evidence supporting evolution). The part it doesn’t believe is that complex life, such as man, came about by totally random processes. It isn’t out to replace the science of evolution, but merely to find evidence of design in nature.1. What is the theory of intelligent design?

The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.
For whatever reason, evolutionists see the above statement as a threat. And they react very very negatively as Schoenborn refers to, and definitely NOT in an open minded way. Perhaps since 70% of biologists are atheists, they just can’t let the door open even a crack or people might start believing in God.

Read “Chance or Purpose.” I’d also recommend “The Science before Science”.

And perhaps it would be good to see the movie before knowing how bad it is…in the interests of…having an open mind.

[size=1]You seem very arrogant about wanting to place creationism and ID in the same mold. Then lump them both with what is not only rejected science, but rejected science of the absurd. This is intellectually dishonest and a tactic of fascist propaganda and intimidation, and that is what the film is really about - intellectual freedom, which there sems to have been a whole lot more of it in the universities of the 16th century then there is today.[/size]

I don’t suppose anyone here reckons it could have been done in seven days, eh?

Hitler’s eugenics along with the eugenics of the US would never have been were it not for Darwin’s theory.

Intelligent Design is philosophy, not science. It is perfectly legitimate to talk about it in philosophy or religion classes, but until ID can propose an empirically falsifiable research program, there is no place for it in the laboratory. Ben Stein’s whining tantrum about scientists for not welcoming it will accomplish nothing. It’s that simple!

Bennie, I don;t know if all your posts are with the microscopic font above, but it’s too small for me to read without getting a headache.

God could have made Earth in 7 days or 7 minutes–even 24 seconds or in one instant. Hello! He’s God…the Almighty, no less!
Ok …so ID is not creationism. I thought ID was God making Adam and Eve on the spot (well, Eve coming a ittle later) instead of evolving them from apes. I stand corrected there. Why would God have to mess around with all the middle steps before homo sapien sapiens. That makes no sense to me. I think evolutionists just read too much into some similar features between 2 species and got the wrong idea. People are people. We can miss the forest for the trees–esp. if we have a fixed idea. You only analyze “evidence” that fit into your developing worldview. You force square egs in round circles. Darwin’s world had elites fixed on getting rid of dark-skin people. For that reason, science has been defeated. You might as well allow contraceptives because the atheist scientific community concludes it’s protection and responsible. Try posing a different viewpoint and you’ll be a religious nut. That is the road evolutionists have taken us on. We’ll write ourselves out of areas in which God very much is important to be involved because we are afraid to seem irrational. Well, I mean, that’s what got us in this situation by the spirit of Vatican 2. You are the weakest link Jesus. Goodbye.

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