Parsing the Expelled Leader’s Guide, part 6 1

Why does it matter? The guide continues with smear campaign against evolution, by accusing it of fostering “relativism, religious skepticism and a dehumanized view of men and women.” All this from a scientific theory! But wait there’s more! In particular, it says evolution provides “Darwinists” justification for abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, racism, and Nazism. Therefore, evolution must be wrong. Try our new faith-based “theory,” satisfaction guaranteed. Operators are standing by. Guide: After establishing that most evolutionary biologists are atheists and agnostics, the guide repeats the allegation that evolution is a kind of religion. “Darwinism has become the substitute ‘creation story’ for those who embrace materialism. Materialism is a philosophy which says that the physical realm is the only reality that exists.” This “worldview” leads to moral relativism, religious skepticism and dehumanization. Hmm, sounds like Satanism to me. Whaddaya you think, Davey? Comments: This one paragraph contains multiple falsehoods. First, the Guide preaches a lie, that evolution, a scientific theory, is directly responsible for Social Darwinism, a completely different animal. Anthropologists, sociologists, politicians, demogogues, have applied a bastardized interpretation of evolutionary theory — the fit survive — to social and political structures. Social Darwinism has existed in one form or another since ...

Parsing the Expelled Leader’s Guide, part 5 2

The Expelled Leader’s Guide veers away from examining the scientific evidence “against” evolution and toward the social implications of evolution on page 12. Beginning with insinuations that only some kind of anti-religious conspiracy can keep such a weak theory as evolution in place, the Guide proceeds to link Darwin’s evolution to racism, Adolf Hitler, and eugenics. Guide: As we have seen, there is strong evidence from several areas of science for intelligent design — and equally strong evidence raising serious doubts about Darwinism. Why, then, isn’t the scientific establishment more open to allowing genuine discussion and debate over Darwinism? Could it be that there is more propping up Darwin’s theory than the mere evidence? The Guide then offers data from a 1998 survey of biologist members of the National Academy of Science, of whom 95% identified themselves as atheist or agnostic. It also quotes results from an unnamed 2003 survey of “leading evolutionists,” of whom 87% denied the existence of God and 88% did not believe in the afterlife. Comments: As we have seen, there is NO strong evidence for intelligent design or against evolution, at least in this Guide. The rhetorical question about the “scientific establishment” sets up an ...

Parsing the Expelled Leader’s Guide, part 4 1

Paleontology Evolutionary theory depends heavily on the fossil record, so one would expect the Guide’s treatment of paleontology would be the most extensive of the three areas of scientific research listed in the introduction. It’s not. The Guide repeats the same criticisms of fossils that many creationist and ID proponents have had for decades. There’s nothing new here. Their case is weak. Guide: Somehow “in the face of these ‘impossible’ odds, the first cell could have formed, and over time developed into all” the organisms now existent. Previous organisms would have left a “substantial” record of evolution among the millions of fossils uncovered after 130+ years of searching. In Darwin’s words, “The number of intermediate and transitional links between all living and extinct species must have been inconceivably great.” In fact, the fossil record as a whole, contrary to conventional wisdom, actually gives persuasive evidence against Darwinian evolution, as we shall see. Comments: More than likely, given the size of the “lab” on ancient Earth, there was more than one cell. Bacteria and other one-celled organisms replicate very quickly, so in short order the Earth was probably teeming with life. Genetics supports the hypothesis of common descent from a single ...

Parsing the Expelled Leader’s Guide, part 3 1

Molecular Biology: The Origin of Life This section of the Leader’s Guide confuses, deliberately or otherwise, evolution with abiogenesis. Evolution deals with the development of organisms in response to their environment. Abiogenesis is a separate theory that suggests that conditions on the early Earth were favorable to bring organic molecules to develop into the first living organisms. Guide: “Darwinian evolution argues that life arose from a primordial sea on a lifeless planet through a chance collision of chemicals, and that over billions of years, this biological accident gave rise to all of life, including humans. In other words: NOTHING + TIME AND CHANCE = EVERYTHING. Modern science has now revealed incredible problems with this explanation.” Comments: The age of the Earth is reliably estimated at 4.6 billion years. The accretion of matter from the early solar system resulted in a young Earth that was very hot, very dry and devoid of oxygen. Volcanism brought water in the form of steam from underground. As the Earth cooled from its formation, water condensed and formed the first oceans. The theory of abiogenesis proposes that the chemicals dissolved in surface water, or in tidal pools, developed through processes not fully understood into the ...

Parsing the Expelled Leader’s Guide, part 2

Following the Leader’s Guide Introduction are three separate pages summarizing (!) the main points of cosmology, molecular biology and paleontology. The message on all is that ID is the best and only explanation for the complexities in these fields of study, though no direct evidence is offered to support the contention. Instead the Guide appropriates suitable quotes from famous scientists — some out of context — to appeal to authority instead of evidence. Cosmology : The Origin of the Universe Guide: Beginning with this heading, “Cosmology has shown that the universe had a beginning and that it is filled with exquisite order,” the Guide discusses “galaxy motion” (sic) and the “elegance of physical laws.” The paragraph on galactic motion notes that the galaxies are moving away from other as the space between them expands, and that most scientists now believe the universe came into existence in a “big bang” — “and such a beginning implies a cause outside the universe that brought it into existence.” Next, the Guide authoritatively states: “Scientists have also recognized the exquisite order and mathematical elegance of the physical laws governing the universe as pointing to cosmic design.” It then quotes physicist Paul Davies, “The temptation ...

Parsing the Expelled “Leaders Guide”, part 1

As part of the media blitz associated with Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, the creators of the movie provide a background “Leaders Guide” for school and church teachers. Like the movie, the guide pretends to be unbiased but is far from it. So, I have decided to analyze the document for the benefit of anyone who intends to use the guide. Page 2: Introduction: Guide: The banner over the page reports results from a Newsweek poll: 91% of Americans believe in God and 78% believe that God created human beings on our present form or guided an evolutionary process that led to our present form. On the right is a pullout quote from none other than Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species “A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.” Below that are details about the 78% results and about the number of Americans (69%) that want both the theory of evolution and the evidence against it taught in schools. Comments: The figures quoted are legit, from professionally conducted polls in 2006 and 2007. The Darwin quote from his introduction to Origin is out of context, as ...

A more detailed review of the Minnesota Expelled screening

Well, here’s another review of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, but this one highlights the actual preview experience as no other has so far. The screening was amateur, from the sound of it. Rather than using an actual print of the movie (or a high-res digital version), the producers showed the film using a laptop and a digital projector! This for a movie that is due to be released nationally in less than a month. Since a laptop was playing the film, the sound was bad. Not exactly the best theater experience, either. The reviewer hints that perhaps the background music during the private screening was not paid for. The tunes include John Lennon’s “Imagine” and The Killer’s “All These Things That I’ve Done,” the rights to which would cost a pretty penny. The budget for this film was reportedly $3.5 million, much of it bankrolled by wealthy contributors. One would expect a somewhat slicker preview of it. Not all reviews of Expelled have been negative, to be fair. Predictably, those who are already disposed to oppose evolution and support Intelligent Design/creationism adore the flick. Here’s some links to positive reviews. Tom Bethell for The American Spectator Rush Limbaugh on his ...

Intelligent Design pops up (briefly) in Bloomfield, Ky.

Bloomfield Middle School officials had to tell a seventh grade science teacher that she could not teach Intelligent Design (ID) after they received a warning from the Kentucky chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU letter advised them that the teaching of ID was contrary to “the substantial legal authority establishing the illegality of teaching a religious doctrine within a science curriculum.” The Panda’s Thumb reprinted part of that letter yesterday. The teacher in question, Adonna Florence, confirmed the gist of the report to me today. I am awaiting details from her, the BMS principal and the ACLU. Technically, Florence’s introduction of ID into her science classes is not contrary to Kentucky state law. At one point in history, Kentucky law expressly permitted, but did not require, the teaching of the Biblical creation of Earth and the organisms on it. As part of the Kentucky Education Reform Act, that statute, KRS 158.177, was effectively repealed in 1990 and re-enacted with substantially the same language as before: SECTION 403. KRS 158.177 IS REPEALED AND REENACTED TO READ AS FOLLOWS: (1) In any public school instruction concerning the theories of the creation of man and the earth, and which ...

Academic freedom or academic tomfoolery? 1

The Ben Stein movie, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” champions academic freedom, purporting to demonstrate how faculty who believe in Intelligent Design or Creationism are being forced from their jobs by some kind of “evolutionist” hegemony. The movie, which I have not seen, supports the opinion that someone who does not accept the theory of evolution cannot debate or question the theory in the classroom without fear of reprisal. The rights of anti-evolution faculty and students must be protected, the movie’s creators claim. It’s another version of the “teach the controversy” canard that IDists and creationists have been passing around for the last few years. First, they create a false controversy (many people doubt evolution is valid). Second, they contend that “evolutionists” are forcing this “controversial” theory down students’ throats. Then, they insist that other theories must be given “equal time” somehow in the classroom to give students a full education. This strategy to introduce ID and creationism in the public school classrooms failed miserably in Dover, Penn., after a federal judge (a Republican appointee) ruled that ID was just another form of creationism, that is, it was religion. Therefore, he said, ID cannot be taught in a public school without ...
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