Tuesday, April 22, 2008


(Note: When I refer to "Darwinists," I am referring to the atheist variety. There are many theists that support Darwinism.)

Lots of mudslinging and name-calling has accompanied the release of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Having followed some of the reviews, blogs, and message boards, I have heard deafening barks, but little bite.

Many comments suggest that Expelled is trying to sneak faith (or God) into science. Regarding this charge, the narrator, Ben Stein, tactfully nudged the Darwinian interviewees back to their faith commitments, pressuring them until they spewed out beliefs in crystals and aliens "seeding" our planet. The point was clear: All have faith commitments. Whether one believes in God, aliens, or crystals, all are exercising faith. And these scientists are allowing this faith to inform their science. They are not opposed to faith (e.g. crystals and aliens work) but faith of a particular kind.

Another criticism came from a New York Times review of the film, which called the documentary one of the "sleaziest" in a long time. The reviewer states that the film ignores "the vital distinction between social and scientific Darwinism." The reviewer is referring to the film's suggestion that Darwinism had a part to play in legitimating the Holocaust. It seems to me that to make a sharp distinction between scientific and social Darwinism, as this reviewer does, is to undermine scientific Darwinism. If naturalistic, Darwinian evolution is true (and if we are intellectually honest) then its implications should be pushed to every aspect of life, including society. The film is not saying that all Darwinian proponents are bloodthirsty Nazis. It is suggesting that Darwinian science provides a compelling justification for genocide. And Nazi rhetoric was undoubtedly laced with Darwinian ideas. The person that divorces scientific Darwinism from social Darwinism is being inconsistent. They are, in other words, employing the fact/value split (see below). Rather than call the link between the Holocaust and Darwinism unfair, even preposterous, what I'd like to see a cogent critique of genocide from a Darwinian position.

These are just a couple of challenges or charges I have encountered while following the film’s release. Ironically, the vehement criticism over this film gives clout to its main point: a bullying majority refuses to allow other voices to be heard. This majority refuses to even allow debate over Intelligent Design because they are allowing their presuppositions (philosophical materialism) to tape-off the boundaries of what counts as science. This is not science. And I wonder how much this suppression is stymieing the progress of science. Also, the palpable anger over Expelled leads one to wonder whether this issue is really about science, as many Darwinists insist. Instead, it seems this debate is about deeply entrenched faith commitments.

Justin Taylor has pointed out two reviews of the film worth reading, one by Michael Patton and the other by Douglas Groothuis.

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