Monday, April 21, 2008

"Expelled" from my viewing schedule

I had not heard of the upcoming film of the subject line until it was the subject of the weekly Scientific American podcast. Apparently, Expelled is a piece of pure propaganda aimed at promoting Intelligent Design. Having listened to the discussion I am unlikely to watch the film and I would recommend the same approach to anyone else no matter how open-minded, like myself, they may be. The film is marketed by the same company that made a blockbuster success out of the ultimately gory "Passion of the Christ" by skillful manipulation of the flock prior to its release. It is unlikely that the same approach will be successful with this film, lacking as it does a legitimate star and interesting story. For how many really know enough about the arguments to care that much about ID? I have never seen the Passion, not for any spiritual reasons, but because it is just way too violent for my delicate sensibilities to bear; but I recall the slightly uncomfortable feelings engendered by the church leadership, who were being lobbied by the film's marketers, encouraging us to go as if it was some kind of spiritual duty. Only later did it become evident that the ultra-violence in the film was motivated, perhaps entirely, by the antisemitic tendencies of our Mel that he let slip in a drunken moment of indiscretion. More on the antisemitic thing later. I will never see the Passion and maybe it is completely discredited now. The flock should feel that they were used and that is always the danger of being too much a sheep.

Anyway, back to Expelled. Scientific American doesn't mince its words when it comes to ID. It is not science end of story, QED. Not even worthy of a discussion of its merits. That is probably reasonable, though I myself some years ago invested time in trying to identify its legitimacy. I don't doubt that some involved in its development such as Michael Behe ("Darwin's Black Box" - which I read) and William Dembski are honest, decent souls who were motivated by honest thought and reason to explore the idea; regardless of its ultimate correctness, that was a reasonable thing to do. Somewhere along the road, ID was hijacked by stronger, darker forces armed with the agenda of infiltrating public school education with anti-evolutionary, creationist dogma. These forces were centered in the Discovery Institute (footnote: I am constantly alarmed by the existence of so many grandiosely named, improbably well funded bodies in this country that are motivated by highly questionable political, religious or economic motives), which wanted to put into practice the ideas expounded in Phillip Johnson's "Wedge of Truth" (confession: I read that too to my eternal shame).

The film takes the tawdry, appalling simplistic tack of painting all of science as being monolithically anti-Christian and atheistic, as if the the various theories of evolution (actually the film probably tries to establish that there is just one theory that is centuries old) are all motivated by atheistic belief rather than actual natural observation. This us-against-them paranoia does a horrible disservice to all scientists who have faith. Not for the first time does the film try to establish a link between Darwin and the Holocaust as evidenced by the extensive footage from concentration camps - Ben Stein (of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off") pondering deeply outside Auschwitz or some other concentration camp. WTF you are saying? Preposterous as it sounds, the argument goes something like belief in evolution leads directly to moral degradation and loss of belief in the value of human life. All "bad" things - genocide, abortion, homosexuality - are the fault of Darwin and his silly theory. Interestingly, the Jews themselves are far more likely to attribute the antisemitism that motivated the Holocaust to the Church and its history of antisemitism dating back to the Crucifixion. Martin Luther was not alone in giving vent to antisemitic feelings. Somehow that doesn't get a lot of air time in the modern church, seeing as how he is regarded as a hero of the Reformation.

The truly appalling and tragic aspect of Expelled and all the other misguided activities of the various Creationist-inspired groups is the squandering of vast resources in beating this dead anti-evolution horse for such little useful purpose. Think of what a difference could be made in the world, if the money wasted on the Creation Museum, for example, had been invested in legitimate research into curing diseases or eliminating poverty or developing alternative energy. Think what a positive public image the church would generate by directing its power to the good rather than towards promoting an untenable, unnecessary defence against reason.

1 comment:

Phyliss said...

People should read this.