Documentary Promoting Intelligent Design Deceived Scientists

The right wing has become increasingly active in promoting their alternative reality. This includes a recent documentary promoting their revisionist history denying that separation of church and state is a fundamental principle upon which this country was founded, denial of the scientific consensus on global warming, and claiming that there is scientific controversy over evolution.

The New York Times demonstrates how the religious right is using deceptive techniques in a documentary entitled Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed to present a false view on evolution. In order to attempt to give the documentary which presents misinformation about science credibility, several scientists were deceived into appearing in the movie. P.Z. Myers, one of the biologists interviewed, writes on his blog, “We were lied to, and they tricked us. It’s that simple.”

The science writer for the Times sums up the issue well:

The growing furor over the movie, visible in blogs, on Web sites and in conversations among scientists, is the latest episode in the long-running conflict between science and advocates of intelligent design, who assert that the theory of evolution has obvious scientific flaws and that students should learn that intelligent design, a creationist idea, is an alternative approach.

There is no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution as an explanation for the complexity and diversity of life on earth. And while individual scientists may embrace religious faith, the scientific enterprise looks to nature to answer questions about nature. As scientists at Iowa State University put it last year, supernatural explanations are “not within the scope or abilities of science.”


  1. 1
    mynym says:

    The New York Times demonstrates how the religious right is using deceptive techniques in a documentary….

    But Michael Moore is a paragon of virtue I suppose. As long as they don’t edit it deceptively there is little wrong with evolving the title of a film in an intelligent way.

    As scientists at Iowa State University put it last year, supernatural explanations are “not within the scope or abilities of science.”

    I.e. they will not pursue the truth, yet those who treat their own assumptions as the equivalent of empirical evidence are then overwhelmed with how a philosophy of naturalism is built “scientifically.” The argument seems to look a little like this: “We will not pursue the truth of things, only naturalism. When we only allow naturalistic answers it seems to us like everything we observe supports naturalism or will eventually support it. The evidence is overwhelming…”

    It seems that little can be expected of any intellect that is limited enough to be taken in by Darwinian reasoning. I.e. reasoning of this sort: “If I can imagine a story about the past that seems natural to me then you ought to treat that as the equivalent of empirical evidence because, well… it seems natural to me.”

    Even when they supposedly adhere to some high principle of naturalism people like PZ Myers actually include theological claims in science, thus the name of their blog is the Panda’s Thumb. To summarize the theological argument: “God wouldn’t have made a panda’s thumb like this so I think that you should treat my theological claim as if it is empirical evidence that natural selection created the panda’s thumb.” It seems that it is okay to include theology as long as one is trying to prop up the Darwinian creation myth. That’s the real issue, not supposed high minded principles by which the metaphysical and the physical are kept “separate” by Darwinists/biologists. It seems that a mind rooted in immanence which desires little more than to crawl back into the womb of Mother Nature quickly becomes so infantile that simple distinctions typically elude its limited grasp. It seems to feel that its own words and symbols and signs are not an artifact of intelligent design, instead it believes its words trace back to natural selection operating on some worms. So one may as well try to reason with the natural selection of worms given that worms ultimately seem to be selecting the excrement typical to the Darwinian mind, naturally.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    “But Michael Moore…”

    What does this have to do with Michael Moore? Everyone who is honest, left and right, knows that Moore is not an objective source, but this has nothing to do with this documentary on intelligent design. Even Moore openly admits the viewpoints he is advocating.

    Typical of the right in resorting to such typical attacks.

    Saying Myers and Panda’s Thumb include theological claims is a gross distortion of their views. Arguments such as the one cited are a trivial aside as opposed to the scientific evidence upon which they base their arguments for science over superstition.

  3. 3
    mynym says:

    “Even Moore openly admits the viewpoints he is advocating.”

    The producers of expelled openly admit the viewpoints that they are advocating which is one of academic freedom and freedom of expression. If they stick to that in a principled way which it seems that they do in the case of hypocrites like PZ Myers they would say that he has a right to engage in negative theology about what God supposedly wouldn’t do, it’s just that someone else can answer him with positive theology equally. If he argues theology or writes textbooks as a State funded scientist then others ought to be allowed to answer him while retaining their State funding, etc.

    “Arguments such as the one cited are a trivial aside as opposed to the scientific evidence upon which they base their arguments for science over superstition.”

    You’re ignorant of the widespread use of negative theology by Darwinists to prop up the mythology of progression that is imagined about the past by progressives, for progressives. If negative theology is a trivial aside then how is that the main hub of Darwinist blogs is named after it?

    Darwin propped up the majority of his reasoning with it:

    What type of scientific evidence are you talking about? I doubt it is empirical evidence. As a critic of Darwinism notes: “Neither of the two fundamental axioms of Darwin’s macroevolutionary theory—the concept of the continuity of nature. . . and the belief that all the adaptive design of life has resulted from a blind random process—have been validated by one single empirical discovery or scientific advance since 1859.” –Michael Denton

    Ironically the organisms that Darwinists use for theological arguments can often be cited as falsifications of natural selection, that’s probably why their arguments tend to be theological instead of theoretical and empirical. For example:

    Sirex is also peculiarly accommodating towards its predator, the parasitic wasp Ibalia. Sirex bores a hole in the trunk of a conifer, in which it deposits its egg. The egg yields a grub which feeds on the wood. As the grub feeds on the wood it gradually bores a tunnel. After some years the grub turns into a pupa which finally yields the adult wasp, which, using its powerful jaws, bites its way out of the tree. The Ibalia using the hole bored by the Sirex lays its egg in the Sirex grub. The Ibalia grub gradually consumes the tissues of the Sirex grub but does not eat the vital organs until last, thus ensuring a fresh supply of meat until its development, which takes three years, is complete. The presence of the Ibalia changes the behaviour of the Sirex. Normally the Sirex larva bores deeply into the wood but when infected by the Ibalia it bores towards the surface. This is a vital behavioural change for Ibalia because it has comparatively weak jaws and would be unable to bore as far through the wood as Sirex to escape from the trunk. Yet another example of interspecific altruism? What conceivable value [for natural selection to operate on] can the Sirex grub gain by changing the direction of its boring? By what curious sequence of small evolutionary steps did the Ibalias’ predatory habit induce this vital behavioural change?
    (Evolution: A Theory in Crisis
    by Michael Denton :223)”>

    The life cycles of many parasites could be cited as similar empirical evidence against the supposed vast predictive power of natural selection but it’s likely that you’re more interested in salvaging a progressive creation myth than looking at the empirical evidence.

    At any rate, the main point here should be that Darwinism is falsified (To the extent that it was ever specified in the first place by the theory of natural selection and so on.) by empirical evidence in the case of mankind, therefore people should be free to challenge it and progressives should get out of the way. In fact, even if people were wrong to challenge it they should still be left free to do so. But when it comes to their little creation myth it seems that progressives work for censorship and cite unfalsifiable, non-empirical and fundamentally irrational “rules” of naturalism to that end. (Yet they are apparently free to discard the supposed rules of censorship to hypocritically engage in philosophy and theology themselves.)

  4. 4
    mynym says:

    I won’t try to blockquote since the tags are weird.

    On Darwin propping up his natural imaginings with theology:
    “In constructing the arguments for his theory of evolution, Darwin repeatedly argued that God would never have created the world that the nineteenth-century naturalists were uncovering. Shortly after going public with his theory, Darwin wrote to a friend: “There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the [wasp] with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that the cat should play with mice.”
    Nature seemed to lack precision and economy in design and was often “inexplicable on the theory of creation.” In addition to this growing list of imperfections and mistakes, Darwin questioned the way the various species were designed. He observed, on the one hand, that different species use “an almost infinite diversity of means” for the same task and that this should not be the case if each species had been independently created by a single Creator. On the other hand, Darwin observed that different species use similar means for different tasks.” This too, he argued, does not fit with the theory of divine creation.

    What exactly did Darwin expect God’s creation to look like? We may never know, but for our purposes the point is that Darwin was significantly motivated by nonscientific premises.
    This view was not peculiar to Darwin. Philosophers and scientists had become quite confident in their knowledge of God. This attitude developed over many centuries, and by Darwin’s day it was internalized and needed no justification. Today this view continues to be evident in evolutionary literature, from popular presentations of the theory to college level textbooks.”
    (Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil
    by Cornelius G. Hunter :12-13)

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    mynym ,

    If you are trying to make a point, you are failing terribly. Finding the word “god” somewhere doesn’t mean a thing. The deception used in the documentary is noted both in the press coverage and in the description at PZ’s blog.

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