Sunday, January 20, 2008

Expelled: The Intelligent Design movie

Cross-posted from my Fish Wars Blog and also at The Daily Kos.

The whole problem with intelligent design is that its proponents like to say it is science, and that the status quo of scientists are not allowing this new concept to be introduced into science classrooms, from some sort of discrimination or something. It's a reasonable enough sounding argument, and the premise of the new documentary "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." And the makers of this film want people to see this movie so badly that they're offering to pay schools and churches $5 per student to see it. I first read about this on The Daily Irrelevant and The Bad Idea Blog.

What intelligent design proponents - in the movie and elsewhere - don't tell you is that science and scientists do not have PR campaigns. They don't have to pay money to people to accept scientific theories and facts. They quietly go about their work in the halls of academia, in the laboratory, using computer models, in the field doing experiments, publishing results in scientific peer-reviewed journals. This is how science works. Scientific ideas don't need a PR campaign, films, and money to promote themselves. They MAY use these techniques as teaching tools, but that is generally after a scientific concept is well established.

Intelligent design is not well-established, and despite what the film may tell people, it's not being expelled. It doesn't have enough data or studies behind it to be put into textbooks. In fact, it's not even science. Somehow we as a society seem to have forgotten what science even is. This shall not do! Science revolutionized the way people thought, paving the way for the amazing scientific and technological advances since then - germ theory, vaccines, antibiotics, traveling to the moon. The key here is that science requires scientists to throw out ideas that don't have supporting data. Every scientific hypothesis is always open to falsification - being shown to be false.

The whole problem with intelligent design as "science" is that the concept has a predefined result - that the origins of the natural world must literally match the Genesis Creation account. Science does not work if you have a pre-set conclusion! No, for a process or idea to be science, those testing the premise have to be able to throw out the hypothesis if the data doesn't fit. Intelligent design is not willing to do that. Because that would mean they are saying, nope, we're wrong. God didn't create the world. At least that is what they fear it means.

People that promote intelligent design KNOW that there is a God who created the universe. And I, myself a Christian, believe that they're right. But that doesn't make intelligent design right. Because ID does not even provide a proper mechanism, or method, through which the universe came into existence other than "God did it," (technically, their terminology is that the world has "irreducible complexity" that could not possibly have been created by anything other than an intelligent designer).

However, evolution by means of natural selection has amazing explanatory power in terms of how the world could have gone from single-celled organisms to complex beings, even human beings. There's no scientific controversy over evolution. There is ONLY a social, religious and cultural controversy.

Another problem with intelligent design proponents is this - very few people who follow it have ever taken a college Biology class in which they learned about evolution and its evidence. Instead they learn about evolution from those attacking it, in the churches and by the "professional creationists" who make money by selling books and making movies to promote their views. And now if you will excuse me, I need to go worship my Noodly master. Ramen!


Sharon Guynup said...

The problem with "intelligent design" is's not intelligent! It spits in the face of centuries of careful, studied scientific inquiry. Do believers of intelligent design really think that followers of Satan planted fossils to trip up unbelievers? And do they really think that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time? Methinks some people have been watching too many Fred Flintstone cartoons (stole that one from comic Lewis Black.)

Wendee Holtcamp said...

I love Lewis Black! Intelligent design creationists actually do not believe that Satan planted the dinosaur bones because they accept the ancient age of the Earth (those who know enough about ID to understand what it's leaders teach, that is). Only SOME young earth creationists believe the spiel about the dinosaur bones being planted to deceive Christians. Crazy!

Anonymous said...

Although the US court system is not necessarily the appropriate place to have this debate, in at least one instance the justice system did sort out some of the fraudulent language and iffy science used to mask the true intentions of the so called scientists promoting "intelligent design". The 2005 case, Kitzmiller et al. v Dover Area School District et al., in Pennsylvania documented quite clearly the deliberate invention of "intelligent design" as a cover for creationism. The judge, John E. Jones III, who was nominated by President George W. Bush, made a very strong ruling against intelligent design. He ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, stating that intelligent design is creationism and is not science. The court of public opinion had some sway in this case as well. The school board that supported having "intelligent design" taught in science classes in its district was voted out to a person!

Wendee Holtcamp said...

Yes the Kitzmiller vs. Dover court case was a resounding victory for science, for sure! As a Christian myself, I always wonder why the IDers don't think for a moment that maybe God *isn't* on their side when he keeps giving victory after victory to the supposedly "other side"? Although God's ways are mysterious and no one can claim to know God's ways, God is certainly on the side of Truth (and I do believe that there is Truth), especially since in the Bible the devil is described as the "father of lies."