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Peter T Chattaway

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

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JohnD wrote:

: I'm not sure what is meant by "demonstrate" here, because the film does give a proper definition of how ID works, and why it is a valid scientific inquiry.

Really? Where? And for ID to "work", wouldn't it have to propose an actual theory rather than simply point out gaps in other people's theories?

: It certainly is, but in a 90 minute film that covers a number of issues, one cannot pause for extended debate on this topic in order to satisfy an imposed, a priori requirement of QED.

Actually, one can. All one has to do is throw out the issues that are distractions, like the Holocaust.

I know Ben Stein and others involved in the film really, really wanted to get into the Holocaust, but that whole tangent remains a major distraction from what the film's makers and defenders say the film is SUPPOSED to be about (academic freedom, etc.). Stein accuses evolution of fomenting genocide, Dawkins accuses the biblical God of fomenting genocide, and so everyone is accused of genocide and it is never acknowledged that sometimes genocide is an ABUSE of a belief rather than the logical END of that belief. Of course, in the Bible, God DOES command the Israelites to wipe out Canaanites and Amalekites, whereas I don't think Darwin ever advocated ethnic cleansing, so, like it or not (and I don't), Dawkins' charge sticks a little more than Stein's does. So the Holocaust is not only a distraction, it is something of a self-defeating distraction.

To this, you can add the film's theological wanderings. I appreciate the distinction the film makes between a life with God and purpose versus a life of materialistic determinism -- the interview with Provine is especially interesting here -- but that's not a scientific issue, it's a philosophical issue, and at best maybe a meta-scientific issue. It has nothing to do with evolution or ID or the biological origins of life. And because IDers have officially proclaimed themselves agnostics on the question of God and whether or not he might be the Designer they claim to have detected, this distraction, too, becomes something of a self-defeating distraction. You can't promote ID theory as metaphysically agnostic on the one hand and then release a film which openly advocates the Designer-is-God sub-theory while mocking all the other sub-theories.

(Side note: re: academic freedom. Evolutionists who openly state that there are quantifiable differences in the average intelligence of different racial groups -- such as James D. Watson, co-discoverer of DNA -- are routinely ostracized by the academic establishment, even though their ideas would seem to follow naturally from evolutionary theory. Should "academic freedom" apply to them and their musings, too? Or do Stein and the others want "freedom" and scientific validation only for their particular brand of unpopular beliefs?)


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Really? Where? And for ID to "work", wouldn't it have to propose an actual theory rather than simply point out gaps in other people's theories?

Peter, I gave you a reference. There are many others. If you want to interact with the substance, please read the reference and respond to that. I'll be happy to interact with you on it.

: It certainly is, but in a 90 minute film that covers a number of issues, one cannot pause for extended debate on this topic in order to satisfy an imposed, a priori requirement of QED.

Actually, one can. All one has to do is throw out the issues that are distractions, like the Holocaust.

Which took, what, seven minutes of film time? You're allowing it to be a "major distraction" for you. Let's take one thing at a time. I responded to the canard that is so easily tossed out, that ID is "not science." This is one of the two ploys used to cut off discussion. The other is that ID is "creationism" in disguise.

Both are false.

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JohnD wrote:

: Peter, I gave you a reference.

Not to the film, you didn't. This is a thread on the film. Where, exactly, did THE FILM "give a proper definition of how ID works, and why it is a valid scientific inquiry"? Respond to that, please.

: : : It certainly is, but in a 90 minute film that covers a number of issues, one cannot pause for extended debate on this topic in order to satisfy an imposed, a priori requirement of QED.

: :

: : Actually, one can. All one has to do is throw out the issues that are distractions, like the Holocaust.

:

: Which took, what, seven minutes of film time?

7 minutes out of 90 would be almost one-tenth of the film. Sounds "extended" to me.

: You're allowing it to be a "major distraction" for you.

Oh, hardly just me. Many others have focused on that element of the film and how it distracts from the what is supposed to be the film's core message.

: Let's take one thing at a time.

My point exactly.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Not to the film, you didn't. This is a thread on the film. Where, exactly, did THE FILM "give a proper definition of how ID works, and why it is a valid scientific inquiry"? Respond to that, please.

Meyer and Dembski both gave it, remember?

I earlier responded to this from you:

And for ID to "work", wouldn't it have to propose an actual theory rather than simply point out gaps in other people's theories?

This statement is generic and "off film," too. Which is it going to be?

7 minutes out of 90 would be almost one-tenth of the film. Sounds "extended" to me.

We differ on this.

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Stein accuses evolution of fomenting genocide, Dawkins accuses the biblical God of fomenting genocide, and so everyone is accused of genocide and it is never acknowledged that sometimes genocide is an ABUSE of a belief rather than the logical END of that belief. Of course, in the Bible, God DOES command the Israelites to wipe out Canaanites and Amalekites, whereas I don't think Darwin ever advocated ethnic cleansing, so, like it or not (and I don't), Dawkins' charge sticks a little more than Stein's does.

It's a little unfair to pit God - who runs his own religion - to Darwin, who's merely a member of his. Obviously, Darwinism/evolution itself as a scientific field is relatively new on the world stage of history, but the underlying secularist worldview that he advocates has plenty of scars of its own (Mao, Stalin, etc.). I think the fairest charge is that of the abuse of a belief, as you mentioned before.


"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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Nice review, Peter. I imagine you hard a very hard time limiting yourself to the target word count.

In your additional comments at Film Chat you note that "there is no more place for ID in the science classroom than there is for any number of other non-scientific theories."

And this is the point where I think the film is frequently being criticized for something it is not doing, or even trying to do.

First, it doesn't suggest that I.D. be taught "in the science classroom." All the stakeholders well know of the Dover case, and with a that legal precedent having been set, that angle is pretty much a dead avenue.

Second, the film doesn't address anything at the primary or secondary education levels at all; the cases it presents are confined itself to what's going on in colleges and the press -- and even then staying out of the classroom, aside (as I recall) from the occasional "teach the controversy" buzz phrase. It's addressing what's happening with journalists and researchers, not teachers.

And here's where the film has what I feel is a completely valid but overlooked point.

  1. Yes, we know that the courts have concluded (as has the scientific establishment) that I.D. is not in a position to claim itself as an accepted part of the body of scientific knowledge.
  2. Yes, we know that in order to achieve that status, I.D. proponents must actually formulate a cogent theory, propose hypotheses related to that theory, and design studies that will effectively test them.
  3. Yes, we know that those falsifiable studies must then be subjected to peer review and replication.
  4. Then, after a period of years, a substantial enough body of supporting evidence (if any exists) might yield something which the scientific community could be comfortable labeling an accepted "theory of I.D." that could then be taught in science classes.

But if my layman's reading of Discover is any clue, I have to suspect that there are all sorts of theories being worked on right now by academicians that fall into this class. And I'm pretty doggone sure that there are all sorts of fuzzy ideas that scientists are very excited about which we would never teach in classrooms because they are not yet considered "accepted science."

So when there are scientific journals (like von Sternberg's) that appeal to court rulings about high school classrooms (item 1 above) as a justification for rejecting studies that might contribute to establishing points 2 and 3 above, how could step 4 ever possibly be achieved? It's like cutting off a horse's legs and then saying "I didn't kill a horse. Horses have legs, and this animal doesn't have any. It's not a horse at all. It didn't belong in the stables in the first place." (Not a perfect analogy, of course, but I imagine you'll get my drift.)

It sure seems to me that, because of bad blood created by Creationists and the failure of the pre-existing I.D. community to repudiate the black sheep that have crept into their fold, I.D. has become intellectually suspect and an academic stigma. The de facto effect is that, because of politics, scientists who are legitimately interested in studying I.D. for scientific reasons are indeed being shouted down and bullied when there is no scientific reason to do so (a description which I feel at least encompasses the Sternberg and Gonzalez cases).

Is I.D. "science"? No. But it might be some day, given the freedom to study it without politics shutting it down.

Of course, the film doesn't do a very good job of making this case.


Greg Wright

Managing Editor, Past the Popcorn

Consulting Editor, Hollywood Jesus

Leader of the Uruk-Howdy, Orcs of the West

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JohnD wrote:

: Meyer and Dembski both gave it, remember?

Apparently not. You still have an opportunity to explain what I missed.

: This statement is generic and "off film," too. Which is it going to be?

It is perfectly appropriate, when discussing a film, to discuss what it lacks -- especially when the film suffers from lacking that thing.

popechild wrote:

: It's a little unfair to pit God - who runs his own religion - to Darwin, who's merely a member of his.

I think that's kind of my point -- or part of it, at any rate. In the Bible, God explicitly commands genocide; in science, Darwin merely came up with some ideas which someone else may or may not have decided to exploit for genocidal purposes. So if Jews or Christians are going to throw around accusations of genocide, especially when Darwin (as far as I know) never explicitly advocated it himself, they had best be prepared to deal with similar accusations coming from the other side. It will not be an even match.

: Obviously, Darwinism/evolution itself as a scientific field is relatively new on the world stage of history, but the underlying secularist worldview that he advocates has plenty of scars of its own (Mao, Stalin, etc.).

Well, as I indicate in my review, Darwinism and evolution are not the same thing; evolutionary theory was around for at least a century before Darwin's time, and all he did was propose a MECHANISM by which it occurs. (After I attended the rough-cut screening of this film back in November, I told the filmmakers that I myself accept evolution as an historical fact, and one of them replied, "But not Darwinism, right?" I didn't know how to answer that, and I cannot recall how I DID answer that, partly because I don't really know what they meant by "Darwinism" per se. But it was interesting to hear them make that distinction in conversation, when it seemed to me they hadn't made it in the film.) And if I'm not mistaken, Darwin's mechanism has been fine-tuned ever since. So the theory of evolution is both older and newer than Darwin, in that sense. But in any case, I frankly don't know whether Darwin advocated a "secularist" worldview. He probably did advocate a methodologically naturalistic approach to science, but does that necessarily mean he was a metaphysical naturalist too? I don't know, but I wouldn't want to make any assumptions there.

: I think the fairest charge is that of the abuse of a belief, as you mentioned before.

Yep. Especially since one could just as easily argue the opposite, that the logical end of Darwinism is not racial "purity" but racial diversity. Diversity enhances the odds of survival, and is thus "fitter" for the species, in that sense.

Greg Wright wrote:

: Nice review, Peter. I imagine you hard a very hard time limiting yourself to the target word count.

Thanks.

: In your additional comments at Film Chat you note that "there is no more place for ID in the science classroom than there is for any number of other non-scientific theories."

: And this is the point where I think the film is frequently being criticized for something it is not doing, or even trying to do.

: First, it doesn't suggest that I.D. be taught "in the science classroom." All the stakeholders well know of the Dover case, and with a that legal precedent having been set, that angle is pretty much a dead avenue.

Ah, well, for what it's worth, I was thinking primarily of university classrooms there, not grade-school classrooms. As you suggest, this is a movie about professors, not high-school teachers. :)

: It's addressing what's happening with journalists and researchers, not teachers.

Yes, but... the researchers tend to have classrooms, and their students are research assistants... and the journalists report on this controversy largely because of the educational angle of it, no?

: Is I.D. "science"? No. But it might be some day, given the freedom to study it without politics shutting it down.

: Of course, the film doesn't do a very good job of making this case.

Yeah, exactly. I don't disagree with you on any of those points (including the points I snipped).


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Yeah, exactly. I don't disagree with you on any of those points (including the points I snipped).

Yeah, I don't think we're at loggerheads about how we understand things; it was just that your comments at Film Chat prompted me to articulate something that's been niggling at me for several weeks now.


Greg Wright

Managing Editor, Past the Popcorn

Consulting Editor, Hollywood Jesus

Leader of the Uruk-Howdy, Orcs of the West

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: Meyer and Dembski both gave it, remember?

Apparently not. You still have an opportunity to explain what I missed.

I'm not going to do all the work here. If you see the film again, you can be watching for those moment. As can anyone else who sees it. They are there.

: This statement is generic and "off film," too. Which is it going to be?

It is perfectly appropriate, when discussing a film, to discuss what it lacks -- especially when the film suffers from lacking that thing.

I'm just not following your logic or your "rules of engagement." When I make a statement (in response to your broad contention) you say, limit it to the FILM. But you allow yourself to go beyond the film when, apparently, it suits your purposes.

You originally wrote:

And for ID to "work", wouldn't it have to propose an actual theory rather than simply point out gaps in other people's theories?

This is a question about ID in general. Fine. But then be ready to respond to a more general answer.

I'm honestly flummoxed about your method. And with all due respect. I'll leave you to it, and wish you well.

But I urge those who have not yet seen it to take in Expelled, and assess it. It's a well made, amusing and substantive piece that deserves more than one viewing. It also raises some of the most important questions of our time, and for that alone it is worthy of great praise.

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JohnD wrote:

: I'm not going to do all the work here.

If you can't meet the burden of proof, then you shouldn't be making assertions. The burden is yours, not mine, because the assertion is yours, not mine.

: If you see the film again, you can be watching for those moment.

I've seen it twice already (though the first time, it was a rough cut that was something like half-an-hour longer than the version now in American theatres). Since the film is not playing in Canada, I will not have a chance to see it again for quite some time.

: I'm just not following your logic or your "rules of engagement."

Let's start with this basic principle: You should answer the question that is asked, rather than the question that isn't asked.

So when you say "the film does give a proper definition of how ID works, and why it is a valid scientific inquiry" and I say "Really? Where?", you need to answer by pointing to specific elements within the film that give a proper definition of how ID works and why it is a valid scientific inquiry. Pointing to anything BUT the film does not answer the question.

So, answer the question. Or don't answer at all.

: I'm honestly flummoxed about your method. And with all due respect. I'll leave you to it, and wish you well.

Hey, whatever excuse helps, if you want to shrug off discussions like this one.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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The cynic in me senses astroturfing, but I suppose that's a statistical improbability.

If the film presents evidence that creationism and I.D. are not the same thing and that I.D. is a valid scientific inquiry, it doesn't seem to have convinced many of the people who have seen this film and commented about it online. The closest I've seen was a review linked earlier in this thread where the author stated that he learned the difference between I.D. and creationism but still did not think that I.D. was a valid scientific inquiry. It's possible that this debate is so polarized that no one can change their entrenched positions, but it's also possible that the film preaches to the choir and those not in the "choir" see right through it.

I do hope it's in there, though, because to be honest... "I.D. is not creationism" is something that both creationists and evolutionists could stand to learn.

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theoddone33 wrote:

: The cynic in me senses astroturfing, but I suppose that's a statistical improbability.

Astroturfing? ... Ah. Well, I guess I've learned my new thing for the day, now. :)

: If the film presents evidence that creationism and I.D. are not the same thing . . .

The film DOES distinguish between the two things, though the only clear distinction I can remember is that creationism starts with the Bible and ID starts with the world of observable phenomena. Because it never clarifies that some ID theorists believe in evolution themselves, the film COULD leave one with the impression that ID will end up where the Bible is anyway; it just doesn't start there.

: . . . and that I.D. is a valid scientific inquiry, it doesn't seem to have convinced many of the people who have seen this film and commented about it online.

Yeah, to demonstrate that ID is a valid form of SCIENCE (and not, say, philosophy or some other meta-science), the film would have to present evidence that I don't think it actually presents. I'd be happy to be proved wrong, though. Maybe actual testable or falsifiable hypotheses were presented, I don't know. But most of the time, whenever I've brought that up (here and elsewhere), people have replied, "Oh, the film is not about that, not primarily -- it's about academic freedom." But if you want to be "free" to discuss something within a scientific discourse, the thing in question has to be scientific. So, the onus remains on the film to demonstrate that ID is scientific in that sense.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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FWIW, someone wrote me to say that my review is wrong on one point (when I say that "the film never acknowledges that some ID theorists actually believe in evolution") because "William Dembski, Paul Nelson, Jonathan Wells, and Steve Meyer (all ID theorists) all acknowledge in the film that evolution happened, and that evolution is no problem for someone who believes in ID."

Could someone with a better memory of these interview clips than mine help me out here? Because somehow the only clear allowance for evolution (as opposed to a sort of accepting it for the sake of argument) that I can remember anyone making is in the scene with the Biola guy, where as I recall it he points in a direction that is not all that different from the old-school creationists' distinction between micro-evolution (people growing taller with each generation) and macro-evolution (horses evolving from squids, or whatever).

Incidentally, I don't know offhand what the Biola guy's name is, and I recognize three of the names cited above, so I looked up the fourth name -- Paul Nelson -- to see if that might be the Biola guy, and I found this:

Paul A. Nelson, (born 1958) is an American young earth creationist and intelligent design advocate. . . .

The Discovery Institute's Wedge Document,[2] amongst other sources, claimed that Nelson was publishing a work derived from his thesis, "Common Descent, Generative Entrenchment, and the Epistemology in Evolutionary Inference", criticizing the principle of common descent, as part of the Evolutionary Monographs series. . . .

Nelson was co-author, with John Mark Reynolds, of the section of the book Three Views on Creation and Evolution (1999) that advocated young earth creationism. In that chapter they wrote, "Natural science at the moment seems to overwhelmingly point to an old cosmos. Though creationist scientists have suggested some evidence for a recent cosmos, none are widely accepted as true. It is safe to say that most recent creationists are motivated by religious concerns" (p. 49).

Nelson is a fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture and of the International Society for Complexity, Information and Design. He is frequently cited by opponents of intelligent design as an example of ID's "big tent" strategy in action. He has written about "Life in the Big Tent" in the Christian Research Journal.

Nelson said in an interview in Touchstone Magazine that there is no scientific theory of intelligent design, which directly contradicts the Discovery Institute stance.

So it sounds like whatever this guy might have said about evolution within the film, it would probably fall into that micro- vs. macro- camp. Unless he has substantially changed his views in the last few years. (Oh, and FWIW, I don't know if this IS the Biola guy. Paul Nelson does appear at this page on the Biola website, but I can't tell if he's the same person who was interviewed at Biola, or if he was some other interviewee; the guy on the website has glasses, the guy in the film does not, and you know how glasses confuse everything. Just ask Clark Kent.)

I could look up the other three names to see what their precise views are too, but ultimately what matters is what's in the film, not what they believe off-camera.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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My notes say: "Dembski - evolution is acceptable within ID perspective - Darwin had valid insights - not the whole picture."

I don't have notes for anyone else in the film allowing for evolution, although my memory is that there maybe was one other such acknowledgment. I'd be surprised if there were three others, though.

Also, Nelson is Biola guy, my notes suggest.


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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SDG wrote:

: My notes say: "Dembski - evolution is acceptable within ID perspective - Darwin had valid insights - not the whole picture."

Yeah, that doesn't sound like a clear-cut affirmation of so-called macro-evolution either. "Darwin had valid insights" could simply mean that dark moths survive in soot-filled cities better than white moths do, or that giraffes with longer necks are more likely to survive on the leaves of tall trees than giraffes with shorter necks, etc. Given that Biola Guy openly broadens the definition of evolution to allow for non-macro forms, any interview clip (especially subsequent clip; but I can't remember how they were sequenced) that allows for "evolution" without specifying the macro kind is pretty much rendered suspect.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Greg Wright wrote:

: Peter, I didn't take notes on the issue you're asking about, but my recollection is in line with your reader's.

Can you think of anything more specific, though? I mean, something beyond someone saying "Oh, changes of SOME sort happen over time, sure"? I would LIKE to think that a line to that effect would have jumped out at me. I do remember the Biola guy's bit. I do remember someone (I forget who) making the point that creationism and ID are two different things because they have two different starting points (which is not to say that they wouldn't necessarily end up in the same place). But I don't remember anybody coming right out and saying, "Yes, some species have evolved from other species," let alone anything like, "Yes, humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor, we simply disagree on where the common ancestor came from."

Certainly, if this is a point the filmmakers thought was worth making -- that IDers do believe in evolution -- they could have made it with the same memorable force that they applied to their Holocaust tangent or to their animated sequences. But their energies don't seem to have been pointed in that direction.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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FWIW, I ran the reader's comment by a Christian biology prof I know, and he replied:

As far as I can recall there was never any admission that IDers can accept evolution - or more specifically the common descent part. Evolution is a slippery word in the hands of an IDer. So, my recall matches yours. Maybe [the filmmakers] would release a transcript of the movie? Or at least the part with Wells- I recall Wells especially casting doubt on the whole of evolution without defining anything.

I agree, if there was any nuanced view of evolution in the film, I missed it!

For whatever that's worth. And I agree, a transcript -- or, better, excerpts posted on YouTube that address or refute some of the claims people have been making about the film -- would be spiffy.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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And here's where the film has what I feel is a completely valid but overlooked point.

  1. Yes, we know that the courts have concluded (as has the scientific establishment) that I.D. is not in a position to claim itself as an accepted part of the body of scientific knowledge.
  2. Yes, we know that in order to achieve that status, I.D. proponents must actually formulate a cogent theory, propose hypotheses related to that theory, and design studies that will effectively test them.
  3. Yes, we know that those falsifiable studies must then be subjected to peer review and replication.
  4. Then, after a period of years, a substantial enough body of supporting evidence (if any exists) might yield something which the scientific community could be comfortable labeling an accepted "theory of I.D." that could then be taught in science classes.

Greg, you're significantly off base on all of those points:

  1. The courts have concluded that ID as currently presented is not science. That's significantly different than your take. It has produced zero new knowledge, so it's pointless to talk about including it in some larger body.
  2. One does not start by formulating a theory. One starts by formulating a hypothesis and testing its empirical predictions. No theory is necessary to be doing science.
  3. The studies aren't falsifiable, the hypotheses need to be falsifiable through testing of their predictions.
  4. No, there does not need to be any graduation from hypothesis to theory to be taught in science classes. That would actually make science education worse than its current dismal, but improving, state. We need to teach students much more process and fewer facts and theories. For example, it's perfectly reasonable to teach students about the RNA World hypothesis for abiogenesis, but it would only be taught competently if the students understand that it is but one of many hypotheses.

But if my layman's reading of Discover is any clue, I have to suspect that there are all sorts of theories being worked on right now by academicians that fall into this class.

If they were "being worked on," they'd be being tested empirically. What are academicians, exactly?

And I'm pretty doggone sure that there are all sorts of fuzzy ideas that scientists are very excited about which we would never teach in classrooms because they are not yet considered "accepted science."

Absolutely. The critical difference that you are missing is that when scientists get very excited about a hypothesis, they test it. ID is nothing of the sort.

So when there are scientific journals (like von Sternberg's) that appeal to court rulings about high school classrooms (item 1 above) as a justification for rejecting studies that might contribute to establishing points 2 and 3 above,

This is pretty jumbled. Let me see if I can clarify:

  1. It wasn't von Sternberg's journal. He was the outgoing editor.
  2. The paper von Sternberg published cannot be described as a study. It contained no experiments and no observations. It was apologetics. The journal normally publishes new evidence related to systematics. It's a pretty boring, lower-tier journal IMO, too.
  3. Journals don't appeal. We are very careful to attribute the opinions published in a journal to the author, not the journal.
  4. The manuscript should have been rejected because it had nothing to do with the very limited subject matter of the journal. Instead, von Sternberg solicited it without consulting anyone else on the editorial board.
how could step 4 ever possibly be achieved?

It doesn't need to be. All they need to do is test their hypothesis(ses).

It sure seems to me that, because of bad blood created by Creationists and the failure of the pre-existing I.D. community to repudiate the black sheep that have crept into their fold, I.D. has become intellectually suspect and an academic stigma. The de facto effect is that, because of politics, scientists who are legitimately interested in studying I.D. for scientific reasons are indeed being shouted down and bullied when there is no scientific reason to do so (a description which I feel at least encompasses the Sternberg and Gonzalez cases).

You're missing the problem, which is that they aren't interested in studying ID. "Studying" in this context involves testing hypotheses.

Is I.D. "science"? No. But it might be some day, given the freedom to study it without politics shutting it down.

Everyone is perfectly free to study it. The problem is that they simply refuse to study it and instead mislead you as to the nature of scientific study. I suspect that you can see that you are equivocating on the term "study" if you look closely enough.

If I apply for an NIH grant, but babble on for 25 pages about how I will study something without ever explicitly stating and testing a hypothesis, it would never be funded.

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Greg, I found your comments insightful. However, ID is certainly science. Observation/Induction are, indeed, how science began in the first place.

No one disputes that, John. Your problem is that science doesn't end with observation and induction. It requires prediction of future observations--not our interpretation of the observations, but the direct observations themselves. The point is to keep ourselves honest.

The attempt to limit it definitionally, as Darwinists do, is a ploy.

No, it is not. Hypothesis testing is the gold standard of science and takes center stage in any truly scientific matter. Speaking of ploys, why are you using the rhetorical ploy of the label "Darwinists," btw?

It could be helpful if we discussed its circularity and how it blatantly misrepresents the scientific method.

Edited by Smokey

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ORLY? Was that audience in the opening bit made up of real Pepperdine students or extras?

Trivial. The framing device of Stein's appearance at Pepperdine was not intended to have demonstrative force. Moore has staged alleged events that were part of his ARGUMENT.


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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ORLY? Was that audience in the opening bit made up of real Pepperdine students or extras?

Trivial. The framing device of Stein's appearance at Pepperdine was not intended to have demonstrative force. Moore has staged alleged events that were part of his ARGUMENT.

And the animation wasn't part of their ARGUMENT for intelligent design? Didn't they even present the animation as evidence?

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ORLY? Was that audience in the opening bit made up of real Pepperdine students or extras?

Trivial. The framing device of Stein's appearance at Pepperdine was not intended to have demonstrative force. Moore has staged alleged events that were part of his ARGUMENT.

And the animation wasn't part of their ARGUMENT for intelligent design? Didn't they even present the animation as evidence?

I'm aware that I'm probably not using the right terminology (I'm not a scientist, nor are the critics I was responding to), but I'm trying hard to get the ideas right -- and I'm pretty sure I agree with most everything you say.

Just one clarification: the "appeal" in question is the journal's own reference, in its explanation about the Sternberg case, to a secondary-level education association's position-paper that itself references the Dover case. The journal's citation seems to me to be jarringly out of place.

I absolutely agree that the only plausible recourse for I.D. advocates is to come up with testable hypotheses and start testing them.

As to the Pepperdine scene -- yes, staged. And I mention that elsewhere. But I read it as SDG does -- a framing mechanism that's clearly fictional, not part of the film's factual assertions or argumentation.

It's very comparable to the staged framing device in Spurlock's latest film, which opened on the same day -- the bit where his wife announces her pregnancy.

As to the animation -- I wasn't clear at all how it related to the film's argument. It came off to me as almost completely disconnected.


Greg Wright

Managing Editor, Past the Popcorn

Consulting Editor, Hollywood Jesus

Leader of the Uruk-Howdy, Orcs of the West

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