Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
According to a recent documentary, for all the talk about academic freedom in the world of the large American university system, it would seem that it extends only as far as the system defines it - especially with regards to the subject of origins and science. Noted speechwriter Ben Stein stars as host of the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Dr. Angus Menuge, professor of philosophy at CUW, highlights the film in an article included in the Concordia University - Wisconsin magazine Concordian, including some seemingly revealing details about the expulsion of talented scientists who apparently were ‘expelled‘ from their positions for mentioning the theory of Intelligent Design:
“In the current climate, even when academicians have a relevant doctorate and a track-record of peer-reviewed publication, their careers suffer if they argue that the scientific evidence points to an intelligent source involved in the creation of the world.
In 1992, Dean Kenyon, a biology professor at San Francisco State University, was barred from teaching introductory biology classes after he shared his misgivings about evolutionary theory with his students. William Dembski was removed from his position as Directory of the Michael Polanyi Center at Baylor University in 2000 after making his pro-design views know. In 2003, Nancy Bryson was dismissed from Mississippi University for Women immediately after she gave a lecture on scientific criticisms of chemical and biological evolution to a group of honors students. Three years ago Caroline Crocker, a cell biologist at George Mason University, was forced to leave after discussing problems with Darwinian theory and mentioning the alternative of Intelligent Design. More recently, Guillermo Gonzalez, a brilliant astronomer at Iowa State University and author of 68 peer-reviewed science articles and a college-level text book on astronomy from Cambridge University Press, was denied tenure after publishing the book, The Privileged Planet, in which he argues that our solar system is ‘fine-tuned’ for intelligent life and ideal for scientific investigation.”
Expelled has been, to say the least, a controversial film, widely criticized from various sources. There is debate on the veracity of the film’s claims, especially the one’s mentioned above with regard to the expulsion of university professors. Wikipedia has a rather extensive article detailing the reactions to the film.
It is beyond my ability to adequately judge the content of this film and its claims (for one thing I have yet to even view it), and I realize that on any side of an issue there can be a tendency to exaggerate evidence to make a point. That being said, I can’t but wonder, though, just how open the scientific community really is when it comes to discussing theories such as Intelligent Design (ID). From the commentary I have read thus far, the point made again and again from those opposed to ID is the complaint of religion masquerading as science. ID is simply not accepted in any way as a scientific theory by those supportive of evolution as the prime explanation of origins. Therefore, if ID was discussed in a secular university classroom, the immediate reaction would be: You are discussing religion in a science class!
As long as serious academic discussion is closed to consideration of ID as a real scientific theory, science is still held captive to its own philosophical presuppositions. Labeling it as religion is presupposing that any supposed evidence that may point toward an intelligent cause is mere religious wishful thinking, and not a valid conclusion based on what was examined. Even if the claims of Expelled are less than fully truthful, it appears that the secular scientific community is closed and resistive to any real discussion on a theory that goes against the gospel of evolution. What do they have to lose by opening the door? Are they fearful that the masses will suddenly find faith and turn to God and plunge the academic world into a dark age of superstition? Hardly.