Intelligent Design Movie Is Not for Heathens

At the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, Russel Blackford blogs on Intelligent Design Movie Is Not for Heathens

Talking about Expelled

From all accounts, the movie alleges that the … ahem … bold conjecture of Intelligent Design has been kept out of academia by what is apparently spun as some kind of anti-Christian conspiracy. Individuals who have advocated ID are portrayed as victims of prejudice and injustice. Their academic freedom has been suppressed, or so we’re meant to believe.

Yet also understanding that Intelligent Design fails as a science

Whatever the precise content of Expelled, Intelligent Design itself is not, by any stretch of the imagination, genuine science. At best, it’s the tattered remnant of what may have been genuine science back in the 19th century. You could dignify it, I suppose, by calling it a philosophical conjecture based on (supposed) inadequacies in evolutionary theory.

Russell, like so many before him observes that Intelligent Design (ID) fails as a scientific research program

However you define it, ID involves no actual program of scientific investigation, no testable hypotheses, nothing that could possibly lead to an integrated body of theory. The method is to raise as much doubt as possible about the credentials of evolutionary theory, usually by intellectually spurious means; the motivation is clearly religious. Proponents of Intelligent Design want to undermine genuine biological science in order to boost the credibility of that old time religion: they want to defend theistic explanations of the origin and diversity of life, and the presence of human beings on Earth.

Reminding us of the troublesome history of Expelled interviewing leading evolution proponents like PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins, Russell reports on a strange twist in the Expelled ‘saga’

But the whole sorry Expelled saga took an extra plot twist this week, with the ID-ists (or IDiots as they are sometimes known) shooting themselves in the feet with every available barrel - think of them carrying one of those Vietnam-era mini-guns used to great effect by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character in Terminator 2. With all barrels firmly pointed at the ground. Sorry, I mean at their vulnerable toes.

Noticing the enormous irony:

Once expelled from the screening of Expelled, he immediately blogged about it. There is of course a degree of irony, even hypocrisy, about the Expelled folks’ expelling Myers from a screening of Expelled. It’s all the nastier when you think that this is a movie in which he actually appears, and with which he cooperated. The greater irony, however, is that his family and guest were allowed in … the overseas academic being, of course, none other than Richard Dawkins! Dawkins is in the US on a promotional lecture tour, and was attending a conference of atheists in Minneapolis.

Russell reflects on the political aspects of Intelligent Design

Those of who us who are committed to the cause of reason can have a laugh about this, but we mustn’t just sit on the sidelines laughing. The ongoing struggle against evolutionary science has had its political successes, and it comes complete with a superficially attractive message: that both sides of the “controversy” should be taught. Forget for a moment that there is no scientific controversy, any more than there is scientific controversy about the heliocentric structure of the Solar System, the claim that certain micro-organisms cause disease, or the basic ideas of any other field of contemporary science.

And how evolutionary science has its genuine controversies, but none really have much relevance to the concept of Intelligent Design.

Of course, there are genuine controversies at the cutting edge of evolutionary biology, as in all scientific disciplines, but they have nothing to do with the non-scientific conjecture of Intelligent Design.