Intelligent Design Movie Is Not for Heathens

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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.

5 Comments

Russel Blackford Wrote:

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.

More than that, though, ID is a moderately sophisticated attempt to repackage Creationism and get it taught in schools.

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.

Actually ID is a tattered remnant of classic creationism, which itself is a tattered remnant of 19th century science. Classic creationism at least suggested a potential program of scientific investigation with testable hypotheses (e.g. how old is life, which species are related, etc.). But with or without legal problems associated with teaching its clear religious basis, classic creationism, instead of converging on answers like evolution, diverged into mutually contradictory accounts, none of which fit the evidence.

With or without the design element, ID depends on promoting unreasonable doubt about evolution (easy to do in a culture that hates science and loves feel-good sound bites) and offers nothing in it’s place but “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The only card these scam artists have left is to pretend that mainstream science is conspiring to “expel” scientists who in fact failed to produce promising science. Unfortunately I think that card will serve them well for the foreseeable future.

Not that they will ever call me for an interview but: The lesson here for all of us is to have our own contracts ready before agreeing to any such interviews. These contracts should specify that there are certain obligations *with substantial penalties* if not fulfilled. I would suggest: 1. Monetary stakeholders, copyright owner,director etc to sign. 2. Penalties for breach to roughly equal total budget of production and distribution. These penalties to be initialled explicitly by all stakeholders specified above. 3. Right of interviewee to attend opening showings in any given state/nation. 4. right of interviewee to approve editing to avoid usual creationist dishonesty and clever editing, with penalties. 5. Interviewee to separately record both sight and sound of all proceedings at which present, including initial meetings as well as actual interview, editing conferences and attendance at showings.

No agreement to these terms, no interview. Keep the bastards honest.

Have found similar approach to have beaten many dishonest organisations, including government departments. Hit them in the wallet, they are only in it for the money.

Rustopher.

There are times, and reasons, why I am sometimes proud to be an Australian. To have Russell Blackford as a compatriot is one of them. Unfortunately, so is Ken Ham. Swings and roundabouts, I suppose.

Dave,

Fear not, you have John Wilkins too.

Dave,

Swings and roundabouts

??

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on March 22, 2008 2:18 PM.

Expelled gone missing from Santa Clara was the previous entry in this blog.

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