Chris Heard: Why Ken Miller isn’t in Expelled

| 34 Comments

expelled movie exposedOn Higgaion, Chris Heard, associate professor of Religion at Pepperdine University exposes how vacuous ‘Expelled’ really is. Remember how SciAm did a review of ‘Expelled’ and an interview with Mathis, associate producer of “Expelled”. Knowing that whenever an Intelligent Design Creationist gets to speak, there will be some jewels, Chris shows how also in this instance, Mathis did not disappoint.

Ever wonder why people like Ken Miller or Francis Collins are not in “Expelled”? Mathis explains by first disavowing himself of the decisions about who to interview

Mathis Wrote:

I would tell you this. And this is keeping in mind who you’re talking to is an associate producer. I don’t make decisions about who gets interviewed, and, and I don’t make decisions about if they’re interviewed, what makes it into the film.

Then the real reason

Mathis Wrote:

But I would tell you from a, my personal standpoint as somebody who’s worked on this project, that Ken Miller would have confused the film unnecessarily. I don’t agree with Ken Miller. I think that you, I think that when you look at this issue and this debate, that really there’s, there’s one side of the line or the other, and you, it’s, it’s hard to stay, I don’t think you can intellectually, honestly, honestly intellectually stand on a line that I don’t think exists—

Ken Miller would have confused the film unnecessarily… And Rennie, the SciAm interviewer does not disappoint:

Rennie Wrote:

that somebody like Ken Miller is wrong. But I mean, you say he would have, his presence would have “confused the film.” The point is what, it would actually had, I mean, it would have, it would have considerably undercut the major point that is made, that really that belief in, in evolution obliges you not to believe in God, and to—

Things however get even better as Mathis continues to ‘argue’ that Ken Miller’s form of Catholicism is not Catholic enough…

Chris Heard says it all when he observes

Chris Heard Wrote:

What brazen arrogance of Mathis to declare that Ken Miller is not a “real Catholic”! What about Francis Collins? Is he not a “real evangelical”? What about John Polkinghorne? Is he not a “real Anglican” (ordination’s not good enough)? To shift gears, what about the 11,196 (as of April 9, 2008) signatories to the Clergy Letter Project? Are active clergy not “real Christians”? Or maybe Mathis would say that Lutherans, Nazarenes, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Mennonites, Baptists, Disciples of Christ, Moravians, and the other “flavors” of Christians represented by those 11,196 signatures aren’t “real Christians” either? Getting back to Ken Miller, at least two popes—Pius XII and John Paul II—specifically affirmed the compatibility of evolutionary biology and Catholic Christian faith (as long as special provisions were made for the direct divine production of human souls). Agreeing with two popes is hardly an aberrant in Catholicism.

and then brings home the main point

Chris Heard Wrote:

But to return to the main point: the real reason that folk like Miller and Collins find no place in Expelled is because they do “confuse”—that is, complicate—the simplistic and false dichotomy that the filmmakers wish to construct. When your whole schtick is to pit religious “design proponents” open to the supernatural against atheistic, philosophically materialist “Darwinists,” all those pesky scientists who simultaneously affirm evolutionary biology and a robust Christian faith become very, very inconvenient.

Amen…

34 Comments

IOW, thou shalt not confuse people with the facts! :p

Henry

I don’t think you can intellectually, honestly, honestly intellectually stand on a line that I don’t think exists—

Translation: Nothing exists if Mathis personally doesn’t believe in it. What a tard.

AaronSTL:

I don’t think you can intellectually, honestly, honestly intellectually stand on a line that I don’t think exists—

Translation: Nothing exists if Mathis personally doesn’t believe in it. What a tard.

That, and Mathis thinks that it would be extraordinarily inconvenient for his movie’s message if word got around that there were actually biologists out there in the cruel world who actually accept both Jesus and the Theory of Evolution with no spiritual conflict.

Chris Heard:

What brazen arrogance of Mathis to declare that Ken Miller is not a “real Catholic”! What about Francis Collins? Is he not a “real evangelical”? What about John Polkinghorne? Is he not a “real Anglican” (ordination’s not good enough)? To shift gears, what about the 11,196 (as of April 9, 2008) signatories to the Clergy Letter Project? Are active clergy not “real Christians”? Or maybe Mathis would say that Lutherans, Nazarenes, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Mennonites, Baptists, Disciples of Christ, Moravians, and the other “flavors” of Christians represented by those 11,196 signatures aren’t “real Christians” either? Getting back to Ken Miller, at least two popes—Pius XII and John Paul II—specifically affirmed the compatibility of evolutionary biology and Catholic Christian faith (as long as special provisions were made for the direct divine production of human souls). Agreeing with two popes is hardly an aberrant in Catholicism.

Well, there you have it, straight from Ass Prod Mathis. Christianity is nothing more than a tiny, rapidly fading cult. The only Real Christians™ still alive are at the Dishonesty Institute, and some of them (Moonie Wells for example) don’t count either. In fact, I’m sure Ass Prod Mathis is certain that he’s the only Real Christian™ left in the entire world. Without the great and mighty Ass Prod Mathis, this once-proud religion will blow away with the slightest wind like so many fallen leaves.

I’d say this nutcase’s brand of religion can’t die out fast enough. The unmitigated arrogance of these Liars For Jesus™ is a disgrace to all religion. Though historically, religion has never needed help disgracing itself.

I’m so happy to see this. In all the scientific reasons why ID is bunk, the fact that it’s plain bad theology is just overlooked and I feel that’s really the best ammunition we have. Think about it, is the core audience a bunch of people who read books on virology for fun? Or folks who are genuinely concerned about what their faith means to them? People just need to realise, it’s OK to accept evolution as fact. It doesn’t make you a bad Christian or a bad Jew or a bad Hindu or a bad Muslim. What does is when you tell God what he can and cannot do.

It’s like a man who sticks his hand in a snakepit and says “God will not let me be injured!” and then his hand gets bit 42 times. He gets rushed to the hospital and as they’re sucking out the venom he says “I’ll never believe in God again!” When you give God a set of directions and expect him to follow them to the tee, you will have serious questions of faith very quickly.

Shorter Mark Mathis: Ken Miller’s flamboyant Catholicism would’ve provoked a Scanners-esque reaction among members of our audience. We stonewalled him for their safety.

Reginald Wrote:

I’m so happy to see this. In all the scientific reasons why ID is bunk, the fact that it’s plain bad theology is just overlooked and I feel that’s really the best ammunition we have.

While I agree that the fact of ID being bad theology is a useful and potentially telling one, I don’t think we can categorise this amongst scientific reasons why ID is bunk.

Scientists tend to argue from their areas of expertise, which only rarely includes theology. What we need is for more theologians to stand up and be counted.

Think about it, is the core audience a bunch of people who read books on virology for fun?

Well, erm … yeah, doesn’t everybody?

(Just kidding. I once tried to read Fields’s Virology from page 1 and fell asleep halfway through chpater 3*).

*It is worth pointing out that chapter 3 is the chapter on viral taxonomy.

That’s funny. As for Ken not being a typical Roman Catholic, I have a book arguing for evolution . It is;

Evolution and Theology

Rev Ernest Messenger (Ph.D. Louvain)

Published by Burns and Oates in 1932 complete with Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat.

With little effort one could find loads more.I am sure Peter hess’s new book (Greenwood Press) would provide some.

In fact the number of Real Catholics, real Evangelicals and Real Anglicans like Miller are innumerable and even more when you go back a century or two.

I note that no mention is ever made of real Evangelicals like the geologist Sedgwick in the 1830s or the many who accepted evolution after 1860 .

Another problem is that too many evangelicals today don’t want to face the controversy and don’t stand up to these guys.

Michael

Mathis claims that he, like I, was raised a Catholic.

Assuming he made it as far as Confirmation (age 12 or so) he would have been taught that the account of creation in Genesis is to be understood as largely metaphoric.

If he attended a Catholic High School, he would have heard a more detailed account of how the Catholic church views the relationship of positive (i.e. humanly generated, or non-revealed) knowledge such as scientific discoveries, and revealed knowledge, including that in the scriptures.

That relationship precludes crude biblical literalism because of the patent discrepancy between, on the one hand, positive (i.e. scientific) understanding of facts concerning the origin and development of the universe, the Earth, the human species, etc, and, on the other hand, a literal reading of the Genesis account of creation. To adopt that approach would, in the eyes of the church, be an abuse of reason.

Say what you want about the Catholic church (and believe me, I could say lots), they aren’t stupid. They got (ahem) burnt badly by the Reformation, and they’re not going to let another Galileogate happen. Contrary to popular belief, Catholics are expressly told to use their noggins and keep their eyes open.

Mathis suggest in this discussion that “Some Catholics are going to say, believe in a, uh, literal version of what is accounted for in the Bible—“

Is he speaking from experience? If so, he should, given his background, also know that such a position is essentially un-doctrinal. If not, he should know that it is extremely unlikely and wholly unrepresentative.

The whole sorry crew of them are mendacious hypocrites, and stupid to boot.

Mathis: “Some Catholics are going to say, believe in a, uh, literal version of what is accounted for in the Bible—“

Mathis says that he, like I, was raised a Catholic.

I he made it as far as Confirmation (age 12 or so), he would have learned that the Genesis account of creation should be understood by Catholics as largely metaphoric.

If he went to a Catholic High School (or if not, if his parents followed Catholic teaching as to his religious education outside school) he would have learned about Catholic teaching on the relationship of revealed (e.g. biblical) knowledge to positive (e.g. scientific or rationally deduced) knowledge. That relationship precludes crude biblical literalism as, among other things, an abuse of reason.

If he was not introduced to Catholic teaching on these matters, he should at least be aware of the notorious divergence between those teachings (as well as Catholics’ acceptance of them) and flat-footed fundie literalism.

Say what you want about the Catholic church (and believe me, I could say lots), they aren’t stupid. They got badly (ahem) burnt by the Reformation, and they don’t want to be tripped up by another Galileogate. Contrary to widespread preconceptions, Catholics are (nowadays, anyway) encouraged to use their noggins and to keep their eyes open.

Is Mathis speaking here from personal experience? If so, he should know that the view he describes is undoctrinal. If not, he should know that it would be highly unlikely and entirely unrepresentative.

The whole sorry crew of them are mendacious hypocrites, and stupid to boot.

Oops! A not-quite double post. Apologies.

(Except for the bit about stupid mendacious hypocrites.)

Michael Roberts in Comment #150265 made an interesting point about the book by the Roman Catholic Rev. arguing for evolution in 1932, but seems to me to confuse things a bit when he notes “that no mention is ever made of real Evangelicals like the geologist Sedgwick in the 1830s”. Sedgwick remained staunchly anti-evolution and wrote harshly about “On the Origin of Species” by his former pupil Charles Darwin, though in the late 1820s he’d taught Darwin of the extreme age of the earth and indeed had named the Cambrian period after an ancient name for Wales.

Some other evangelicals who accept evolution: Keith B. Miller and Denis Lamoureux (see the book Darwinism Defeated? ).

An organization called the American Scientific Affiliation brings together Evangelical scientists with a wide range of views on origins (including some who accept evolution) to debate these issues.

Obviously, none of this is mentioned in Expelled.

Also, Chris Heard apparently does not know that Howard Van Till has lost his faith. See FROM CALVINISM TO FREETHOUGHT: The Road Less Traveled .

The unmitigated arrogance of these Liars For Jesus™ is a disgrace to all religion.

Actually it’s a boon for religion because they lie about things like stigmata and witnessing miracles and turning water into wine and so forth. Lying about receiving the ten commandments or walking on water, or waking up from a zombie, or even flying up into the sky like a big birdie… things like that really help out religion a lot!

Mathis said:

But I would tell you from a, my personal standpoint as somebody who’s worked on this project, that Ken Miller would have confused the film unnecessarily. I don’t agree with Ken Miller.

Or, translated:

Don’t confuse me with facts, I’ve already made up my mind.

Ken Miller would have confused the film unnecessarily,

Like noting how that other “not real Catholic” Pope John Paul II spoke of the “convergence, neither sought nor fabricated” of evidence supporting evolution. And contrasting it with decades of anti-evolution activism that, despite nothing but deliberate seeking and fabricating of alternative explanations, has come up with nothing but a steady divergence into “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Tim Tesar

Howard Van Till has lost his faith

Is that true? I thought he only renounced dogmatic Calvinism. Is that what you mean, that he lost his faith in creedal Calvinism? If so, you should be clear. Has he stated unambiguously that he is no longer a Christian? (He does not in the FreeThinker essay.) That would be interesting to read if he has.

Dave

You need to remember that Sedgwick was 75 when Darwin wrote and his letter was signed “from the son of monkey”. One cannot expect him to be pro-evolution.

However he was like a rotweiler arguing for the vast age of the earth and ruffled one or two feathers. His evangelicalism would be seen as too stoppy for some evangelicals today!His whole treatment of Genesis and geology is fascinating and sounds modern. I have just written it up for a Geol Soc of London book

Finally here is Adam Sedgwick, after he supposedly gave up ‘the detailed hypotheses of catastrophist flood geology’ in 1831; To the supreme Intelligence, indeed, all the complex and mutable combinations we behold, may be the necessary results of some simple law, regulating every material change, and involving within itself the very complications, which we, in our ignorance, regard as interruptions in the continuity of Nature’s work.

1844 draftby Darwin; I must premise that, according to the view ordinarily received, the myriads of organisms, which have during past and present times peopled this world, have been created by so many distinct acts of creation. … That all the organisms of this world have been produced on a scheme is certain from their general affinities; and if this scheme can be shown to be the same with that which would result from allied organic beings descending from common stocks, it becomes highly improbable that they have been separately created by individual acts of the will of a Creator. For as well might it be said that, although the planets move in courses conformably to the law of gravity, yet we ought to attribute the course of each planet to the individual act of the will of the Creator.

I don’t have any explicit public statements, but Dr. Wayne Becker (author World of the Cell) never shied away from talking about evolution in class when I had him and I happen to know from a fellow student (who attended the same church) at the time he was involved in his church.

Ken Miller would have confused the film unnecessarily.

John Calvert, 2005:

We also need theologians who can rebut the argument of the Christian biology teacher that there is no conflict between evolution or naturalism and Christianity.

And here’s Angus Menuge, deriding people like Ken Miller and Keith Miller and 11,000+ clergy and members of most Christian denominations as being “confused.”

The Discovery Institute wishes we Christians who accept evolution would just shut up and stay out of it.

As if!

Well, we can be grateful to Mark Mathis for answering at least one age-old question. Is the Pope Catholic?

Yes, but apparently not quite Catholic enough!

I guess Prof. George Coyne, a Catholic priest and former head of the Vatican Observatory, also isn’t Catholic enough.

http://www.catholic.org/national/na[…]php?id=18504

And it seems Catholic Universities like Notre Dame and Georgetown are not Catholic enough

http://www1.georgetown.edu/departme[…]esearch/eeb/

Mathis is engaging in ridiculous circular reasoning. He claims that his dichotomy is based on the beliefs of scientists (he says that in the interview regarding PZM, Dawkins), yet he rejects the beliefs of other scientists for not supporting his view.

These guys are totally unbelievable. The IDC crowd disliked “Inherit the Wind” for not being a verbatim account of the Scopes Trial. In my opinion, the best job yet of caricaturing the ID propaganda, dishonesty, and poor reasoning has been done by their own little crowd.

Maybe they didn’t want Collins and Miller (and all the signatories to the Clergy Project) in the film because the title “Inconvenient Truth” had already been taken.

Hmmm?

On Higgaion, Chris Heard, associate professor of Religion at Pepperdine University exposes how vacuous ‘Expelled’ really is.

This is a partial answer to the perpetual question, “Where are all the moderate Xians.”

They are out there, they aren’t happy with the fundie creos, and they don’t quite know what to do about it. In times past, they used to settle theological disputes by killing each other by the tens of millions. Xianity has grown up, most don’t think this is a good idea any more.

We should be hearing from the Jews one of these days. Expelled trivializes and takes advantage of an atrocity to further their own political ends. It is also a flat out lie.

The ADL blasted Coral Ridge’s From Darwin to Hitler on just that basis. Expelled is worse. And, as has been posted before, a lot of evolutionary biology research and teaching is done at Israeli universities. Those Jewish scientists are going to be surprised to learn that they are part of the cause of the Holocaust.

While you’re at it, check out Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America by Robert S. McElvaine. He teaches at Milsaps College in Jackson, MS, is an evangelical Christian, and is fed up with the Christian Right. McElvaine has a chapter on the war against evolution, and he’s done his homework; he understands evolution through natural selection, and he shows that IDC is both lousy science and lousy theology. He’s writing to his base, of course, not to us infidels, and it shows in his style. The book is downright hilarious in places, but it would probably work better as a talk to an audience familiar with a certain kind of preacher. The puns and other wordplay lie so thick on the page you could lose your boots in them. It’s a good book, and McElvaine is definitely one of those Christians who would confuse Brother Mathis.

ChicagoMolly,

Thanks, I was not aware of that book!

Another moderate Christian group that is fed up with the Christian Right is the Texas Freedom Network. They teamed up with Texas Citizens for Science and helped defeat two creationist candidates for the Texas State Board of Education in the primary elections.

http://www.tfn.org/

That Van Till pdf was interesting. I like his ‘ODoR’ concept, mostly because it says ‘odor’. Especially this line: “I find it helpful to realize that I, like every other human being, have an ODoR that is open to critical and candid examination.”

He never actually says that he’s denounced Calvinism or determinism, etc, and those are *necessarily* opposed to freethought, as even if we assume it to be wrong, one can come rationally to the wrong conclusions in a freethought-type methodology. I mention freethought because he seems to like it quite a bit, and at the end he gives me the impression that he’s reforming his general epistemology, making it rather hard to tell if or how someone should label him.

While you’re at it, check out Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America by Robert S. McElvaine. He teaches at Milsaps College in Jackson, MS, is an evangelical Christian, and is fed up with the Christian Right. McElvaine has a chapter on the war against evolution,…

At least some Evangelicals have decided to leave evolution alone. The Xian Reformeds (Van Till’s) had a big battle decades ago and Calvin college still teaches evolution.

The Orthodox Presbyterians, a small splinter off the main church has been kicking out noncreationists. They just tossed their most famous theologian, Paul Enns.

I think where the creos will lose will be with their kids. Every year, a certain percentage, the brightest and best decide that believing that 2 pages of 4,000 year old bronze age mythology describes a gigantic 13.7 billion year old universe is stupid. They frequently ditch their religion as well.

And what is it with this War on Science anyway? Most people like living in the 21st century instead of the 11th century. Makes about as much sense as The War on Indoor Plumbing or The War on Cheap Internet Capable Computers.

raven:

And what is it with this War on Science anyway? Most people like living in the 21st century instead of the 11th century. Makes about as much sense as The War on Indoor Plumbing or The War on Cheap Internet Capable Computers.

Some of them think that they’re going to be able to teach make-believe as fact, and still be able to keep all of the things that make the 21th Century so much better than the 11th Century, like cars, and cellphones, and vaccines, and clean water. Some of them honestly don’t care, what with the next, oh-so-much better next world just waiting around that final, apocalyptic corner, and all.

Some of them honestly don’t care, what with the next, oh-so-much better next world just waiting around that final, apocalyptic corner, and all.

Oh gee. Thanks for pointing that out. I feel better now. LOL

It is OK if they want to check out early to heaven, free country after all. But a few hundred million other citizens aren’t in that much of a hurry. I’ll wait, thank you.

Hi all,

If the producers of “Expelled” had thought of interviewing the likes of Ken Miller, Keith Miller (no relation to Ken, but an invertebrate paleontologist who is an Evangelical Protestant Christian), Francis Collins, or Mike Rosenzweig (a prominent ecologist who is a devout Conservative Jew), they probably realized immediately that these interviews wouldn’t quite measure to their rather Manichean “Good Christian vs. Evil Darwinist” worldview that is the underlying theme of “Expelled”. It’s a pity, however, because if they were really honest about their intentions and tried to make a decent documentary film, then maybe the sight of Ken Miller, Francis Collins or Mike Rosenzweig explaining how and why they see no contradication at all between their acceptance of contemporary evolutionary theory and their devout religious faith might sow ample confusion amongst IDiots wavering in their support of the Disco Tute and its inane band of mendacious intellectual pornographers. I guess we’ll never know.

Regards,

John

PZ Myers has said some pretty vicious stuff about Miller on his site.

Guys like him and Dawkins want us to think that science=atheism and they despise men like Miller and Collins who know that is a lie.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on April 10, 2008 9:49 PM.

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