RTB (Reasons To Believe) on "Expelled"

expelled movie exposedAlthough “Expelled” has been receiving mostly negative reviews from the mainstream media and scientists, creationist organizations other than the Discovery Institute, AIG and ICR (both Young Earth Creationists) have remained cautiously silent. For instance, The Reasons To Believe (RTB) Scholars appeared to be suspicious about Expelled but refrained from any recommendations but now that they have seen a pre-release screening they have sent an email which can be found on the Calvin College ASA discussion list.

Dear RTB Chapter members,

With the impending release of “EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed” (April 18), the Reasons to Believe scholar team thought it best to prepare a statement of our position, a guide for answering questions from chapters, networks, and apologists. Keep in mind that the mission of RTB centers on reaching out to science-minded people with two purposes:

  1. to bring the Gospel message to those who would not otherwise hear it, and

  2. to strengthen the faith of those who fear that science conflicts with the Christian faith-equipping them for ministry in the process.

In order to accomplish these purposes, we must first earn the right to be heard.

Earn the right to be heard. That means hard work, doing the necessary science and not rely on a scientifically vacuous concept like Intelligent Design.

After previewing the promotional materials provided by the movie’s marketers, we were concerned that the movie took an adversarial approach to the scientific community. A number of RTB scholars and staff attended a prerelease screening in Los Angeles recently and confirmed that EXPELLED definitely does take such an approach. The movie draws an analogy between the Berlin wall and the scientific community’s response to intelligent design. **By doing so, EXPELLED implicitly argues that the scientific community deems certain questions off-limits, particularly any question about the legitimacy of neo-Darwinian evolution. The movie further argues that academia, the media, and the courts all conspire as “thought police” to oppress any and all dissent from the party line.

Clearly some oppression and discrimination have occurred, but the experience of RTB scholars and many of their contacts refutes the movie’s premise that the scientific community systemically and unilaterally fosters these injustices. While individual scientists and institutions have behaved unfairly at times, this charge cannot in all fairness be leveled against the scientific community as a whole.**

This is an interesting and important point as “Expelled” seems to have been biased in who they decided to interview and who not. In fact, openly Christian scientists like Kenneth Miller and Richard Francis Collins were not interviewed because they ‘confuse the story’.

Regardless, from RTB’s perspective, the central question is this: when injustices do occur, how should we respond? Consider the response of Nate Saint to his son’s question, as depicted in the movie, End of the Spear. Nate, Jim Eliot, and three other missionaries were preparing to make contact with the notoriously violent Waodani tribe in Ecuador. Stevie asks if they will shoot the Waodani if attacked. Nate replies: “We can’t shoot the Waodani, son. They’re not ready for heaven. We are.”

If science-minded skeptics indeed represent a mission field, then we should not come out shooting. EXPELLED seems to do just that. While an entertaining movie, its main thrust runs counter to RTB’s mission of seeking to engage scientists in the scientific arena. Consequently, any endorsement of EXPELLED by RTB hinders our ability to spread the Gospel message to those we hope to reach.

Therefore, we ask all chapter members and volunteers to refrain from endorsing EXPELLED in any official way. This request does not extend to your personal interactions-only to any actions taken in association with or on behalf of Reasons to Believe.

Thank you for your support and understanding.

The RTB Scholar Team