RTB (Reasons To Believe) on “Expelled”

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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

Amen

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Well, I got past my hardware problems, and then started to read my e-mail and some of my RSS feeds. First, I came across an e-mail from Christianity Today’s ChristianBibleStudies.com, from which I often get useful material. Today, they’r... Read More

33 Comments

From the statement:

Clearly some oppression and discrimination have occurred

When? Where? And if so, why is every single example in the movie a hysterical exaggeration or an outright fabrication?

I like RTB. They are upfront and do not play politics. (And I have yet to see them post a fart video.)

When? Where? And if so, why is every single example in the movie a hysterical exaggeration or an outright fabrication?

Dean Kenyon comes to mind

In October 1992, Kenyon was censured by his SFSU departmental colleagues for allegedly teaching religion in his introductory biology course. Kenyon was eventually reinstated, and he claimed his colleagues’ objections rest on a naive, positivist view of what constitutes legitimate science.

Wikipedia

I agree, Robert…RTB has always been very honest in their position, and their goals, AFAIKT. I find it very refreshing that RTB has chosen not to remain behind a veil of silence, but to come out publicly and voice opposition to Stein and his ilk.

Re Kenyon: They said he shouldn’t teach creationism in a basic biology class. You disagree?

There is a certain amount of respect that I have for RTB, for example, they avoid many of the typical creationist fallacies, and they don’t get wishy-washy about the 4.6 billion year age of the Earth. They’re also up-front about this being all about the converts.

However, they still trot out their own falsehoods and misrepresent scientific research in their own way. I find it interesting that they are distancing themselves from Expelled, and I think that is being done for the same reasons that they applauded the Dover decision - to make themselves look good in the eyes of scientists, at least for a little while.

CJO:

From the statement:

Clearly some oppression and discrimination have occurred

When? Where? And if so, why is every single example in the movie a hysterical exaggeration or an outright fabrication?

The crazier examples from the movie are indeed all outright lies, but there’s always a little bit of discrimination in just about every field or organisation. I can’t think of any examples off-hand, but I doubt there’s 100% discriminationlessness in everything. It doesn’t denounce the organisation or the field as a whole of course, and especially in science they are few, far between, and usually rectified.

That said, RTB is okay in my book too. They’re free to believe whatever they want to believe and the key is - they don’t try to get bad religion and bad science taught in public schools. I’ve read Who Was Adam? I found glaring error after glaring error, but the authors of the book aren’t the kind of people who are going to call me an oppressionist and start a smear campaign on my name.

Thanks for this, PvM. Understanding will only come through calm discourse.

Minor correction: I believe you meant Francis Collins, not Richard Collins. To complicate it even more, in addition to Ken Miller, there’s also Keith B. Miller, evangelical Christian paleontologist and evolution supporter. :-)

Arch-YECs Answers in Genesis has some kudos for Expelled in today’s blog entry.

EXCITED ABOUT EXPELLED!

Later today, we will be sending out an e-mail “blast” to tens of thousands of our supporters to urge them to go to the movies this weekend. Here is the text—perhaps it will prompt you to go as well:

I urge you to go to one of the 1,000 movie theaters that will be showing the excellent and entertaining documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, which starts tomorrow.

I have already attended two previews of Expelled, and I look forward to seeing it again—that’s how great this film truly is. It exposes how radical evolutionists will persecute those who don’t accept evolution. It gives many examples of scientists and others whose careers have been ruined by the “evolution police,” but at the same time manages to be humorous. That’s because of its witty host, the actor Ben Stein, and the insertion of funny movie clips.

Stein is not a biblical creationist and comes from a Jewish background, but we have found some common ground with him as he does a masterful job of exposing the scientific problems with Darwinian evolution as well as the ruthlessness of its defenders in suppressing academic freedom. It’s not a Christian film, but very much worth your time because you will get a better understanding of the creation/evolution battle of today and how it is at the front lines of the culture war. Plus you will see compelling evidence for design in the universe.

Go to the film’s website, and if you don’t see one of your local movie houses listed on the site, call the theater’s manager and urge that it be shown. Your recommendation can go a long way to getting the film played and having your community see it. Or ask your pastor to call and ask how the church can book a certain showing of Expelled and then fill the theater with church members and guests.

Previews of the film have been met with standing ovations. Go see it for yourself and be prepared to stand up and cheer. (By the way, look for the scene in the film where protesters are picketing our Creation Museum!) For the moment, watch a video clip of Expelled at:

http://www.wingclips.com/cart.php?page=expelled

Incidentally, we will feature a lengthy movie review of Expelled on the front page of our website tomorrow (Friday).

Christianity Today Movies interviewed Ben Stein about his silly film, and it contains some real gems. Which one is your favorite?

Is this the first review that called Expelled “entertaining?”

“Christianity Today Movies interviewed Ben Stein about his silly film, and it contains some real gems. Which one is your favorite?”

Here’s my favorite–a Jew telling a Christian magazine this:

“I told him I was especially horrified by what Darwinism’s social and historical impact had been on Jews, and that that would motivate me to try to get some involvement in the project.”

rather than bringing up that pesky 2000 year history of Christian-based antisemitism.

Very diplomatic, I’d say.

Joe, it’s called “Team Faith.” When nonbelievers are around, they’re best friends forever!

RTB:

we were concerned that the movie took an adversarial approach to the scientific community.

Oh gee. No kidding. I hadn’t noticed.

Why did they declare War on Science anyway? What is next, the War on Cheap Internet Capable Computers, the War on Indoor Plumbing, and the War on Medicine.

If they win their wars, we can all sit in the dark and die young, just like the good old days.

Dean Kenyon comes to mind

as an example of WHAT, Pim?

somebody who was doing his job poorly, and so was chastised for it?

are you sure you can’t do better than that?

do you understand why the DI isn’t interested in the Kenyon case?

I worry about you.

Robert O’Brien:

I like RTB. They are upfront and do not play politics. (And I have yet to see them post a fart video.)

And yet, the Discovery Institute remains at the forefront of Intelligent Design.

I wonder why.

Wow, look at that… the Disco Institute and RTB are at odds over “Expelled”. From this we can conclude only one thing…

INTELLIGENT DESIGN IS A “THEORY” IN CRISIS!!!

RTB is a joke. Their level of scholarship is pathetic. If you have Hugh Ross’s book Creation as Science (and I really, really hope you don’t), turn to page 123 where he describes oxygenic photosynthesis as a process that ‘requires at least some oxygen.’ This is an easy mistake for someone who is writing about science outide their area of expertise to make, and I initially attributed itto sloppy writing or sloppy editing. However, a few pages later (pg. 133-134) he talks about how wonderful God is to provide methanogenic bacteria to remove that pesky greenhouse gas methane for us.

Ross is supposedly a scientist and bible scholar, but it is quite apparent that he does not even understand the meaning of the word ‘genesis’ (meaning of course, source, origin, or beginning). Oxygenic photosynthesis produces oxygen, it does not require it, and methanogenesis produces methane, it does not remove it. The rest of the book is filled with factual errors of equal magnitude on almost every page.

You can believe in whatever nonsense you want, but please don’t use the charlatans at RTB as any kind of justification. They are just another in the long line of people who prey on the gullibility of the faithful.

You can believe in whatever nonsense you want, but please don’t use the charlatans at RTB as any kind of justification. They are just another in the long line of people who prey on the gullibility of the faithful.

I am hardly a fan of RTB however their position is well worth reporting as it shows that some Christians refuse to embrace “Expelled” approaches.

I am hardly a fan of RTB however their position is well worth reporting as it shows that some Christians refuse to embrace “Expelled” approaches.

I think that point can be made quite nicely by the fact that at least 40% of the biologists in the US (99.9% of whom understand evolution) are religious, and at least several of them are prominently known Christians.

Citing the dishonest and incompetent RTB crowd does not advance any worthwhile position.

CJO:

From the statement:

Clearly some oppression and discrimination have occurred

When? Where? And if so, why is every single example in the movie a hysterical exaggeration or an outright fabrication?

Look at any scientific organisation. Count how many women hold top positions, compared with men. Certainly, in Britain, this situation is changing, but it is changing slowly.

RTB did not specify religious or idealogical discrimination.

I have mixed feelings about RTB’s review of Expelled.

While they are very gently disagreeing with its “adversarial” approach, they fail to mention the lying, and the abuse of history. Thus, tacitly, they condone the tactics of Mathis and Stein, even while disagreeing with the tone of the message.

If RTB’s goals really include

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

then they need not only to talk “Holier than thou”, they need to walk it, too. I would have hoped that, publicly, RTB would at least mildly disapprove of the lying and deliberate misrepresentation of history in the film.

Expelled will only increase the hostility of many scientists towards religion and RTB are quite aware of that. And that’s certainly not their goal. I’m wondering what Templeton Foundation thinks about Expelled, no review so far, but I don’t expect anything positive ..

Maybe I’m optimistic, but I think the vast majority of scientists are not hostile toward “religion”, only towards those who hide their totalitarian aims behind the paper-thin veneer of what is passed off as “religion”.

Scientists seem to be a rather smart bunch. Funny, that.

AIG and ICR (both Young Earth Creationists) have remained cautiously silent

PvM: I beg to differ. AiG are ecstatic about expelled (not cautiously silent).

I was going to copy/paste the e-mail they’ve sent to all their supporters but Dave Thomas beat me to it. Here’s AiG’s review from the 31st March, just in case you haven’t read it:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/art[…]elled-review

More than anything, the documentary seeks to expose the ruthlessness of radical atheists and evolutionists and their attempt to erode freedom in order to protect their own worldview. In its goal, Expelled has marvelously succeeded

I’m a bit confused about the Dean Kenyon thing, too… his censure was offered as evidence for “oppression and discrimination” (from the article). I suppose discrimination fits, as they were discriminating against letting a professor teach creation science in his biology class, but oppression? I’d guessing that you only meant discrimination, and the valid type. Maybe?

Peter Henderson, I don’t think you did it intentionally, but your first quote is a great example of quote mining and taking something out of context. You left out two very important words, “other than”

creationist organizations other than the Discovery Institute, AIG and ICR (both Young Earth Creationists) have remained cautiously silent.

When that can so easily happen, how can anyone trust word-of-mouth or partial quotes from anyone? Somebody like the Bad Astronomer might call you a liar. Gasp!

Bill Nettles:

Peter Henderson, I don’t think you did it intentionally, but your first quote is a great example of quote mining and taking something out of context. You left out two very important words, “other than”

creationist organizations other than the Discovery Institute, AIG and ICR (both Young Earth Creationists) have remained cautiously silent.

When that can so easily happen, how can anyone trust word-of-mouth or partial quotes from anyone? Somebody like the Bad Astronomer might call you a liar. Gasp!

Not Henderson’s fault. He correctly quoted the original post, which PvM subsequently updated after getting new data. Sarite?

Peter Henderson, I don’t think you did it intentionally, but your first quote is a great example of quote mining and taking something out of context. You left out two very important words, “other than”

You’re quite correct bill, my mistake and I apologise to PvM. I completely miss read what he was trying to say “Doh”

It was that comma after “the Discovery Institute” that threw me though (should there not be another comma after AiG ?). It looks as if it means “AiG and ICR (both young Earth creationists) have remained cautiously silent” but maybe it would only mean that if there was a full stop after “The Discovery Institute”

Still, it just shows how easily it can happen. Maybe I’ve been reading too much creationist material !

Peter Henderson, I don’t think you did it intentionally, but your first quote is a great example of quote mining and taking something out of context. You left out two very important words, “other than”

You’re quite correct bill, my mistake and I apologise to PvM. I completely miss read what he was trying to say “Doh”

It was that comma after “the Discovery Institute” that threw me though (should there not be another comma after AiG ?). It looks as if it means “AiG and ICR (both young Earth creationists) have remained cautiously silent” but maybe it would only mean that if there was a full stop after “The Discovery Institute”

Still, it just shows how easily it can happen. Maybe I’ve been reading too much creationist material !

Tex Wrote:

RTB is a joke. Their level of scholarship is pathetic.

Sure, but look at the big picture. RTB is an OEC outfit that is not afraid to criticize YEC and ID. Similarly, AIG is a YEC outfit that is not afraid to criticize OEC and ID. Both make testable - and easily falsified - hypotheses about what the designer did and when, so by that measure alone they are more scientific than ID.

ID, with it’s sleazy policy of merely attacking a caricature of “Darwinism” and offering nothing in it’s place but “don’t ask, don’t tell what the designer did, when or how,” started out at the bottom of the barrel, and has been seeking lower ground ever since. Key ID figures admit being old-earthers, and even occasionally concede common descent, yet they make no effort to hide that they pander mostly to the YEC-heavy masses.

RTB, and to a lesser extent, AIG, may be pure pseudoscience, but they are resources we can use to weaken the big tent.

RTB, and to a lesser extent, AIG, may be pure pseudoscience, but they are resources we can use to weaken the big tent.

Surely that should be the other way around Frank ? Am I correct in thinking that RTB accept the ancient age of the Earth/Universe, the big bang, and modern geology (viewing the flood as a local event) ? I would have thought that AiG put out greater pseudo science than RTB.

Peter Henderson Wrote:

Surely that should be the other way around way around Frank ?

There goes my grammar again. What I meant to say is that AIG is to a lesser extent a resource that we can use, because RTB seems more honest about it’s claims, and is not afraid to criticize interpretations that sell to the greatest audience. AIG does have more pseudoscience than RTB, in that it challenges more fields of mainstream science.

ID of course tops them all with it’s “not even wrong” approach.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PvM published on April 17, 2008 4:57 PM.

FSM “Expelled” was the previous entry in this blog.

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