I am no expert on evolution or the education system but I found this video to be pretty interesting. It is about 7 minutes long but worth every minute of it. Here is the trailer
(HT: Ed Benesh)
But it’s a lie.
What’s a lie? That the scientific community doesn’t look kindly on scientist who favor intelligent design? Creationism? What?
This films’ main thesis, that anyone in the science community who believes in God, or is a Darwin dissenter is being “expelled” is false at its core.
In a New York Times interview, Walter Ruloff (producer of Expelled) said that researchers, who had studied cellular mechanisms, made findings suggestive of an intelligent designer. “But they are afraid to report them”.
Mr. Ruloff also cited Dr. Francis S. Collins, a geneticist who directs the National Human Genome Research Institute and whose book, “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief”, explains how he came to embrace his Christian faith. Mr. Ruloff said that Dr. Collins separates his religious beliefs from his scientific work only because “he is toeing the party line”.
That’s “just ludicrous,” Dr. Collins said in a telephone interview. While many of his scientific colleagues are not religious and some are “a bit puzzled” by his faith, he said, “they are generally very respectful.” He said that if the problem Mr. Ruloff describes existed, he is certain he would know about it.
Similarly, Dr. Ken Miller is a professed Christian who wrote “Finding Darwin’s God” (which I suggest you read). Dr. Miller has not been “expelled” in any fashion for his belief in God.
The movie tries to make the case that “Big Science” is nothing but a huge atheist conspiracy out to silence believers, but only presents a very one-sided look at some Discovery Institute “martyrs”.
Carolyn Crocker “expelled”? – No.
Her annual teaching contract was not renewed. Was she “fired” for daring to bring God into research? – No. She was hired to teach Biology, and she decided to ignore the schools’ curriculum and substitute her own curriculum.
Guillermo Gonzalez “expelled”? – No.
He was not granted tenure. The film doesn’t bring up the fact that in all his years at ISU he had only brought in only a miniscule amount of grant money. Nor does it bring up the fact that in all his years at ISU he failed to mentor a single student through to their PhD. Nor does it mention that in his career at ISU, his previous excellent record of publication had dropped precipitously.
Richard von Sternberg “expelled”? – No.
Sternberg continues to work for NIH in the same capacity. Of course the movie doesn’t bring up his underhanded tactics in getting Meyers work published.
This movie attempts to influence it’s viewers with dishonesty, half-truths, and by a completely one-sided presentation of the facts.
If a scientists’ research is not accepted by the scientific community, it isn’t because the scientist either believes or doesn’t believe in God, it is usually because they are producing bad science. Like the idea of Intelligent Design.
We can all build straw men with a couple of examples of people who were accepted and people who were rejected for their views. The question is not a few isolated incidents. The question is whether or not on a broader scale there are trends against those in favor of intelligent design.
For instance, I went to a public school to work on a doctorate in clinical and health psychology. I presented myself as a Christian and the faculty, students, and administration were very open and kind to me. There were several hundred other institutions that would have ostracized me for it. I was even warned by the president of Division 12 of the APA (clinical psychology division) not to even apply at certain schools because of how I would be viewed and treated. There are exceptions.
“Benjamin Franklin” has been making the rounds with his post. It appears on my blog, as well: http://www.douggeivett.wordpress.com. A Google search will show that it appears on numerous blogs.
Thanks for the heads up. That is quite funny that someone would post something with no chance for dialog when their whole point is that the scientific community does not have their ears shut to contrary opinions. Seems ironic to me and makes my point for me.
Sorry I haven’t replied sooner to you, but I really felt that there was too much hyperbole in your response to warrant further dialog.
Given that America is overwhelmingly composed of Christians, I find it incredulous to believe that there are “several hundred other institutions” that would have ostracized you merely for being Christian.
Further, in your post you say that “The question is not a few isolated incidents. The question is whether or not on a broader scale there are trends against those in favor of intelligent design.” What you say is true, and if it is the case that there is such a trend, wouldn’t you think that Expelled could have made a much better case for it than they did? It is Expelled which brings up only a few isolated cases, and the cases they do bring up to validate their premise are shaky at best.
Expelled would have been the perfect vehicle to really make a case for why Intelligent Design is valid research, but the movie doesn’t even give a proper explanation for ID, much less substantiate it’s assertions, show any proof for the hypothesis, demonstrate testability, indicate falsifiability, and indicate some predictive power for the concept.
What has Behe done in the last several years to contradict critics who show that each of his examples of irriducible complexity are not irreducible at all? What efforts has Dembski made to correct the admitted logical flaws in his design filter? What research has come out of the Discovery Institute funded Biologic Institute in the 2 years it has been operating without being “silenced” by Big Science”
It seems to me that the intelligent design movement is claiming that it has been “silenced”, but the real problem is that for several years now, on anything approaching scientific validity, the id proponents have been silent, not silenced.
No problem, I am really kind of surprised that you responded but I am glad you did. I really cannot address most of what you have posted because it requires having seen the entire film, which I have not yet been able to do.
As far as hyperbole, I have to disagree. How much have you been around psychology departments on the graduate level? If you don’t have any experience with it then I would suggest sticking to your areas of expertise and I will stick to mine. I have been around several programs and have heard about many others and consulted with faculty from more. I think I have a pretty good idea about what I said and stand behind it. Thanks for replying.
Where is Ben Franklin coming from? Are you kidding? When one of the greatest thinkers and scholars of modern times, Mortimer J. Adler, of the University of Chicago, referred to evolution as a “popular myth,” the well known materialist and critic Martin Gardiner actually included him in his studies of quacks and frauds in “Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science” Dr.Robert V. Gentry, the world’s leading authority on polonium halos, lost his research grants and job at one sweep when he provided good evidence that these radio halos strongly imply, if not demand, an extremely young age for the earth contrary to the accepted evolutionary view of billions of years. Dean Kenyon, co-author of “Biochemical Predestination,” a committed evolutionist throughout most of his academic career, was removed from teaching his introductory biology course at San Francisco State University when he presented data (the results of his research) which gave credibility to the theory of intelligent design. This was despite a ruling in his favour by the San Francisco State University’s Academic Freedom Committee and an extensive 16-page report in his favour signed by five fellow professors at his university. There are thousands of other examples, including Noble Prize winners and those with multiple doctorates in science. Are the evolutionists afraid of a legimate scientific theory having religious implications? If they don’t like intelligent design because it presuppoaes a superintelligent Designer (God), then the rational alternative is an intelligent agnostism–not dogmatism. thank you. Ray.
A couple of things. Adler, who I was not familiar with, was a philosopher, not a biologist, so I’m not sure he had the credentials or knowledge to dismiss evolution. I will investigate further, but i did read that he said
“There is no question but that science is the cure for superstition, and, if given half the chance with education, it will reduce the amount that exists. The truths of religion must be compatible with the truths of science and the truths of philosophy. As scientific knowledge advances, and as philosophical analysis improves, religion is progressively purified of the superstitions that accidentally attach themselves to it as parasites.”
I agree with that, and it is similar to what St. Augustine wrote 600 years ago, which I also agree with.
Regarding Gentry, he claimed that his model is “based on a universe governed by static space-time general relativity. But in fact, the model is inconsistent with the Einstein field equations, the basic equations of general relativity.
Gentry’s model has been unequivocably debunked repeatedly, but that seems to be the case with any scientist trying to validate a young earth hypothesis. Their positions never hold up to scrutiny, because they accept an end result, and try to fit the data to it, rather than assuming a hypothesis, then experimenting, testing, and revising to see if the hypothesis holds up.
I have found no authoritative evidence that Gentry was ever fired, aside from a screed by Ackerberg, which it appears you got the information from. Please provide some evidence that Gentry was, indeed, fired.
Contrary to what Jerry Bergman asserts, there is not any evidence that there are “thousands” of examples. You should do a little more checking on Bergman before you accept what he says as truth.
There is also a great difference when a researcher is looking into valid scientific ways to prove the hypothesis or existance of intelligent design, and crackpots trying to justify their a priori claims of a 6,000 year old earth.
I await your response.
I did not reply to this comment before now because it carries no weight . I do not need to list the “thousands” of examples of discrimination.
The readers can check this out for themselves and they will find what I’ve said is true. No, it is the evolutionist, not the creationist. who accepts the end result and tries to fit the data to it, often even contrary to the evidence found.
St. Augustine 600 years ago? A minor detail in the whole scheme of this debate, I know.
“St. Augustine 600 years ago?”
Oops – 600 AD?
“This is why St. Augustine’s words are so wise – he focused on truth as a higher concept, knowing that people who say obviously stupid and factually incorrect things make a poor case for Christianity. If you teach your kids that the Bible must be true in all respects, and that scientific facts are lies, then you set them up to reject religion entirely when they find out that you were wrong.”
Lets just face it. The evidence for evolution is huge, making it a robust scientific theory. ID on the other hand isnt science. There is no reliable evidence going for it. Those who support it use arguments from personal incredulity – and Im sure you know why such arguments are flawed.
Evolution is like a huge jugsaw puzzle with a few missing pieces. Scientists know what the overall picture is, they are completely sure of that, but they haven’t put every little piece in place yet.
I appreciate your comment. It is too bad you cannot test something that cannot be repeated. It cannot be a fact until it is tested. Evolution does clearly take place in many instances which is just part of our DNA, as genes are passed on or not passed on. But to say this man evolved just cannot be proven. To say this whole thing just happened cannot be proven. All these different theories take faith because none of it can be tested.
Isn’t it amazing how much this movie is stirring people up, and it isn’t even out yet? People are bashing it left and right who haven’t even watched it!
I really hope it doesn’t disappoint. I’ve heard he gives the quotes and clips adequate length so that people are not misquoted or misrepresented. I don’t want a conservative version of Michael Moore. I hope we see some real journalistic integrity.
I’ve heard proponents of evolution acknowledge that in the great cloth of evolution, there are presently more holes than there is cloth. Everyone is taking a leap of faith in something.
Amazing Movie / Documentary “Expelled”
I watched this movie with my family and some friends on 4/20/08.
It was thought provoking. The voice of other theories about how we came to exist on this awesome planet are silenced in our, colleges and scientific arenas. Mr. Ben Stein is very clear with his questions and interviews many victims of silence across the United States. I too know this from experience. In fact, I remember both in college and in high school being taught that evolutionary concepts were fact not theory. I have four children who have gone through the schools system. To answer differently will affect your grade on your papers. It is interesting that in a free society the proponents of intelligent design whether it be aliens or god(s) are silenced and only evolution is taught in the open market without question.
All Mr. Ben Stein asks us to do is break down the wall of censorship that is preventing theories, thought and research to be discussed on both sides of the scientific community. We all share a desire to explore the hows and whys of us being here. Preventing all dominate theories to be put on the table in our classrooms in our scientific research papers and in our media should not be acceptable. There are a great many scientist who desire to bring out their hypothesis and theories about how the world came to be and they all should have a voice.
This movie does a great job of pointing out the sober reality that when only one view is allowed on the table how it has in the past and just may be currently moving the mindset of the peoples being influenced by it. In a land of freedom of speech and thought, all academia should be open to the challenge of letting all research and opinion be put out for consideration and debate. This I found to be the point of the movie –tear down the wall and let all voices be heard so there is freedom of exploration and expository in the science and media communities. The second point is “why” has the voice of some been silenced?
I thought the movie did quite a good job of showing how there is a wall between ideas that has been erected in the school system and the scientific community. I grew up in it and experienced it first hand.
In third grade, my teacher was expounding on darwinian evolution and how the animals came to be from simpler animals. I raised my hand and asked how the simplest forms came to be, and she gave the classic answer of the time which was a sort of primordial soup. I asked where that had come from, and she said ‘from all the matter and stuff in the sky’.
When I asked her where that had come from, she looked at me quite panicked and said – ‘are you trying to bring *God* into this??’
I said “Not at all. But no teacher has ever answered that question.” (Of where the first particle/energy for the big bang came from)
She immediately ended all talk of evolution for the day and told me to stay after class during what would have been my choir period. (And for a student who had never been in trouble or detention, being pulled away from another class was very troubling and serious for me.)
During our ‘meeting’ she broke down crying and told me ‘not to ask such questions’ because ‘if she brought up anything that might be thought to lead to God, she would be fired’.
Now, I knew my teacher went to church on Sundays and at least professed to be a Christian. While the topic she never brought up inside of school, I knew someone who went to the same church she did. While there is a possibility that she could have been a theistic evolutionist, or someone that believed that God used evolution to create the world, there is a strong possibility she was not since most Christians believe the Bible is inerrant.
But here my own teacher was, crying – and I had never seen a teacher cry – for fear of losing her job over a perfectly valid scientific question a *child* had asked.
And this was by no means an isolated incident – though it was the most extreme. Throughout middle school, high school, and college I found questions were not welcome. When I presented valid, competing scientific studies done by people with doctorates and PHDs that challenged the reigning view they were dismissed as ‘being done by crackpots’ instead of the evidence being examined.
When I proved to my teachers that their textbooks were out of date and they were teaching about transitional forms which had been completely disproven as hoaxes or shown to be apes or pigs years ago, they said they were justified in showing them since transitional forms must nescessarily exist somewhere anyway, and it was ok because darwinian theory was ‘just as true as gravity’.
It was never ok to question, and dissent did affect my grades on several occasions. For, if I found a scientifically valid study or observation (or several dozen) that disproved the worldview or theory taught by the teacher, I would side with it on essays on tests. (In elementary school transitional forms came up a lot – in high school it was mostly the fossil record, and it college it was various dating methods and the theory of uniformity)
I did had *one* teacher throughout by journey through the public school system who allowed for this, back in middle school, so long as I backed it up – but every other teacher would brook no dissent.
Indeed, one college teacher, after I wrote an essay examining one well-done study on carbon dating, wrote back to say that ‘my essay was well done but it was unfortunate that the people who had conducted it were such crackpots.’ She then proceeded to give me a link to a a site where a man had done an ‘amazing job’ of ‘reconciling’ faith with evolution. The man was a theistic evolutionist, and I did not find that his work reconciled anything.
I found it quite offensive. My essay had not mentioned faith, nor God – but somehow this teacher decided that my perceived worldview needed to be ‘adjusted’ because I had examined a study done by some well educated scientists whose evidence directly contradicted certain aspects of her own worldview, or at least the worldview she was teaching.
And so now we have this movie ‘Expelled’. There were one or two moments where I was not happy with the tactics used in the direction of the movie (The black and white shot of the man being punched for instance) as it seemed a bit underhanded – but only a bit. I *grew up* facing this.
One cannot test the past, nor is the theory of uniformity falsifiable – so how is darwinian evolution as it is taught today anymore scientific than Intelligent Design? They are *both* worldviews. All we can do is make inferences about the past from what we observe now based on the worldviews we hold.
Scientific theories can really only deal with the present or the future, because they have to be observable and replicatable to be valid.
There *is* a wall in the schools. And though the movie did not go into it, I would say that the worldview of darwinian evolution is a religion as much as any other, and one being *forced* on students because it is taught as fact instead of theory and no dissent is allowed. It is a religion of secular humanism, where if there was a God he could only be any god but a personal one with actual power and influence over creation.
It is the ultimate peer pressure, when every authority figure demands one must follow a certain path. To become a ‘respected scientist’ one must only make observations that conform with the generally accepted worldview. If one observes soemthing that contradicts, it is far better to keep silent as, after all, darwinian evolution is ‘as true as gravity’ so anyone who observes something to the contrary must just be a crazy scientist. And we have to protect our impressionable kids!
“It cannot be a fact until it is tested. … All these different theories take faith because none of it can be tested.”
Wow. There is so much nonsense posted here. These non-scientific sentences are just the tip of the religious iceberg.
“The voice of other theories about how we came to exist on this awesome planet are silenced in our, colleges and scientific arenas.”
Not silenced – ignored. Creationist “theories” are not scientific and so they are ignored by real scientists and teachers.
“both sides of the scientific community”
Sorry – your side never applied to be science – flunked. So there’s only one side.
“about how the world came to be”
And I thought the discussion was about evolution, not astronomy. But astronomy has a lot of scientific answers.
“challenge of letting all research and opinion”
There’s no research and the opinions are religious.
““why” has the voice of some been silenced?”
Only 600,000 people have paid to see this silly movie and you whine about “silenced”? Censored? Suppressed? Not until the scientific Taliban is in better control! But silly religious ideas are being ridiculed and ignored.
“for fear of losing her job over a perfectly valid scientific question a *child* had asked.”
Which just shows that third grade teachers are not properly prepared for such questions (who’s surprised) and that no matter what she could say at this point, she might offend someone’s parents (depending on how distorted the story was by the time it got home) and that really could cause a problem with job security.
“they were dismissed as ‘being done by crackpots’ ”
And Bozo really was a clown.
“One cannot test the past”
What is your definition of “test the past”? I suspect it is scientifically deficient.
“They are *both* worldviews.”
A typical ploy. But one really is scientific and one really is religious. So you can pick one, but if you pick the one that does not really reflect reality, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
“Scientific theories can really only deal with the present or the future, because they have to be observable and replicatable to be valid.”
You are scientifically illiterate.
“who observes something to the contrary”
Riiight. To be famous and win a Nobel Prize for really observing something would be rather contrary to human nature.
Definition of “fact” – “Generally, a fact is defined as something that is true, something that actually exists, or something that can be verified according to an established standard of evaluation.”
How can you call any of this fact – either creation or evolution? What standard of evaluation you use? By your standards wouldn’t both be speculation. How can you gripe at someone for speculating when that is the same thing you are doing?
So how do you go about proving where mankind came from? What kind of answer can you give? A big bang? How do you account for the origin of matter? Do you just say it has always been? How do you account for the origin of life on earth? It cannot have always been here. How do you account for it? Let’s say it was always here – was there a perfect succession of light and heat giving sources to take the place of the ones before it just in time to preserve life on this planet?
I am no scientist but I do have beliefs and questions. Do whatever you want with them.
“How can you call any of this fact – either creation or evolution?”
The Modern Theory of Evolution explains the “tree of life” scientifically. DNA can gradually change and is inherited. So gradual changes over time produce the observed “tree of life”. There have not been any scientific observations in the last 150 years that disagree with this. Therefore it is considered “scientific truth” – better known as a “fact”. So – creationism is religious non-science and evolution is scientific truth.
“How do you account for the origin of matter?”
The “Big Bang Theory” says that the universe was created about 14 billion years ago. There have not been any scientific observation in the last 100 years that disagree with this. Therefore it is considered “scientific truth” – better known as a “fact”. But this is an entirely different theory from the theory of evolution of course. Neither “depends” on the other.
“How do you account for the origin of life on earth?”
The theory of the origin of “life” from “non-life” on this Earth is called “abiogenesis”. Since it happened over 3 billion years ago under conditions (especially the actual atmospheric composition) which cannot be determined with certainty, it is highly speculative. There are a number of interesting ideas. But it’s likely to be another 20+ years before enough experimentation is performed to try to choose one or two of those ideas. But this is a somewhat different theory from the theory of evolution.
Obviously life currently exists on the Earth and obviously it has evolved over the last 3+ billion years.
“So how do you go about proving where mankind came from?”
The DNA evidence is very clear. The great ape primates had a common ancestor some 6 million years ago. Then the line of primates that led to humans gradually evolved over that 6 million year time period.
Any scientist that claims that they have evidence that leans toward the “intelligent” design theory is in a sense claiming that “My data and evidence can form no conclusion that can be backed up by current scientific knowledge, so therefore an intelligent designer must be at work” aka, “Science can not currently explain it, therefore God” When their real conclusion should be “Further studies need to be conducted to make a conclusion based on our experimental data, then this data needs to be PEER REVIEWED AND REPLICABLE by independent research groups to be considered for publication and acceptance in the scientific community. This is where Ben Stein gets confused with freedom of speech.
For example, any scientist could claim that they have found the cure for breast cancer, but after being reviewed and the experiments are incapable of being replicated, when what really all they did was add formaldehyde (or something of the like) to a cancer cell strain and it killed the tumor. (a North Korean research group did this) This is not a case of freedom of speech its just bad science, just like any “evidence” that leans toward intelligent design.
This kind of thinking is archaic and at best illogical. This is how medieval scientists explained phenomenon that could not be explained by their research. Take lightning for example, people believed that God was magically sending fire from the sky down to earth, then along came science and explained that static electricity build-up in the clouds forms lightning. Any scientists claiming that Zues,God, Poseidon, or name your god of choice was throwing lightning down on us would be shunned by the scientific community, just like Creationists and intelligent design theorists should be in today’s scientific world.
One reader above says:”The Modern Theory of Evolution explains the “tree of life” scientifically. DNA can gradually change and is inherited. So gradual changes over time produce the observed “tree of life”. There have not been any scientific observations in the last 150 years that disagree with this. Who are you kidding.? This is laughable.
Consider Dr. William’s assessment of evidence (or lack of it) for the “Tree of Life”:
The neo-Darwinian paradigm is a synthesis of two overarching theses: the Thesis of Common Ancestry and the Thesis of Random Mutation and Natural Selection as the means of evolutionary development. The evidence for these two theses is anything but compelling; indeed, the theory involves a enormous extrapolation from evidence of very limited ranges to conclusions far beyond the evidence. We know that in science such extrapolations often fail (take, for example, Albert Einstein’s failed attempt to extrapolate a general principle of relativity that would relativize acceleration and rotational motion just as his special principle had successfully relativized uniform motion). Such failures make very pressing the question: how do we know that the extrapolation from local instances of evolutionary development to the grand story of evolution is a valid one?
Let’s first get our terminology clear. You misconstrue the notion of microevolution when you equate it with the claim of the fixity of species. Steve, not even six day creationists, not to speak of progressive creationists, limit microevolutionary change to variation within species! Certainly that’s not the way I was using the term, as should have been clear from the examples of evolutionary change which I considered. Microevolutionary change is simply change within certain vague limits, limits which fall far short of the wholesale development envisioned by the Thesis of Common Ancestry.
To give you a feel for the sort of extrapolation from evidence of microevolutionary change to macroevolutionary conclusions, consider the following chart, which displays some of the major phyla within the Animal Kingdom:
Notice that just the single phylum of the vertebrates (Chordata) includes all fish, mammals, birds, reptiles, etc. Seen in the context of the wider picture, typical examples of evolutionary change are seen to be microevolutionary changes. The evolutionary development of whales, horses, and elephants you mention are trivialities compared to the grand scenario envisioned by the theory. The transition from lower primates to humans is nothing compared to what the theory postulates on the grand scale.
You’ll remember my quoting Michael Denton to the effect that for a bat and a whale to have a common ancestor there should be literally millions of transitional forms, which are not there in the fossil record. But even that illustration obscures the fact of how trivial in the grand scheme of things such a development would be, for it would have taken place entirely within the class of Mammalia (mammals) in the phylum of Chordata. Even the evolution of amphibians from fish or birds from reptiles is miniscule compared to whole tree of life postulated by the theory, for it still only involves evolutionary development within a single phylum.
By contrast, what is the evidence that a bat and a sponge are descended via mutation and natural selection from a common ancestor? And now reflect that the above chart shows only some of the phyla within the Animal Kingdom, which is only a part of the domain of the Eukarya, which also includes the whole of the Plant Kingdom, and that in addition to the domain of the Eukarya we’ve also got the domains of the Bacteria and the Archaea to account for! Clearly we’re dealing with a mind-boggling extrapolation from limited instances of microevolutionary change to conclusions that far outstrip the evidence. Caution certainly seems appropriate here.
So consider now your objections to my presentation. Take first the Thesis of Common Descent. In my podcast, I shared some reasons to be cautious concerning this claim, while acknowledging the biomolecular evidence in its favor. You complain that I mentioned only Archaeopteryx as a transitional fossil. But my purpose here was to provide an example from the fossil record for the most significant sort of transition afforded by the evidence. Most of the examples you cite are trivialities by comparison, for they don’t involve change across large categories.
In any event, as I emphasized, the Thesis of Common Ancestry is really the less important of the two claims of the neo-Darwinian paradigm: far more important is the Thesis of Random Mutation and Natural Selection. As you note, theorists like Michael Behe embrace the Thesis of Common Ancestry. Their bone to pick (no pun intended) is with the postulated explanatory mechanisms of the neo-Darwinian synthesis. Here you had nothing to say to show that the staggering biological complexity which our world exhibits could have been created by such mechanisms in the span of four billion years. Recall Barrow and Tipler’s claim that there are at least ten steps in the evolution of homo sapiens, each of which is so improbable that before it would have occurred the sun would have ceased to be a main sequence star and incinerated the Earth! Here is where my greatest hesitation about the neo-Darwinian paradigm lodges. I haven’t seen any evidence that the hypothesis of random mutation and natural selection has the sort of explanatory power which the neo-Darwinian paradigm attributes to it. It seems to me that even given the Thesis of Common Ancestry, a theory of progressive creationism fits all the facts and could well be true.
All this occasions the question: how could a theory which is so speculative and so weakly confirmed as neo-Darwinism be held with such confidence and tenacity by the scientific community? Here’s where Philip Johnson’s insight is relevant to the discussion. (Of course, he’s not a scientist, as you note, but his contribution is philosophical, not scientific.) As I explain in my article “Naturalism and Intelligent Design,” in Intelligent Design, ed. R. Stewart (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007), pp. 58-71, Johnson’s insight is that the neo-Darwinian theory’s status as the best explanation of biological complexity depends crucially on excluding from the pool of live explanatory options non-naturalistic hypotheses. Johnson has often said that he would have no objection to evolutionary theorists’ claiming that evolution is the best naturalistic hypothesis available for explaining biological complexity. What he protests is the claim that evolutionary theory is the best explanation simpliciter. Were we to admit into the pool of live explanatory options non-naturalistic hypotheses, then it would no longer be evident that evolutionary theory is the best explanation of the data. It is in that sense that the theory presupposes naturalism. The theory itself doesn’t imply naturalism; rather it is the theory’s current exalted position as the reigning paradigm which depends crucially on excluding from consideration non-naturalist alternatives. For if naturalism is true, then as Alvin Plantinga likes to say, evolution is the only game in town. No matter how improbable, no matter how weak the evidence, evolution’s got to be true because there just isn’t anything non-natural to account for biological complexity. Hence, the confidence.
So many object to non-naturalistic theories on theological grounds. You don’t like the image of the tinkerer God meddling in the evolutionary development of things like the bacterial flagellum. You think it makes God into a meddler and a bungler, and you don’t want to worship a God like that. Don’t you see that you have abandoned an objective assessment of the evidence, following it where it leads, in favor of following your theological predilections? Frankly, I find this over and over again in discussions of this sort: it is philosophical and theological presuppositions that determine where people end up, not the evidence itself.
As for your personal theological preferences, I caution you not to presume that God has to conform to your preferred theological outlook. It is enormously presumptuous to think that we can say with confidence what God would or would not do when it comes to His creating life on this planet. Better to keep an open mind and look at the evidence to see what He did, in fact, do!
Moreover, maybe your model of God is all wrong. Maybe God is not like the engineer who can be faulted if his machine doesn’t function perfectly without his meddling. Maybe God is instead more like the artist who enjoys getting His hands dirty in the paint or the clay to fashion a spectacular world. Why not?
In any case Intelligent Design of the world needn’t involve God’s intervening in the series of secondary causes in the way you imagine. If God has middle knowledge, then He can create a world in which the appropriate counterfactuals are true such that from certain chosen initial conditions a designed world will issue naturally (see again my article referenced above). Such a view doesn’t commit you to interventions at all.
So be not dismayed, my brother! There’s good reason to be cautious about the current paradigm in evolutionary biology. Here, for a change, Christians get to play the role of the sceptical inquirer.
As Nobel Prize winner Sir Ernest Chain once said of the theory of evolution, “I would rather believe in fairy tales than in such wild speculation” (Ronald W. Clark, The Life of Ernest Chain, pp. 147-148).
Here is what genetist Michael Denton called the cosmological myth of the twentieth century and, I believe, will be recorded as the biggest hoax in history:
Once I was an amoeba in a stinking bog (after the random interaction of certain chemicals in a primordial soup by a process (spontanteous generation or life evolving from non-life) that we nowhere see in the natural world today and Louis Pasteur proved experimentally to be scientifically impossible).
then I became a croaking frog (after eons of transitional or intermediate forms that we don’t see in the fossil record)
Next I became a monkey in a coconut tree (after millions of years of gradual evolution-by-creeps [too slow to see], evolution-by-peaks [too fast to see] and evolution-by-freaks (genetic mutations still harmful-produces nothing new by way of transmutations: snails remain snails, clams clams, trilobites trilobites, jellyfish jellyfish, birds birds, fish fish, apes apes, man man).
Now, I’m a professor with a Ph.D .(in Palaeontology would you believe)just kidding.
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