Ken Miller Speaks Up about ‘Expelled’

Posted: May 9, 2008 in Atheism, Evolution, News, Religion
Tags: , , , , , ,

It seems pretty clear that Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed and those behind it have been a rather dishonest lot for various reasons.  These reasons have been gone over in this blog and many others and the evidence for this claim seems pretty conclusive.  Now one more person has thrown his hat into the proverbial ring, this time Ken Millar (christian and biology professor) has come out with guns blazing against Ben Stein’s particular brand of idiocy.

Trouble ahead for science

AMERICAN science is in trouble, and if you wonder why, just go to the movies. Popular culture is gradually turning against science, and Ben Stein’s new movie, “Expelled,” is helping to push it along.

“Intelligent Design,” the relabeled, repackaged form of American creationism, has always had a problem. It just can’t seem to produce any evidence. To scientists, the reasons for this are obvious. To conservative Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, Intelligent Design is nothing more than a “phony theory.” No data, no science, no experiments, just an attempt to sneak a narrow set of religious views into US classrooms.

Advocates of Intelligent Design needed a story to explain why the idea has been a nonstarter within the scientific community, and Ben Stein has given it to them. The story line is that Intelligent Design advocates are persecuted and suppressed. “Expelled” tells of this terrible campaign against free expression, and mocks the pretensions of the closed-minded scientific elite supposedly behind it.

There are many things wrong with this movie. One example: Viewers are told that Dr. Richard Sternberg lost his job at the Smithsonian Institution because he edited a paper favorable to Intelligent Design. Wrong.

Sternberg wasn’t even employed by the Smithsonian (he had no job to lose), and had resigned as journal editor six months before the paper was published. In fact, the irony is that neither Steinberg nor any of the other people featured as martyrs in “Expelled” lost jobs as a result of their advocacy of Intelligent Design, while many others who supported evolution have. In 2007, Chris Comer, the director of science education for Texas schools, was fired for having done nothing more than forwarding an e-mail announcing a pro-evolution seminar.

The movie also uses interviews with avowed atheists like Richard Dawkins, author of “The God Delusion,” to argue that scientific establishment is vehemently anti-God. Never mind that 40 percent of the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science profess belief in a personal God. Stein, avoiding these 50,000 people, tells viewers that “Darwinists” don’t allow scientists to even think of God.

Puzzled, the editors of Scientific American asked Mark Mathis, the film’s co-producer, why he and Stein didn’t interview such people, like Francis Collins (head of the Human Genome Project), Francisco Ayala, or myself. Mathis cited me by name, saying “Ken Miller would have confused the film unnecessarily.” In other words, showing a scientist who accepts both God and evolution would have confused their story line.

Despite these falsehoods, by far the film’s most outlandish misrepresentation is its linkage of Darwin with the Holocaust. A concentration camp tour guide tells Stein that the Nazis were practicing “Darwinism,” and that’s that. Never mind those belt buckles proclaiming Gott mit uns (God is with us), the toxic anti-Semitism of Martin Luther, the ghettoes and murderous pogroms in Christian Europe centuries before Darwin’s birth. No matter. It’s all the fault of evolution.

Why is all this nonsense a threat to science? The reason is Stein’s libelous conclusion that science is simply evil. In an April 21 interview on the Trinity Broadcast Network, Stein called the Nazi murder of children “horrifying beyond words.” Indeed. But what led to such horrors? Stein explained: “that’s where science in my opinion, this is just an opinion, that’s where science leads you. Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place. Science leads you to killing people.”

According to Stein, science leads you to “killing people.” Not to cures and vaccines, not to a deeper understanding of nature, not to wonders like computers and cellphones, and certainly not to a better life. Nope. Science is murder.

“Expelled” is a shoddy piece of propaganda that props up the failures of Intelligent Design by playing the victim card. It deceives its audiences, slanders the scientific community, and contributes mightily to a climate of hostility to science itself. Stein is doing nothing less than helping turn a generation of American youth away from science. If we actually come to believe that science leads to murder, then we deserve to lose world leadership in science. In that sense, the word “expelled” may have a different and more tragic connotation for our country than Stein intended.

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Comments
  1. L. Ron Brown says:

    Matt:

    Thanks for posting this. I’ll have to remember to link it.

    Ron

  2. environmentalchristian says:

    “AMERICAN science is in trouble, and if you wonder why, just go to the movies. Popular culture is gradually turning against science…..”

    I havn’t seen the movie, and I might agree with your post after I get a chance to see it. For now though I have to say, the above quote is silly.

    Popular culture worships science. All one has to do is say, “A chemist found….” or “4 out of 5 doctors recommend” and people will readily believe anything.

    Of course, I think this is a good thing….just pointing it out.

  3. Matt says:

    I disagree.
    You just have to look at religious meddling in stem cell research or the fact that a lot of people are stopping immunisation of children … even there is zero scientific evidence for any link to autism.

  4. arthurvandelay says:

    Popular culture worships science. All one has to do is say, “A chemist found….” or “4 out of 5 doctors recommend” and people will readily believe anything.

    Interestingly, I think what your examples demonstrate is that popular culture worships scienciness more than it does science.

  5. Brenda Eichelberg says:

    Expelled was a very truthful account of what is happening in the scientific arena. I would say that Mr Miller needs to do his homework. To say that the movie is hogwash is to turn a blind eye.

  6. jeremy says:

    “scienciness” I’ll have to file that one away for use later.

    5 posts and 1 supports expelled. So, using scienciness I can deduce that 1 in 5 people actually believe in creationism. Not including robots.

  7. AV says:

    Expelled was a very truthful account of what is happening in the scientific arena. I would say that Mr Miller needs to do his homework. To say that the movie is hogwash is to turn a blind eye.

    Well, I could refer you to Expelled Exposed, which debunks the myths peddled by Stein’s creationist film.

    But of course, that site is run by scientists and science educators, and as you and I and Ben Stein know only too well, science is teh evil, scientists are teh evil and therefore nothing they say can be trusted.

  8. environmentalchristian says:

    Matt,

    What you are pointing out is that science has other competing systems; not that science is outright rejected by our society.

    If you disagree with this point then call up any advertising company and see what they have to say.

    Science should be held accountable to our morals. Without ethics science is directionless and souless. Dont mourn the fact that religion and morality have entered into stem cell research discussions overmuch.

    arthurvandelay,

    I readily accede your point. Good one.

  9. Matt says:

    I never said science was rejected outright, but I do agree that society appears to be slowly turning against it. If science who entirely embraced by society, then you would not get uninformed parents refusing to immunise their children or delusional backwards types building creationist theme parks (and getting people actually paying to go in and fed bollocks).

  10. heatlight says:

    Wow… even Christians, apparently, can totally misunderstand ID theory. Sad.

  11. Matt says:

    Of course, it should be noted that Intelligent Design is not a Scientific Theory.

  12. Dan says:

    Actually, I read this as Christians rejecting ID. Not because they’re being told to choose between faith and reason, mind you, but because they know when they’re being scammed — by a theory proposing to be reason, when it is nothing but faith. (And I’m being awfully generous with that last remark.)

    As for science being “soulless”, well, science is not religion, never was one, never tried to be one, and no responsible scientist would ever propose that it should be one. Science, to quote Jack Webb, is “just the facts, ma’am”.

  13. environmentalchristian says:

    and that is exactly the point Dan. Science needs our morality to point it to usefullness. Science does not say, “The fact that this gas expands rapidly and explodes in this canister killing humans close to it is bad.” Science just says it happens.

    For a more indepth discussion of this check out a post I wrote a while back http://environmentalchristian.wordpress.com/2008/04/19/124/ called Nature of Science and Faith

    As to the thread on our society slowly turning away from science…I find it hard to believe that you honestly think this is true. Western civilization has been becoming more and more enamoured with science with each passing decade.

  14. AV says:

    EC: would you agree that Western civilisation has been gradually replacing an authoritarian-submissive attitude to religious authority with an authoritarian-submissive attitude to scientific authority?

  15. Darron S says:

    would you agree that Western civilisation has been gradually replacing an authoritarian-submissive attitude to religious authority with an authoritarian-submissive attitude to scientific authority?

    One can only hope!

  16. AV says:

    One can only hope!

    I don’t hope for that, and I doubt many scientists or science advocates hope for that. What they ought to hope for is more critical thinking and a better understanding of science.

  17. Ed Darrell says:

    Scientists seem to do okay on the morality side. It’s creationists who need morality. Can anyone impose any kind of morality on them?

  18. AV says:

    I wasn’t suggesting anything about the morality of scientists. When I said that scientists “ought to hope for more critical thinking and a better understanding of science,” I meant among the general public, not among scientists themselves. It is the general public who I would argue adopt an authoritarian-submissive attitude towards scientific authority, and that is by no means the fault of scientists.

    Creationists exploit this attitude when they stick a dinosaur next a human child, attach the label “museum exhibit,” and are taken seriously by the uninformed and the gullible. Quacks and con-artists exploit this attitude when they employ “sciency” jargon to market their snake-oil, and–to take the example of Brain Gym–are taken so seriously that their pseudoscience is peddled to children in the British public school system. Alan Sokal exploited this attitude to make just this very point.

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