Just a note about a movie I saw this weekend. I actually didn’t want to go and see the movie because it has been broadly disparaged as being inept and ridiculous and unintelligent. In fact, one commentator said that there’s not a shred of intelligence on display in this just-released documentary.
Well, the documentary I’m talking about is the movie “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” by Ben Stein. I was kind of surprised, quite frankly, that this movie was disparaged, knowing that Ben Stein is a trained lawyer, a political speech writer, formidable wit. He’s a credible actor. And so I was wondering how this Jewish actor would do such a horribly lamentable job in this documentary. Long story short, I was telling my kids – two of them, Paul Steven and Christina, who wanted me to go see the movie with them. I really didn’t want to go see the movie and they just begged and begged and I was tired and I said I really didn’t want to go, but they persisted, and I finally went.
After I saw the movie I said it may well be the most significant movie that I have seen in my lifetime. The implications, if you watch the movie thoughtfully and carefully, are world-changing. In other words, we have in our epic of time bought in to a position on the basis of “science” which is more tantamount to brainwashing. Which is to say, if you adduce all of the information on one side of the ledger and you repress all the information on the other side of the ledger, that, by definition, is not education.
Richard Dawkins is prominently displayed in this piece. He’s a Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, arguably the best known Darwinist on the planet, and says that those who do not believe in evolution are ignorant, stupid or insane. But if you see him in this documentary you wonder whether or not those words might actually apply to his positions.
When he’s asked about the origin of life I have never seen anyone who supposedly is an expert on the subject more tongue-tied. He simply doesn’t know what to say except that maybe life emerged on planet earth as a result of extraterrestrials, which, of course, must mean that life did come from some sort of intelligent design. Of course he doesn’t recognize that he actually spoke in favor of intelligent design while disparaging it.
I think in light of this you will see that rhetoric and emotional stereotypes are winning the day in the arguments against intelligent design. I think that the day should be won through reason and empirical science, not rhetoric, because worldview clearly is driving the science rather than the science driving the worldview. ID proponents are willing to follow scientific evidence wherever that scientific evidence leads. They neither presuppose nor preclude supernatural explanations for the phenomena that they encounter in an information-rich universe. As such the ID movement rightly practices what I like to call open-minded science – let the evidence lead wherever it may. Not only that, but ID begins with the common scientific principle that intelligent design is detectible wherever there’s specified, organized complexity. In other words, wherever there’s information. And when applied to information-rich DNA, irreducibly complex biochemical systems, as well as the fact that the earth is perfectly situated in the Milky Way for both life and scientific discovery in the first place, the existence of an intelligent Designer is the most plausible scientific explanation, period. Although it’s conclusions are not worldview neutral, the intelligent design movement lends no more support to Christian theism than Darwinian evolution lends to atheism.
So I’d say this: the appropriateness of the intelligent design movement for public education ought to be judged on the basis of the theory’s explanatory power, not on its metaphysical implications. Unfortunately, those who even mention the words “intelligent design” today in academic situations, contexts, pay a huge price. I recommend everyone watch this documentary. I have now made it must-seeing for all of my kids. I’ll tell you what – you better be ready when you see this with your kids or see it by yourself, to really think credibly and clearly through the issues involved.
I went to see the movie quite late with my kids, and late became later and then later because they wouldn’t stop talking about it. They asked me question after question after question, and in the end my kids are more grounded in their beliefs than they were prior to seeing the documentary, and they were pretty grounded to start with. In other words, answers to questions that are being asked in our culture, if there are satisfying answers to questions that are being asked, only serve to solidify your faith and make you a more capable witness.
One of my daughters, the daughter that went to see the movie with me on Saturday, Christina, was quickly on the phone speaking to some of her skeptic friends, using this as an opportunity. She kept running back to ask “Dad, what do I say now?” But she was going through the process of being equipped, and what happened as a result of that will serve her for a lifetime, and that’s the point of the Bible Answer Man. We are seeking to demonstrate that the Christian faith is reasonable, that it stands up under scrutiny. Even though Ben Stein is not a believer in the historic Christian faith, what he did was a credible job of exposing error, separating between wheat and chaff, heat and light. I take my hat off to him. This was a brilliant piece, and if you go see it I can’t wait to talk to some of you about the piece in which he has Richard Dawkins on the hot seat. It’s amazing. You’ve got to see it for yourself to believe it. This, I hope, is a movie that doesn’t just come and go, but a movie that starts breaking down the Berlin Wall. That wall should be crumbling and falling and you should have a part in bringing it down.