13 April 2008

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed ... in Church

Much to Whitney's annoyance, I've been fuming all day over Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a new documentary narrated -- with all the usual histrionics -- by Ben Stein. According to its website, the film shows Stein's "heroic and, at times, shocking journey confronting the world's top scientists, educators and philosophers, regarding the persecution of the many by an elite few."

I've seen the trailer, read reviews, and watched several interviews with Stein. The movie recapitulates the same hackneyed and scientifically absurd arguments that intelligent designers and the creationists before them enunciate. For example, Stein states in an interview that science can't tell us where the universe came from: Why is there something rather than nothing? The outrageous assumption behind such statements is that having an answer is better than not having an answer, regardless of the status of that answer as plausible or implausible. Sometimes it's intellectually honest to admit that there are things we just don't know.

Furthermore, Stein never queries: Why is there God rather than not-God? The Christian solution, of course, is to simply stipulate that God is the unmoved mover, the uncaused cause. But why not just do that with the universe? Because, the creationist responds, the universe is unintelligent and God is intelligent.

Putting aside the fact that microbiologists have successfully created many of the molecular building blocks of life in laboratories, that many systems involve "self-assembly," and so on, the logical argument that "there are intelligent beings in the universe," therefore "an intelligent being must have created us" is simply fallacious. Stein adds that it is incredibly counterintuitive to think of intelligence from non-intelligence, and this suggests (if not demonstrably proves) that God -- an intelligent designer -- exists.

Stein needs to be reminded that much of modern science involves concepts that are extremely unintuitive! Indeed, many philosophers saw this as a problem for empiricism: Despite what our senses seem to tell us, the sun does not revolve around the earth; despite what our senses seem to suggest, we are not stationary, space is not Euclidean, 99.9% of all matter is space, and so on. If the notion that intelligent beings emerged from unintelligent processes seems counterintuitive, well then, welcome to modern science!

Awhile ago, I wrote a short article about why it's rational to believe in evolution, and rational to reject religion. This introduction to evolutionary theory is more of a philosophical than scientific discussion, aimed dispelling many of the misconceptions of science floating about in the miasma of confusion about Darwinism. It feels more relevant now than ever. You can find the link here.

1 comment:

patrick said...

just saw Expelled; the fact that Ben Stein isn't trying to win any popularity contests helps to validate his message... i gather that his goal is to promote free thought, especially more thinking about the worldviews that drive American academia