God and CSI, Take 2

At our house, conversations about ID usually aren’t about “identification.” It means “Intelligent Design.”

My husband Ray’s entire education is in science, including a Ph.D. in molecular biology. Early in his Christian walk, learning there was evidence against evolution lit a fire under him that has only grown in the 35 years since. Today, he is thrilled by advances in science that on an almost-monthly basis reveal more and more evidence that an intelligence is the only reasonable explanation for many aspects of the natural world.

But that doesn’t sit well with people who don’t want to be accountable to the God they know perfectly well is there, but spend endless hours and countless books (and YouTube videos) denying it.

The anti-God attitude was well known to the apostle Paul, who said in Romans 1:19-20, “. . .that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

Eventually, it poisoned the very core of most science today. The early scientists like Galileo and Newton made important discoveries about the Creation because their starting point was a belief in an intelligent, orderly Creator who wove orderliness into His creation. They believed that the orderliness and principles of the natural world were knowable because our God is knowable. But then, Darwin’s theory of evolution allowed people to embrace science without buying into the “God part” of it. Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) said that “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” And today, it is now assumed that the very nature of science excludes anything supernatural. This has nothing to do with the evidence and everything to do with people’s hearts.

When we “X” God out of our thinking, we feel free to redefine things any way we want, since we no longer feel beholden to His view of reality. I was thinking the other day that if Las Vegas decided it didn’t like its crime statistics, all it needs to do is define crime away. Can you imagine if the city went to the CSI investigators and said, “You know all those dead bodies you deal with? From now on, you need to find a natural explanation for those deaths.”

And the CSI people would say, “But most of the deaths we investigate aren’t naturally caused. They are caused by human beings.”

LV: Not any more. If all people die from natural causes, then we’ve done away with crime. And we are totally committed to doing away with crime in Las Vegas.

CSI: But we’re committed to following the evidence no matter where it leads. If the evidence implies a killer, we can’t say it’s a natural death.

LV: Our commitment is eliminating crime. If you can’t come up with natural causes for these deaths, we’ll bring in CSIs who can.

CSI: So when we find someone face down on a desk, with a wound indicating something long and sharp was stabbed from the back of the neck into the victim’s mouth. . .?

LV: Keep researching until you find a completely natural explanation. And stop using needlessly prejudicial words like “victim.” There is no more crime in this city because we have declared it so. Your findings have to be consistent with the new city policy.

And that’s what it’s like to be a scientist these days. Don’t believe me? Watch Ben Stein’s movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed .

And go “Arrrrgggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!”

 

This is a revised version of the blog post originally published on October 7, 2008




Josh McDowell on Using Redeeming Darwin With Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

Over the last 50 years, those with a Christian worldview have been the focus of condescension and exclusion in the academic community. As has happened throughout history, these attitudes from the academic community have gradually permeated our mainstream culture. Today, evangelical-bashing is the accepted standard position for all forms of mass media from news reporting to books and movies. Over the last decade, this trend has accelerated to the point that many people believe Christian principles and beliefs should not be recognized in our public policies and culture. We are all experiencing these efforts to relegate the Christian faith to an irrelevant sidelight of American culture.

One of the root causes of this trend is the teaching of naturalistic Darwinism as dogma within our public education system from grade school through our universities. The reasoning is that educated people know that science has proven there is no evidence for a creator. Therefore, there is no place for religion and moral authority in our public life. This attitude directly affects public policies on abortion, euthanasia, education, sexuality, etc.

Although Darwins theory of life originating and evolving to its current forms strictly though random events and natural selection may have seemed plausible 50 years ago, our current understanding of the nature of the universe and the complexity of even the simplest life forms bring up huge issues for which the current state of evolutionary theory has no answers. For example, over 700 scientists at our universities and research institutions have signed a statement expressing their doubt that Darwinism can adequately explain our current understanding of life in this universe (See dissentfromdarwin.org for the current list).

In a desperate attempt to protect the dogma upon which their naturalistic/humanistic worldview is based, the scientific/educational establishment is systematically and viciously attacking those who would dare to research alternative theories that may better explain the current evidence. They have mounted a public relations campaign to paint any scientific research or publications which expose the issues with Darwinism as not science, but rather religiously based dogmatism or creationism. What is absolutely amazing is that while aggressively pursuing their campaign of persecution and spin-doctoring, the Darwinist community steadfastly denies that they are doing any such thing. Sadly, this campaign has been successful to date in keeping our public education system and most of our scientists captive to this worldview-motivated attempt to defend the dogma of Darwinism in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (starring Ben Stein) is a documentary scheduled to be released in April 2008. It exposes the blatant attempts to squelch academic freedom in defense of outdated Darwinist dogma. By chronicling the stories of well-qualified scientists who have dared to question Darwinism as a comprehensive explanation for life and interviewing people on both sides of these events, this documentary presents a strong case for restoring academic freedom allowing scientists to follow the evidence where it leads. Both the content and the involvement of Ben Stein (who is Jewish) make it clear that this documentary was not created to directly promote the teaching of creationism. This documentary calls Americans to stand up for academic freedom and integrity. It says that we should not allow the misguided notion that science and religion must be in conflict to keep scientists from exploring all reasonable hypotheses to explain the latest evidence.

The producers of Expelled are making a large financial investment to create a documentary targeted for wide release in thousands of movie theaters. They are taking this risk because they believe that the American public needs to understand what is really happening. It is only through public awareness and pressure that the current climate of repression and persecution can be changed. Expelled is intended to bring this issue to the forefront of public thought. Promoting an open public debate could well lead to unshackling scientific research in this area and opening the door for students for receive more in-depth education in evolutionary theoryincluding those areas where evolutionary theory currently has no viable explanation.

The content of Expelled creates a natural opportunity for Christians to discuss the evidence for a creator and the reasons for our faith in Jesus Christ as Creator and Savior. Expelled will draw wide public attention to these issues and will create media attention and controversy even among those who do not see it. It would be a shame for believers to miss this opportunity to promote this public discussion and to engage our friends, neighbors and co-workers in making a defense for our hope in Christ.

So how can we go about doing this?

1. Let me encourage you to take the time to review the excellent, cutting-edge materials available through RedeemingDarwin.com. Make the effort to equip your people with the information and encouragement they need to communicate that the scientific evidence points to a creator and to share the relationship they have with the Creator. Again, this foundational issue is critical and will get more intense in the days ahead. The Redeeming Darwin material from Probe and EvanTell is ideal for this purpose.

2. Make sure that they know that Expelled will bring this topic to the forefront in peoples conversation whether they have seen the documentary or not. We need to equip believers to look for opportunities to interact intelligently. You may want to make available the Viewers version of Probes Discovering the Designer DVD/booklet as a cost effective tool for your people to share with others (redeemingdarwin.com/products).

3. Encourage people to see this controversial documentary:

Expelled does not directly promote a Christian view. In fact, it does not even take the position that Intelligent Design has been shown to be a better theory than Darwinism. This helps establish a non-threatening, neutral starting point to engage in a thoughtful discussion. You are not asking people to watch a Christian film. You are encouraging them to become informed on an important issue.

Expelled is a documentary. It is not for entertainment. It will require the audience to think about what they are watching. Although it includes some humor (how could Ben Stein keep from adding humor?), it is a very serious documentary. Be sure people understand that they are attending for the purpose of learning not for a night out at the movies.

After you view the movie, you may want to think about how you could use the DVD version when it is available. If you are showing Expelled in a small group or some other venue, you can better focus peoples expectations.

4. Plan to offer small group opportunities to learn more about this controversy and how it ultimately points us to Christ. Once again, the Redeeming Darwin material is an excellent resource for this purpose.

 

© 2008 Probe Ministries

 




Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

Dr. Bohlin explores the key points from this documentary from a Christian perspective.  He looks at three of the scientists featured on the film who were persecuted for their willingness to consider intelligent design as an option.  The film may become dated but the issue of an intelligent creator versus an impersonal, random cause of creation will continue on for many years.

A film was released in April 2008 starring Ben Stein. Titled EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed,{1} this film documents the dark underside of academia in America and around the world, exposing what happens when someone questions a ruling orthodoxy. In this case, that orthodoxy is Darwinian evolution.

Evolution is routinely trumpeted as the cornerstone of modern biology, indispensable even to modern medical research. Therefore, if someone questions Darwinian evolution and its reliance on unpredictable mutation and natural selection, you are questioning science itself. At least that’s how the gatekeepers of science explain it.

Never mind that over seven hundred PhD trained scientists from around the world have openly signed a statement questioning the ability of Darwinism to account for the complexity of life. You’ll find my name among them (www.dissentfromdarwin.org). We are usually dismissed as being misguided, uninformed or religiously motivated. We couldn’t possibly have legitimate scientific objections to Darwinian evolution.

Many have refrained from signing that list because of the possible repercussions to their career. But isn’t there academic freedom in this country? Doesn’t science progress by always questioning and leaving even cherished theories open to reinterpretation? Isn’t science all about following the evidence wherever it leads? Well, in theory, yes. Practically, scientists are human, too, and often don’t like it when favorite ideas are reexamined.

The film EXPELLED explores the reality of what happens when evolutionary orthodoxy is questioned by vulnerable scientists who have yet to secure tenure.

In what follows, I will take a detailed look at just three of the scientists featured in the film. In each case I will reveal greater detail than the film is able to explore and provide resources for you to inquire further. Hopefully this will inspire you to learn more about this important issue and attend the film when it opens.

Let me briefly introduce the three scientists.

Richard Sternberg has a double PhD in evolutionary biology. As editor of a scientific journal, he oversaw the publication of an article promoting Intelligent Design and critical of evolution. As a result, he was harassed and falsely accused of improper peer review. He has been blacklisted.

Caroline Crocker taught introductory biology and made the mistake of including questions about evolution contained in science journals. She was accused of teaching creationism and eventually lost her job, and has been unable to find work ever since.

Finally, Guillermo Gonzalez, a well published astronomer, has been denied tenure because he supports Intelligent Design. Trust me, you’ll find it hard to believe what you read.

Richard von Sternberg

Richard von Sternberg was the managing editor of the biological journal, The Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, or PBSW. Sternberg was employed by the National Institutes of Health in their National Center for Biotechnology Information. He was also a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History when he served as the journal’s managing editor.

Sternberg was considered a rising scientist and theorist. His multiple appointments demonstrated great confidence in his research ability. By 2004 he had accumulated thirty scientific publications in peer-reviewed science journals and books.

His fall from grace was not for something he said or did, but for what he didn’t do. As managing editor for PBSW, he did not reject outright an article submitted for publication that supported Intelligent Design as “perhaps the most causally adequate explanation” for the explosion of new, complex life forms during the Cambrian period. He “mistakenly” sent the paper out for peer review, and went along with reviewers recommendations for publication after extensive revisions were made.

When the article appeared in the journal’s August 2004 edition, the journal and Sternberg were assailed for allowing the publication of this heresy. He was accused of not following proper peer-review procedure. If he had, certainly the paper would have been rejected. He was accused of acting as the editor himself when normal procedure was for the paper to be referred to an associate editor. If he had, surely the article would have been rejected. He was accused of choosing reviewers predisposed to support the ID perspective of the article. If he had chosen true scientists, surely they would have rejected the article.

I think you get the point. Any scientist worth their salt would have rejected the article out of hand; Sternberg didn’t and therefore was guilty of academic sin. Eventually, Sternberg claimed he was harassed by the Smithsonian where he currently worked. He claimed his office was changed, that he was denied access to museum specimens and collections, that his key was confiscated, and that he was subjected to a hostile work environment, all intended to get him to leave.{2}

The White House Office of Special Counsel was eventually called in to investigate, and although they eventually did not take the case because Sternberg was not actually a Smithsonian employee, they did issue a preliminary report documenting the inaccuracy of the charges against him and the accuracy of Sternberg’s accusations.{3} He followed very standard and proper peer-review procedures and even got approval for the article from a member of the society’s ruling council. You can bet that the editors of other journals were paying attention.

Caroline Crocker

Caroline Crocker, a PhD with degrees in pharmacology and microbiology, is a research scientist and former lecturer at George Mason University.{4}

As Crocker tells her story, she was an instructor at George Mason University, teaching introductory biology. One lecture was devoted to evolution, and she decided it was important for students to hear not just the evidence favoring evolution but published research that questioned certain elements of evolutionary theory. Crocker had come to this conviction not from any religious motivation but from her own research and convictions as a scientist.

The lecture was received very well with spirited discussion and she considered it a success. Days later she was called to her supervisor’s office who accused her of teaching creationism. She denied this and claimed she never even used the word and encouraged her supervisor to look up the lecture herself which was online, as were all her lecture notes. Later she was demoted to only teaching laboratories and eventually dismissed altogether.

Upon getting another teaching job at a local community college, she eventually learned she was targeted for dismissal again and left on her own. Eventually, she applied for other teaching positions and, though initially offered the job at one interview, she was later called and told there was no money for the position. Someone at the National Institutes of Health eventually told her to stop looking because she was blacklisted.{5}

A young lawyer at a local law firm eventually volunteered to take her case pro bono [without charge]. His firm agreed with his decision and filed an initial complaint with George Mason University. The complaint was later dropped and the lawyer mysteriously asked to clean out his office. He too has struggled since, trying to find employment.

George Mason denies any wrongdoing, of course, and maintains that academic freedom is honored at their university, but they offer few specifics on just why Crocker was terminated.

Crocker always received high marks from her students and was qualified and effective wherever she went. Suddenly after questioning Darwinism, her scientific career is over. There is another viewpoint, of course. P. Z. Meyer’s, for example, defends the decision to let Crocker go at the end of her contract because questioning evolution shows she was incompetent.{6}

Guillermo Gonzalez

Guillermo Gonzalez is a planetary astronomer and associate professor at Iowa State University. Gonzalez has done research and taught at Iowa State for five years and has accumulated an impressive record. He has accumulated over sixty peer-reviewed publications in various science and astronomy journals. In addition, he has presented over twenty papers at scientific conferences, and his work has been featured in such respected publications as Science, Nature, and Scientific American.{7}

Ordinarily, to become a tenured professor at a research institution there are specific requirements that must be met. The Astronomy Department at Iowa State requires a minimum of fifteen research papers. Gonzalez should have felt quite secure since he published nearly five times that many papers. He also co-authored an astronomy textbook through Cambridge University Press that he and others used at Iowa State. But his initial application for tenure was denied. The faculty senate indicated his application was denied because he didn’t meet certain necessary requirements.

However, many suspected he was denied tenure for his support for Intelligent Design through his popular book and film The Privileged Planet. While having nothing to do with biological evolution, Gonzalez and his co-author Jay Richards maintain that our earth is not only uniquely suited for complex life but is also amazingly well-suited for intelligent life to observe the cosmos. This dual purpose seems to suggest design.

In denying Gonzalez’s initial appeal, the university president specifically stated the denial had nothing to do with Intelligent Design. Gonzalez further appealed to the University Board of Regents. In the meantime, the Discovery Institute obtained internal university emails clearly indicating that the sole reason Gonzalez was denied tenure was due to his support of ID, despite the university’s public denials. These emails also indicated that some of these university professors knew what they were doing was wrong and conspired to keep their deliberations secret.

Amazingly, the ISU Board of Regents refused to see this information or provide Gonzalez an opportunity to defend himself before they voted. Not surprisingly, Gonzalez’s final appeal was denied in early February 2008.

Be Prepared for EXPELLED

Probe Ministries highly recommends the film EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed as it highlights the harassment and persecution of PhD scientists at the highest levels of academia and exposes signs of ugly things to come in the culture at large.{8} Usually the scientific establishment tries to cover up these activities, but when exposed, they usually resort to saying that this level of harassment is deserved since a fundamental tenet of science is being challenged, and therefore these scientists don’t deserve their positions. Academic freedom apparently only applies to disagreeing with details about evolution but not evolution itself.

These three stories are just the tip of the iceberg. These scenes are being played out around the world, and publicity is an important step in seeing justice done.

Now, let’s be clear about something. Just because a few scientists and scientific institutions have behaved badly on behalf of evolutionary orthodoxy doesn’t mean that evolution itself is suspect. But as I stated earlier, over seven hundred scientists have now signed a statement declaring their skepticism about Darwinian evolution as a comprehensive explanation of the complexity of life and the list is growing. The scientific underpinnings of Darwinian evolution have been unraveling for over fifty years. I’ve been personally involved in this revolution for over thirty years, long before Intelligent Design was even a recognized movement.

The EXPELLED documentary will certainly raise the visibility of this debate even further in the general public and hopefully within the church. But I have been quite surprised how many in the church are really unfamiliar with the Intelligent Design movement and are even suspicious of the motives and beliefs of those involved.
In that light, Probe Ministries and EvanTell unveiled last summer, before EXPELLED was announced, a small group DVD based curriculum about the Intelligent Design movement, called Redeeming Darwin. Check out this material at Redeeming Darwin.{9} There are small group leader kits, self-study kits, and very inexpensive outreach kits meant to be handed out to people wanting to see for themselves. We are thrilled to have Josh McDowell’s endorsement, and our curriculum is being recommended to church youth leaders by those promoting EXPELLED.

This spring and through the summer the rhetoric will be escalating, and many just won’t understand what all the fuss is about. First, make plans to attend EXPELLED in a few weeks and take some skeptical friends with you. Then give your friends a copy of our Discovering the Designer DVD and invite them to join your small group in studying Redeeming Darwin to help answer the inevitable questions about ID and evolution. In addition, Redeeming Darwin will show you how to take a conversation about ID and evolution and use it to share the gospel. That’s how you can “redeem Darwin.”

Notes

1. www.getexpelled.com.
2. www.rsternberg.net/ (last accessed 2/12/08).
3. www.rsternberg.net/OSC_ltr.htm (last accessed 2/12/08). Sternberg used well-qualified reviewers for this paper and has steadfastly refused to identify them, which is normal protocol despite repeated attempts by evolutionists to find out who they were. None of them were “creationists” as has been suggested.
4. tinyurl.com/daeq8 (last accessed 2/12/08).
5. tinyurl.com/yph66u (last accessed 2/12/08).
6. tinyurl.com/2k59lu (last accessed 2/12/08). Also be advised that PZ Meyers is not shy about using vulgar language.
7. To view a full list of online and print articles and to view Gonzalez’s academic record, visit the Discovery Institute’s section on Gonzalez at www.discovery.org/a/2939 (last accessed 2/13/08). See also post-darwinist.blogspot.com
8. www.expelledthemovie.com.
9. Also see www.probe.org and www.GetExpelled.com.

© 2008 Probe Ministries