FoxNews Pans Intelligent Design Film Expelled!

Wesley R. Elsberry of the Austringer sends word that Fox News has reviewed Expelled!… and they were not impressed.

Directed by one Nathan Frankowski, “Expelled” is a sloppy, all-over-the-place, poorly made (and not just a little boring) “expose” of the scientific community. It’s not very exciting. But it does show that Stein, who’s carved out a career selling eye drops in commercials and amusing us on sitcoms, is either completely nuts or so avaricious that he’s abandoned all good sense to make a buck.

The reviewer even gets the basic larger strategy of the film of trying to troll up a national controversy:

What the producers of this film would love, love, love is a controversy. That’s because it’s being marketed by the same people who brought us “The Passion of the Christ.” They’re hoping someone will latch onto an anti-Semitism theme here, since there’s a visit to a concentration camp and the raised idea — apparently typical of the intelligent design community — that somehow the theory of evolution is so evil that it caused the Holocaust. Alas, this is such a warped premise that no one’s biting.

Let’s be fair here though, and dispense with the apparent idea that there’s something politically special about FoxNews giving a poor review to a conservative movie. Fox’s entertainment reporters, and especially Roger Friedman, are generally all over the map when it comes to liking or hating political event movies. Friedman even gave a decently positive review to Fahrenheit 9/11 and panned The Passion of the Christ.

If that didn’t hurt Friedman’s credibility enough though, it gets worse: he hates Rush, Poison, and Journey.

All this is not to say that Expelled! has never gotten rave reviews: WorldNetDaily loves the thing. But the trend, of course, is that these reviews simply parrot the claims made in the film and celebrate its conclusions: the negative reviews, in contrast, tend to be from people who are in on the scam and point out specific misrepresentations and problems with the films’ claims.

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12 Responses to FoxNews Pans Intelligent Design Film Expelled!

  1. I wonder, would a public school teacher in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, be allowed to say the following:

    “It is interesting to contemplate … [all the many forms of life on earth] … so different from each other, have all been produced by laws acting around us. … There is grandeur in this view of life, HAVING BEEN ORIGINALLY BREATHED BY THE CREATOR INTO A FEW FORMS OR INTO ONE; and that from so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.”

    Just imagine a public school teacher who says those words: that God creates life and places it on the earth in a few forms, and then that life evolves according to the physical and natural laws that God put into place in the universe.

    Would that be allowed?

    Actually, it should be REQUIRED FOR THE TEACHER TO SAY THAT.

    Why? Because the quote is from: On the Origin of the Species, Chapter XV, Recapitulation and Conclusion, By Charles Darwin.

    If you are going to teach Darwin’s theory of evolution in public schools, you should teach what Darwin actually wrote about it.

    Michael S. Class
    Author

    Anthony and the Magic Picture Frame: The History Book with a Message for Today’s Young Americans

    Read the book. Remember the truth. Share it with your children.

    Web Site: http://www.MagicPictureFrame.com

    ———————–

  2. Bad says:

    michael: you seem pretty confused here, so let me straighten some things out for you.

    The theory of evolution is only Darwin’s in a historical sense: he (and Wallace) first came up with some of the core ideas of the overall picture. But what we teach in science classes is not Darwin, and not his ideas as a special source text, but rather modern biology. So, actually, no teachers are not “required” to teach “Darwin,” if they are required to teach biology. What Darwin thought about anything is irrelevant to modern biology. Should teachers teach Darwin’s concept of heredity, which was flatly wrong?

    However, we might well also teach public school kids about the history of modern biology and the intellectual history leading to modern ideas. And in that context, your quoted passage most certainly would be perfectly acceptable. You are laboring under the misapprehension that it is shocking or surprising or even objectionable to us opponents of ID, creationism, and sectarian education in public schools. The key distinction is always the context and manner of instruction. Discussions of historical interest can and indeed must contain references to the religious ideas of various figures and literature. There is nothing wrong with schools teaching children ABOUT religious beliefs, as long as the instruction is representative, descriptive, and unbiased.

    However, public school teachers also have a duty to not teach religious ideas AS a discipline: i.e. not to espouse an official point of view on religious matters, and certainly not in science class where the subject is science, not theology.

    Hopefully, if you are also Michael S. Class, Reader, you’ll now understand what made me think you were confused about the subject of science education and Darwin.

  3. Tom says:

    Michael, if by “saying it” you mean “teaching it” then no. I don’t want my tax dollars used to profess any religious belief. That is my first amendment right. Our founding fathers were very specific about that. You should keep in mind that only one of our first 5 presidents was a Christian (a Unitarian) and one of the 4 who was not a Christian was an atheist.

    If you mean that the teacher can read it to the class as part of a discussion of evolution then sure, why not? When I was in school we discussed the evolution of evolutionary ideas. A class can discuss why reverting to “god” or “gods” as an explanation for things we don’t understand is not science.

  4. Bad says:

    I don’t think any of them were atheists per se, not that it matters, and whether they were Christians or not depends on how you define that (and whether you count Unitarians). Certainly the religious right of the day called them atheists and heathens, but probably not accurately.

  5. Jay says:

    I find it interesting that people still mistake the man for the mans contribution to biology.

  6. Nullifidian says:

    Michael, you’re basing your argument on a phrase which was not in the first edition, but included in certain subsequent editions in order to mollify the religious. It obviously didn’t work (at least not wholesale). Now, if one wanted to bring that fact up in the context of a biology class, comparing the first and sixth editions, it wouldn’t be on its face inappropriate. If one wanted to teach that there is a supernatural creator of living forms in biology class, this is inappropriate (at least in public schools) because it would amount to a state-sanctioned establishment of a particular sectarian religious view.

  7. Nullifidian says:

    By the way, I read your sample selections from the book. I cannot believe that this is being marketed to children, because it’s wholly inappropriate for that demographic. You’d have a better time marketing it as a fantasy story to technology enthusiasts, because you provide mind-numbing lists of objects, without context, containing such things as MRIs and TCAS as if an eight year-old should know what they are. Likewise for your Lindbergh chapter, where your child protagonist (!) compares the Orteig Prize to the Ansari X-Prize. I know history majors who wouldn’t know the Orteig Prize, and a child is not likely to have heard of the Ansari X-Prize without being a devoted enthusiast of astronautics. You have the first children’s book I’ve ever seen with footnotes.

    As long as you’re explaining things which are conceptually difficult, why not relate that Lindbergh was a Nazi sympathizer and Thomas Edison was a lifelong deist after reading Paine’s The Age of Reason?

  8. L. Ron Brown says:

    Big ups to you for covering this. I reckon I’ll do a post on it later.

  9. Thank you for your input. My book has won several awards, and has been cheered by parents and teachers nationwide. The reading level is grade 6 to 12. I receive letters from young adults, from almost everywhere, discussing various aspects of the book.

    #######

    If you believe in God, you really have only two choices:

    1. God created all life on earth like a carnival magician, or the Amazing Kreskin: a wave of the hands and poof! there was life. That’s Creationism. (I dont believe God does his handiwork like a second rate magician.)

    or…

    2. God created all the processes, chemistry, mathematics, and physical laws that govern the universe with an end in mind – the creation of life. It’s a belief in God as powerful and intelligent on a grand scale. In this belief, evolution IS intelligent design. It’s not random, though it may have random elements. The goal was to create man.

    All of science – everything we have learned so far – leads us to this view. It is not incompatible. I recall that AT&T/Bell Labs scientists won the Nobel Prize for “hearing” the remaining noise of the Big Bang – the origin of the Universe. But what they couldn’t answer – an no scientist can yet answer – is where did the original matter come from, and how did life get breathed into it?

    Einstein proved that space and time are related, and postulated that the Universe is finite. What is beyond the finite universe? What is its purpose?

    I am an engineer by training, and have always enjoyed science and scientific inquiry. I believe that scientific inquiry only leads to one thing: the discovery and understanding of the rules of the Universe – how God decided the Universe would work.

    That leaves us one question: Why?

    And THAT is the right question.

    Michael S. Class
    Author

    Anthony and the Magic Picture Frame: The History Book with a Message for Today’s Young Americans

    Read the book. Remember the truth. Share it with your children.

  10. Bad says:

    Michael, you don’t seem to have read or at least recognized my response to your first set of claims. Now you have a second set of claims (which may or may not be responding in real time to something someone has said: I can’t tell). I’ll respond to those as well, but I hope you’ll at least take note of the misunderstandings you had from the first set.

    In this case you are insisting that your theological views should be treated as scientific. But that’s not how science works. Science works upwards from testable evidence, not downwards from your religious beliefs. If you believe that God created the universe and evolution, that’s perfectly fine, but that’s beyond the scope of science.

    And your questions about “where did the original matter come from” or “how did life get breathed into it” are question begging. We don’t know if the matter came from anywhere or not. All we can do is note that it’s here, and try to track it backwards in time. But more than that isn’t scientific question, and any answers you give cannot be presented as scientific, or even implied by science. Outside of testable evidence, anything is possible, or maybe nothing. We don’t, and can’t know until we get evidence that lets us determine what’s going on.

    And I’m not sure that “breathing life into” is even a coherent description of any intelligible event or process: certainly not one that we have evidence is necessary for the existence of matter. This is just another theological belief, which is fine on its own terms, but again not a scientific matter.

    Also, the Big Bang was the origin of the universe as we know it. More than that, science cannot say, because we can’t look back any farther in time than that (in part because our model for time loses relevance past a certain point).

    Einstein proved that space and time are related, and postulated that the Universe is finite. What is beyond the finite universe? What is its purpose?

    We don’t know. There may be nothing beyond it, or there may (but it could be almost literally anything at all), and as I’ve argued elsewhere, asking what “the purpose” of something is turns out to be a deeply philosophically confused question (purpose is something a specific subject judges about object, not an objective or measurable quality of an object).

    Finally, I’ll also note that while I tolerate just about any argument here (from cordial to outright flaming), the one thing I’m not so hot on is advertising for products or repeated linking of the same promotional site: whether you mean to or not, doing this can be used to spam or alter google rankings. You’ve plugged your book once already, and of course you have a link to whatever site you have for every time you post using your name. If there are arguments in your book you think are compelling and relevant to this discussion, then by all means make those arguments. But enough with the link plugs. I’ve removed the second link.

  11. Nullifidian says:

    “Thank you for your input. My book has won several awards, and has been cheered by parents and teachers nationwide.”

    Which doesn’t detract one iota from the criticisms I leveled, especially since one of your awards come from a vanity press publisher.

    Now, onto the meat of your post:

    If you believe in God, you really have only two choices:

    3. Or god created the universe and all its natural laws with *no* intention of creating life, which happened anyway.

    4. Or god created the universe and all its natural laws with an intention of creating life, but not ours.

    5. Or god created the universe with the intention of seeing which intelligent life evolved and starting a religion with it, but with no particular goal for any one species.

    6. Or god had no hand in creating the universe, which it just stumbled upon.

    7. …

    You get the picture.

    “In this belief, evolution IS intelligent design. It’s not random, though it may have random elements.”

    Evolution isn’t random either, though it has random elements, and there is no need to appeal to a goal-oriented creator to acknowledge that non-randomness. The non-random elements come into play when one brings in natural and sexual selection.

    “All of science – everything we have learned so far – leads us to this view.”

    Really now?

    I’d be interested in knowing how chaotic inflation theory leads us to the view that humans were especially predestined by a goal-directed creator. Or, for that matter, the subject of contingency in evolutionary biology, for example where mass extinctions are concerned.

    “But what they couldn’t answer – an no scientist can yet answer – is where did the original matter come from, and how did life get breathed into it?”

    Actually, the origin of matter is addressed very well by the subject of Big Bang nucleosynthesis. Steven Weinberg’s book, The First Three Minutes, has been around since the late seventies. As for the origins of life, that’s a subject of ongoing investigation. If you’d like to help the pace along, perhaps you should make some verifiable and testable predictions with your “the creator meant to do that” hypothesis and let someone work on it.

  12. 2xvoice says:

    People have every right to believe in Intelligent Design and Creationism, and to talk about it and write about it and blog about it and teach it to their children. What they do NOT have the right to do is to teach it in science classes or claim it has equal footing with science, in science classes or science departments. It isn’t science and, in scientific terms, it certainly isn’t on equal footing with science. The arguments about why this is so have been made numerous times, so it’s obvious the Creationism/Intelligent Design crowd isn’t interested in a real debate, in which one side might concede something to the other. The scientific community has, as far as I can tell, conceded the other side the right to have its beliefs and express them, but not its right to equal time in science classes and departments. Bravo, Science! Shame, Creationists/Intelligent Designers. A message to the latter: I’m praying God will enlighten you.
    Victor Kulkosky
    http://outofmymindblog.wordpress.com

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