Why Christian scientists Were Expelled from “Pro-Religion” Expelled! Film

One of the glaring omissions from Expelled! is the existence of countless religious scientists who happen to support evolution and agree that Intelligent Design is not good science. Since a major thrust of the film is that evolution is not just science, but rather a particular (and distinctively atheistic) “worldview,” the fact that so many people all with very different metaphysical/theological worldviews can all accept evolution as sound science is a huge, huge problem.

How do the producers justify this omission? The implication seems to be that for the mostly evangelical crew that makes up expelled, these scientists, theologians, and everyday believers are all phonies. Producer Ruloff, for instance, claims that geneticist and evangelical Francis Collins is merely “toeing the party line” on evolution. The idea that he could be both a sincere believer and a scientist. What does Collins’ say?

That’s “just ludicrous,” Dr. Collins said in a telephone interview. While many of his scientific colleagues are not religious and some are “a bit puzzled” by his faith, he said, “they are generally very respectful.”

It’s worth fleshing that out a bit more: Dr. Collins certainly has seen his pro-faith arguments criticized by atheist scientists and scholars, which is a bit more than people being puzzled or even respectful. He, for his part, has responses to those criticism. But the point is that you can agree or disagree with either side of that debate without it having any real impact on the debate over evolutionary science. And even if you think that Collins arguments for faith are wrong, or his arguments for evolution are wrong, he’s still very relevant as an example of someone who endorses both.

Over at Higgaion, Christopher Heard transcribes a sit-down discussion between Mark Mathis and the editors of Scientific American. Scientific American editors point out that there are countless scientists who are also Christians who have no problem with evolution and oppose the motives and methods of the Intelligent Design movement. Then they ask why, for instance, one prominent biologist, Ken Miller, (who is also a believing Catholic) wasn’t featured or even mentioned in the film. Mathis replies:

Mathis: But I would tell you from a, my personal standpoint as somebody who’s worked on this project, that Ken Miller would have confused the film unnecessarily. I don’t agree with Ken Miller. I think that you, I think that when you look at this issue and this debate, that really there’s, there’s one side of the line or the other, and you, it’s, it’s hard to stay, I don’t think you can intellectually, honestly, honestly intellectually stand on a line that I don’t think exists—

Doesn’t agree with Ken Miller? On what? Believing in God in the way he does? And why does it matter that Mathis disagrees, whatever that means? Religious opponents of Intelligent Design, religious evolutionary scientists, right or “wrong” these people are all stark counter-factuals to the central dichotomy of the film: that evolution is purely an atheistic worldview, rather than a scientific explanation based on evidence which people of any worldview can appreciate. Mathis doesn’t want them recognized because “they would have confused the film unnecessarily.” On the contrary, these people are a simply reality. It’s thus a very necessary “confusion” (i.e. complication) for anyone trying to understand the debate.

It gets even more ridiculous from there: Mathis apparently isn’t a “theological expert” and thus has no idea until some Catholics inform him that most Catholics are not biblical literalists (Is Mathis? Why do the producers of the film so often seem to just assume that most Christians are?). This is kind of big deal, folks, because it just so happens that Catholics represent the bulk of the world’s Christians. And what’s the official position of Catholicism on evolution? That it’s a reasonable explanation for the diversity of life on earth and is based on the evidence. The Church, of course, requires a list of other additional beliefs (like God ensouling humans at some point, and so on) that all run outside the scope of science, but there is no hard and fast theological impossibility to be seen here.

For Mathis, though, there is this line: “when you look at this issue and this debate, that really there’s, there’s one side of the line or the other.” What Mathis seems unwilling to concede is that there is more than one line. There is certainly a line between accepting evolution as good science or not. But then there is also a line between whether one believes in a god or not. Indeed, that latter line isn’t even a single line either: people can believe or not believe in all sorts of different religious ideas about gods.

The fact is: no position on any these lines directly determines you position on any other, and we have examples with nearly every combination. Logically, they are all distinct and cross-compatible (though, of course, any one specific religious belief may assert something that’s incompatible with evolutionary science… but then it could just as easily be incompatible with another religious belief as well).

Given all this, you can finally see how grossly misleading the core contentions of Expelled! are. It tries to make the case that evolutionary theory implies an ideology they call “Darwinism,” which turns both descriptive science into crude normative assertions as well as making atheism all but inevitable. But if this is the case, how can some of evolutionary theory’s best defenders, and some of Intelligent Design’s harshest critics, hold worldviews and values so radically different from “Darwinism?”

The filmmakers don’t seem interested in even bringing up the subject, and when pressed on it, their escape seems to be implying that these people are basically crazy, or not real Christians, or not really understanding what they, the producers, know evolutionary science is, at heart.

There’s no doubt that Expelled! is grossly insulting to non-believers: trying to imply that we must logically hold or lack all sorts of values. But by neglect and deliberate omission, it’s not much kinder to Christian scientists either.

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12 Responses to Why Christian scientists Were Expelled from “Pro-Religion” Expelled! Film

  1. Pauli Ojala says:

    I think such a documentary film should also be made out of the DINOGLYFS or dinolits:
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/dinosaur.htm

    It seems that the ancient man not only saw but also documented the last megafauna (gigafauna, I should say, really!)

    pauli.ojala@gmail.com
    Biochemist, Finland
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Expelled-the-Movie-Evolution-Intelligent-Design-ID.htm

  2. Bad says:

    You’re welcome to make all the documentaries you want. If they make bogus claims, however, we’re going to point that out.

    For instance, from some of your pictures and their conclusions it seems like you don’t know what a camel or a elephant look like, nor where and how the visual image of dragons came from and developed over time in various cultures.

    However, I do notice that you’ve posted nearly this same post in lots of other places, and it is not directly on topic to this post. You get one shot at that, but from now on, at least pretend to respond directly to an argument made by me in the post you post on, or something said in the comments.

    Your WorldnetDaily article is the usual comedy of misrepresentations, sans only the laugh track. I particularly liked this bit: “Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist at Oxford who wrote the book “The God Delusion,” gained entry only by foregoing his evolved surname for the formal, Clinton.”

    How many different contradictory stories are the producers going to tell about this event? Mathis claims he recognized “Herr” Dawkins outside the theater. So how was it that “only” his “Clinton” surname gained him entry? And exactly how did that work anyway? Dawkins wasn’t wearing a mask, and he didn’t register under the “Clinton” name as far as I can tell. As far as I’ve been able to determine, the only reason it ever even came up at all is that it is what’s listed on his official UK passport, which was his only form of picture ID valid in the US, which he was asked to show at the door.

  3. Jay says:

    Great entry, Bad. I hadn’t thought of the exclusion of scientists with religious convictions. There aren’t just two choices; like you said, there are many different combinations regarding religion and science.

    Great point.

  4. Jon says:

    I think Paul Ojala is a spam bot. He posted that exact same message on Blake Stacey’s blog.

  5. Bad says:

    My general policy is that folks that anything which gets past the Askimet filters then get once further chance to respond or post something that demonstrates that they are a real person who actually reads the comments of others.

  6. Tom says:

    I went to 12 years of Catholic school in the 60’s and 70’s and we learned that evolution was the best explanation for the diversity of life. We were never taught that Adam and Eve was anything other than a myth to teach us about certain aspects of the nature of God.

  7. Jurjen S. says:

    How come having a Catholic on would have been unnecessarily confusing, but having the whole thing presented by a Jew was not?

  8. Bad says:

    I’m not sure I understand what you mean. The issue is them failing to recognize all the religious people who oppose ID and reject its claims about evolution as science. Stein may fit the former category, but clearly not the latter.

  9. […] scientists are in fact Christians. (See, for example, Why Ken Miller isn’t in Expelled, Why Christian scientists Were Expelled from “Pro-Religion” Expelled! Film and Ken Miller: Expelled from Expelled for his religious […]

  10. […] scientists are in fact Christians. (See, for example, Why Ken Miller isn’t in Expelled, Why Christian scientists Were Expelled from “Pro-Religion” Expelled! Film and Ken Miller: Expelled from Expelled for his religious […]

  11. Unquestionably agree with writer. At last a blogger has got the cojonies to say it like it is.

  12. reXteryalizer says:

    Just 70 years ago ROME & Catholic Italy had just attacked & launched a massive, hellish WAR on its neighbors.

    Butchering & murdering Millions & MILLIONS of innocent peacefull people…JUST for not JOINING up with HITLER ~

    for NO REASON…… MURDERING Thousands of Africans, Egyptians , Greece & others …

    ROME & Catholic Italy had JUST Joined up with Hitler,
    IT took 22,000

    { twenty two thousand}…..]

    US American tooops DYING, IN ITALY, for
    the USA to defeat Catholic Italy….

    ~~~~~~~~~Millions of Catholics IN Germany & Italy….. murdered Millions of OTHER CATHOLICS & Non Catholics round the planet..

    Simply for not joining up with The Catholic Hitler..

    This was just 70 yrs ago…..

    we can understand why and how catholics are feeling lonley or different from other religions.

    Muslims are going throught the same eXact thing today..

    As were we are at war with islamic terrorists ,,,,

    We were at war with Catholic terrorists and nazis

    in WW ll.

    We can only pray for catholics and muslims …

    We must never { as bible believers } resort to their traditions of force conversions and violent attacks upon NON catholislamics.

    Prayer and love is all we can do for them…

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