Cover story articleExpelled: Leader's Guide

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The producers of the "documentary" feature film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed[1] (featuring Ben Stein), have created a "Leader's Guide", intended to structure debate on the topics raised by the movie - you can read the document here. The following is a point-by-point discussion of the arguments presented in the document.


Table of Contents

Introduction:   Darwinian Evolution - Intelligent Design - Examine the Evidence
Cosmology:   Origin of the Universe - Galaxy Motion - Elegance of Physical Laws - The Physical Universe - Summary
Molecular Biology:   The Living Cell - Genetics - Mutation - Irreducible Complexity - Quoting Darwin - Summary
Paleontology:   The Fossil Record - Transitional Gaps - The Cambrian Explosion - Summary
Science Summary
Where Does the Science Lead?   Ignoring the Facts - Scientists Sign Lists! - Racism & Darwinism
Why Does It Matter?   Relativism - Dehumanization - Abortion - Blaming Darwinism
Wrapping it all up:   What does it matter? - Putting It All Together - FAQs: Evolution & Intelligent Design - RationalWiki's Final Commentary



Leader's Guide text, verbatim and complete[2]

RationalWiki Responses

[edit] Introduction

Despite the fact that most Americans believe that God created life, the only “origin of life” theory taught in the majority of American schools is Neo-Darwinism, which at its core holds that a random undirected process has led from non-life to all of the marvellous complexity we see in the living world.

[edit] RationalWiki's Introduction

Creationists have resumed attempts to introduce creationism in schools using a strategy designed to make their arguments more "scientific" under the guise of intelligent design (sometimes referred to as "ID"). This "Leader's Guide" furthers this goal by initially attacking the Theory of Evolution.

The document begins with an argument from popularity, despite the fact that the number of people who believe in an idea is irrelevant to its validity. This is particularly true of scientific theories, which can only be supported or refuted by evidence, particularly from the testing of a theory's predictions. Additionally, the document makes the false assertion that the theory of evolution is an "origin of life” theory. It is not. Evolutionary theory is not about how the first living organisms came to be but about the mechanisms underlying how life has changed and adapted over time. Creationists lump evolutionary theory with "origin of life" theories because they feel it strengthens their arguments against evolution.

There were times in history when most people believed that the moon was unreachable, that there was a luminiferous aether, and when many in America believed slavery was acceptable. Despite the existence of these beliefs, all of them were ultimately dismissed.

Recent scientific discoveries have raised serious questions about the theory of Darwinian evolution, while at the same time giving birth to a scientific theory called intelligent design. Despite the compelling modern science in support of intelligent design, and despite the fact that most Americans want the evidence for and against Darwin’s theory taught in schools, any questioning of Darwinism is systematically suppressed in nearly all academic and scientific communities.

In this brief paragraph the reader meets each form of mendacity that the authors will use for the rest of the document. The first sentence contains two total falsehoods, the next contains two untrue assertions and closes with a false appeal of victimisation.

  • Scientific discoveries did not lead to the theory of Intelligent Design; it was Creationists redefining their political strategy in the Wedge Document.
  • Intelligent Design isn't a scientific theory, it's a rhetorical attempt to refute one, namely the Theory of Evolution.
  • "Despite the compelling modern science in support of intelligent design..." is an assertion with no basis in fact - science (and the courts) routinely dismiss ID as simply faith, repackaged.
  • "...most Americans want the evidence for and against [Darwinism taught]..." And the study that proves this is where, exactly? As you progress into this article, note how often unproven assertions like this one and the one above appear in the document.
  • "Questioning Darwinism" will not get you burned at the stake anywhere in the United States (e.g. Dr.Lynn Margulis, referenced below). It may make it difficult for an Intelligent Design-espousing "researcher" to find work in some fields of biology, for roughly the same reason that a believer in phrenology might have trouble being certified as a psychologist.
  • Note also the continuing use of the term "Darwinism" to refer to the Theory of Evolution. This is a deliberate attempt to cast it as an "ism": a cult, political or religious system of beliefs, focused on the beliefs of a long-dead individual.

The suppression of new scientific ideas – particularly those that pertain to the origins of life – presents today’s students with a one-sided argument in the court of public opinion. It’s as if they’re a jury being shown evidence for only ONE SIDE of the case. All evidence from the opposing side is being thrown out of court, not by the jury or even the judge, but by the side presenting the contrary argument!

Science and schoolhouses are not "courts of public opinion." Children are not the peers of trained scientists, and the "one-sided court" is a false analogy. Intelligent Design is not a "new scientific idea". It's simply creationism — long ago dropped like a hot potato, especially in its "young earth" incarnation — repackaged in a pseudoscientific wrapper.

However, creationism and ID can sometimes be separated. Creationism considers that all life, mass, and the universe were built by a divine creator in something close to their present form, whereas ID occupies a wider spectrum: from asserting that the evolution of life on Earth was orchestrated and not random happenstance (ignoring the fact that natural selection is anything but random), to fullblown creationism (denying common descent).

In Expelled, however, a more extreme version of ID is being pushed which has ID responsible for not only progression of life on earth – but also the creation of life on earth and even the creation of the entire universe.

It’s suppression at its worst, where the implications reach far beyond the classroom. Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed seeks to expose this suppression and give today’s students a glimpse into the amazing discoveries that modern science is revealing. In the pages of this Expelled Discussion Guide, you’ll be given the facts being hidden from most students today.

Whenever so-called Intelligent Design "scientists" get around to actually testing an ID hypothesis and publishing the data from such a test in a peer-reviewed paper, scientific journals will surely be pleased to publish the groundbreaking work. Likewise, if ID can make the leap from assertion and conjecture to testable hypothesis and theory by establishing a long track record of successful empirical predictions, schools will welcome it into their curricula.

"In today’s world, at least in America, an Einstein or a Newton or a Galileo would probably not be allowed to receive grants to study or to publish his research." --Ben Stein

Stein makes a bold assertion with no evidentiary basis whatsoever. We at RationalWiki seriously doubt that the findings of Einstein, Newton, or Galileo would have trouble being published in today's scientific community - after all, it published and investigated the cold fusion experiments before dismissing them. Somehow, we also seriously doubt that the IDiots of today are at the scientific level of those guys (see below). Finally, let's remember that the organization that actively censored and impaired Galileo's research in his day was the Church,[3] not the scientific community.

“A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.” –- Charles Darwin, Introduction to The Origin of Species

Yes. Let's do that.

[edit] The "Facts"

[edit] The Theory of Darwinian Evolution

The term evolution can have different meanings, such as “change over time” or even “progress.” However, in modern biology, evolution centers on two ideas.

[edit] The Real Facts

[edit] The Theory of Evolution: Fact

Here they are at least making the distinction between common usage of the word and what it means precisely when used in scientific circles.

The first is that all the organisms we see are descended from a single common ancestor somewhere in the distant past.

This is the theory of common descent--note that the document makes no further real mention of it. Proponents of ID such as Michael Behe feel obliged to accept the obvious evidence for common descent, to gain scientific legitimacy. However, more extreme creationists reject it out of hand. Consequently this Leader's Guide can only mention it in passing without opinion - as to do otherwise would offend proponents of creationism or certain religious beliefs.

The second foundational idea is that an unguided process of natural selection (“survival of the fittest”) has the power to produce fundamentally new forms of life through random mutations. This view of evolution is known as “Neo-Darwinism,” which will be shortened simply to “Darwinism” through the rest of the guide.

Scientists call the complex of theories accounting for the variety of living organisms on earth "The Modern Synthesis."[4] Calling it "Darwinism", as noted above, is a feeble attempt to use a "cult of personality" label to denigrate the science.

At its core, Darwinism explicitly excludes purpose or intelligent guidance from the history of the development of life.

This is a classic straw man argument. All science must start with observations of phenomena. A hypothesis is then suggested, followed by rigorous testing to either confirm or falsify the hypothesis. Based on the results of testing, a hypothesis may be revised or discarded. "Intelligent guidance" as a preconception subverts this process ("The earth is 'intelligently guided' around the sun."), and so it is not a part of science in general, including "Darwinism". If the evidence were there, it would be in the theory.

[edit] The Theory of Intelligent Design

The scientific theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random mutations.

[edit] Intelligent Design: A Nontheory

Intelligent design is not a scientific theory because it cannot generate testable hypotheses. At best it is a conjecture, and to call it a scientific theory is to ignore the fact that it fails to satisfy the proper definition of that term. This isn't just arguing definitions, there is a strong rationale behind theories making testable predictions. Evolution by natural selection proposes how populations of organisms will react to changing environments, and this is usually observed either in the field or in more controlled experiments. By contrast, ID attempts to take these observations and shoehorn them into a magic design framework regardless of the evidence - two completely contradictory facts can be made to fit the ID conjecture, which means advocates of the "theory" have no interest in actually testing it.

The definition of intelligent design here makes very clear that the goal is to match the "facts" to the "theory". The use of the word 'scientific' before 'theory of intelligent design' (and also its conspicuous absence from 'theory of evolution') is a classic tactic which all good advertisers know; linking, even sub-consciously, the "theory" of ID with science.

In line with the plan set out in the Wedge Document, (Quote: Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.) it is clear that this unidentified designer is the Christian God.

“Darwin’s dangerous idea cuts much deeper into the fabric of our most fundamental beliefs than many of its sophisticated apologists have yet admitted, even to themselves.” Daniel Dennett – Darwin’s Dangerous Idea

Quote mining is a technique commonly used by promoters of ID. Daniel Dennett[5] is a strong proponent of the theory of evolution, and in this quote asserts that not even all scientists have yet fully accepted the wide-ranging power of evolution as an explanatory theory. In the same book, he also addresses religious parents with the following admonishment:

"If you insist on teaching your children falsehoods—that the earth is flat, that 'Man' is not a product of evolution by natural selection— then you must expect, at the very least, that those of us who have freedom of speech will feel free to describe your teachings as the spreading of falsehoods, and will attempt to demonstrate this to your children at our earliest opportunity. Our future well-being—the well-being of all of us on the planet—depends on the education of our descendants."[6]

[edit] What Does The Evidence Say About These Theories?

Despite what we continue to read in the popular press and textbooks, modern science is increasingly raising serious questions about Darwinism along with other key elements of the “materialistic” worldview. At the same time, new scientific research is revealing incredible support for the theory of intelligent design, especially in these key fundamental areas of science:

  1. Cosmology (The Origin of the Universe)
  2. Molecular Biology (The Origin of Life)
  3. Paleontology (The History of Life)

[edit] Indeed, What Does The Evidence Say About These Theories?

This passage could have been taken directly from the Wedge Document. ID, if it is indeed a biological "theory" to counter evolution, should have nothing whatsoever to say about the origin of the universe, or the origin of life. The Theory of Evolution does not attempt to address these issues, since they are out of its scope.

Also, note the completely false assertion of "incredible support" for their ideas. Again, the vast majority of scientists worldwide reject these theories, and these beliefs are only held by a tiny number of fringe fundamentalist Christians.

Claims like these may lead people to wonder if the authors of the "Leader's Guide" understand what the Theory of Evolution really is.

[edit] Cosmology

Cosmology has shown that the universe had a beginning and that it is filled with exquisite order.

[edit] Cosmology

Cosmology has indeed shown that the universe has existed for an apparently finite time, and that it is filled with objects and events which humans interpret as having order of various kinds (the reader is encouraged to pick their own adjective). Unfortunately, that has nothing to do with a "designer" or the process of evolution.

[edit] The origin of the universe

As Dr. Charles Townes, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, has said:

“Intelligent design, as one sees it from a scientific point of view, seems to be quite real. This is a very special universe: it’s remarkable that it came out just this way. If the laws of physics weren’t just the way they are, we couldn’t be here at all.”

[edit] The origin of the universe has nothing to do with evolution

There are two issues to address here:

1) While there have been questions raised in the scientific community with regard to whether the universe as we know it could have been different, i.e. whether other universes (laws of nature / physical constants) were possible we are not in a position to declare this possibility a scientific fact. We do not know whether the laws of the universe (and its constants) could have been different or have to be the way they are. If the universal constants could vary, we do not know within what range (limited or unlimited) they could. As such, any assessment of probability on this issue is meaningless.

2) Even allowing for the idea that the universe with its known laws is improbable or rare, this would still not be an argument for ID. If the laws of physics weren't exactly the way that they are, we wouldn't be here to ask the question. To quote the mathematician John Allen Paulos,[7]

"Rarity by itself shouldn't necessarily be evidence of anything. When one is dealt a bridge hand of thirteen cards, the probability of being dealt that particular hand is less than one in 600 billion. Still, it would be absurd for someone to be dealt a hand, examine it carefully, calculate that the probability of getting it is less than one in 600 billion, and then conclude that he must not have been dealt that very hand because it is so improbable."

[edit] Galaxy Motion

Scientists have discovered that galaxies are moving away from each other as the very fabric of space is expanding. Because of this and other evidence, most scientists now believe that the universe (matter, energy, space, time, and the laws that govern them) exploded into existence from a single point. Simply put, there was a beginning to the universe (the “big bang”)—and such a beginning implies a cause outside the universe that brought it into existence.

[edit] Galaxy Motion[8]

Indeed, there is no satisfactory explanation for the beginning of the universe; the very concept of causation breaks down at this point. However, the idea that a beginning of the universe (the Big Bang) "implies" an outside force is not straightforward, nor self-evident. This would have required more evidence/explaining which is not offered. Moreover, throwing a divine creator into the mix as the "uncaused cause" simply replaces one puzzle with another and makes the explanation from a scientific perspective more complicated, and unjustifiably so. The authors would do well to consider the principle of Occam's razor.

[edit] Elegance of Physical Laws

Scientists also have recognized the exquisite order and mathematical elegance of the physical laws governing the universe as pointing to cosmic design. As physicist Paul Davies has stated,

“The temptation to believe that the Universe is the product of some sort of design, a manifestation of subtle aesthetic and mathematical judgment, is overwhelming. The belief that there is ‘something behind it all’ is one that I personally share with, I suspect, a majority of physicists.”

Without intelligent design, neither the beginning of the universe nor its order and elegance have an adequate explanation.

[edit] Physical Laws

It is a non sequitur to conclude that the particular mathematical laws imply a designer. A Grand Unified Theory of Physics[9] that physicists currently are working on would indicate that all physical laws imply each other, anyway, and that they are dependent on each other. The mechanism by which a "designer" creates the physical laws is also not clear.

It's also interesting that physical and chemical laws implied in this statement govern the process of evolution. A designer would violate these laws as a "miracle." Hence, the physical laws are simultaneously proof for and against design.

The God of the gaps argument "we don't yet know exactly how the physical laws came into being, so a designer must have done it" is hardly satisfying. It does nothing to increase our understanding of those laws, and it only generates further unscientific questions, such as what the nature, motivation, and methods of the designer could be. "Sky Daddy done it" is not a valid conclusion.

"The harmony of natural law...reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection." -Albert Einstein

Another instance of brutal, and ignorant, quote mining. The full quote:

"You will hardly find one among the profounder sort of scientific minds without a peculiar religious feeling of his own. But it is different from the religion of the naive man. For the latter, God is a being from whose care one hopes to benefit and whose punishment one fears; a sublimation of a feeling similar to that of a child for its father, a being to whom one stands to some extent in a personal relation, however deeply it may be tinged by awe. But the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. The future, to him, is every whit as necessary and determined as the past. There is nothing divine about morality; it is a purely human affair. His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection. This feeling is the guiding principle of his life and work, insofar as he succeeds in keeping himself from the shackles of selfish desire. It is beyond question closely akin to that which has possessed the religious geniuses of all ages." The World As I See It, 1934

This quote is consistent with Einstein's stated belief in Spinoza's God,[10][11] which is synonymous with Nature, a noninterventionalist God. To Einstein, the natural world and its laws are the "designer" sought by IDists.

"God does not play dice with the universe." -Albert Einstein

This quote is a popular paraphrase of a sentence Einstein wrote in a 1926 letter. The actual quote in context:

"Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the 'old one'. I, at any rate, am convinced that He [God] does not throw dice."[12]

As the context indicates, Einstein said this to convey that he wasn't convinced that quantum mechanics (a probabilistic theory, hence the "throw dice" analogy) was correct. He was most certainly not referring to intelligent design.

[edit] The Physical Universe

The “Anthropic Principle” states that if the physical structure of the universe were even slightly different, life would not exist. For example:

[edit] The Physical Universe

While the anthropic principle[13] is interesting, it says nothing about a designer (or for that matter, evolution). Also, the anthropic principle holds that if life as we know it would not exist, it would almost certainly exist in a somewhat different form, with a different historic timeline.

  • If the gravitational force constant were larger by just one part in ten billion billion billion, we would be crushed out of existence.
  • Given that the value of the Gravitational Constant[14] is not even known with precision anywhere close to one in a billion, "one part in ten billion billion billion", or 10-28 is typical of the pseudoscientific method of argument, wherein statistics, mathematics and figures are bandied about to meaningless effect.
  • If the cosmological constant governing how fast the universe expands were smaller by just one part in ten followed by 120 zeros, the universe would have collapsed right after it was born.
  • It's not clear what the source for the "one part in ten followed by 120 zeros" claim is[15]. It's true that certain cosmological parameters[16][17] require fine-tuning to prevent a Big Crunch or a quick heat death. This is not always a problem, though, because universes that experience these can "restart" (a Big Crunch followed eventually by a Big Bang), meaning that a universe that is ill-tuned may reform with different and possibly more suited tuning after its eventual collapse. The guide, however, neglects to mention that there are viable scientific explanations for such exactness, such as cosmic inflation.
  • If the earth’s orbit were elliptical—like most other planets—rather than circular, or if it were just a bit closer or farther way from the sun, its temperature would not stay in the very narrow range required for life supporting chemical processes to function.
  • Actually, the earth's orbit is elliptical, not perfectly circular as is suggested.[18] In fact, the orbits of Venus and Neptune are more circular than that of Earth.[19] One wonders if the designer made a mistake. Even if it were true that slight differences in the distance between the earth and the sun would result in inability for currently existing life forms to survive (and it isn't), this still assumes that life cannot adapt to the hypothetical new environment. Also, according to Milutin Milanković the elliptical shape of the Earth's orbit is not constant, but varies over time in 100.000 year periods (the so called Milankovitch cycles). This indeed causes changes in climate like ice ages, but most life forms adapt to the new conditions. Having lived through more than one of these cycles, the human race (and its ability to evolve) is the living proof of it.

[edit] Cosmology Summary:

  • The universe had a beginning and therefore requires a cause beyond itself.

[edit] Cosmology Summary:

  • The universe has an exquisite order that is governed by mathematical laws that testify to a designer.
  • Assertion. The universe is governed by mathematical laws, and the discovery of these and improvements of our understanding of them required no supposition of a "designer". Exquisite order is a human interpretation of the universe, which has matter and energy irregularly distributed throughout it. In addition, no supernatural events or entities are ever observed when researching the nature of these laws.
  • The universe and the earth are tailor-made for advanced life. If any factor were slightly different, life could not exist.
  • Life on earth has adapted and evolved to survive in exactly this universe, and on this planet. If any factor were slightly different, life would also be different, or, of course, not exist. The theory of evolution provides a direct and parsimonious explanation as to why life is "well" adapted to conditions on earth, as compared to one that requires the involvement of a designer to separately determine the conditions for both life and earth.

Perhaps we can put it in an analogy: to say that the universe is perfectly designed for life is like saying the hands are so perfectly designed to fit gloves. Or mitts. Or gauntlets.

In short the oposite of the statement is true; Advanced life is tailor-made for the earth and the universe. If any factor were slightly different, life as we know it could not exist. This is in accordance with Darwin, who states that life adapts to its environment.

[edit] Molecular Biology

Darwinian evolution argues that life arose from a primordial sea on a lifeless planet through a chance collision of chemicals, and that over billions of years, this biological accident gave rise to all of life, including humans. In other words:

NOTHING + TIME AND CHANCE = EVERYTHING

Modern science has now revealed incredible problems with this explanation.

[edit] Molecular Genetics

This paragraph is patently false. Evolution only describes how a species changes through genetics. It does not describe an initial form or forms of life ("NOTHING + 1"?) And evolution does not occur by chance; it occurs through natural selection. There is a difference.

Modern science has no problems with this explanation, only creationists.

[edit] The Living Cell

When Charles Darwin first proposed his theory, the world within the cell was unknown. Darwin and his contemporaries built their early theories believing the cell was very simple. They could not have been more wrong.

[edit] The Living Cell

When Charles Darwin first proposed his theory, the world within the cell was unknown. Further discoveries in biology have strengthened Darwin's initial argument.

The inner workings of the cell are a fantastic assembly of intricately intertwined biological machinery which is vastly more complicated than anything humans have engineered. Modern genetics has shown us that a single human cell contains as much digital information in its DNA as the Encyclopedia Britannica—all thirty volumes—three or four times over. Just one microscopic cell! And the cell contains not just information, but also highly sophisticated processes that convert that information into biological parts, such as proteins.

OK, and what's the point? The language in this paragraph is used in a manner which would cause the reader to believe that a single cell is far too complex to simply happen by chance - it must be designed. This is an argument from incredulity rather than evidence.

What is the source of that information encoded in the DNA? Dr. Stephen Meyer points out that:

“Everything we know from our uniform and repeated experience is that information always comes from an intelligent source. So when we find information in the cell in the form of the digital code in DNA, the most likely explanation is that DNA also had an intelligent source.”

The argument here is "we can't imagine how more complex life forms could evolve from less complex life forms without a designer involved." It's an argument from incredulity.

As well, we are simply told that "information" comes from intelligent sources, however collectors of weather data, seismology, and other large scale recordings of natural phenomenae present numerous, and in fact countless examples of information coming from non-intelligent sources. That is unless you take the assumption that information always has an intelligent source to state that this information has an intelligent source, therefore "proving" that information always has an intelligent source. In the end, the statement simply lays as an assumption, which is presumed to be true simply because it appeals to human/social/cultural interests.

The process by which evolution contributes information to genomes is rather detailed. Essentially, mutation and sexual recombination are mechanisms for randomly rearranging and/or changing the DNA "code", while the non-random process of natural selection "chooses" the successful variations, resulting in an increase of information. That is, natural selection is inherently a process by which genomic information increases. Richard Dawkins gives a more thorough treatment in this article.

Furthermore, genomes contain masses of nonsensical "junk" DNA that has little or no functionality. Why a designer would include large amounts of gibberish in its handiwork is anyone's guess.

Modern high-speed supercomputers have now used large-scale number crunching to calculate the eons of time and probabilities that are required to develop a cell through chance and mutation. The result? The odds are essentially zero, no matter how many millions or billions of years pass.

Yet another unsubstantiated assertion - who conducted these experiments, and where are these supposed "results"? And if the odds that a biological lifeform can evolve over time are so low, what are the odds that a designer "created" life at once?

The famous astronomer Sir Fredrick Hoyle (Professor, and Founder of the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge University) compares the probability of spontaneous life to lining up 1x1050 (one with 50 zeros after it) blind people, giving them each a scrambled Rubik’s cube, and finding that they all solve the cube at the same moment.

Argument from authority. And a poorly executed one at that, since Hoyle,[20] an astronomer, is not an expert on abiogenesis, which is what he is trying to refute. The assumptions behind Hoyle's calculations have been challenged by Ian Musgrave.[21]

Dr. Michael Behe (Professor of Biochemistry, Lehigh University) says, “Molecular evolution is not based on scientific authority. There is no publication in the scientific literature—in prestigious journals, specialty journals, or books—that describes how molecular evolution of any real, complex, biochemical system either did occur or even might have occurred.”

Behe, of course, is a vehement wedge strategist, and has built a small side-career to his professorship publishing books aimed at the popular market full of lies and misdirection about evolution and so-called intelligent design.

"There are no detailed Darwinian accounts for the evolution of any fundamental biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations. It is remarkable that Darwinism is accepted as a satisfactory explanation for such a vast subject—evolution—with so little rigorous examination of how well its basic theses work in illuminating specific instances of biological adaptation or diversity." -Dr. James Shapiro

This quote comes from a review of Behe's Darwin's Black Box. Unfortunately, the statement has been shown to be false, and that the ID movement just ignores evidence that supports evolution. The following refers to the Kitzmiller case, for example.

In fact, on cross-examination, Professor Behe was questioned concerning his 1996 claim that science would never find an evolutionary explanation for the immune system. He was presented with fifty-eight peer-reviewed publications, nine books, and several immunology textbook chapters about the evolution of the immune system; however, he simply insisted that this was still not sufficient evidence of evolution, and that it was not 'good enough.'[22]

[edit] Genetics

But what about all those textbooks that talk about “genetic engineering” and the breeding of plants and animals to “evolve” new forms?

[edit] Genetics

First question: What textbooks?

Those classic textbooks depicting various breeds of dogs as “evolution in action” are misleading. Why? Because all those poodles, labs, and shepherds are still dogs! Yes, there is evidence of change within a species, but there is no evidence of one species changing into a truly different form.

Oh, "classic" textbooks? Do they mean ones from the nineteenth century? Or perhaps ancient Greece or Rome? Perhaps they should try to focus on "modern" textbooks.

Breeding essentially mixes and matches among all the genes in an existing gene pool, much like you would shuffle and deal a deck of cards. But breeding cannot create new genes, any more than shuffling a deck can create new cards. Plus, selective breeding of plants and animals is a process guided by intelligence, not mere chance and survival of the fittest—unlike Darwinian evolution.

Actually, in the process of development of gametes, chromosomes are broken up and reassembled (this is called recombination). The analogy of shuffling cards, to apply, must also include being able to cut them into pieces and glue the pieces together, easily resulting in the KJ5 of spamondarts, or the A33 of sphlubs. And some very interesting poker hands.

Yet Darwinists from Charles Darwin to Francis Crick to Richard Dawkins have continued to cite selective breeding as if it were a powerful example of unguided “evolution”!

It is, however, true that one thing selective breeders are always on the lookout for are actual mutations - something different, special, or odd in one of their creatures. The breeder then carefully breeds the offspring (or clones) of the mutant in order to "fix" the trait. This is a great way to win flower show ribbons, by the way.

Anthony Flew, renowed [sic] atheist philosopher, caused quite a stir when he came to accept the case for Intelligent Design: “It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.”

The background to Mr Flew's change of heart can be found in this New York Times article. A further quote from the interview with the 84-year-old Mr Flew when he announced his conversion to theism can be found below:

Question: Do you think that there is any chance that you might in the end move from theism to Christianity?
FLEW: I think it’s very unlikely, due to the problem of evil. But, if it did happen, I think it would be in some eccentric fit and doubtfully orthodox form: regular religious practice perhaps but without belief. If I wanted any sort of future life I should become a Jehovah’s Witness. But some things I am completely confident about. I would never regard Islam with anything but horror and fear because it is fundamentally committed to conquering the world for Islam. It was because the whole of Palestine was part of the land of Islam that Muslim Arab armies moved in to try to destroy Israel at birth, and why the struggle for the return of the still surviving refugees and their numerous descendents continue to this day.[23]

[edit] The Mutation Conundrum

What about the power of mutations to promote evolution by introducing dramatic changes in an organism—like adding an extra pair of wings to a fruit-fly? Scientists are still struggling to understand the full impact of mutations on living things, but what they do know is that the vast majority of mutations are damaging to an organism or neutral. Far less than one percent might actually be beneficial. So how can incomprehensibly complex organisms be the result of mutations that are rarely if ever beneficial?

[edit] Mutations: Not A Problem

One percent of mutations that are "useful" plus billions of years - which in some organisms is trillions of generations - is all it takes. This is an argument from lack of imagination. Or, a simple reliance on innumeracy in the audience member.

The one percent figure is not sourced, and meaningless anyway without the neutral and damaging percentages to contextualize it.

As biologist Lynn Margulis at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, has concluded: “New mutations don’t create new species; they create offspring that are impaired.”

Firstly, if only a small fraction of all mutations are beneficial, that is enough material for natural selection to work with over the time scale involved. As part of ongoing research on the mechanisms of evolution, some scientists differ on the role played by mutations in the process of evolution. Such differences provide evidence that, contrary to the central thesis of Expelled, the scientific community is willing to consider challenges to currently accepted ideas. Cdesign proponentsists, however, try to spin these debates to their advantage by quote mining the scientists with alternative proposals to make it appear as though these scientists oppose evolution in general. That strategy is at work here.

Here is the full quote from Dr. Margulis, a member of the National Academy of Sciences,[24] as it appeared in a Vermont newspaper.

"Random mutation indisputably exists," said Margulis in an interview Thursday. "But I claim that new mutations don't create new species; they create offspring that are impaired." "Intelligent design says that random mutation could not account for the sophisticated life around us. It had to have a designer," said Margulis. "Well, between 1850 and 1950, in what we now think of as southern California, skyscrapers and highways and a movie industry rose out of nothing and it all fits together -- well, sort of. And they'd say, 'Oh my God -- it had to be designed, it just came out of nowhere.' But that doesn't take any history into account, like the geographic background of southern California or the origin of electricity." "I wouldn't suppress [intelligent design proponents'] argument. But you have to be aware of the agenda," she said.[25]

The guide's authors neglect to mention Dr. Margulis' critique of intelligent design in the very next sentence of the source. They also ignore her meaning: she argues that various symbiotic interactions are the primary source of new genetic information rather than mutations.[26] In other words, she proposes a different mechanism by which evolution occurs; she does not dispute evolution itself, nor is she making a case for ID.

[edit] Irreducible Complexity

Darwinism requires existing biological structures to have evolved in gradual yet unplanned steps from simpler structures – such as feathers evolving from scales, or wings evolving from forelegs. But many of the structures we see in living organisms are difficult to understand as the result of a gradual unplanned process. Biochemist Michael Behe in his book Darwin’s Black Box challenges Darwinian gradualism with the concept of “irreducible complexity.”

[edit] Irreducible Stupidity

"Difficult to understand" is yet another irrelevancy. It does not equal "impossible", but does tend to imply "not too bright". Is this underestimating the audience or just insulting them? Or both?

A system is considered irreducibly complex if it consists of several interrelated parts so that removing even one part destroys the system’s function. Much if not most of the biological machinery present in the cell exhibit such irreducibly complex structures.

Every example IDists have so far offered has been refuted by scientists in short order. Quite often, a "less than whole" system can perform a different function. The repurposing of existing structures during evolution is called exaptation[wp] and is well-documented and well-understood.

Behe explains the concept by using the example of a mousetrap. We don’t start with a wooden platform and catch a mouse, then add a spring and catch a few more mice, then add a hammer, etc. We start with a functioning mousetrap. Even if all the parts of the trap were available, to start catching mice, all the parts must be properly assembled.

This is a classic example of "proof by false analogy". The "argument" presented is merely a rhetorical entreaty to those who do not understand evolution to reject the theory, because of their lack of understanding.

Another nonscientific anology that refutes irreducible complexity comes from a New Yorker article.[27]

But biologists have shown that direct paths to irreducible complexity are possible, too. Suppose a part gets added to a system merely because the part improves the system’s performance; the part is not, at this stage, essential for function. But, because subsequent evolution builds on this addition, a part that was at first just advantageous might become essential. As this process is repeated through evolutionary time, more and more parts that were once merely beneficial become necessary. This idea was first set forth by H. J. Muller, the Nobel Prize-winning geneticist, in 1939, but it’s a familiar process in the development of human technologies. We add new parts like global-positioning systems to cars not because they’re necessary but because they’re nice. But no one would be surprised if, in fifty years, computers that rely on G.P.S. actually drove our cars. At that point, G.P.S. would no longer be an attractive option; it would be an essential piece of automotive technology. It’s important to see that this process is thoroughly Darwinian: each change might well be small and each represents an improvement.

Many organisms are made up of similar, irreducibly complex interacting parts. Continuing with the example of the mousetrap, if one part such as the spring evolved with no function, it would sit dormant while the other necessary components such as the base and lever were evolved until the entire system was assembled to work. However, according Darwin’s theory of “natural selection,” the dormant component such as the spring would be eliminated if it didn’t provide a survival benefit. The biological world is full of irreducibly complex structures, suggesting that something beside the brute forces of random mutations and natural selection are generating complexity in nature. It is a significant challenge for many living organisms to change one piece at a time. Any change in one part of the organism often disrupts other parts of the organism.

Ironically, of course, springs are useful in many ways, whether or not the mousetrap has yet been invented. At its simplest, sitting on a tree branch is using a "natural" spring to make a seat more comfortable.

A great example is the bat. Evolutionists believe the bat evolved from a mouse-like creature whose forelimbs gradually evolved into wings. But think through this evolutionary progression: The mouse’s front limbs mutate and grow longer, and skin begins to grow between the toes. Now the animal can’t run without stumbling, yet its forelimbs are not long enough to function as wings. So during this transitional stage, the mouse-bat has limbs too long for running and too short for flying. Unable to efficiently get around, it would become extinct.

My local squirrels are darn close to being able to fly, and they are also still pretty nimble on the ground. Another argument from incredulity and ignorance, this assumes without proof that the intermediate stages between "mouselike" and "batlike" would be incapable of survival. There are living examples of this "intermediate stage".[28]

The authors clearly misunderstand (or don't want to understand) the nature of transitional forms. All transitional forms are well adapted to the world in which they live while they are alive. Their descendants may later gradually evolve into something else - while continuing to be well adapted. That's why all fossils with descendants are transitional forms. Furthermore, any of the well-adapted animals running around today will be considered transitional forms in retrospect if their descendants evolve into something else.

It is difficult to explain or imagine how bat wings could have been formed in unplanned gradual stages – which may be why there is no geological evidence of this “transitional” process; the first time bats appear in the fossil record, they are fully formed, with wings.

It seems appropriate to wrap up this section with simple repetition:

"Difficult to explain or imagine" is yet another irrelevancy. It does not equal "impossible", but does tend to imply "not too bright". Do they underestimate their audience or just insult them?

[edit] Darwin in his own words


“If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down."

[edit] Darwin in his own words

Actual quote, from The Origin of the Species:[29][30]

"If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case. " [Emphasis added]

The conveniently removed snippet reveals that Darwin was in fact confident that his theory could account for complex organs.

The quote also shows that Darwin was aware that for any theory to be truly scientific it must be at least potentially falsifiable. In this quote he tells us exactly what we would have to do to falsify The Theory of Evolution — and challenges anybody to give it their best shot. As he predicted, nobody has been able to do it. If the proponents of intelligent design would tell the world what they feel could potentially falsify their beliefs then there is a possibility they might be taken a bit more seriously in the scientific world, but until they are brave enough to say what they think would falsify ID it will remain a pseudoscience.

"To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.”

Here we meet one of the most commonly used quote mines in the creation-evolution controversy, also from The Origin of the Species. So much so, in fact, that Answers in Genesis, a well-known creationist website, advises its readers not to use this quote.[31] As usual, it is taken here utterly out of context.[32][33] Darwin's intended meaning is "yes, this seems weird, but it happened", and he goes on to describe how it could be possible for light-sensitive cells to progressively become eyes.

The actual quote continues:

"When it was first said that the sun stood still and the world turned round, the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine false; but the old saying of Vox populi, vox Dei, as every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science. Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor, as is certain the case; if further, the eye ever varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case; and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, should not be considered as subversive of the theory. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself originated; but I may remark that, as some of the lowest organisms in which nerves cannot be detected, are capable of perceiving light, it does not seem impossible that certain sensitive elements in their sarcode should become aggregated and developed into nerves, endowed with this special sensibility."

[edit] Molecular Biology Summary:

  • A single cell is vastly more complicated than anything humans have ever engineered.

[edit] Molecular Biology Summary

  • A single cell is vastly more complicated than anything humans have ever engineered. But it is irrelevant to the argument that the Guide pretends to make.
  • Genetic information requires an intelligent source, because in our uniform and repeated experience information always comes from an intelligent source.
  • Assertion. Genetic processes are fully capable of creating longer genomes, and hence making more "information."
  • The probability of a cell being formed through chance and mutation is zero.
  • Assertion. The probability of a cell being formed through natural selection and mutation is not zero — it may be very unlikely, but that is not the same as impossible. What is the probability of a cell being formed by a 'Designer'? Why is that not assessed?
  • Breeding of plants and animals produces variations within species, not fundamentally new organisms.
  • The authors have produced a devastating counterargument to a theory that no one believes.
  • Mutations are almost always harmful or neutral, and those that are beneficial cannot create genuinely new genetic information.
  • Assertion. Mutations are almost always harmful or neutral, but those few that are beneficial create genuinely new genetic information. Neutral mutations are just as likely to add new genetic information as well. Just because something isn't useful, doesn't mean that it won't be passed to descendants, just that it is no more likely to be passed to descendants. Genetically-caused diabetes has become more prevalent in modern humans, precisely because it is no longer a harmful mutation, but rather simply a neutral one.
  • Organisms contain complex, integrated systems that could not have developed one piece at a time through an unplanned process.
  • Assertion. The authors of this guide must know nothing about convergent evolution.[34] The word "unplanned" assumes an answer (whoops!).

[edit] Paleontology

[edit] The fossil record

For the sake of argument, let us say that somehow, even in the face of these “impossible” odds, the first cell could have formed, and over time developed into all the various biological organisms that now populate the earth. Even Darwin assumed that we would eventually find a substantial record of such evolution among the millions of fossils uncovered in the 130+ years of searching. In his own words: “The number of intermediate and transitional links between all living and extinct species must have been inconceivably great.” In fact, the fossil record as a whole, contrary to conventional wisdom, actually gives persuasive evidence against Darwinian evolution, as we shall see…

[edit] Paleontology

[edit] The fossil record

Actually, the fossil record as we observe it is almost entirely made up of transitional forms - life that came between what was before, and what is now.

[edit] Transitional Gaps

Top scientists agree about the weak evidence for Darwinianism in the fossil record:

As Dr. Michael Denton (Senior Research Fellow, University of Otago, New Zealand) observes, there are huge gaps between species, and further,

“The gaps which separate species: dog/fox, rat/mouse, etc. are utterly trivial compared with, say, that between a primitive terrestrial mammal and a whale, or a primitive terrestrial reptile and an ichthyosaur; and even these relatively major discontinuities are trivial alongside those which divide major phyla such as mollusks and arthropods. Surely such transitions must have involved long lineages including many collateral lines of hundreds or perhaps thousands of transitional species. “To suggest that the hundreds, thousands, or possibly millions of “transitional” species which must have existed in the interval between vastly dissimilar types were all unsuccessful species occupying isolated areas and having very small population numbers [i.e., we just haven’t found them yet] is verging on the incredible!”

If there were such animals, we would have a very well documented record among the millions of fossils already cataloged.

[edit] Transitional gaps

"Top scientists", eh?. Well, actually, no — it seems they can only find one scientist.

Here is an interesting quote:

"[Michael Denton's] most recent work considers whether organic forms (protein, RNA folds, Microtubular forms, tensegrity structures, cells forms, bodyplans) are intrinsic features of nature and essentially the same as chemicals or molecules. He presented this idea most recently in his December 2002 paper, "The Protein Folds as Platonic Forms: New Support for the Pre-Darwinian Conception of Evolution by Natural Law" which appeared in the Journal of Theoretical Biology. In this paper he argued that the way matter is arranged into the higher architecture of life is determined by a set of rules or ‘laws of form’ which determine and predict all biological forms like the laws of chemistry predict all chemical forms."[35]

From a review of Denton's book...

"[Denton] details legitimate questions, some as old as Darwin's theory, some as new as molecular biology, but he also distorts or misrepresents other "problems." For example, he falls into the classic typological trap: organisms with the same name are all the same. He has Euparkeria as the closest possible ancestor of Archaeopteryx, thus displaying either ignorance or disregard for discoveries over the past two decades. He misunderstands or willfully misrepresents the nature of a cladogram as opposed to a phylogeny. Much of the book reads like creationist prattle, but there are also some interesting points."[36]

It's important to note that the claim creationists use so often about there being "no transitional fossils" is, at the least, a false assertion based on ignorance of the facts or, at the most, an outright lie. Additionally, anytime a clear example of a transitional form is presented to them, they revert back to making an argument from incredulity and say that it just isn't good enough. They then demand another example between the new one and the old one, then some more between those and so on until the number of transitional fossils needed to convince them approaches infinity. Thus, no amount of evidence would ever convince them because what they want is impossible.

[edit] The Cambrian Explosion

Paleontology confirms the abrupt appearance of the major groups of animals—dozens of genetic types—in the fossil record during a geologically sudden explosion of life in the Cambrian period, the so-called “big bang” of biology. How were all those major animal groups produced in such a relatively short span of time (a few million years according to conventional geologic dating)?

[edit] The Cambrian Explosion

Some explanations for the explosion in diversity and disparity that occurred during the Cambrian include a significant rise in oxygen levels and a mass extinction event that appears to have occurred just before the Cambrian. Higher oxygen levels would provide opportunities for larger species as well as opportunities for changes in metabolic systems. A mass extinction would open niches for marginally successful organisms to occupy, while providing huge opportunities for new species to develop. Natural selection "thrives" when major changes in the environment occur. Furthermore, the "explosion" of the Cambrian explosion refers to how brief it was on a geological scale, i.e., over the course of 50 million years.

According to Dr. Stephen Meyer, to produce each new organism during the Cambrian Explosion:

“you needed a whole bunch of new cell types, and then you needed new proteins to service the different unique cell types; and to build the proteins you needed genetic information in the form of DNA.”

Uh-huh... and evolution is a viable mechanism for this to occur!

If information comes from an intelligent source, the best scientific answer would appear to be intelligent design.

“The big question that the Cambrian Explosion poses is where does all that new information come from? Where does the new information come from needed to build those proteins, to service those new cell types, to build these fundamentally new forms of animals?”

There's that word "intelligent" again, and yet again it's used in a blatant lie. The same assertion is presented - yet again - that "the best scientific answer would appear to be intelligent design". The entire assumption is based entirely (again) on the inaccurate idea that information needs an intelligent source. Since it is "the best scientific answer" one assumes scientists are saying this? In fact, the vast majority of scientists continue time and again to go on the record to refute such a suggestion. Asserting an idea over and over again doesn't make it true.

[edit] Paleontology Summary:

  • Darwin’s theory requires thousands of transitional species, and yet there is an incredible lack of transitional fossils among the millions found.

[edit] Paleontology Summary

  • Assertion. While there obviously isn't a fossil of every transitional form that has ever existed (which would be millions, if not billions), there are more than plenty to give overwhelming support to the theory. Archaeopteryx is just one of many. This represents "the Creationist double standard": Every piece of evidence for evolution must be accounted for, but not a shred of evidence is necessary for creationism design theory.
  • New animal groups appear abruptly in the fossil record fully formed, requiring a massive increase in new genetic information to be produced—information that points to intelligent design.
  • Assertion. This is a reference to the contradictory theory of Progressive Creationism rather than Intelligent Design, which is the main thrust of the Leader's Guide. However, ID, in its attempt to 'appear' scientific, acknowledges the validity of the theory of Common Descent — which fundamentally contradicts Progressive Creationism. This glaring contradiction makes a mockery of the entire philosophy behind the film, as even those who wish to see evolution destroyed cannot agree on an alternative theory.

[edit] To Summarize:

  • We have seen evidence from Cosmology that there is an intelligent cause outside of time or space that produced a universe filled with matter, energy, space, time, and all the natural laws that govern them.
  • We have seen from Molecular Biology the purposeful design of life in the information encoded in DNA and the amazing complexity of the cell.
  • We have also seen from modern Paleontology the lack of transitional fossils, and the abrupt appearance of new animal groups, requiring massive amounts of new genetic information to be produced.

[edit] To Summarize

These people have no idea what the word "evidence" means. It is not a synonym for "assertion".

[edit] So Where Does the Science Lead?

As we have seen, there is strong evidence from several areas of science for intelligent design— and equally strong evidence raising serious doubts about Darwinism. Why, then, isn’t the scientific establishment more open to allowing genuine discussion and debate over Darwinism? Could it be that there is more propping up Darwin’s theory than the mere evidence?

[edit] So Where Does the Science Lead?

Actually, no, there is no scientific evidence for intelligent design, no matter how often the specious claim is made. Behe's definition of irreducible complexity is too vague to be useful, for example, and makes no connection from the designer to the organism. Any science used to justify intelligent design is "backfilling" an explanation.

[edit] Ignoring the Facts

In a 1998 survey, nearly 95% of biologists in the National Academy of Science identified themselves as atheists or agnostics. Similarly, in a 2003 survey of leading evolutionists, 87% denied the existence of God and 88% disbelieved in life after death.

For many evolution proponents, Darwinism seems to function like a secular religion. In the words of Oxford biologist Dr. Richard Dawkins:

“Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”

Given the anti-religious views of many leading Darwinists, it’s certainly possible that some of the current close-mindedness in the scientific community about intelligent design and evolution stems from personal prejudice rather than the facts of science.

[edit] Ignoring the Facts

Evolution makes no assertions that deny religion. A scientist would have great incentive to find an exception to evolution, as it would be a Nobel-Prize winning discovery.

Given the religious views of many leaders of the intelligent design movement, it is certain that some of the current closed-mindedness in this community about evolution stems from personal prejudice and ignorance rather than the facts of science.

Note: The source of the 'survey' is unclear.

Jean-Paul Sartre[wp]'s claim to the contrary notwithstanding, we do not choose for all mankind when we choose for ourselves. Dawkins may predicate his own intellectual fulfillment as an atheist on the validity of Darwin's theory and the Modern Synthesis; that hardly makes it the only possible predicate of such fulfillment.

Whatever the cause, the present dogmatism of much of the scientific establishment regarding evolution and ID is a tragedy for genuine science. To quote Dr. S. Lovtrup (Professor of Zoophysiology, University of Umea, Sweden):

“I suppose that nobody will deny that it is a great misfortune, if an entire branch of science becomes addicted to a false theory. But this is what has happened in biology. I believe that one day the Darwinian myth will be ranked the greatest deceit in the history of science. When this happens many people will pose the question: How did this ever happen?”

This is a widely used quote that originates in Dr. Sören Lövtrup's 1987 book Darwinism: The Refutation of a Myth. Despite his melodramatic book title, Lövtrup accepts the fact of evolution, but disagrees with the neo-Darwinian mechanisms of it and the historicity of Darwin's role in proposing it.[37] Lövtrup's ideas would likely be considered "out of the mainstream" by most scientists.

In any case, "this" happened due to a careful evaluation of the scientific evidence. Far from being a tragedy, evolution is one of science's impressive triumphs. ID, on the other hand, doesn't even meet the definition of science.

[edit] More than 700 scientists have signed this statement!

A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism

“We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

For the 17-page list of scientists who have signed this statement, go to: www.DissentFromDarwin.org.

[edit] Thousands of scientists have signed this statement!

A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism took four years to gain its 700 signatures,[38] and has been surrounded by controversy.[39]

In reply to this document, another, called A Scientific Support for Darwinism was created. A total of 7733 scientists signed the statement, affirming their support for evolution, over a four day period.[40]

[edit] More than 1300 Steves have signed this one!

Project Steve[41] was initiated to parody these silly lists of "scientists" who oppose evolution. It is limited to people whose given name is some form of "Stephen", in honor of Stephen Jay Gould. It has more signatures than the list of all names on the Dissent compilation. The Steve-o-meter keeps track of the signatory totals.[42]

[edit] Racism & Darwinism

  • Robert N. Proctor (Racial Hygiene: Medicine Under the Nazis [1988]) observed: “Prior to Darwin, it was difficult to argue against the Judeo-Christian conception of the unity of man, based on the single creation of Adam and Eve. Darwin’s theory suggested that humans had evolved over hundreds of thousands, even millions of years, and that the races of men had diverged while adapting to the particularities of local conditions. The impact of Darwin’s theory was enormous.”

[edit] Racism & Darwinism

  • Given the fact that slavery and genocide predate Darwin by millennia, it is difficult to believe that people really believed that all men were equal before Darwin. Apart from the word "race" there is little to object to in the rest of the sentence.
  • Since Darwin, and more specifically since the availability of the vast knowledge provided by molecular biology and molecular genetics, it has become quite a bit harder to argue against the basic unity of man - the differences between 'races' are a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the DNA from which our bodies build themselves. Where the Judeo-Christian claim depended on faith, the scientific one provides conclusive proof.
  • Darwin spoke of the “gorilla” and the “Negro” [sic] as occupying evolutionary positions between the “Baboon” and the “civilized races of man” (“Caucasian”). “At some future period,” said Darwin, “…the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world.”
  • Darwin's book was published about 150 years ago, and many aspects of evolution were worked out long after Darwin died, particularly the genetic basis of evolution. Also consider that no matter how revolutionary we think of his work today, he was still subject to the cultural norms of his time, a time when Uncle Tom's Cabin was the biggest selling book of the day.[43] No credible biologist makes this claim today. Also, according to Talk Origins, this is a quote mine.[44]
  • American Darwinian biologist Edward East, a Harvard professor and member of the National Academy of Sciences, asserted in 1924 that “wherever the negro has been placed he has… failed miserably and utterly by the white man’s standards,” and that such a record supported the view of British evolutionist Karl Pearson that “the negro lies nearer to the common stem” of man’s evolutionary tree “than the European.”
  • Both of these eighty-year-old quotes are wrong, based on speculation and not science. For an interesting (and occasionally enraging) study of how science gets twisted to fit pre-existing prejudices, try Stephen Jay Gould's book, The Mismeasure of Man.[45] The reassuring part is that scientists, by the nature of science, tend to eventually correct for such bigotry.
  • H. Klaatsch, a prominent German evolutionist, concluded that human races differ not only because of survival factors, but also for the reason that they evolved from different primates. The Blacks came from the gorillas, the Whites from the chimpanzees, and the Orientals from the orangutans, and it is for this reason that some races are superior. He concluded that “the gorilla and the Neanderthal man” have a close biological affinity to “a large number of the living African Blacks.”
  • Modern genetics again makes these statements archaic (in addition to Klaatsch being dead since 1916). No biologist would make the assertion that different races evolved from different species of primates, and if one did that biologist would be promptly floored by the overwhelming weight of every molecular genetic study done on humans since the advent of the science.
  • In the 1920s, an article in the Encyclopedia Britannica, under the heading “Negro”, said that the inherent mental inferiority of the blacks was even more marked than their physical differences and that no full blooded Negro has ever been distinguished as a man of science, a poet, or an artist.
  • It is fortunate that society has evolved to a point where most people now regard these views as abhorrent. In a similar way, most Christian religions have evolved in such a way that they now regard slavery as abhorrent. However, a similar issue may be raised against Christian religion by pointing to textual references in the Bible legitimizing or allowing for slavery.[46] Biology does not claim Darwin's texts are immutable; while we value his idea of evolution through natural selection (based on scientific facts), we may as well reject some other of his ideas that merely reflected the accepted wisdom (or lack thereof) of his time. Christianity, which claims the Bible is the immutable word of God, should have a much more difficult time explaining away the Biblical references to and justification of slavery.
  • Margaret Sanger the founder of Planned Parenthood, published articles from Adolf Hitler’s director of eugenic sterilization, Ernst Rudin, and spawned “The Negro Project,” her strategy for eliminating the black population. She believed in removing what she called “the dead weight of human waste.”
  • See the comments elsewhere in this text about whether Sanger qualifies as a "Darwinist." There's no apparent evidence here that she used evolution as the basis as her racism, and certainly not the modern version of it, which has both fossil finds and genetic techniques that Darwin could never have imagined. She was more attempting to use evolution to justify her beliefs (in the same way that creationists pick-and-choose science to justify their views). Furthermore, this occurred well over 50 years ago.
  • Recent IQ tests of people throughout the world have found that, with allowance for cultural differences, the IQ ranges of all extant identified races is extremely close. The pygmy population of Africa, supposedly the most backward race extant today, test close to average when acclimated to Western life.
  • Yes, this is correct.

[edit] Does This Still matter?

In a Times interview October 17, 2007, James Watson (Nobel Laureate and co-discoverer of the structure of DNA) used evolution concepts in his racist remarks about the intelligence of Africans. Citing genetic differences, he claimed there is no reason to anticipate intellectual capacities have evolved equally if they are evolving in separate geographies. In the interview Dr. Watson also claimed that he hoped that everyone was equal but countered, “people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true.”

[edit] Does This Still matter?

Watson was roundly and deservedly condemned for his comments.[47] Note that with the exception of Watson's, almost all the quotes in this section are archaic. Although in the past evolutionary theory was deliberately misunderstood by those with racist motives, today, there is not the slightest trace of racism in evolutionary theory, and to suggest "this matters" is to wildly misunderstand contemporary scientific thinking.

If one wanted to explore if there were a correlation between views on evolution and racism, a poll would be more effective with a basis in the well established field of statistics. One would then have to establish a causal relationship as well.

[edit] Why Does It Matter?

The implications of Neo-Darwinian evolution are immense and reach far beyond the “scientific realm.” Darwinism has become the substitute “creation story” for those who embrace materialism. Materialism is a philosophy which says that the physical realm is the only reality that exists. This worldview fosters relativism, religious skepticism, and a dehumanized view of men and women.

[edit] Why Does It Matter?

Evolution is often misapplied in many situations. It has been wrongly used as an analogy to justify many "evil" deeds. While science does have moral implications, this wrongful application is only a political (or religious) reason for tearing down an accepted scientific theory. Furthermore, even if a theory does have "bad" consequences, that doesn't make the science invalid, thus being an argument from adverse consequences. This entire section is a badly formed straw man argument.

[edit] Relativism

Relativism is the idea that there is no absolute moral “truth” that applies to every time and culture. Darwinism encourages relativism by portraying morality as simply another evolving product of natural selection. According to Darwinism, morality evolves into whatever best promotes physical survival in a certain time and place.

[edit] Relativism

Evolutionary theory merely describes how nature works. It makes no claims for or against morality. There is, however, significant research demonstrating that moral codes of behavior and altruistic behavior are adaptive mechanisms that must have played an important role in human evolution. [48]

In the words of Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson and Darwinist philosopher Michael Ruse:

“Morality… is merely an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive ends… In an important sense, ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate.”

Such a view has real-world consequences. Dr. Michael Denton has observed that:

“The social and political currents which have swept the world in the past 80 years would have been impossible without [Darwin’s] intellectual sanction.”

In the words of Richard Dawkins:

"Natural selection is a good object lesson in how NOT to organize a society. As I have often said before, as a scientist I am a passionate Darwinian. But as a citizen and a human being, I want to construct a society which is about as un-Darwinian as we can make it. I approve of looking after the poor (very un-Darwinian). I approve of universal medical care (very un-Darwinian). It is one of the classic philosophical fallacies to derive an 'ought' from an 'is'." [49]

Finally, are religious ethics really unchanging? Fortunately they are not, and also evolve over time. Think, for example, of how the church's positions on slavery, indulgences and interracial marriage have changed over the years.

[edit] The Dehumanization of Life

In a Darwinian framework, human beings are no better than any other animal and ultimately may be treated as animals by those who consider themselves to be greater, more human, enlightened or evolved.

[edit] The Dehumanization of Life

The species Homo sapiens[50] consists of the same types of biomolecules (proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and nucleic acids) that all other life, plant and animal, are made of. The biochemical processes are similar or identical in all cases, and biochemistry follows the same physical laws that govern non-life. That humans are inherently superior or separate from animals is a religious, moral, or social construct. The concept "more evolved" is a corruption of evolutionary theory. There is no such thing as further evolved, just naturally selected to reproduce.

This statement also tries to have it both ways: either humans are no 'better' than animals, from which follows that no group of humans is 'better' than another group of humans, or one group of humans is 'more evolved' than another group, from which follows that humans are 'more evolved' than animals (which is the status quo the creationists want to revert to).

Princeton University bioethicist Peter Singer, who advocates infanticide for handicapped infants and euthanasia for the elderly, defends his view by stating:

“All we are doing is catching up with Darwin. He showed… that we are simply animals. Humans had imagined we were a separate part of Creation, that there was some magical line between Us and Them. Darwin’s theory undermined the foundations of that entire Western way of thinking about the place of our species in the universe.”

Like him or not, Singer[51] is a thoughtful and provocative moral philosopher. He specialises in practical ethics and proceeds from a modern utilitarian position. His substantial - and important - body of work is in no way underpinned by Darwin's biological theory. To suggest otherwise, as opposite, is patent nonsense.

Similar arguments have been used by Darwinists to justify abortion. In fact, some Darwinists have argued that babies in the womb can be eliminated because for most of the pregnancy they represent lower stages of man’s evolutionary history.

According to biophysicist Elie A. Shneour,

“Abortion is justified because the unborn baby progresses over 38 weeks through what is, in fact, a rapid passage through evolutionary history: From a single primordial cell, the conceptus progresses through being something of a protozoan, a fish, a reptile, a bird, a primate and ultimately a human being. There is a difference of opinion among scientists about the time during a pregnancy when a human being can be said to emerge.”

What Dr. Shneour actually said:

"During development, the fertilized egg progresses over 38 weeks through what is, in fact, a rapid passage through evolutionary history: From a single primordial cell, the conceptus progresses through being something of a protozoan, a fish, a reptile, a bird, a primate and ultimately a human being. There is a difference of opinion among scientists about the time during a pregnancy when a human being can be said to emerge. But there is a general agreement that this does not happen until after the end of the first trimester (1989, p. V-5)."[52]

The reader will note a slight discrepancy in the words between the quotation marks.

[edit] Beyond Abortion

Once you have devalued humanity to the level of animals, abortion is only the first step.

[edit] Beyond Abortion

Be careful not to trip and break your neck on this slippery slope. Unpack this statement to get to the basic assumption: the Leader's Guide author assumes that, if humanity is not physically designed or created, it is low, animal, and therefore meaningless. Evolutionary theory does not make that assumption - the author does.

Dr. James Watson (Nobel Laureate) suggested that, “If a child [with birth defects] was not declared alive until three days after birth…the doctor could allow the child to die if the parents so choose and save a lot of misery and suffering.”

Dr. Margaret Sanger (Founder of Planned Parenthood) said, “The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” [from Chapter V of Woman and the New Race]

Exactly what the intent of these statements is is not clear, as neither Watson and Sanger mention the words evolution or Darwin.[53] It is not clear that evolutionary theory is the "moral foundation" applied in these cases as is implied. (Certainly induced abortions have occurred since ancient times and predate evolutionary theory.)

As a side point, Sanger had no formal education in biology. What qualifies her to be a "Darwinist"? Is it a label given because she follows evolution, or is it a label given because it fits in with the political agenda espoused by the document?

Dr. Peter Singer (Professor of Bioethics at Princeton) openly advocated permitting parents to kill their disabled babies on the basis that they are “non-persons” until they are “rational and self-conscious.” And he went on to advocate the killing of incompetent persons of any age if their families decide their lives are “not worth living”. Abortion, infanticide and euthanasia are all cut from the same moral cloth: the devaluing, and ultimately disrespect for human life.

See here for a savage journey into the cold, black heart of Babykillin' Pete. Those with more stamina (and time on their hands) might also wish to try here for a thorough and nuanced treatment of euthanasia. Appeals to Darwin: nil; levels of compassion and decency: moderate to good.

[edit] Where can Darwinism Lead

In The Descent of Man, Darwin argued that:

“The weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this has been highly injurious to the race of man… Hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.”

While Darwin (who was compassionate) could not follow his own reason to its logical end, it was his cousin, Francis Galton, who coined the term “eugenics,” the supposed science of breeding better humans through Darwinian principles. Subsequently, many evolutionary scientists supported eugenics policies in the U.S., and also in Nazi Germany.

[edit] Where Evolution Doesn't Really Lead

Hitler! The ultimate evil! Perhaps we should blame Jesus for the Crusades and various witch trials. Not the same thing you say? Is there then such a thing as a Christian relativist?

At this point, it is tempting to simply invoke Godwin's Law and take our winnings home.

Hitler and the Nazis followed Darwinian eugenics to an extreme, carrying “survival of the fittest” to the radical conclusion of exterminating “unfit” and “inferior” races like the Jews and Gypsies, and “weak” members of society like the handicapped.

Hitler also believed that 2+2=4, and Newton's Laws of Motion, but we never see arithmetic or physics blamed for Nazism. Blaming "Darwinism" as a precursor for Nazism is like blaming chemistry for a drug problem.

In his own work, Mein Kampf, Hitler said,

“If Nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such a case all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.”

(We further invoke Godwin) What this passage shows is that neither Hitler nor the author of the "Leader's guide" even understand evolution very well. The "objective" of evolution is not to produce some "evolutionary higher stage of being" (if anything, the notion of a "higher stage" hearkens back more clearly to the idea of a Great Chain of Being) but to produce better adapted organisms which are better able to reproduce. Frequently this will involve an increase in complexity - but it can also work in the other direction.

A different passage in Mein Kampf indicated a different belief behind Hitler's actions, which is never cited in this context:

"And so I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator. In standing guard against the Jew I am defending the handiwork of the Lord."[54]

In his book From Darwin to Hitler, California State University historian Richard Weikart concludes:

“Darwinism by itself did not produce the Holocaust, but without Darwinism, especially in its social Darwinist and eugenics permutations, neither Hitler nor his Nazi followers would have had the necessary scientific underpinnings to convince themselves and their collaborators that one of the world’s greatest atrocities was really morally praiseworthy.”

Perhaps if Darwin hadn't been around to misinterpret, Hitler would have had to stick to misinterpreting the Bible, or other cockamamie racial theories such as Theosophy.

Carl Sagan says it best:

Yes, the Darwinian insight can be turned upside down and grotesquely misused: Voracious robber barons may explain their cutthroat practices by an appeal to Social Darwinism; Nazis and other racists may call on "survival of the fittest" to justify genocide. But Darwin did not make John D. Rockefeller or Adolf Hitler. Greed, the Industrial Revolution, the free enterprise system, and the corruption of government by the monied are adequate to explain nineteenth-century capitalism. Ethnocentrism, xenophobia, social hierarchies, the long history of anti-Semitism in Germany, the Versailles Treaty, German child-rearing practices, inflation, and the Depression seem adequate to explain Hitler's rise to power. Very likely these or similar events would have transpired with or without Darwin. And modern Darwinism makes it abundantly clear that many less ruthless traits, some not admired by robber barons and Führers – altruism, general intelligence, compassion – may be the key to survival.[55]


“The philosophy in the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next.” -Attributed to Abraham Lincoln

Absolutely. So do we really want discredited pseudoscience, such as ID, taught alongside valid, accepted, evidence-based scientific theories in biology classes?

“By coupling undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of the life processes superfluous.” -From Evolutionary Biology, a widely used college textbook

Yes, evolution makes it possible to explain the diversity of life on Earth without saying "Goddidit", just as gravity explains planetary motion without direct divine intervention. Why is that a problem? Don't IDists contend that ID is pure science and isn't concerned with theology? Including this quote seems to indicate a religious agenda.

[edit] What does it matter? Summary:

  • According to Darwinism, traditional morality is an illusion, and morality evolves over time to promote physical survival (relativism).

[edit] What does it matter? Summary:

  • Evolution itself has no more to say about morality than cookery has - it's just a description of how organisms develop. It is possible to use evolutionary concepts to speculate on how and why ethical systems and altruistic behavior develop - but this says nothing about whether those moral systems are, in fact, moral. Attempts to derive morality from evolution, or any science, simply do not follow.
  • According to Darwinism, life is the product of an undirected process, so if God exists, He must have little or no impact on the world.
  • This is valid if "undirected" means "by natural selection", a clear distinction. But it is not an argument about the validity of a scientific discipline. Just because gravity holds the planets in their orbits and not God's will, does the existence of God invalidate gravity?
  • According to Darwinism, human beings are not fundamentally different than other animals, so humans can be treated like animals.
  • Or vice versa: animals could, or perhaps should, be treated as well as we treat humans. Furthermore, according to nuclear physics humans are not fundamentally different to rocks in that they are made up of the same basic particles. Does that make nuclear physics immoral? Also, every branch of science tells us that humans and other animals are similar in almost every way. ID, being scientific, should reach the same conclusion.
  • Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” teaching inspired eugenics and supplied a “scientific” rationale for Hitler and the Third Reich in their attempts to exterminate “inferior” races and the “unfit.”
  • If Hitler used Darwin’s "survival of the fittest" to justify eugenics, it was a misapplication of the theory. Evolution works by natural selection. Any action the Nazis took would not, by definition, be considered natural selection. In any case, evolutionary theory makes no judgements that would justify selective breeding of humans to eliminate large portions of the human gene pool. Evolutionary theory suggests that the larger the gene pool, the greater the chances of long term survival for any population.

What this bizarre section tries to do are two things. First, to conflate those evil "Darwinists" with Adolf Hitler and the evil associated with him. Second, to rally the "pro life" movement behind the film or cause by claiming that the Modern Synthesis is a de facto justification for abortion. In other words, there is no real "content" relative to the issue at hand here – just an attempt to smear the science with some inflammatory political associations.

[edit] Putting It All Together

The issues at hand impact every aspect of our lives. We must be educated on the facts and be prepared to question those in authority if necessary. Science requires constant questioning, and following new evidence where it leads. Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed seeks to bring these issues to the forefront and give equal access to all sides of the debate.

[edit] Putting It All Together

We thoroughly agree - we must indeed be educated on the facts. Education is the key to this issue, but sadly, it seems the people behind Expelled have skipped that step, and have simply based their arguments on unsupported assertion, lazy conjecture, a radical failure to understand how knowledge functions, and blind faith. Every scientist not only supports but encourages the idea that science deserves constant questioning — by documented evidence, peer-reviewed papers and repeatable experiment, science is not only wide open to challenges but invites them. What science does not do is claim as fact that which is unsupported nonsense. The producers are not presenting a balanced case here or providing all the facts, and this paragraph is a failed attempt to appear impartial.

We hope you will study the issues in depth, draw your own conclusions and take appropriate actions.

We definitely encourage that.

[edit] FAQs: Evolution & Intelligent Design

[edit] What is Evolution?

Some people use “evolution” to refer to something as simple as small changes in the sizes of bird beaks. Others use the same word to mean something much more far-reaching. Used one way, the term “evolution” isn’t controversial at all; used another way, it’s hotly debated.

[edit] FAQs: Evolution & Intelligent Design

[edit] What is Evolution?

Only those in the intelligent design movement selectively slice-and-dice the definition of evolution in this way. The ID definitions here attempt to make distinctions between microevolution and macroevolution. If "small changes" can occur, then, logically, hundreds of such "small changes" in an isolated population over time could produce a population that could no longer interbreed with the rest of the original population, resulting in the appearance of a new species.

  • Evolution #1:

First, evolution can mean that the life forms we see today are different than the life forms that existed in the distant past. Evolution as “change over time” can also refer to minor changes in features of individual species—changes which take place over a short amount of time. Even skeptics of Darwin’s theory agree that this type of “change over time” takes place.

"Evolution #1" refers to "microevolution" in the ID parlance. They view genetic changes that do not result in changes in species as different to the aggregate of small genetic changes that result in a new species. This designated line between micro- and macroevolution is artificial. This also contradicts the contention ID makes above that mutations are always harmful. This argument is an admission that many mutations are actually beneficial.

  • Evolution #2:

Some scientists associate the word evolution with the idea that all the organisms we see today are descended from a single common ancestor somewhere in the distant past. The claim became known as the Theory of Universal Common Descent.

This refers to common descent. Common descent is not mutually exclusive from evolution 1 and 3, as the "definition" would attempt to imply. It is a part of evolution and a logical consequence thereof. It is absurd to imply it is a separate concept.

  • Evolution #3:

Finally, some people use the term evolution to mean the unguided process of DNA randomly mutating with “natural selection,” blindly acting on those changes to gradually produce the variety of all life.

This horribly phrased "definition" is what creationists call "macroevolution", we think, although it's terribly garbled. (Natural selection and mutations are a component of evolution 1 and 2.) Again, the line between micro- and macroevolution is unclear (or even irrelevant) in the scientific community, although it may refer to speciation. Also "blindly" is an anthropomorphization of the process, a "weasel word" to attempt to draw a contrast with "design". Natural selection is not a chance process. The term "variety of all life" is an indirect way to refer to species. As pointed out above, the ID apologists are willing to accept small beneficial changes (such as the shape of a bird's beak) through mutation of DNA, but are unwilling to follow that possibility to the logical conclusion that an accumulation of such small changes could result in a new species over the scale of millions of years.

When you see the word evolution, you should ask yourself, “Which of the three definitions is being used?” Most critics of Darwinist evolution today focus on Evolution #2 or Evolution #3. But the discussion gets confusing when someone takes evidence for Evolution #1 and tries to make it look like it supports Evolution #2 or Evolution #3. Conversely, someone may discuss issues with Evolution #2 or Evolution #3 but is then falsely accused of also rejecting definition of Evolution #1. This is simply not the case, for most scientists who dissent from Darwinism accept Evolution #1.

The distinctions between these three definitions are meaningless to scientists in the field. It is only when trying to "refute" evolution that such distinctions are made in an attempt to partition off the portions that creationist don't accept. The three aspects of the theory are intrinsically related and cannot be separated without complete disregard for how the theory actually works.

[edit] What is Intelligent Design (ID)?

The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random mutations.

[edit] What is Intelligent Design (ID)?

Hoist by their own petard, their definition of ID clearly illustrates that it is not a theory in itself, but merely the negation of the idea they would like to refute, evolution. Thus, it is not a theory at all, simply an assertion in search of supporting arguments.

[edit] Is Intelligent Design science?

Yes. All scientific reasoning is based on uniform and repeated experience, and everything we know from that experience tells us that information always comes from an intelligent source. So when we find information in the cell in the form of the digital code in DNA, the most probable scientific explanation is that DNA also had an intelligent source.

[edit] Is Intelligent Design science?

No. Apart from the long, long list of refutations given in this article, and the countless tomes of evidence from the world of science supporting evolutionary theory, and despite the assertions still being made this late in their article, legally, it was determined in the courts, in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, that intelligent design was not science, but Christian faith repackaged — to try to get around the Supreme Court decision excluding "creationism" from school science classes.

Not to mention that the statement "information always comes from an intelligent source" is complete and utter bogus.

[edit] Is Intelligent Design the Same as Creationism?

No. Creationism typically relies on a religious text or religious faith as its basis, and attempts to reconcile science with it. The theory of intelligent design (ID) relies on scientific data to show that design in nature is the product of an intelligent cause or designer.

[edit] Is Intelligent Design the Same as Creationism?

Yes. Or, rather, it is creationism in a cheap suit. It is unlikely those in the intelligent design movement mean a physical being as a designer, as they profess it is too complicated for a natural being to create an organism. Hence, one must conclude it is a supernatural being. While there is no "text" involved per se the logical conclusion will be that the supernatural being will be the one dominant in the culture in which intelligent design movement exists, and hence the Christian God is the only possible candidate.

Intelligent design invariably proposes a non-naturalistic designer. While directed panspermia is technically a form of ID, no one within the mainstream movement - characterised by organisations such as the Discovery Institute - accept this as a valid method by which the ID concept can be realized. Indeed, this was actively mocked as a proposal in the mockumentary Expelled. Furthermore, few ID proponents will even entertain the notion that the proposed "designer" is anything other than the monotheistic god of Christianity, like any of the old, dead gods of polytheistic religions, for example. And the idea that there are multiple designers, or a never-ending chain of designers that each gave rise to a new one after them, is ruled out as preposterous as well. It seems hard to imagine that they mean the designer is anything other than the obvious.

There are multiple pieces of evidence to suggest that, while superficially different based on what advocates say, the underlying reality is that ID and creationism are the same. Past court decisions have ruled that they are identical, and ID is merely a deceptive attempt to re-label creationism in order to get it into schools without being deterred by church and state separation requirements. It is also important to note that many, if not all, prominent members of the intelligent design movement are Christian[56] and openly admit that they believe the designer in question is, in fact, the God of the Bible. Reading the wedge document shows that proponents of intelligent design actively use it as a "wedge" to get religion into schools. Indeed, there is very little hard evidence, i.e., based on how proponents act and how their actual arguments are formed, that suggests there is a real difference.

Notice how ID proponents also unintentionally reveal their true motivations with the statement that "[c]reationism typically relies on a religious text or religious faith as its basis, and attempts to reconcile science with it." Given how the courts have determined numerous times that intelligent design is creationism, it follows that it is also based on religion, just like creationism. Here, by their own definition, they admit how their theory is based on the supernatural, and also how they have already reached their conclusion, and are only looking for ways to make the evidence agree with it. This is exactly the opposite of how science operates.

[edit] Does Intelligent Design Conflict with Evolution?

It depends on what one means by the word “evolution.” If one simply means “change over time,” or even that living things are related by common ancestry, then there is no inherent conflict between evolutionary theory and the theory of intelligent design. However, the dominant theory of evolution today is Neo- Darwinism, which contends that evolution is driven by natural selection acting on random mutations, a blind and purposeless process that “has no discernable direction or goal, including survival of a species.” (NABT Statement on Teaching Evolution). It is this specific claim made by Neo-Darwinism that intelligent design directly challenges.

[edit] Does Intelligent Design Conflict with Evolution?

Intelligent design not only conflicts with the Modern Synthesis of theories regarding evolution, it is in conflict with the scientific method itself, in that it holds that some unseen, undefined, arbitrary "intelligent designer" (often unsubtly hinted to be God as described in the Holy Bible) is responsible for one specific aspect of what we observe around us in the universe. Surely, "intelligent gravitational attraction" cannot be far behind![57]

[edit] Commentary

Although the movie purportedly is about the lack of debate or discussion of the ID point of view in the school science curriculum, the Leader's Guide completely fails to address that issue. Instead, the document is simply another attempt to dupe the public into believing that Intelligent Design is a scientific theory. By skipping the central argument they wish to make - that "many Americans 'want the controversy taught'" - they have turned themselves into their own straw men, and are arguing a different point.

Overall, the arguments presented in the "Leader's Guide" spend a lot of time attacking the Modern Synthesis, or theory of evolution. The "logic" then used is to say that if evolution is somehow wrong or lacking, then the "theory" presented by the arguers must surely be the one that must replace it or compete with it. This logic, however, is the same fallacious logic that the same people used to use to try to insert so-called "creation science" into classrooms and textbooks.

One could just as easily raise a series of points on which the Modern Synthesis is weak or lacking explanations and then offer up any given crackpot theory as the only and obvious choice to replace it.

Other than pointing out areas where the Modern Synthesis has not yet worked out every single detail of evolution, and doing a bit of tired quote mining, there are precious few – if any – actual valid logical arguments presented by the producers of Expelled.

In final summary: the title Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed has an ironic ring of truth to it.

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[edit] Footnotes

  1. Also referred to as Expelled the Movie. See http://www.expelledthemovie.com
  2. first 17 pages
  3. Wikipedia. "Galilieo Affair". 16 April 2008.
  4. Jablonski, David. "A More Modern Synthesis".
  5. Wikipedia. "Daniel Dennett".
  6. Johnson, Phillip E. "Daniel Dennett's dangerous idea"
  7. Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences.
  8. Wikipedia. "Galaxy formation and evolution".
  9. Wikipedia. "Unified field theory". 29 March 2008.
  10. Wikipedia. "Albert Einstein". 2 March 2008.
  11. Wikipedia. "Spinozism". 10 March 2008.
  12. Wikiquote. "Albert Einstein". 25 March 2008.
  13. Wikipedia. "Anthropic principle". 26 March 2008.
  14. Wikipedia. "Gravitational constant". 25 March 2008.
  15. Most likely, it refers to the ratio between void energy and its application to explain the Universe expansion. But this refers to the absolute value of this ratio, not its precision.
  16. Wikipedia. "Flatness problem". 1 April 2008.
  17. Wikipedia. "Cosmological constant". 28 March 2008.
  18. Wikipedia. "Earth - Orbit and Rotation".
  19. See the Wikipedia table of values for the solar system. The ellipticity of the orbit is related to the eccentricity. An eccentricity of 0 is a perfectly circular orbit. Note that the eccentricity additionally changes with time.
  20. Wikipedia. "Fred Hoyle". 22 March 2008.
  21. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/abioprob.html
  22. "Immunology in the spotlight at the Dover 'Intelligent Design' trial". Nature Immunology 7, 433 - 435 (2006)
  23. Flew becomes theist interview
  24. National Academy of Sciences
  25. Madden, Danny. "UMass Scientist to Lead Debate on Evolutionary Theory," Brattleboro (Vt.) Reformer (Feb 3, 2006)
  26. Lynn Margulis, University of Massachusetts
  27. http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2005/05/30/050530fa_fact?currentPage=all
  28. Just read this article at Wikipedia all about flying squirrels. Doh.
  29. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/origin/chapter6.html
  30. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/mine/part1-4.html#quote84
  31. http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/faq/dont_use.asp#darwin_eye
  32. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/mine/part2.html#quote2.8
  33. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/ce/3/part8.html
  34. A more detailed refutation related to the Dover case may be found here.
  35. http://www.iscid.org/michael-denton.php accessed March 26 2008.
  36. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/091756152X/iscid-20 accessed March 26 2008.
  37. A Review of Darwinism: The Refutation of a Myth by Gert Korthof
  38. A Scientific Support for Darwinism
  39. "Few Biologists but Many Evangelicals Sign Anti-Evolution Petition", NY Times, Feb 21, 2006 <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/21/science/sciencespecial2/21peti.html?_r=1&oref=slogin%7C>
  40. A Scientific Support for Darwinism, courtesy of the Internet Wayback Machine
  41. http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/3541_project_steve_2_16_2003.asp
  42. http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/meter.html
  43. http://www.uwm.edu/Library/special/exhibits/clastext/clspg149.htm
  44. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/mine/part4.html#DarwinRaceQuotes
  45. ISBN 978-0393314250
  46. Wikipedia. "Christianity and Slavery". <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_and_slavery>
  47. Wikipedia. "James Watson - Statement claiming links between race and intelligence" <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Watson#Statement_claiming_links_between_race_and_intelligence>
  48. Helen Bernhard, Urs Fischbacher and Ernst Fehr. "Parochial altruism in humans" Nature 442, 912-915 (24 August 2006) <http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v442/n7105/abs/nature04981.html>
  49. Dawkins' review of Expelled
  50. Wikipedia. "Human" <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human>
  51. Wikipedia. "Peter Singer". <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Singer>
  52. Schneour, Elie A., (1989), “Life Doesn’t Begin, It Continues: Abortion Foes Err in Setting Conception as the Starting Point,” Los Angeles Times, p. V-5, January 29 is the footnote from the linked source.
  53. Sanger, Margeret (1920) "V. The Wickedness of Creating Large Families" Woman and the New Race. <http://www.bartleby.com/1013/5.html>
  54. Adolf Hitler "Mein Kampf" Vol. I, chapter 2, Murphy Edition (p. 46)
  55. Sagan, Carl. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark Ballantine: New York, 1996; p 260.
  56. In their own words: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2008/04/richard_dawkins_misrepresents.html#more
  57. If The Onion reports it, it must be true!
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