Shuck and Jive

Monday, April 21, 2008

Expelled Exposed

Michael Zimmerman of the Clergy Letter Project sent this e-mail:

"As many of you know, Ben Stein’s anti-evolution and anti-intellectual movie, Expelled, was released yesterday. One of the main points the movie makes is that accepting evolution leads directly to atheism. This ridiculous claim is one of many that numerous reviews have attempted to dismiss.

"More often than not, I’m delighted to say, the evidence used is the existence of The Clergy Letter. The fact that more than 11,100 clergy members from across the United States have signed a statement in support of evolution is making a big difference in countering this claim. Indeed, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the nation’s largest scientific organization released a statement condemning the film yesterday.

"The statement begins by saying,

“For more than a decade, the nonprofit American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has been working to build a constructive bridge between scientific and religious communities through its Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion and other programs. There also have been many efforts by religious leaders to accomplish the same goal. For example, more than 11,000 clergy have signed an open letter supporting the view that faith and science should be seen as complementary, not competing.” The statement goes on to say that, “We were therefore especially disappointed to learn that the producers of an intelligent design propaganda movie called ‘Expelled’ are inappropriately pitting science against religion.”
"Obviously our efforts are being noticed and are making a difference.

"I urge you to read the full AAAS statement (at the link above) and to explore a web site set up by the National Center for Science Education entitled Expelled Exposed if you want to learn more about this movie.

"Because of the increased attention The Clergy Letter Project is receiving, this would be a great time to increase the number of clergy who have signed The Clergy Letter, to increase the number of scientists willing to serve as consultants to The Clergy Letter Project and to increase the number of participants in Evolution Weekend 2009 (13-15 February 2009). Please help!!

"If your congregation is willing to participate in Evolution Weekend 2009, please let me know. Although it is about 10 months before the event, we already have more than 70 congregations representing 36 states and four countries on board. I’ll post the full list of participants soon, but I’d like for all states to represented when I do that. So please sign up now. And please think about circulating the flyer I’ve created for the event to friends and colleagues and on any listserve to which you might subscribe.

"Please help spread the word to clergy and scientists and encourage the former to sign The Letter and the letter to enroll as consultants. As you do so, watch our numbers swell and watch our message that religion and science need not be at war take root around the globe.

"Because of your efforts to date, we have much to be proud of. Thank you! Unfortunately, there is still a very real need for our message to be heard."


Michael Zimmerman
Office of the Dean
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Butler University
Indianapolis, IN 46208

Tel: 317.940.9224
Fax: 317.940.8815

Thanks, Michael! You rock!

First Pres., Elizabethton has already signed on for Evolution Sunday, 2009. Join us!

I just wish every Sunday were Evolution Sunday


  1. One of the main points the movie makes is that accepting evolution leads directly to atheism. This ridiculous claim is one of many that numerous reviews have attempted to dismiss.

    Excuse me, but I saw the movie. Richard Dawkins and Will Provine make their unequivocal proclamations that "accepting evolution leads directly to atheism"!!!

    Dismiss all you want. But send your complaint letters to atheists Dawkins and Provine. Really, John, do you think this guy even saw the movie? I will email him to see if he did. I think he didn't.

  2. I suspect that if these 11,000 clergy actually saw the movie they would come to understand that there views of evolution are actually closer to ID than they are to Darwinism.

  3. Thanks for posting this info, John. I've been intrigued by "Expelled" since it came out. (I haven't had a chance to see it yet.) Not the movie, per se, but the really poorly planned out and executed publicity campaign is what interests me most. Usually it's the Right who is so adept at crafting a message. Yet in this case, they've been so ham-handed about this movie. It's really curious.

    Their decision to "expel" famous scientists and the scientific press from reviewing or even seeing the movie says volumes about their real motivations here.

  4. Well, Alan, the ham handed publicity campaign resulted in the third best opening weekend ever for a documentary. Farenheit 451 is the runaway winner, and some documentary about a rapper came in 2nd.

    I guess it is easier to carp about secondary details than to engage the actual content.

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  6. Too bad they were having security guards kick the wrong sorts of people out of screenings, maybe they would have made it higher on that list of yours, Harry. ROFL

    "I guess it is easier to carp about secondary details than to engage the actual content."

    Perhaps English isn't your first language, Harry and if not I apologize, but then perhaps you should get someone to read the original comment I made to John, above. Then you'll see that I mentioned that I haven't seen it yet. ;)

    Though it seems strange to claim that kicking people out of screenings is a secondary detail for a movie that is actually based on the notion that these ideas aren't getting a fair hearing. ;) Or perhaps that hypocrisy was lost in translation, eh? LOL

    Speaking of hypocrisy, I can't help but notice you "carp" about my comment, but don't actually engage the actual content. ;)

  7. They weren't invited to an invitation only screening.

    Anyway, it seems to have been a PR success to have done so. It generated a lot of free publicity!

    I must admit to a bit of evil glee watching to indignation of the atheists.

  8. "I must admit to a bit of evil glee watching to indignation of the atheists."

    Interesting, given that the whole premise of the movie itself is the indignation of the cdesign proponentsists. LOL But then the irony gene is usually recessive in such folks. :)

  9. Jim Jordan: You're right. Dawkins (I don't know about Provine) is certainly an atheist.

    But in no way does he speak for anyone other than himself. He's no spokesman for any organization. Using Dawkins to say the evolution leads to atheism is the equivalent of using Ted Haggard, David Vitter or Jimmy Swaggart to say that fundamentalism leads hypocrisy and moral turpitude.

    The editors at Scientific American were invited to a private screening of "Expelled". If you're interested, here's their take:

  10. just saw Expelled... Ben Stein's goal in making Expelled (i gather) is to promote free thought, especially more thinking about motivations that drive American academia and a lot of other behind-the-scenes worldview that we tend to take for granted.

  11. Again this weird idea that somehow Richard Dawkins speaks both for all atheists worldwide AND all people who accept evolutionary theory. Dawkins apparently thinks that "accepting evolution leads directly to atheism." Mitt Romney (remember him?) thinks that "freedom requires religion". Both statements are ridiculous, and I wouldn't rely on either man for theological advice in the first place.

    You can believe in God and accept evolutionary theory. You can be an atheist and accept evolutionary theory. You can believe in a god and "ID" conjecture. You cannot be an atheist and accept "ID" conjecture.

    So yes, there are no atheists who believe in "ID". The people who push it are 100% theists (the fact that they are 99.9999% evangelical Protestant Christian is just a coincidence). But that's because it relies on a belief in a god. It's like walking into a church, synagogue or mosque on a typical day of worship and proclaiming, "a-HA!!! There are no atheists here!"

    To quote Her Majesty Queen Victoria, "no shit, Sherlock."

  12. "So yes, there are no atheists who believe in "ID". The people who push it are 100% theists "

    I'd argue that anyone who believes in ID is an atheist, or is, at the very least, not a Christian. Christians believe that God created the universe. I don't remember the Intelligent Designer being mentioned in the Bible.

  13. Alan, you and I had the same thought simultaneously.

    Last night, my church's mens group (yes, they even let the gay mens in) had an Earth Day theme for the discussion, and I asked our associate pastor about the verbal construction of the "Let there be x" in Genesis is in the Hebrew an imperative, more like "x, be." It's an awkward construction in English, and "Let there be x" sounds so much nicer.

    This "ID" God sounds like a bunch of Scottish Common Sense crap. Humans design complicated mechanisms, therefore, everything complex must have something designing it that thinks like a human. God, get back into your human-shaped box!

    Genesis does not describe a God who sat down and worked out every chemical reaction out to the last electron prior to creating the universe. I would assume that one of the perks of being omnipotent is not having to do all the tedious bits yourself.

    Christians who advocate the intelligent design nonsense (and I still maintain that the vast, if not overwhelming, majority are evangelical and/or fundamentalist Christians) are in fact talking about a God not described in the Bible. Here's the paradox: in this attempt to get their theological POV camel nose under the proverbial tent, they've had to essentially come up with a new god. Are the aggressively pious inadvertently committing idolatry?

  14. It would only be "inadvertently" committing idolatry if they didn't mean to do this in the first place. But the history of ID shows that this is exactly what they meant to do: create an construct that is explicitly anti-Yahweh.

    What's hilarious is that these evangelicals advocate an inherently atheist construction (I won't call it a theory) that explicitly denies God while they simultaneously suggest that evolution, which has no position on God either way, leads to atheism, demonstrating their ignorance on both counts.

    What's even more hilarious is that these are usually the same folks who refuse to refer to God as a "she" because, so they say, God does not reveal Himself as a she. When I ask them where then in the Bible God reveals himself as "The Intelligent Designer" they usually (though not always, unfortunately) have the good sense to shut up.

    Or perhaps they view the "Intelligent Designer" as a lesser part of the Trinity, sort of an administrative assistant position. The Intelligent Designer makes coffee, changes printer toner, collates copies, and synthesizes complimentary nitrogenous base-pairs for DNA, that sort of thing.

    In any event, at least Creationists have an honesty one can respect, even if one disagrees with the details. I have far more in common with them than the IDers.

  15. I think that's what I find most off-putting about the "ID" advocates. It's bad science and bad religion mixed together. What could possibly go wrong?

  16. I don't know, let's go ask Galileo. :)