Friday, May 09, 2008

Expelled!: A Review from Blogcritic

Michael Clayton of Blogcritic writes a piece called "An Analysis of the Arguments Presented in Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed!" The problem is that he doesn't really get around to doing so until the third page, and then in half-hearted fashion. The article largely just recapitulates the narrative of the film, with little added insight for the first two pages. His only real analysis is that the film is "certainly a one-sided affair." Beyond that, there are the usual problems. For example, he writes:

According to the information presented in the film, there have been active efforts to remove the theory of intelligent design from the consciousness of educational institutions nationwide, and to exalt the theory of evolution as the only rational explanation for the origin and development of life. In my opinion, this process is fraught with flaws. It seems that these institutions have gradually lost sight of one of the most prominent characteristic of evolutionary theory: it is ultimately just a theory. Yet in many scientific circles, it is no longer considered a theory, but fervently argued as completely factual.

Note to all those who wish to write about these topics--Learn what a theory is first!! He goes on:

Another astounding trend outlined in the film is the fact that the theory of intelligent design is repeatedly identified as a code word for creationism. Stein conducts a series of interviews with many of the most outspoken opponents of intelligent design, and many of them attempt to use the discussion as a platform to slander Christianity and similar beliefs.

While it is certainly true that some, like Dawkins, do exactly that, there is ample justification for the connexion between Christianity and ID, as was starkly brought out in the Dover trial, where the school board trucked in copies of the execrable book Of Pandas and People, reviewed here, here and here. As far as the origin of life is concerned, he writes this:

At the same time, evolutionists have yet to present a reasonable alternative argument as to how life began. Rather than producing further research and analysis on evolutionary theory in order to provide their own conclusion to this process, it would appear that many evolutionists have sought to target and eliminate all traces of intelligent design from modern scientific theory.

Not their job to do so. Evolutionary theory does not deal with origin of life questions. Finally, in the third page, he gets to his objections to how the film was put together. Even here, though, he blunts his criticisms by saying the following:

Another concern I had relating to the presentation of the film was the way in which some of the information was acquired for the film. A number of the figures involved with the production, including Richard Dawkins, claimed they were misled about the purpose of the film, and were not aware that it was a film advocating the instruction of intelligent design. While I do not necessarily approve of this method in regards to acquiring information, it should be noted that the comments made by Richard Dawkins are similar to comments made by the man himself consistently on his own website. Therefore, while the way in which his involvement was enlisted is questionable, his responses in the film seem to be pretty representative of his personal ideology.

This is specious reasoning. Richard Dawkins' ideology doesn't enter into it. If someone were to come up to me and tell me they were making a movie about the strengths of evolutionary biology and interviewed me to that extent and then when the film came out, it promoted the six-day creation model, I would be pretty hacked off. Not because my views weren't properly expressed but because the interviewer lied about why he was interviewing me. The question is not about my views or those of Richard Dawkins. The question is about the motives of the interviewer. Not a useful review.

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