Driving the wedge into Christianity

Back in 1999 Phillip E. Johnson, the godfather of intelligent design (ID), declared a strategy of labeling evolutionary science, and therefore by implication all of science, as atheistic.

“The objective is to convince people that Darwinism is inherently atheistic, thus shifting the debate from creationism vs evolution to the existence of God vs the non-existence of God. From there people are introduced to ‘the truth’ of the Bible and then ‘the question of sin’ and finally ‘introduced to Jesus.'”

In essence this is the same strategy as that outlined in the Wedge Strategy document.

Darwin SteinID spokespeople have constantly pushed this argument. Recently their efforts have become more extreme. For example, the message in ‘that silly movie’ Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed that “Darwinism” led directly to Nazism and the holocaust. And these spokespeople have become more open in widening their attacks from “Darwinism” to all of science.

Ben Stein declared during a recent TV interview that “science leads to killing people.” David Berlinski in The Scientific Embrace of Atheism also attacks science in a manner John Derbyshire shows to be ridiculous (see Getting It Wrong about Atheism and Science). Denys O’Leary has written in similar nasty way with her references to “Darwinist” thugs (see Expelled: “Denormalizing” the Darwin thugs and Expelled: “Denormalizing” the Darwin thugs 2 – PZ Myers and friends).

Anti-science message aimed at Christians

Of course, none of these are really attacks on atheism (few atheists would object to being associated with scientific knowledge). It is an attempt to convince fellow Christians that science is somehow harmful. Scientific knowledge shouldn’t be accepted by Christians – it should be seen as unreliable. And scientists themselves are somehow evil.

In effect these attacks undermine Christianity because Christianity divorced from scientific knowledge will retreat to superstitious beliefs and be discredited. These anti-science messages are aimed at driving a wedge between conservative, fundamentalist Christians and pro-science Christians. The latter will be associated with atheism and evil. And Chrsitianity itself then becomes identified with the conservative, fundamentalist groups.

This tactic is obvious in Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed which covers up the fact that many Christians accept evolutionary science and that many evolutionary scientists are in fact Christians. (See, for example, Why Ken Miller isn’t in Expelled, Why Christian scientists Were Expelled from “Pro-Religion” Expelled! Film and Ken Miller: Expelled from Expelled for his religious views).

Concern about anti-science messages

Such hostile and malicious attacks have no place in scientific debate. In fact they only promote a dogmatism which is completely alien to scientific inquiry. So scientists are rightly concerned. This is indicated by the recent statement from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It says in part:

“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 leadership of the United Church of Christ recently sent out a pastoral letter expressing a similar position.

We were therefore especially disappointed to learn that the producers of an intelligent design propaganda movie called “Expelled” are inappropriately pitting science against religion. This production badly misrepresents the scientific community as intolerant of dissent, when, in fact, respectful disagreement and questioning based on physical evidence represent the core of the scientific process. AAAS further decries the profound dishonesty and lack of civility demonstrated by this effort. The movie includes interviews with scientists who report that they were deceived into appearing as part of such a production, and advance segments broadly depict those who accept evolution as racist and sympathetic to Nazis. Such generalized insults are untrue and grossly unfair to millions of scientists in the United States and worldwide who are working to cure disease, solve hunger, improve national security, and otherwise advance science to improve the quality of human life.”

See also:
Plagiarize? You’ll Get EXPELLED!
Roundtable Discussion with Mark Mathis
Science Talk Podcast: Expelled Explained
Ken Miller’s Evolution Resources
Framing in action in Expelled
Trouble ahead for science – Ken Miller’s review of Expelled.

Related articles:
Expelled – no integrity exhibited
Expelled Bingo
Should Dawkins have been Expelled?
So what does Dawkins think of “Expelled”?
Intelligent design/creationism and climate change
Expelled – the movies

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9 responses to “Driving the wedge into Christianity

  1. Of course, most ID Scientists – apart from only a very miniscule few – are also convinced Darwinists as well, in most cases. That is, they acknowledge that Darwinistic mechanism are at work in many, if not most, of the changes we see. On top of that, I know of no ID scientists that aren’t evolutionists, and I’ve not only read a good many, but I’ve sat down and chatted with a few at conferences and the like as well. Honestly, I haven’t seen expelled yet, but I have a hard time imagining that a theologically liberal Jew like Stein would make the sort of ‘Christian’ short-day creationist film that many reviewers are trying to portray this film as. I think ye may be over-reacting just a bit?

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  2. Heatlight: Only once did I see an IDer in the movie reference a belief in evolutionary processes, and it was a fleeting remark. The movie is wholly palatable to young-earth creationists.

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  3. “Most ID scientists”

    Two of the three?

    I know of no ID scientists. Bet you can’t get a photo of their lab where they do ID work. Bet there are no photos of them in the field researching ID.

    Stein probably lost a lot of money on his program, “Win Ben Stein’s Money.” Why he thought this mockumentary might be profitable, his accountant would surely love to know. He overestimated the Christian short-day market.

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  4. hollyfawder

    I’ve had the same problem when evangelizing on the street corner. Nobody takes me serious, but the pay is good as the ‘drive bys’ throw coins at me. notables.weebly.com

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  5. This shit really makes me mad. I’ve devoted myself to getting my degree in Anthropology, and my family is actually starting to believe this crap about evolution = racism and Nazis because of that ignorant film.
    The more you try to educate yourself, the more the general populous falls into mental decay. Nice cycle.

    Good story, thanks for posting it.

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  6. Want to know how to measure the quality and success of any given movie? You do so by counting the number of bootlegs copies on the street. There aren’t none for Expelled. More at “Why There Are No Expelled and Ben Stein Bootlegs” at http://millenniumwriting.wordpress.com/2008/05/16/why-there-are-no-expelled-and-ben-stein-bootlegs/.
    Expelled is a failure as a movie and as a lie.

    Erik John Bertel
    Author of Flores Girl The Children God Forgot and the Millenniumwriting blog

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  7. I would highly suggest for you, and any one else interested to read the book ““The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions.” by self-professed secular Jew and mathematics/philosophies teacher David Berlinski.
    This tells the story of a Jew who was forced to dig his own grave prior to being shot by a German soldier. Prior to being shot, the old Jewish man advised the German that “God is watching what you are doing.” The Jewish gentleman pointed what i think is the real problem with atheism. “If you have the time please check the book out

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  8. A couple of points in response to Matt’s recommendation of Berlinski’s book.

    People are perfectly entitled to make up their own minds about evolution & the various creationist alternatives. That doesn’t mean that creationism suddenly becomes a scientific alternative to evolutionary explanations for life’s diversity.

    The motto on the SS belt buckles was “Gott mit uns” – God is with us…

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  9. Matt – I have read stuff by Berlinski, and some extracts of his book. I find his attacks on science to be extremely offensive and just wrong. (This is obviously why the Wedge people have taken him on – Berlinski goes so well with Expelled).

    I really can’t see any reason to read his whole book – especially as there is so much out there of much more value.

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