The wedge undermines Christianity

phillip-johnsonBecause of the summer solstice/New Year holidays I am reposting some older articles. This one from last May.

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.’”

200px-wedge_document_coverIn essence this is the same strategy as that outlined in the Wedge Strategy document.

ID 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 Christianity 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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3 responses to “The wedge undermines Christianity

  1. Just a heads up for those interested: The War on Science, billed as a documentary about “the controversial legal battle in a town in Pennsylvania to demand the teaching of intelligent design as an opposing theory to the theory of evolution”, is on Prime TV at 2:30 pm on this Sunday (January 4th).


  2. The message in ‘that silly movie’ Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed that “Darwinism” led directly to Nazism and the holocaust.

    That is factually incorrect. I’ve seen the documentary and David Berlinsky makes it clear that evolutionary theory was not a sufficient condition of the holocaust but it was a necessary one.

    I suggest you actually watch Expelled before you overly criticise it. It was really well done and the messages were clearly communicated. It wasn’t on ID at all, but the phenomenon of the curtailing of academic freedom in America. It wasn’t anti-science at all, but actually pro-science and pro-open-dialogue. The reference to the Berlin Wall was a poignant analogy of the curtailing of freedom and the closing of the mind. The reference to the holocaust was to draw a similar analogy, an analogy made all the more relevant because it was a consequence that evolution made possible.


  3. Stuart – I have watched “expelled” – see my simple reaction (“profoundly dishonest”) at Thoughts after watching “Expelled”. No it wasn’t on ID – even ID is not on ID (there not being a coherent theory of body of research on ID). It was about attacking and misrepresenting science. The Berlin wall, Nazism, etc. are characterisations of dogma – the very position taken up by the film.

    I have investigated most of the claims re the expelled people and find the films presentation to dishonestly misrepresent their experience. (Of course they also ignore those people who lost their jobs for supporting science against creationist impositions.)

    I am quite prepared to respond to any specific case you lay out for us.

    The film may, or may not be well made technically. I think, though, from a propaganda point of view it actually loses its effectiveness by avoiding any subtlety. To continually harp on Nazism and the Berlin wall when talking about science, which most people can appreciate has a positive influence on society, is hardly “very well done.”

    I can understand why you, as someone who actively opposes current scientific knowledge, actively endorse “Expelled” – after all you are probably promoting its showing to fellow apologists. But your view, for this reason, is not objective


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