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Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
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So apparently early next year there's a new documentary starring Ben Stein called Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. From Ben Stein's blog, here's a description of what the movie is about:

EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed is a controversial, soon-to-be-released documentary that chronicles my confrontation with the widespread suppression and entrenched discrimination that is spreading in our institutions, laboratories and most importantly, in our classrooms, and that is doing irreparable harm to some of the world’s top scientists, educators, and thinkers.

America is not America without freedom. In every turning point in our history, freedom has been the key goal we are seeking: the Mayflower coming here, the Revolution, the Civil War, World War II, the Cold War. Tens of millions came here from foreign oppression and made a life here. Why? For freedom. Human beings are supposed to live in a state of freedom. Freedom is not conferred by the state: as our founders said, and as Martin Luther King repeated, freedom is God-given.

A huge part of this freedom is freedom of inquiry.

Freedom of inquiry is basic to human advancement. There would be no modern medicine, no antibiotics, no brain surgery, no Internet, no air conditioning, no modern travel, no highways, no knowledge of the human body without freedom of inquiry.

This includes the ability to inquire whether a higher power, a being greater than man, is involved with how the universe operates. This has always been basic to science. ALWAYS.

Some of the greatest scientists of all time, including Galileo, Newton, Einstein, operated under the hypothesis that their work was to understand the principles and phenomena as designed by a creator.

Operating under that hypothesis, they discovered the most important laws of motion, gravity, thermodynamics, relativity, and even economics.

Now, I am sorry to say, freedom of inquiry in science is being suppressed.

From the preview it looks like they interview a few creationists who can't get published or get tenured, and ambush a number of outspoken atheist scientists. P.Z. Meyers recounts how he was interviewed for this film under false pretenses. Apparently the producers value freedom, but don't happen to value honesty very much.

Of course the stuff Stein says above is nonsense. You're perfectly free in this country to believe whatever the hell you want. You can believe that the earth is flat, but if you're a geologist, you might have a hard time getting published or getting tenure. Duh.

It is certainly true that a scientist can be religious, and do great work while believing religion to be true. But no scientist has discovered general principles about the universe working under the hypothesis that at least the immediate cause of the phenomenon is supernatural. Then all they'd have to do to publish in a journal would be to include a title, like "On the production of tRNA in the development of mice" along with three words of text: God did it. They wouldn't even need an abstract.

So to summarize: In America you can believe whatever you want, but if you're a scientist, who by definition tries to explain things, you need to be able to frame your explanation in a way that is falsifiable. There's no way to falsify an explanation based on things that can't be observed. If I have a theory that cancer is caused by zepherons, which happen to be spiritual entities that cannot be observed or measured, directly or indirectly in any way, ever, should my theory have any merit whatsoever? Hm.

Anyway, this is all very sad, mostly because I thought Ben Stein was kind of cool. Now he's just a hack for the creationist propaganda machine. Sigh.

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