Why Is Expelled Rated PG?

Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times keeps reviewing Expelled even after the actual article has ended…

… Mixing physical apples and metaphysical oranges at every turn “Expelled” is an unprincipled propaganda piece that insults believers and nonbelievers alike. In its fudging, eliding and refusal to define terms, the movie proves that the only expulsion here is of reason itself.

“Expelled” is rated PG (Parental guidance suggested). It has smoking guns and drunken logic.

Beautiful.


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • http://ichthyologistbright.blogspot.com Laurie Soule

    My husband suggests a rating of BS.

  • Cindy

    I just got back from seeing “Expelled.” The theatre was probably about 3/4 full. There was laughter here and there at some of the inserted movie clips, and there was a smattering of applause at the end. This is in an affluent suburb of Fort Worth.

    I was flabbergasted at most of the information in the film and by the end, I was just shaking my head at the scene where Stein tries to get Dawkins to put a number on the possibility of god.

    But I’ve got to tell you, I can see where this is going to play well to the masses. It demonizes evolution, tying it to abortion, euthanasia, the Holocaust, and (horrors!) atheism. If only everyone would go to the Expelled Exposed website to see the film thoroughly debunked, but they won’t. This film serves to back up their religious beliefs, and I fear for science education in Texas (as well as the rest of the country).

  • Jen

    A.O. Scott does that with his NYT movie reviews, too, and it cracks me up.

  • Ken McKnight

    Thanks for pointing that out. I read the review soon after it was posted and left a comment (#7), but I missed that delicious little detail.

  • http://sweetjazzycat.blogspot.com Jazzy Cat

    It was interesting to hear Dawkins in the movie say he has no idea how life came from non-life. He said one possible way was that super intelligent aliens seeded life on earth, but that these beings were a product of evolution themselves. Now what were you saying about reason and where does this BS come from?

  • Mriana

    Laurie Soule said,

    April 18, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    My husband suggests a rating of BS.

    :lol: I agree!

    Jazzy Cat said,

    April 19, 2008 at 9:43 am

    It was interesting to hear Dawkins in the movie say he has no idea how life came from non-life. He said one possible way was that super intelligent aliens seeded life on earth, but that these beings were a product of evolution themselves. Now what were you saying about reason and where does this BS come from?

    I think they butchered his interview to fit their purposes. Remember they were asked to be interviewed under false pretense, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they butchered it.

  • J Myers

    Jazzy Cat,

    I haven’t seen the movie, but based on various written accounts, I can tell your question is rather silly. Dawkins was asked by BS if he could think of any circumstances whatsoever under which intelligent design might have occurred (you can read Dawkins’ account of this here). As Dawkins explains, even the most charitable scenario he could envision showed that design still did not offer any ultimate explanation–and it should be obvious to you and everyone else that the same problem arises if the designer is some god or other. In typical fundie fashion, you seem to be confusing a “devil’s advocate” deconstruction of your position with an argument supporting your position.

    As for how life could come form non-life, there is nothing unreasonable about saying “I don’t know” to a question for which we’ve yet to establish an answer. What is unreasonable is to assume that our present lack of a definitive explanation somehow supports the notion that some mythical god cooked up by ignorant, nomadic tribes several thousand years ago is real and responsible for all life, despite the utter lack of evidence that this is the case. How do you manage such arrogance?

  • http://sweetjazzycat.blogspot.com Jazzy Cat

    J. Myers,
    You ask…..
    As for how life could come form non-life, there is nothing unreasonable about saying “I don’t know” to a question for which we’ve yet to establish an answer.

    I agree. The “I don’t know (agnostic) answer” is a perfectly reasonable position. What is unreasonable is to assert that a possible answer is impossible, such as an intelligent being creating the universe and life on planet earth. Evolutionary theory in no way disproves this possibility. Science has not disproved it and has no answer for how life came from non-life or matter/energy came into being from nothing. Therefore, the atheist assertion that there is no supreme being and no intelligent design is based on faith not fact. It is the same kind of faith that atheists have disdain for when they see it directed at a supreme being. The point of the movie and the point of my comment is that neither atheistic faith or theistic faith should prevent scientists from exploring all possibilities. That, however, is not the case in America. In our politically correct culture one must conform to the accepted consensus of not only evolution, but an evolution without any intelligent design. We see the same closed-minded approach in many other areas such as the man made global warming doomsday hysteria where any evidence that runs counter to the “consensus” is discredited or ignored.

    I know it makes you feel good to stereotype all believers as following the myths of ignorant nomadic tribes. However, I would remind you that many great scientists, engineers, and doctors of the past and present believed/believe in God. The arrogance comes from those who rule out a possible answer based on blind faith without knowledge. Mr. Dawkins very clearly admitted that he has no answer to how life came from non-life. Now if Mr. Stein edited and butchered the film in such a way to make him look like he doesn’t know, when he really does know, then by all means set the record straight.

  • David Beber

    It seems as if the website Conservapedia is really pushing the movie Expelled which is not surprising given their highly critical remarks regarding atheism (see: http://www.conservapedia.com/Atheism ). Does anyone know which conservative groups are promoting the movie the heaviest?

  • KevinD

    Jazzy -

    I must protest your characterization of the evolutionists as ‘arrogant’. Consider Dawkins own reflections re: his interactions with Stein …

    “I still hadn’t rumbled Stein, and I was charitable enough to think he was an honestly stupid man, sincerely seeking enlightenment from a scientist” (source: http://www.richarddawkins.net/article,2394,Lying-for-Jesus,Richard-Dawkins )

    Dawkins arrogant??? I would say not. He is simply ‘enlightened and superior’ as opposed to being ‘humble, honest, and inferior’. You must understand and not forget that the enlightened are above reproach. So get on board or go back in your hole and stay there!!!!

    Incidentally, the ‘honestly stupid’ Stein graduated with honors from Columbia in 1966 and was valedictorian of Yale Law (attending with Hillary btw). He also served as a law professor at Pepperdine for 7 years, is a featured writer for Yahoo finance, and has written 27 books.

  • http://www.SecularDignity.net Secular Dignity

    Jazzy Cat said,

    That, however, is not the case in America. In our politically correct culture one must conform to the accepted consensus of not only evolution, but an evolution without any intelligent design.

    I have noticed that most people who complain about “political correctness” in the USA are themselves concerned with pushing their own politically correctness. It just happens to be a conservative political correctness. “Theologically correct” might be a better way of putting it. For a Christian to complain about being forced to conform to a consensus is pretty ironic.

  • J Myers

    Jazzy Cat, Thanks for a sincere and substantive reply. Let’s get started:

    I agree. The “I don’t know (agnostic) answer” is a perfectly reasonable position.

    By your own account, is this not exactly what Dawkins said? If you are referring to metaphysical agnosticism, then you are using an incorrect definition (and changing the subject a bit; we had been referring to Dawkins’ reply to how life could come from non-life, but I think I adequately addressed that in my previous comment). On the new topic: an agnostic holds “the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.” (dictionary.com) Agnosticism isn’t simply not knowing; it’s not being able to know. I’ve always considered agnosticism rather useless myself; it is a claim that we cannot know–how is it that this itself is known? Further, if there is indeed a god similar to that of the Abrahamic faiths, then he certainly could prove to anyone’s satisfaction that he exists; thus agnosticism only has significance if the gods are incapable of offering compelling evidence of their existence, or if they do not exist at all, but all of that is discussion for another time.

    What is unreasonable is to assert that a possible answer is impossible, such as an intelligent being creating the universe and life on planet earth.

    I agree. Who is doing this? I’ll remark here that just because something is possible (e.g., swarms of undetectable butterflies may have created the universe) does not automatically qualify it as likely or deserving of the respect owed to claims for which there is substantiating evidence.

    Evolutionary theory in no way disproves this possibility

    Obviously. I am aware of no one who claims that it does.

    Science has not disproved it and has no answer for how life came from non-life or matter/energy came into being from nothing.

    It is not the place of science to disprove every arbitrary, unsubstantiated claim. If one wishes a claim to be seriously considered, one must provide some evidence for it. Science hasn’t disproved my butterfly swarms–are we obligated to consider them as a legitimate metaphysical possibility? As to not having an answer, all that means is we do not have an answer. It is a most arrogant non-sequitur to say that the lack of an answer to a particular question somehow lends support to one’s preferred reality. There are many things for which we didn’t have answers that were once attributed to gods…. until we found answers for them. There are some things for which we may never find answers (our civilization may end before we investigate all possibilities, or there are some things that may be beyond our capacity to understand). That we don’t have answers for some things does not support the notion that goddidit; it simply means that we don’t know.

    Also, we don’t know that matter/energy came into existence from nothing; they may have always existed in some form.

    Therefore, the atheist assertion that there is no supreme being and no intelligent design is based on faith not fact.

    Whoa… you seem to be confused about certain definitions. An atheist is, most broadly, someone who lacks belief in any gods. Most atheists (myself included) are “weak atheists,” which means that we do not believe that any gods exist, but we do not insist that this is the case. “Strong atheists” make the latter claim, and I agree that it is not entirely reasonable to do so when many definitions of gods are such that we can’t (or wouldn’t yet have) determined that they certainly do not exist (though, as previously noted, this does not mean that their proposed existence merits the same consideration as other things for which evidence is available). Lastly, your assertion that a lack of belief in the existence of something for which there is no evidence is equivalent to the belief in something for which there is no evidence is absurd–is it faith to believe that cosmic butterfly swarms do not exist? Unicorns? Santa Claus? Lack of belief in any particular thing is the default position; the positive claim that something exists must be supported.

    The point of the movie and the point of my comment is that neither atheistic faith or theistic faith should prevent scientists from exploring all possibilities.

    The point of the movie is to make money by mischaracterizing scientists, spinning recent events in academia, and trotting out long-refuted absurdities that make select movie-goers feel good about their philosophical commitments (see expelledexposed.com; Richard Dawkins’, PZ Myers’, and Michael Shermer’s accounts of the circumstances surrounding their interviews; and the many, many reviews of the movie that pan it for the tripe that it is). Now, you might say that Stein, Mathis, and their cadre actually believed all the garbage in the movie, and they were trying to bring truth to the people. To that, I say that if these clowns were genuinely concerned about truth, they could have spent the time and energy to educate themselves about matters in which they are profoundly ignorant, instead of making a movie that supported their naive and uniformed beliefs. They chose the latter, and engaged in an abundance of questionable behavior in the process; bilking the public is the reasonable motive I can deduce.

    As to the point of your previous comment, I am unable to infer anything about allowing scientists to explore all possibilities; it seems an attempt to demonstrate that Dawkins is no more reasonable than those he criticizes, but I addressed that in my previous comment.

    That, however, is not the case in America. In our politically correct culture one must conform to the accepted consensus of not only evolution, but an evolution without any intelligent design.

    If ours is a culture in which people are inclined to conform, I would expect it to be much more homogeneous than it is. Rather, ours is a culture of defiance and entitlement, and this is evident in our current situation. Despite immense evidence for evolution and none for any gods, people stubbornly cling to their unsupported belief systems, and accuse others of close-mindedness or stifling debate or even oppression. They seem inclined to think that they deserve to be taken serious simply because they want to be taken seriously, nevermind that haven’t produced any evidence to support their position. Science is a realm of fierce competition and argument; scientists are constantly debating the merits of various positions. If you want to advance your position, you have to make a case for it.

    We see the same closed-minded approach in many other areas such as the man made global warming doomsday hysteria where any evidence that runs counter to the “consensus” is discredited or ignored.

    Being open-minded means that one does dismiss ideas out-of-hand; if you consider the evidence and arguments, and find one position woefully lacking, it is not close-minded to dismiss it at that point, and that seems very much the situation with AGW. Again, you contradict the evidence by asserting that scientific modus operandi is to maintain consensus–if that were the case, wouldn’t scientists be claiming that the earth is cooling as they did several decades ago? Instead, additional knowledge, new research, and improved modeling methods have led to a very different scientific consensus on the matter. Evidence determines the consensus; not the other way around. What motivation do scientists have for suppressing or ignoring evidence? Their livelihood rests upon the discovery and sound interpretation of evidence.

    I know it makes you feel good to stereotype all believers as following the myths of ignorant nomadic tribes.

    You’re wrong here on two counts. One, it is not a stereotype to call something what it is, and I can find no reason to say otherwise: every Christian, Muslim and (religious) Jew is, to some degree, doing exactly this. This is no more a stereotype than it is to note that all bachelors are unmarried men. Two, making this observation does not make me feel good; I find it rather depressing that this is the case.

    However, I would remind you that many great scientists, engineers, and doctors of the past and present believed/believe in God.

    I am admittedly puzzled by such people, many of whom are undoubtedly more intelligent than I am, and who make contributions to their respective fields that I would be incapable of making. I am even more puzzled when those who to choose to explain their convictions do so with such poor arguments (e.g., Francis Collins). Compartmentalization is an amazing thing. Apologetics, in my experience, are not.

    Mr. Dawkins very clearly admitted that he has no answer to how life came from non-life. Now if Mr. Stein edited and butchered the film in such a way to make him look like he doesn’t know, when he really does know, then by all means set the record straight.

    Huh? I never contended that Dawkins didn’t say this; my previous comment defended the reasonableness of him saying this (you even quoted me yourself!). This is something I would have expected him to say, since no one yet knows exactly how life arose. As to “butchering of the interviews,” I do believe that some deceptive editing occurred; I will again refer you to those scientists who were interviewed under false pretenses and who have offered accounts of how their interviews were unfavorably edited (I would guess that any reasonable person would be able to deduce this from watching the film–did any of the interviewees say anything where it might have been informative to have heard was said just before or after?). So we have the word of various scientists, who have offered their own accounts of the interviews, and the portrayal of these same scientists in a preposterous movie by a gaggle of duplicitous ignoramuses. Are these two accounts equally merited? If Premise Media is being unfairly criticized on this count, they could release the unedited footage of the interviews. Why do you suppose they haven’t?

  • http://sweetjazzycat.blogspot.com Jazzy Cat

    J. Myers,
    Thanks for the very good response. You made some excellent point in the first half or so of your response. Your view of atheism, which allows for the possibility of a supreme being even though you seriously doubt it, is a reasonable position. I spent much of my life holding a very similar position. The hard atheist position that you describe is not reasonable at all.

    However, in the last half or so of your response I think you served up a few hanging curve balls in your perception of our culture, the pressure to conform to political correct issues, the point of the EXPELLED movie, complaints with editing in EXPELLED, the global warming issue, and Christianity. I must be out most of the day, but I will respond tonight if possible. I think I will address these issues with a post on my secondary blog Sweet Jazzy Cat 2. I will notify this blog when it is up.

    Again thanks for a comment that I could respect.

  • http://www.SecularDignity.net Secular Dignity

    J Myers said:

    They seem inclined to think that they deserve to be taken serious simply because they want to be taken seriously, nevermind that haven’t produced any evidence to support their position.

    Let me add that But I really really believe is not evidence. Besides, that position can justify any religion.

  • http://sweetjazzycat.blogspot.com Jazzy Cat

    J Myers,
    My response to your lengthy comment is up at my secondary blog Sweet Jazzy Cat 2. This blog is linked from my primary blog on the right. I decided to not only reply in a comment, but also to get a post out of it.
    Thanks

  • J Myers

    Jazzy Cat,

    Thanks, my pleasure, and same to you. I certainly wasn’t expecting my comment to inspire a blog post; given the impending scrutiny, I was writing up a few clarifications that I was going to post here, but I seem to be too late… guess I’ll venture over to your place and do my best!


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