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ID debate to continue in new film

Sept. 19, 2007


By Claire St. Amant
City editor

Troubled by the Baylor administration's removal of an intelligent design Web site from a Baylor server, a producer from the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is planning a Thursday trip to campus in hopes of meeting with President John Lilley.

Distinguished professor Dr. Robert Marks' personal research Web site on evolutionary informatics was taken down from a Baylor server last month, and producers of Expelled want to speak to Lilley about it.

"We are disturbed with what happened with Dr. Marks," executive producer Walt Ruloff said. "He was working on some really vital research."

Even though he was not granted an official meeting with Lilley, associate producer Mark Mathis has decided to bring a film crew on campus anyway.

Lori Fogleman, director of media relations for Baylor, said the president's office "gets many, many requests for meetings, participation in special events, commentary and interviews."

"Given Dr. Lilley's ongoing commitments that are focused on advancing the university's most significant objectives, it is impossible for us to respond favorably to every invitation," Fogleman said. "In this specific instance, we were unable to respond positively to a request from a filmmaker working on comedic actor Ben Stein's next movie project."

The documentary, due out in February, features Stein as an "academic rebel" in search of answers regarding higher education's treatment of intelligent design issues. Stein and the producers have conducted interviews on both sides of the issue at a number of colleges and universities, including Notre Dame University, Iowa State University, George Mason University, Cornell University, Pepperdine University and the University of Minnesota at Morris.

"We're trying to be as fair and as up front as possible, but these are questions that need answering," he said. "(The administration) should be able to provide logical, reasonable answers."

Ruloff said while the current plans call for Mathis to discuss academic freedom and intelligent design issues with Lilley, he hopes students will come out as well and raise questions to the administration. Mathis, too, believes this is a student cause.

"We think it would be appropriate for the student body to ask the questions," Mathis said.

However, the producers said they wouldn't be surprised if students are hesitant to get involved.

"Students are fearful," Mathis said. "They don't want to go on the record supporting intelligent design."

Through his previous experience on the film, Mathis said students have frequently expressed concerns about coming forward with support.

"The depth of intimidation tactics are unreal," he said. "Students are concerned they won't be able to get into graduate school or get a job."

Mathis also said certain majors are more worried about the stigma of intelligent design than others.

"If you were a biology student, you wouldn't dare touch this," he said.

Allentown, Pa. junior Sam Chen, the director of the Intelligent Design Undergraduate Research Center said he doesn't have any plans to be officially involved with questioning Lilley.

"The students deserve an answer," Chen said. "There may very well be a good reason to shut down Dr. Marks' lab, but the president has yet to provide one."

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