May 20, 2008
Too Conservative

For those who haven’t seen Ben Stein’s EXPELLED yet, I highly recommend it.

The movie centers on the concept of Intelligent Design and why modern “academia” has such a big problem with it.

A lot of the movie is about Baylor University(where I am attending) where an Intelligent Design Institute was founded and later dissolved. Full clippings of the account can be found here. 

Oddly, when I was working in Iowa for Gov. Huckabee I recognized the founder of the institute, William Dembski at an event. Dr. Dembski appears numerous times throughout the movie and was the center of one of the largest controversies in my school’s history.

After bumping into him around Waco a few days ago, Dr. Dembski has agreed to come on to TooConservative to discuss the issue and take questions via podcast.

I’ll have more to come in the days ahead, but in the meantime….go check out Expelled…and please let me know in this thread “WHAT DO YOU THINK OF INTELLIGENT DESIGN?”


62 Responses to “Expelled”

  1. May 20, 2008 at 8:33 am

    Intelligent Design/Creationism is not an academic subject. That’s why academia has such a problem with it.

    - hoobie

  2. May 20, 2008 at 8:39 am

    Intelligent Design should be taught just like everything else, as an option or theory.
    Why not teach everything?

    - Outside Observor

  3. May 20, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Keep religion out of the schools. And know how to define “theory”. Sure evolution’s a theory, but so’s gravity. We actually know a whole lot more about how evolution works than we do about how gravity works.

    Any proposals to teach alternatives to gravity? Of course not. Because no one considers it “anti Christian”. Let the scientists teach science, let the pastors teach religion.

    News flash! The Earth revolves around the Sun!! Too bad for you true believers.

    And don’t give me the crap about “it’s not about religion, it’s about science”. Yeah sure. If Creationism didn’t match your view of Genesis, NO ONE would be against evolution.

    - Sanity

  4. May 20, 2008 at 8:43 am

    OO: We can teach Intelligent Design. Just not in science class. Teach it on Sunday mornings any time you want. It’s not science. It’s not a theory. At best it’s a weak non-scientific hypothesis. If you want to study it for your doctorate, fine. Just not to schoolkids.

    - Sanity

  5. May 20, 2008 at 9:07 am

    Those of us who remember the original discussion of intelligent design remember that challenges to Darwin’s theory of evolution were not met with outright rejection. Such challenges were met with invitations for ID theorists to show their evidence; to define their philosophical definitions; to define precisely what “design,” “intelligence,” and “irreducible complexity” mean. They were not faced with rejection. They were faced with counter challenges to define their terms and to show their evidence. Scientists have consistently proved to be open to alternate theories and alternative evidence to evolution. The problem was that, when challenged, the ID theorists couldn’t present any. “Design” degenerated into “irreducible complexity,” the definition of which turned out to be “those very occasional times when God — or something which may or may not be sort of like God — shows up in a currently inexplicable event. When “irreducibly complex” systems were shown to be “reducibly” complex the evidence was deemed “rejection.”

    In the same way that Creationists, in response to having their positions disproved, cried “bigotry!” the Intelligent Design theorists are now doing the same thing.
    Here in the second generation, Creationist/Intelligent Design (CID) arguments are following a predictable path. CIDs present their argument, scientists proved that the arguments are flawed, the CIDs cry “bigotry!”, “arrogance!”, “atheism!”
    Scientists didn’t reject ID out of hand. They rejected it when it proved to be flawed in logic and data. It was only when CID theorists continued to present their ideas as factual and logical that scientists rebelled.

    Intelligent Design theorists are mirroring a technique inherited from Creationism. I use the term “mirroring” because they discovered that “Is not!” “is too!” is an effective argumentative technique. The opponent’s effective criticism is countered (rhetorically effectively, but not factually effectively) with “You do the same thing.” When Creationist arguments were answered by demonstrating that they had no evidence to support them the answer was simplicity itself – to reply “You have no evidence.” Now evolution, which is virtually proven by the evidence is countered by the simple assertion “You have no evidence.” Of course such an argument is not effective at all when people have access to facts and effective data-gathering techniques but it’s totally effective for the vast majority of people who have no access to the facts, only access to who presents the argument in the slicker manner.

    In the same way a lack of evidence on the part of Intelligent Design theorists is now being countered by “You’re bigots!”

    Scientific careers are made by successful challenging of the evidence. Newton successfully challenged Aristotle’s 1500 year dominance of science and established himself as, perhaps the greatest scientist of all history. Einstein challenged Newton’s 500 year reign and established himself as a household name. A successful challenge to the Darwinian model of evolution would make a scientist’s career – don’t you think that, if people could come up with a real challenge they wouldn’t do so?

    Not only did the scientists not reject ID out of hand, there are many Christian (not to mention Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist) scientists who accept Darwinian evolution and their religious convictions without discord or contradiction. One has but to read discussion threads in the Chronicle of Higher Education to see that “scientists,” “intellectuals,” even “professors” are not a lock-step world-view bloc.

    The danger with a movie such as Expelled is not that the true issues, freedom of academic inquiry, evidence based practice, the scientific method, and open inquiry will be subverted but that they will be perverted; that real inquiry will be stifled by an appeal to rhetorical and political manipulation and that viewpoint will determine right. Right makes right will be replaced, by visual, media manipulation makes right.

    - Benjamin Franklin

  6. May 20, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Can we teach the Nazi theory that white, blonde haired blue eyed people are the master race too?

    I mean, equal time for everyone right? /sarcasm

    The Theory of Evolution is one of the most widely supported and researched areas of modern biology. We aren’t going to be able to compete with the Chinese or Indians in science if we teach our kids fairy tales in biology class instead of modern science.

    Teaching creationism in bio class would be like teaching astrology in astronomy class.

    - RichmondDem

  7. May 20, 2008 at 9:17 am

    BTW, one of the biggest strawmen ever set up was that Darwin was somehow responsible for Hitler. Thats on the level of the extremist atheists who claim that Hitler was a devout Catholic.

    - RichmondDem

  8. May 20, 2008 at 9:21 am

    And in Sunday school you can also teach the equally specious religious alternative to the theory of gravity. Might we not keep TC focused on critical public policy issues and choices?

    - Cicero

  9. May 20, 2008 at 9:56 am

    You know I love most of the folks on here - here is all I have to say about this thread…


    - emc

  10. May 20, 2008 at 10:42 am


    I miss the day when religion was apolitical, when such things as liberal born-again evangelicals (Jimmy Carter) and secular right-wingers (Barry Goldwater) were possible.

    - RichmondDem

  11. May 20, 2008 at 10:49 am

    If the theory of evolution is so sacrosanct, how did the first single celled organism become “alive” and how many billions and billions and billions of years were required for it to “evolve” into the huge variety of life we have today? Saying life just happened spontaneously from a mud puddle a long, long, long, long time ago seems pretty loopy to me. But then a lot of things promoted as science are loopy like man-made global warming and the Big Bang. It’s called “junk science”.

    - Kurtis Bottke

  12. May 20, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Kurtis, you can pretend you know more than the consensus of scientist backed up by decades and sometimes centuries of research and evidence, but you’re not.

    Did you go to college and take Bio 101? Because what you said about life coming from a mud puddle is not what they teach, its a good deal more complicated than that.

    - RichmondDem

  13. May 20, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Kurtis, just because you don’t understand how something could occur, doesn’t mean it didn’t (or doesn’t). Do you understand how gravity, relativity, even electricity works? But they do. We can watch viruses evolve almost real-time. They can change a lot in just a year or less. Now, certainly mammals are much more complex than viruses, but a billion years is a LONG time.

    Of course, if you’re not a gradualist then even the “long, long” time becomes less relevant.

    - Sanity

  14. May 20, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Where is t? t will smite you all.

    Yes, most thinking people know that ID is not science (guess which club Kurtis belongs). The thing that saddens me is how many unthinking people there seem to be. And engaging them is really pointless. They are not on a search for knowledge, they are an audience for the magician.

    I think the answer lies with Darwin.

    We are, at some level, wired for faith, or perhaps more correctly, a way to organize around a set of rules. It helped us in the savanna and to a large degree it is still helping us. We are still working through which set of rules works best and likely always will.

    The thing to realize is there are people out there that know this and are thrilled to make a buck off of it (Stein in this case), or gain power from it.

    - edmundburkenator

  15. May 20, 2008 at 11:17 am


    Here’s a summary of what’s known about the origin of life:

    The TalkOrigins Archive is an excellent source for the layman on evolution and related topics.

    - Freddie

  16. May 20, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    You evolutionists crack me up. You talk about waving magic wands. Did “live” organisms spring from absolutely nothing and suddenly become something? And then billions and billions of years later an elephant sprang forth? Evolution has more to do with fantasy than creationism ever did.

    - Kurtis Bottke

  17. May 20, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    “Why not teach everything?”

    I hope you understand that there are not just two components to “everything”.

    - anon

  18. May 20, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    “If the theory of evolution is so sacrosanct, how did the first single celled organism become “alive” ”

    I’m inclined to call this comment just flat out stupid.

    I don’t know how God came to be, I just know that He is. Since I don’t know how, following Kurtis’ line of thinking, He must not be.

    - anon

  19. May 20, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    “Did “live” organisms spring from absolutely nothing and suddenly become something?”

    Again, you seem to be unable to see the ridiculousness of your own arguments. The same arguments could be made for the existence of God.

    I happen to believe there is a God. And in the general theory of evolution.

    But you can’t argue that a cell could only have come from the creation of God, but then have no explanation of what “created” that same God.

    - anon

  20. May 20, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Guys, I think Kurtis is pulling your chain. Just a guess of course. If he’s not, he’s not worth arguing with and if he is he’s not that amusing.

    - edmundburkenator

  21. May 20, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    I had a fascinating conversation the other day with a chimp at the National Zoo. It was on just this subject. I explained to him that Intelligent Design is picking up steam as a legitimate theory and has some true “believers”, even a candidate for president. He thought carefully, with one thumb in in his ear, and then remarked, “Homo sapiens are fascinating. You would think that they would have made better use of the evolutional swing in their favor. Oh bother, all I can do is prey that you humans will collectively come to your senses.”
    He then swung off to a nearby branch and proceeded to pick lice off his mother.

    - Armande

  22. May 20, 2008 at 1:59 pm


    - edmundburkenator

  23. May 20, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Kurtis, really, did you take Bio 101?

    I’m not a biologist nor do I play one on the intertubes, but your questions would’ve been answered there.

    If you didn’t, the answers you seek are a Google search away–I see talk origins has already been mentioned.

    - RichmondDem

  24. May 20, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    FWIW, I’m a church-going Christian, and I don’t see how evolution contradicts my faith. But then again I’m an Episcopalian not an evangelical so your mileage may vary.

    For any Catholics on here, didn’t the Pope say believing in evolution was compatible with faith in God and Christ?

    - RichmondDem

  25. May 20, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    I recently read that evangelical scientists are busy refuting the Law of Gravity with their new Intelligent Falling Theory.

    Apparently there is nothing in the Bible about gravity and so it can’t possibly exist. What we are experiencing is an intelligence (God?) pushing things down. The godless, secular humanist, lefist, America hating Democrats insist on teaching our children this “gravity” hogwash. We must put a stop to this!

    Geez! If these clowns who insist we teach religion in place of science have their way they will turn America into a third world country in a generation.

    - Dan

  26. May 20, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Question. If God is pushing us down, does He loosen up a little bit in outer space? Is that His cosmic living room ,where He can take His shoes off and let His hair down, so to speak?

    - Armande

  27. May 20, 2008 at 3:40 pm


    I believe you are right about the Pope’s words on the subject. Anyway, this broken down old Irish Catholic was taught religion and science in the same classroom back when John XXIII was still Pope. I was never led to believe that there was any conflict between science and religion or that one had to put one’s brain on hold to have faith in the Almighty.

    I think the problem for many of these folks pushing creation science (science is used very loosely here) is that their faith is so weak. Belief in God is just that, belief. The existence of God can be neither proved nor disproved. And for those who believe, it doesn’t need to be proved. Those of weak faith are always insisting that it can be and acting like it has to be. That and they spend a lot of time attacking others who don’t share their beliefs.

    As to Catholic teaching of science, I give it high marks. Especially considering that it took the Church about 500 years to admit that maybe that Galileo fellow might have been right about the Earth revolving around the Sun.

    - Dan

  28. May 20, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    Still the most entertaining site on this subject:


    Be sure to check out the hate mail.

    - Working Mom

  29. May 20, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    I’ve never even had a glimmer as to why evolution and Old Testament-based religions are thought to be irreconcilable. It seems a totally contrived dichotomy, one that people of faith should just ignore and keep moving, sort of like a barroom brawl that spills out onto the sidewalk. In any event, as a practicing Christian, I have real reservations about untrained government workers, many of whom are not even Christians, teaching religion. They can only diminish theology, not glorify it. Protection of religious beliefs demands that they not be trivialized by putting them into governmental schools. TC goes to an esteemed, highly respected religious institution. If they want to teach doctrine there, I’m all for it.

    - NoVA Scout

  30. May 20, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    It’s the propounding of BS like “intelligent design” that makes the Right look stupid. But then, why should I be surprised? Their guy in the White House has spent the last seven years subverting scientific thought in the government. Ick.

    - Northern VA

  31. May 20, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    First everyone remember evolution is a THEARY, as such NOTHING IS PROVEN. Evolution is not a FACT. I guess one can call creationism a theary also, as such it has as much standing in the scientific community as evolution. Until God comes down and sets everyone straight neither theory can be proven. That’s why they should be treated as equal.

    - Kurtis Bottke

  32. May 20, 2008 at 6:20 pm


    How about the Nazi theory that blonde, blue eyed people are the master race?

    What about Buddhist creation theory?

    What about Paganism?


    - RichmondDem

  33. May 20, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    “”"”"”theory that blonde, blue eyed people are the master race?”"”"”"”

    Yes we are!!!!!!! ;-) ;-) :-)

    - Lee J

  34. May 20, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Yes, the Pope did say that evolution does not conflict with Christianity and the Bible.

    But then again, I think we all know what evangelicals think of Catholics and their take on things.

    And Kurtis,…

    really - just too pathetic for words. When your understanding of the issue reaches beyond the level of a 5th grader, then maybe a serious discussion can be had.

    The first place you might want to begin is by understanding what a “theory” is. Currently, you are clueless.

    - anon

  35. May 20, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Now I know Kurtis is pulling your chains. No one can misspell theory twice in an argument that is basically about ignorance.

    Well played sir, but I’m on to you.

    - edmundburkenator

  36. May 20, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Anon -

    A theory is a collection of ideas, conjectures, estimations, educated guesses. Basically what’s in a good novel.

    Also try not to confuse gravity (which is a proven fact) with evolution (a theory). It’s like comparing apples to oranges. They’re completely different.

    - Kurtis Bottke

  37. May 20, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    No, Kurtis that is not what a “theory” is when talking about science.

    And gravity is not a fact.

    See, there’s the problem — you have no idea what you are talking about.

    In some evolutionary kind of way, me talking to you is probably like me talking to a monkey.

    - anon

  38. May 20, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    typo alert –

    Gravity is not JUST a fact.

    Left out an important word there.

    - anon

  39. May 20, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Yes, Pope Benedict has clearly said that evolution and Catholic teaching are not in conflict. No, it did not take the Church 500 years to “admit” that Galileo had the correct idea regarding heliocentrism. Catholicism and science are not, and never have been, mortal enemies. Some of the reaction in here, I think, rather proves Stein’s point in the movie about how viciously allegedly open-minded people attack the concept of intelligent design. You don’t want creation stories taught in bio classes, fine. Can you find a way to state that position without calling my faith “fairy tales?”

    Good luck with this one, Vince. You’re gonna need it.

    - Ric James

  40. May 20, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Ric James–

    I was referring to evolution denial as a “fairy tell” because, well it is. Just like man-made global warming denial, believing the world is flat, and 9/11 conspiracy theories.

    I was referring to that, not your faith.

    - RichmondDem

  41. May 21, 2008 at 5:38 am

    RichmonDem -

    You are confusing facts with theories again. Man-made global warming is a theory. 9/11 conspiracy theories are theories. Evolution is a theory. The world has been proven not to be flat, but round. That’s a fact. You’re comparing apples to oranges again.

    And what are theories? A collection of ideas, conjectures, estimations and educated guesses. Yes, evolution is in that same category as 9/11 conspiracies. They are both theories.

    - Kurtis Bottke

  42. May 21, 2008 at 6:16 am

    Evolution has been demonstrated repeatedly through scientific observation to be a factual process. The only question is to what degree it influenced the overall development of life on Earth. Putting it in the same category as 9/11 conspiracy theories is an error of ignorance at best.

    - Northern VA

  43. May 21, 2008 at 6:36 am

    Apples to oranges. Well, actually the two fruits have remarkably similar genetic strands and there are several studies that debunk that oh so popular analogy by demonstrating that the two fruits really have much more in common than not.
    I admit I can’t help but wonder if the two fruits might have evolved from a single plant species, though this “theory” is problematic in the sense that citrus fruits originate in Australia while apples, like pears, plums, quinces, peaches, cherries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries all belong to the Rose (Rosaceae) plant family. In fact they all originated from a single rose plant, and then evolved into the magnificent fruits we know today.
    Although, there was a time when earth had a single landmass, or so sang my elders when gathered ’round the campfire. In all honesty I can’t be sure everything they said was true, especially Uncle Louie who had an amazing propensity for swinging from tree to tree. But anyway, they spoke of a theory of this single landmass splitting apart because of violent earthquakes, volcanoes and the like. Of course that sounds slightly ridiculous. I much prefer the “theory” that gravity is actually God holding us all down. Regardless, I think we can all agree that “apples to oranges” is not the most appropriate analogy in this context.
    What mysteries abound!

    - Armande

  44. May 21, 2008 at 6:37 am

    RichmonDem -

    I would like to say you’re right if you include the fact that at one time, that the world was flat, was a theory a long time ago. It’s an old theory that’s been discarded for facts.

    - Kurtis Bottke

  45. May 21, 2008 at 6:41 am

    Northern VA -

    Evolution has never been shown to be factual. What are they teaching people in public schools now days! Everything about evolution is conjecture and scientists are only theorizing.

    - Kurtis Bottke

  46. May 21, 2008 at 7:50 am

    So Bottke - what should they teach in the public schools? You got something better than evolution? If so, get published, peer reviewed and stop wasting your time on these political blogs. Your Nobel awaits you.

    - NoVA Scout

  47. May 21, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Kurtis Bottke:
    Evolution is a well supported theory, just like the theory that the world is round.

    - Freddie

  48. May 21, 2008 at 10:20 am

    There really is no point in talking to Kurtis. He doesn’t even know what a scientific theory is.

    I would be inclined to call him ignorant, but he has been told several times that his own personal definition of theory is incorrect.

    So, given the unwillingness to learn the “factual” definition of theory - that leaves no choice but to determine that he is stupid.

    When one does not know something one is either ignorant or stupid. Ignorant is fine - you can take the initiative and learn the info. Sadly, Kurtis has chosen to go with stupid.

    Talking to a stupid person will certainly do a lot to drive up hits and extend comments, but it won’t do a thing to advance the conversation.

    - anon

  49. May 21, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    I think people on here are confusing ID w/ 6-day creationism. You don’t have to be a Christian to believe in ID, you just need to doubt the ability of the universe to both jump start & fine tune itself. Many believers in ID believe some variant of evolutionary theory even while doubting the science behind what has been taught in US schools for the last 50 years or so.

    - DCH

  50. May 21, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    DCH, the Discovery Institute seems to be the driving force behind this thinking. A Christian think tank I suppose you could say.

    I agree that we should define ID before we critique it, but I think your definition is pretty charitable. ID seems to be a way around a court decision to not teach religion in schools.


    - edmundburkenator

  51. May 21, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    PSSSST, its Global Climate change, not global warming. Didn’t you get Al’s memo ? It seems we screwed the pooch on the warming part and must now re-work the rap in order to maintain the needed level of hysteria.
    Gotta go, Cabalas is having a sale on Down Parkas.

    - G. Stone

  52. May 21, 2008 at 3:57 pm


    That it is bunk.

    - Brian

  53. May 21, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    G. Stone-

    Actually, it was right-wingers who re-framed it as “climate change” to make it sound less scary. Do some research next time.

    - RichmondDem

  54. May 21, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    What is this “intelligent design” stuff? I am confused, I thought it had something to do with that gay guy on the HGTV network, David Bromstad. He’s really good with colors.

    - BlackOut

  55. May 21, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    Blackout I am with you it must be a show on HGTV ;-)

    - Lee J

  56. May 21, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    “Intelligent Design” also sounds like the name of a generic IT corporation.

    - RichmondDem

  57. May 21, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Intelligent Design and Young Earth Creationism are just variants of Creationism.

    I have never encountered a proponent of creationism of any type who did not believe in it primarily for religious reasons. But not all creationists are Christian; I’ve seen Muslim and Hindu creationists.

    - Freddie

  58. May 21, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    What right-wingers have re-framed “global warming” as “climate change” to make it sound less scary? I’m a right-winger and I follow the right-wingers on this subject quite a bit. Generally, “climate change” is ridiculed as the global warming crowd trying to explain away colder weather.

    - Freddie

  59. May 22, 2008 at 10:54 am

    It is too bad ID is religiously partisan.

    ID as a science could be very useful in forensics (is that smudge random or caused by the criminal) and in archeology (is the quantity of pottery shards indicative of normal usage or suggestive of ritual) and analysis of data in a search for life beyond this planet.

    Only when ID proves itself a good predictor in “small things” can it be trusted to apply it to cosmic proportions such as the origins of life.

    Meanwhile anyone can use any belief they want to aid in connecting with their spirtual dimension, provided my tax dollars aren’t involved.

    - Ed Myers

  60. May 22, 2008 at 11:34 am

    I am with you ED Myers!!!!

    - Lee J

  61. May 22, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Creationism is the True science. Evolution is the phony theory of the uneducated.

    The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.

    - t

  62. May 22, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Vince, you should be relieved that Baylor dissolved its Intelligent Design Institute. Baylor has a well-thought-of medical school. That reputation wouldn’t last long with ID being taught in the biology department, regardless of whether or not any pre-med students took any of its classes. Not only would the reputation go down the toilet, but I suspect the accreditation would follow it.

    - apc

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