Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

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Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, hereinafter "Expelled," is a film released April 18, 2008, starring lawyer, economist, former presidential speechwriter, author, and social commentator Ben Stein. In his review for Scientific American, Michael Shermer, who appears in Expelled, explains that "the central thesis of the film is a conspiracy theory about the systematic attempt to keep Intelligent Design creationism out of American classrooms and culture." [1] The movie also attempts to connect acceptance of evolution with atheism and Nazism. [2]

Expelled was directed by Nathan Frankowski, written by Kevin Miller, Walt Ruloff, and Ben Stein, produced by Premise Media, marketed by Motive Entertainment, and distributed by Rocky Mountain Pictures.[3] In June of 2011 the movie was auctioned off pursuant to the bankruptcy of Premise Media with a non-winning bid being placed by Talk Origins.[4] The movie's website, "," also appears to have been sold.[5]

The following section headings are, for the most part, taken from Talk Origins' index of creationist claims.[6] Times following quotes indicate the approximate point in Expelled at which the quote begins.

Scientists are pressured not to challenge established dogmaEdit

In Expelled, former U.S. Representative Mark E. Souder claims, "If you want peer reviews, if you want to be published, if you want to go to respected institutions, the core view does not tolerate dissent. There's kind of a 'this is the way it is,' and anybody who's a dissenter should be squashed." (44:32)

Regarding this claim, a Christian website countered, "In Reasons To Believe's interaction with professional scientists, scientific institutions, universities, and publishers of scientific journals we have encountered no significant evidence of censorship, blackballing, or disrespect...Our main concern about EXPELLED is that it paints a distorted picture. It certainly doesn't match our experience."[7] In fact science only works because of healthy skepticism. Contrary to the claim there have been successful evidence-based challenges to scientific theories.[8] In a response to Expelled, the American Association for the Advancement of Science explained that "respectful disagreement and questioning based on physical evidence represent the core of the scientific process."[9]


Expelled alleges that, while serving as editor of a journal "affiliated" (5:42) with the Smithsonian Institution, biologist Richard M. von Sternberg was persecuted as a result of authorizing the publication of a controversial paper on "how life began." (6:25) Stein explains, "As a result, Dr. Sternberg lost his office, his political and religious beliefs were investigated, and he was pressured to resign" (6:28)

Sternberg is a fellow of the International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design (ISCID),[10] has been on the editorial board of the Occasional Papers of the Baraminology Study Group,[11] and is a signatory of the Discovery Institute's dissent from Darwinism statement.[12] The Discovery Institute (DI) is an intelligent design think-tank[13], to which Stein pays a visit in Expelled. The DI enthusiastically promoted the movie[14], and most of the intelligent design proponents interviewed were active members of the DI. Sternberg's views should not be construed to represent the scientific consensus.

The paper that Sternberg authorized was in fact "The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories" by geophysicist Stephen Meyer and appeared in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington (PBSW) on August 4, 2004.[15] Stephen Meyer, who appears in the film, is a founder of the DI's Center for Science and Culture (CSC) as well as its current director. He is a signatory of the DI's dissent from Darwinism petition. He is the author of Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design[16] and coauthor of Explore Evolution and Darwin's Nemesis. He is listed as a reviewer/editor for the intelligent design supplemental textbook Of Pandas and People. In 1993 Meyer attended a Pajaro Dunes, California, conference held by persons avowing "a deep dissatisfaction with neo-Darwinism and its naturalistic philosophical foundation and an interest in scientifically exploring the possibility of design."[17] [18] At the time he wrote this paper Meyer was affiliated with Palm Beach Atlantic University,[19] a "guiding principle" of which is "that man was directly created by God."[20] Meyer's views do not represent the scientific consensus.

Meyer's review essay did not in fact explore the origin of life, as claimed by Expelled. Rather it posited intelligent design as a better explanation for the appearance of new taxa during the "Cambrian explosion," claiming evolutionary biology could not account for it. One can easily identify oft-refuted creationist arguments within the paper and the names of many creationist authors in the "Literature Cited" section following. The paper was not concerned with systematics, the usual fare of the PBSW, and its scholarship was questionable.[21] [22]

Although it was not mentioned in Expelled, Sternberg was criticized for the manner in which he handled the Meyer paper.[23] The Biological Society of Washington reported that Sternberg did not follow proper procedure in reviewing the paper himself, [24] this despite there being more qualified PBSW editors[25] and despite Sternberg's own admission the paper was "potentially controversial."[26] It appears the plan to slip the paper into the PBSW was hatched at a Research and Progress in Intelligent Design (RAPID) conference at which both Sternberg and Meyer were in attendance[27] and at which Meyer gave a talk on a subject similar to that of his paper. Note Sternberg too gave a talk at this conference and that the topic was irreducible complexity.[28]

A statement of the incident with the Smithsonian prepared by Representative Souder's staff does not appear to be an official report but rather a one-sided effort to portray Sternberg as the victim of discrimination.[29] [30] It should be noted that Souder, who appears in Expelled, is on Answers in Genesis' list of "Other government officials who do not prohibit the teaching of ID or creationism."[31] In support of "teaching the controversy" regarding evolution in Kansas public schools, Souder asserted, "[T]he Darwinian mechanism as an explanation for macroevolution has long been the subject of cogent and powerful scientific should be taught as a synthesis--the current dominant scientific theory explaining the origin of species--but also as a theory subject to significant limitations, failed predictions and important scientific criticisms."[32]

Contrary to the implication of Expelled, Sternberg was never an employee for the Smithsonian Institution but rather did research at their National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) for the National Institutes of Health. Note Sternberg's entry in the DI's anti-Darwinism statement too lists the NMNH as his current position. Sternberg's supervisor at the NMNH, Jonathan Coddington, maintains that Sternberg suffered no loss of privileges as a result of the review incident.[33] Sternberg's term as editor for the PBSW was scheduled to end in the same period of time as Meyer's paper's publication. Sternberg in fact admitted, "[M]y stepping down had nothing to do with the publication of the Meyer paper."

Caroline CrockerEdit

Stein claims, "After Dr. Caroline Crocker simply mentioned intelligent design in her cell biology class at George Mason University, her promising academic career came to an abrupt end." (9:55) He further claims, "Not only did this well-loved professor lose her job at George Mason, she suddenly found herself blacklisted, unable to find a job anywhere." (10:25) Crocker herself advises, "At the end of the semester, I lost my job." (10:22)

However, evidence indicates Crocker, author of Free to Think: Why Scientific Integrity Matters, did more than "simply mention intelligent design." The Washington Post documented a lecture that Crocker gave at Northern Virgina Community College (NVCC)[34], where she taught at the same time she did so at George Mason University (GMU). In the NVCC lecture Crocker "told the students there were two kinds of evolution: microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution is easily seen in any microbiology lab...While such small changes are well established, Crocker said, they are quite different from macroevolution. No one has ever seen a dog turn into a cat in a laboratory." Note this is a straw man of evolution as well as a refuted creationist argument. Crocker taught that "chemicals used in the [Miller-Urey] experiment did not exist on Earth 4 billion years ago" and, "[Kettlewell's peppered moth] experiment was falsified. He glued his moths to the trees." These are also refuted creationist arguments. Crocker also told her students, "The problem with evolution is that it is all supposition--this evolved into this--but there is no evidence."

The article in The Washington Post mentions some slides that Crocker used in her lecture at NVCC. Tiny Frog has copies of these slides, which Crocker likely used at GMU as well.[35] One slide claims that the extinct Archaeopteryx was in fact a bird, that it was found in the same fossil layer as birds, and that the sole fossil found was "questioned as a fraud." These statements are false and are also common creationist arguments. That same slide makes the claims that Eohippus, an extinct ancestor of the horse, was found in the same fossil layers as modern horses and that it is actually a modern-day hyrax. Note that well-known creationist Harun Yahya makes precisely these same two claims.[36] The North Texas Skeptic provides a possible source for the first claim: "The [Eohippus fossil] quote is from The Neck of the Giraffe by Francis Hitching, who does not provide a justification for the statement. Talk Origins traces the statement back to a book by creationist R.L. Wysong. Crocker appears to have lifted a bit of myth from creationist literature and used it in class with no attempt at confirmation."[37] Note that Yahya too lists Hitching as the source for both of the claims.

Another slide, titled "Scientists are Confused," quotes Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge: "There is no validation of the position that speciation causes significant morphological change." This quote is inaccurate and moreover fails to convey the authors' intended message, as they shortly thereafter provide "the solution to this dilemma."[38] This slide also contains a quote from rocket scientist Werhner von Braun: "It is unscientific to teach evolution only." It is unclear why von Braun may be cited as an expert on biology, and this is an example of the fallacy of appeal to authority.

The Washington Post also reported that Crocker told her class, "What happened in Germany in World War II was based on science, that some genes and some people should be killed." This appears to be an implication that the teaching of evolution was responsible for eugenics and the Holocaust. In reality Crocker continued teaching until the end of the term, and the reason for the non-renewal of her contract was likely not related to her teaching intelligent design. Biology professor Paul Zachary Myers, in a blog article titled "Heck yeah-Caroline Crocker should have been fired," notes "...but she wasn't. She was allowed to continue her educational malpractice until her contract expired, and then was not rehired--something that happens to adjunct and assistant professors all the time, with no necessary implication of poor work."[39] Crocker's own website, "Intellectual Honesty," admits, "About four years ago, her contract as a biology professor at George Mason University was not renewed."[40] GMU's Daniel Walsch explained Crocker was a part-time faculty member who was released upon the expiration of her contract term for reasons other than her teaching intelligent design, and he posed the question of whether academic freedom "literally give[s] you the right to talk about anything, whether it has anything to do with the subject matter or not? The answer is no."

Contrary to the claim of blacklisting by Expelled, Crocker has, per her LinkedIn page, had a variety of jobs since leaving GMU including postdoctoral scientist at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, senior science writer and consultant at Rose Li and Associates, and executive director at The IDEA Center.[41]

Michael EgnorEdit

Stein claims, "When neurosurgeon Michael Egnor wrote an essay to high school students saying doctors didn't need to study evolution in order to practice medicine, the Darwinists were quick to try and exterminate this new threat." (11:22) Egnor explains, "A lot of people in a lot of blogs called me unprintable names that were printed. There were a lot of very, very nasty comments. Other people suggested that people call the university I work at and suggest that perhaps it's time for me to retire." (11:36)

Egnor's response to the Alliance for Science's essay contest on the subject of why doctors should study evolution was to assert that doctors do not use principles of evolution in their work.[42] Egnor's assertion was criticized by many, including Burt Humburg of The Panda's Thumb.[43] In this case the evidence presented by Expelled for the claim of suppression of academic freedom is merely the observation that Egnor got his feelings hurt when people disagreed with his Internet post.

Robert MarksEdit

Robert Jackson Marks II is an electrical and computer engineering professor. Stein claims, "Baylor University shut down his research web site and forced him to return grant money once they discovered a link between his work and intelligent design." (12:24) This story was originally reported by the Syracuse University newspaper.[44] Marks' website in fact still exists, albeit on a non-university server,[45] and Marks still teaches at Baylor University.

Guillermo GonzalezEdit

Stein claims of former Iowa State University (ISU) astrophysics professor Guillermo Gonzalez, "Despite a stellar research record that has led to the discovery of several planets, his application for tenure was denied, putting his career in jeopardy." (13:46) This story was originally reported on by the DI's David Klinghoffer in The Weekly Standard.[46] Gonzalez in fact had issued a statement indicating that his tenure denial was due in part to his advocacy of intelligent design.[47] Gonzalez is a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture[48] and a fellow of the ISCID and was an attendee of the RAPID conference. Gonzalez has co-written articles with Reason to Believe's Hugh Ross, including at least one advocating the anthropic principle.[49] Gonzalez' coauthoring of the intelligent design book The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery (2004) might have factored into ISU's decision not to grant him tenure.[50]

In reality educators are denied tenure for a variety of reasons. ISU president Gregory Geoffroy explained that Gonzalez "simply did not show the trajectory of excellence that we expect in a candidate seeking tenure in physics and astronomy..."[51] Contrary to the implication in Expelled that ISU had placed his career in jeopardy by not granting him tenure, Gonzalez is currently a professor at Grove City College.[52]

Pamela WinnickEdit

Journalist and attorney Pamela R. Winnick claims, "I was not taking a position in favor of creationism. I was writing about intelligent design...If you give any credence to it whatsoever, which means just writing about it, you are just finished as a journalist." (50:46) Stein similarly claims, "When she refused to take sides in an article she wrote about intelligent design, the Darwinists found a new favorite target." (50:29)

According to the Phillips Foundation, Winnick was in 2001 awarded a fellowship to "conduct an 'Examination of How Media and Established Scientists Treat the Subject of Evolution,' analyzing why there seems to be little tolerance for the teaching of creationism in America."[53] Winnick is the author of A Jealous God: Science's Crusade Against Religion (2005). The article referenced in Expelled in which Winnick was "just writing about" intelligent design was a review of a PBS series on evolution in which she reported, "The series, which runs for four nights tomorrow through Thursday, completely ignores the Intelligent Design movement, which began about a decade ago when serious scientists--many with doctorates from prestigious universities--began to tackle evolution on scientific grounds." Winnick also asked, "Why not also tell us about the influence [naturalist Charles Darwin] exerted, however unintentionally, on the eugenics movement and on Marx and Hitler?"[54]

Contrary to the claim by Expelled, Winnick has continued to be published since writing the PBS review.[55] [56]

Scientists' conclusions are motivated by moneyEdit

Stein claims, "Science isn't a hobby for rich aristocrats anymore. It's a multi-billion dollar industry, and if you want a piece of the pie you've got to be a good comrade." (43:43) Similarly Larry Witham, religion writer for The Washington Times and author of By Design, claims, "[I]f you want to get grants, if you want to be elected to high positions, if you want to get awards as a promoter of public education of science, you can't question the paradigm." (45:08) For a rebuttal to this claim see the Talk Origins page.[57]

Many scientists find problems with evolutionEdit

Philosopher of Science Paul A. Nelson claims that "one-on-one at a scientific meeting after the third or fourth beer, my experience has been that many evolutionary biologists will say, 'Yeah, this theory's got a lot of problems.'" Stein then replies, "So you mean to tell me that there really is a debate among scientists about whether or not evolution occurred?" (22:26)

Nelson, a professor of science and religion at Biola University, is a fellow of the ISCID and of the DI and is a signatory of the latter's dissent from Darwinism petition. He attended the RAPID conference, the Evidence of Design Conference[58], and the Mere Creation conference. Participants of the latter event explored "how the idea of 'intelligent design' might bear on their thinking about origins and the philosophy of science."[59] Additionally Nelson presented at the third conference of the "Occasional Papers of the Baraminology Study Group"[60] Nelson contributed articles to Mere Creation, Signs of Intelligence, Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics, and Darwin, Design, and Public Education. He was a reviewer/editor for Of Pandas and People and coauthored Explore Evolution and Darwin's Nemesis. Nelson's views do not represent the scientific consensus.

Contrary to Stein's reply to Nelson's claim, debate among scientists is about how evolution occurred rather than whether it occurred. For a rebuttal to the claim see the Talk Origins page.[61]

Fairness demands evolution and creation be given equal timeEdit

Meyer draws an analogy between the Berlin Wall and a lack of academic freedom: "Throughout the cold war in Germany, there was this wall erected to keep ideas out. It was erected by people who held an ideology, that were afraid of a competition from other ideas that would come into their society. And what we're seeing happening in science today is very much like that." (1:20:20) Stein remarks, "What about academic freedom? I mean, can't we just talk about this?" (43:19)

Expelled raises the issue of academic freedom in order to distract the viewer from the observation that intelligent design lacks any real science, a fact the film omits. The Association of American Colleges and Universities has issued a statement about the subject of academic freedom: "Academic responsibility requires professors to submit their knowledge and claims to rigorous and public review by peers who are experts in the subject matter under consideration; to ground their arguments in the best available evidence; and to work together to foster the education of students...All competing ideas on a subject do not deserve to be included in a course or program, or to be regarded as equally valid just because they have been asserted. For example, creationism, even in its modern guise as 'intelligent design,' has no standing among experts in the life sciences because its claims cannot be tested by scientific methods."[62] In Expelled Shermer explains, "You roll up your sleeves, you get to work, you do the research, you get your grants, you get your data, you publish, and you work your butt off, and that's how you get your theories taught." (9:20)

Intelligent design theory is scientificEdit

Expelled in fact attempts to demonstrate that intelligent design is science. The film depicts Witold Walczak of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania speaking after their victory in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District: "We have spent an enormous amount of time trying to prove to the court what everybody already knows, that intelligent design is a particular religious belief." Stein then responds, "But I thought scientific questions were settled by the evidence, not by taking people to court and suing them." (51:30) Note the aforementioned trial did not settle the science of intelligent design but rather its constitutionality.

In apparent contradiction to the claim, Nelson told Touchstone Magazine, "Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a fully-fledged theory of biological design. We don't have such a theory right now, and that's a problem. Without a theory, it's very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now, we've got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as 'irreducible complexity' and 'specified complexity'-but, as yet, no general theory of biological design."[63]

Intelligent design has explanatory powerEdit

Expelled attempts to demonstrate that intelligent design, conforming to the scientific method, makes predictions. In the "Practical Applications" special feature on the DVD, Stein notes, "Jonathan Wells is also making progress using Intelligent Design theory in his research on cancer." (1:26) In fact Wells' research was debunked before Expelled was filmed.[64] [65]

Intelligent design theory is not religiousEdit

Stein asks, "So intelligent designers believe that God is the designer?" Nelson then explains, "Not necessarily. Intelligent design is a minimal commitment, scientifically, to the possibility of detecting intelligent causation." (23:37)

Similarly DI founder and president Bruce Chapman states, "This is not a religious argument." (20:05) The claim that the DI has no religious agenda is contradicted by the DI's "Wedge Document," which states in part, "Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions."[66] Additionally the religious and creationist roots of intelligent design were proved by the Dover case.

Intelligent design is not creationismEdit

Nelson makes the claim, "Creationism, properly understood, begins with the Bible and says, 'How can I fit the Bible into the data of science?' Intelligent design doesn't do that. Intelligent design is the study of patterns in nature that are best explained as the result of intelligence." (23:20) Contrary to the claim the transformation of creationism into intelligent design is well documented.[67]

Creationism and evolution are the only 2 modelsEdit

Meyer claims, "We don't know what caused life to arise. Did it arise by a purely undirected process, or did it arise by some kind of intelligent guidance or design? And the rules of science are being applied to actually foreclose one of the two possible answers to that very fundamental and basic and important question." (37:34) Meyer's statement represents an application of the fallacy of false dilemma, and a rebuttal to his claim is available at Talk Origins.[68]

Evolution is a religionEdit

Expelled attempts to suggest that evolution is a religion by describing it using religious terminology. For example, Stein states, "Richard Dawkins is so confident that evolution is a fact and that therefore God doesn't exist that he has devoted his entire life to spreading the evolution gospel." (30:35) Stein similarly notes, "The NCSE has been at the heart of virtually every evolution controversy over the past 25 years, vigorously defending the Darwinian gospel." (46:18) For a rebuttal to this claim see the Talk Origins page.[69]

Evolution is atheisticEdit

Witham claims, "Implicit in most evolutionary theory is that either there's no God, or God can't have any role in it. So naturally, as many evolutionists will say, it's the strongest engine for atheism." (48:08). Stein concludes, "It appears Darwinism does lead to atheism..." (1:02:57) As evidence of this claim the film presents apparently atheistic statements made by prominent biologists. For example Myers is portrayed explaining, "Intelligent design is a set of excuses to squeeze creationism into the classrooms." (16:35)

Myers, and likely others interviewed for Expelled, was under the impression that he was being interviewed for a film reporting on the evolution and creationism debate.[70] The online pre-production copy for the film, originally titled Crossroads--The Intersection of Science and Religion, noted, "This conflict between science and religion has unleashed passions in school board meetings, courtrooms and town halls across America and beyond."[71] Although the producers claimed the working title was "Crossroads" at the time of the interviews, they had registered the movie's domain name,, on 1 March 2007.[72] Myers explained that "we were actually addressing the stated purpose of our interviews, which we were told were specifically about the intersection of science and religion, not about the scientific validity of intelligent design. We would have given very different interviews if we'd been asked about ID."[73] Myers charged this manner of interviewing "is the video version of quote-mining and is fundamentally dishonest."

National Center for Science Education executive director Eugenie Scott had a similar experience when interviewing, also noting that "the domain name, was acquired before I was interviewed."[74] The Guardian reported, "[Evolutionary biologist C. Richard Dawkins] said in an email that had he known the film's premise he would not have agreed to take part. 'At no time was I given the slightest clue that these people were a creationist front,' he said." The Guardian additionally noted Myers utilized Dawkins' website to post a letter from producer Mark Mathis explaining Crossroads would explore "the disconnect/controversy that exists in America between evolution, creationism and the intelligent design movement."[75] Dawkins' critique of Expelled is available at his web site.[76]

Note that Expelled chose not to interview any of the many evolutionary scientists who do in fact claim to be affiliated with a religious organization.

Evolution's materialism or naturalism denies a role for GodEdit

Stein claims, "There are people out there who want to keep science in a little box where it can't possibly touch a higher power, cannot possibly touch God." (1:33:51) Scientific American editor in chief John Rennie, although he does not take this position, clarifies it, stating, "It's, it's very much set up one of having a worldview that allows you to accept God as part of that worldview, or versus one that's set up as a worldview that doesn't allow you to have God. I mean, I think, and the argument is that evolution, Darwinian biology, and all the rest that that somehow, that that is very squarely set inside that materialist worldview you mentioned, and one that...if you accept that it eventually, ineluctably it pulls you over to the no-God-allowed side of things." Rennie's opinion of the film can be seen here.[77]

In a discussion among staff from Scientific American and Mathis, editor and writer Steve Mirsky asks, "Why not also include comments from somebody like Ken Miller...who is famously religious...and an evolutionary biologist?" Mathis responds, "Ken Miller would have confused the film unnecessarily. I don’t agree with Ken Miller...I don’t think you can intellectually, honestly, honestly intellectually stand on a line that I don’t think exists." Rennie counters, " say he would have, his presence would have 'confused the film.' The point would have considerably undercut the major point that is made, that really that belief in, in evolution obliges you not to believe in God..."[78] Chris Heard, associate professor of religion at Pepperdine University, points out, "Mathis as much as says that because he personally cannot reconcile Christian belief with evolutionary biology, prominent Christian scientists...who do affirm both at once don't deserve attention."[79]

Additionally the above claim is contradicted by the clergy letter project, "an endeavor designed to demonstrate that religion and science can be compatible..."[80]

Many famous scientists were creationistsEdit

Meyer claims, "The founders of early modern science--Sir Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, Johannes Kepler, Galileo--most of these early scientists all not only believed in God, but they thought their belief in God actually made it easier to do science." (58:20) For a rebuttal of this claim see the Talk Origins page.[81]

The methodology of science rules out even considering designEdit

Stein confirms, "So the rules of science say we will consider any possibility except one that is guided." (37:52) Author and mathematician David Berlinski similarly asks, "Suppose we find, simply as a matter of fact, that our scientific inquiries point in one direction, which is that there is an intelligent creator. Why should we eliminate that from discussion?" (42:46).

Berlinski is a professor of mathematics and philosophy and the author of Darwin's Nemesis, The Deniable Darwin, and The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretension. Despite being a fellow of the DI and a signatory of its dissent from Darwinism statement, he maintains, "I have never endorsed intelligent design."[82] Berlinski's views do not represent the scientific consensus.

For a rebuttal of the above claim see the Talk Origins page.[83]

Complexity indicates designEdit

Stein claims, "I'm finally just beginning to grasp the complexity of the cell. Are there systems within the cell that go well beyond Darwinian evolution, some type of cellular technology that drives adaptation, replication, quality control, and repair? What if these new mechanisms have massive design implications? Well I say, 'So be it.'" (41:04) For a rebuttal of this claim see the Talk Origins page.[84]

Even the simplest life is incredibly complexEdit

Stein asks, "Okay, if (Darwin thought of the cell as being a Buick, what is the cell now in terms of its complexity by comparison?" Berlinski answers, "A galaxy." (38:22) Stein claims, "No matter how life began, on the backs of crystals or in the test tube of some intelligent designer, everyone agrees it started with a single cell." (37:58) Note the latter statement is inaccurate and a straw man of abiogenesis. For a rebuttal of the claim that even simple life is complex, see the Talk Origins page.[85]

The odds of life forming are incredibly smallEdit

A portion of an interview with Baylor University engineering professor Walter L. Bradley follows:

Stein: [I]t did make me wonder what were the chances of life arising on its own.

Bradley: It's been speculated that probably there would have to be a minimum of about 250 proteins to provide minimal life function. If that's really true then I think it's almost inconceivable that life could have happened in some simple step-by-step way.

Stein: Okay, so the simplest form of life requires at least 250 proteins to function. What's so difficult about that? (34:58)
Bradley is a fellow of the ISCID and of the DI and is a signatory of the latter's dissent from Darwinism petition. He attended the RAPID, Evidence of Design, and Pajaro Dunes conferences. He coauthored The Mystery of Life's Origin and Darwin's Nemesis and was a reviewer/editor of Of Pandas and People. Bradley's views do not represent the scientific consensus.

Douglas Axe, director of the DI-funded Biologic Institute, claims, "We're talking about something that's staggeringly improbable, roughly one in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion...The number is essentially zero." (36:40)

In reality the earliest self replicating Molecules were simpler than proteins andthe probassbility of them forming was higher. See Abiogenesis for more.

Although Axe was a participant in the RAPID conference, he previously stated that he has "not attempted to make such an argument [for intelligent design] in any publications".[86] His views do not represent the scientific consensus.

For a rebuttal of the fallacy of proof by big numbers and the misuse of statistics see the Talk Origins page.[87]

How could information, such as in DNA, assemble itselfEdit

Meyer claims, "So when we find information in the DNA molecule, the most likely explanation is that it, too, had an intelligent source." (42:22) Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary philosophy professor William Dembski claims, "What we are finding is that there's information that's in the cell that cannot be accounted for in terms of these undirected material causes, and so there's some other--so there has to be an information source." (41:39)

Dembski, formerly an associate research professor at Baylor University, is a senior fellow of the DI's Center for Science and Culture as well as a fellow of the ISCID. He was an attendee of the RAPID conference and the Pajaro Dunes meeting. He is the author of The Design Inference and coauthor of The Design of Life, both successors to Of Pandas and People, and he edited Darwin's Nemesis. The emphasis of his research is the field of "complex specific information." He noted, "Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John's Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory," in contradiction to the above claim that intelligent design theory is not religious.[88] Dembski's views do not represent the scientific consensus.

For a critique of Dembski's theories of information see the link at this footnote.[89] For a rebuttal of the claim that information could not assemble iteself see the Talk Origins page.[90]

If man comes from random causes, life has no purpose or meaningEdit

Theologian Alister McGrath claims, "Dawkins seems to think that a scientific description is an anti-religious argument. Describing how something happens scientifically somehow explains it away. It doesn't. But the questions of purpose, intentionality, the question why, still remain there on the table." (55:50)

McGrath is a professor of historical theology at Oxford University and oversees the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. He is the author of The Dawkins Delusion? and of The Twilight of Atheism, an article written for Christianity Today.[91] McGrath's views do not represent the consensus of evolutionary biologists.

For a rebuttal of the claim see the Talk Origins page.[92]

Evolution is the foundation of an immoral worldviewEdit

Sociology professor Steve Fuller claims, "First of all, if you take seriously that evolution has to do with the transition of life forms and that life and death are just natural processes, then one gets to be liberal about abortion and euthanasia. All of those kinds of ideas seem to me follow very naturally from a Darwinian perspective, a de-privileging of human beings, basically." (1:16:04)

Fuller is the author of Dissent over Descent: Intelligent Design's Challenge to Darwinism (2008). He was a witness for the defense in the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial in which he admitted under oath his belief that methodological naturalism "is not an essential element of science."[93] Fuller's views do not represent the consensus of evolutionary biologists.

For a rebuttal of the claim see the Talk Origins page.[94]

Evolution leads to social DarwinismEdit

Winnick claims, "And the idea is that, you know, immediately rid our society of anybody who might be a drain and think of people in economic terms, and I think that's where some of the Darwin fits in, actually. It's just a devaluing of human life." (1:15:51)

For a rebuttal of this claim see the Talk Origins page.[95]

Evolution is racistEdit

California State University history professor Richard Weikart claims, "Many of these people in the 19-teens, 1920's who were putting forward some of these ideas about racism were considered the leading scientists. These were Darwinists who were taken seriously by fellow academics." (1:11:30)

Weikart is a fellow of the DI and the author of From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany (2004) and Did Darwin Believe in God (2011). His views do not represent the consensus of evolutionary biologists.

For a rebuttal of this claim see the Talk Origins page.[96]

Darwin himself was racistEdit

To provide evidence that evolution promotes racism, Stein quotes Darwin: "'With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. Hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.' Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 1871." (1:18:01)

Note the quote is highly edited and taken out of context. The unedited passage does not appear to condone eugenics but rather mentions our sympathy toward those less fortunate. Compare to the original:

With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.[97]
For a rebuttal of the claim see the Talk Origins page.[98]

Evolution encourages eugenicsEdit

Stein claims, "[T]hey were pioneers in this fledging science known as eugenics. They thought they could help evolution along by sterilizing the so-called feeble-minded and prohibiting them from getting married." (1:11:56), Weikart claims, "Margaret Sanger was the head of Planned Parenthood. She was very fanatical in her promotion of eugenics. In fact, Planned Parenthood was all about birth control for the impoverished and lower classes to try to help improve the species." (1:12:46)

Note the extent of Sanger's endorsement of eugenics is complicated[99] and also that her or anyone else's opinions about the implications of Darwinism for society are irrelevant to the historical fact of evolution. For a rebuttal of the claim that acceptance of evolution implies advocacy of eugenics, see the Talk Origins page.[100]

Hitler based his views on DarwinismEdit

Weikart claims, "The war itself was part of the Darwinian struggle for existence, for Hitler...He thought he was benefiting humanity by driving evolution forward and creating a better humanity." (1:13:44) Berlinski claims, "Nonetheless, if you open Mein Kampf and read it--especially if you can read it in German--the correspondence between Darwinian ideas and Nazi ideas just leaps from the page." (1:05:53)

For a rebuttal of this claim see the Talk Origins page[101] and the link at this footnote.[102]

Evolution is baseless without a theory of abiogenesisEdit

Stein asks, "How can there be a theory about life without a theory about how life began?" Wells replies, "Well, a grand, overarching evolutionary story, of course, does include the origin of life." (32:08)

Wells is a fellow at ISCID as well as a senior fellow at the DI's Center for Science & Culture and is a signatory of the latter's dissent from Darwinism petition. He is the author of Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? Why much of what we teach about evolution is wrong, coauthor of The Design of Life, and a contributor to Darwin's Nemesis. He attended the Pajaro Dunes meeting and the RAPID conference. He is a Mormon and denies that HIV causes AIDS. In a work titled "Darwinism: Why I Went for a Second Ph.D.," Wells explains that "my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism..."[103] Wells' views do not represent the scientific consensus.

For a rebuttal of the claim see the Talk Origins page.[104]

Evolution has not been provedEdit

Wells claims, "I would say minor changes within species happen. But Darwin didn't write a book called How Existing Species Change Over Time. He wrote a book called The Origin of Species. He purported to show how this same process...leads to new species--in fact, every species--and the evidence for that grand claim is, in my opinion, almost totally lacking." (31:28)

For a rebuttal of this claim see the Talk Origins page[105] and Theobald Douglas' "29+ Evidences for Macroevolution."[106]

Evolution is ambiguously definedEdit

Berlinski claims, "Before you can ask is Darwinian theory correct or not, you have to ask the preliminary question, 'Is it clear enough so that it could be correct?'...One of my prevailing doctrines about Darwinian theory is, man, that thing is just a mess. It's like looking into a room full of smoke. Nothing in the theory is precisely, clearly, carefully defined or delineated." (29:30)

For a rebuttal of the claim see the Talk Origins page.[107]

Science cannot define "speciesEdit

Berlinski claims, "So we're talking about a gradual descent down the level of intelligibility until we reach evolutionary biology. We don't even know what a species is, for Heaven's sakes." (30:01)

For a rebuttal of the claim see the Talk Origins page.[108]

Microevolution is distinct from macroevolutionEdit

Nelson claims, "Well, 'evolution' is a kind of funny word. It depends on how one defines it. If it means simply change over time, even the most rock-ribbed fundamentalist knows that the history of the Earth has changed, that there's been change over time. If you define evolution precisely, though, to mean the common descent of all life on Earth from a single ancestor via undirected mutation and natural selection--that's a textbook definition of neo-Darwinism--biologists of the first rank have real questions." (22:42, emphasis added)

It is interesting to note that Nelson's "textbook" definition of neo-Darwinism is similar to the definition of Darwinism provided in Of Pandas and People, of which Nelson was a critical reviewer. That definition is, "The theory that all living things descended from an original common ancestor through natural selection and random variation, without the aid of intelligence or nonmaterial forces." Compare this to the definition of Darwinism given in A View of Life: "The theory that evolutionary change occurs primarily through the agency of natural selection working on random variation."[109] Note the latter definition lacks any mention of an original ancestor or of a lack of direction.

For a rebuttal of the claim see the Talk Origins page.[110]

Microevolution selects only existing variationEdit

Tree physiologist Maciej Giertych claims, "Well, Darwin assumed that the increase in information comes from natural selection. But natural selection reduces genetic information, and we know this from all the genetic manipulation studies that we have." (42:01)

Giertych is a signatory of the DI's "A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism" statement and is a young-earth creationist who opposes the teaching of evolution in school.[111] He authored a letter to Nature in which he admitted his belief "[n]o positive mutations have ever been demonstrated" as well as made the claim evolution is disproved by "archaeological and palaeontological evidence that dinosaurs coexisted with humans."[112] Giertych is controversially introduced in Expelled as a "population geneticist." (51:53)

For a rebuttal of the claim see the Talk Origins page[113] and the link at this footnote.[114]

Do you want to be descended from a monkey?Edit

Kevin Lee sings, "I didn't come from no monkey." (Evolution, 24:01)

See how many creationist claims you can spot in this song.[115] For a rebuttal of this claim see the Talk Origins page.[116]

Inherit the Wind is false propagandaEdit

Dembski claims, "Inherit the Wind--that movie, which is really bogus history based on the Scopes trial--has carried the day." (53:15)

For a rebuttal of this claim see the Talk Origins page.[117]

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