Friday, April 04, 2008

Thinking Aloud about Expelled

I'm sure my readers have noticed that I haven't really commented on the Expelled movie that's been such a hot topic on the science blogosphere. It's not like I don't have opinions on it (I do), but other people like Laelaps and PZ and Richard Dawkins and the Blue Collar Scientist have covered the oddities surround the film with such vigor that I really can't add anything worthwhile. I can do nothing but laugh out loud at the movie, which seems to have a duel agenda: 1) Assume that if you're in academia, specifically the sciences, and you harbor any lingering doubts about Darwinian evolution, you're fired or denied tenure or something; and 2) Darwinism fueld the Holocaust.

In fact, as I've referenced before, Hitler's wrath may have been partially inspired by Christian beliefs. I'm not sure why the Christian zealots are so intent on blaming the deaths of millions of Jews on Chuck D., but I suppose anything you can blame the Holocaust for must be pretty bad.

But I do have some thoughts, confused ones, about Expelled. Mainly, I'm not sure who the target audience is supposed to be. I don't see your average teenager seeing Expelled over something like Die Hard 4 (which is not in the theaters, but you see my point). Nobody who has a shred of intellectual scruples would see it, and nobody in the sciences proper is going to see it. Apparently a lot of church groups are scheduling private screenings, but...what else is new? Who else is going to see it? Who is Expelled trying to get ahold of?

The church groups who see this movie will be getting the same speeches they got from Kent Hovind (Dr. Dino), so it's not new information. Expelled is preaching to the choir (literally). Does the film aim to change any minds, or merely re-enforce Creationist dogma and scientific suspicions? I suspect the latter, although I don't see what purpose that ultimately serves. All of the blog authors I mention above, and many more, have done a fantastic job of picking apart the film and rightly criticizing the filmmakers for the fiasco they've created with screenings and publicity. This information is getting to the public ear.

On the other hand, what minds does PZ or Laelaps or Dawins or even I hope to change? I somehow doubt that any of my readers are enrolled in God Loves You University, nor are those people reading Laelaps or PZ or Darren Naish or anyone else on my blogrole. Whose minds do WE hope to change? Am I just preaching to the choir? Are all of us?


lantaro said...

Interestingly enough, Hitler believed himself to be a Christian doing the work of God. He was also absolutely batshit fucking LOCO. Ever see Se7en? John Doe thought God wanted him to kill fat people and prostitutes.

He too, was also batshit fucking loco.

I just love saying that, it rings so well.

Blue Collar Scientist said...

"On the other hand, what minds does PZ or Laelaps or Dawins or even I hope to change? I somehow doubt that any of my readers are enrolled in God Loves You University, nor are those people reading Laelaps or PZ or Darren Naish or anyone else on my blogrole. Whose minds do WE hope to change? Am I just preaching to the choir? Are all of us?"

An excellent question. There is some evidence that a few creationists read my blog. So maybe, possibly, I might have an outside chance of perhaps penetrating their consciousness.

But what I'm really trying to do is set out some talking points and frames for use by others when we (science communicators) talk about this topic. I'm a disciple of Mike the Mad Biologist, and we agree that the attack on creationism needs to be an attack on its morals.

BusaFan said...

Your recent posts seem to have an agenda there Zach! I'm curious now why it has become so important to change peoples' minds? Suddenly you're becoming the thing you hate the most, one with an opinion that forces it on others!

How much do we all hate people forcing their ideas on us? A lot my friend! A lot. Yet you’re becoming one of those people. Somebody who has all the answers, somebody who knows, somebody who will lead people anywhere they will follow. The shocking thing is thinking about just how many people are like that? How many lives have been wasted in these pursuits?

100 years ago somebody dedicated their life to dinosaurs! They lived and breathed dinosaurs for year after year. Learning all they could! They knew everything there was to know about dinosaurs at the time, and they shared their information. They got their friends talking about dinosaurs, and even told the people who simply didn’t care, but life being life, it ended. Now we find out that dinosaur man was completely wrong! Every little fact he’d learned, was wrong.

Are we really that much smarter now? Do we really have all that information now? Is it really worth the effort to convince somebody of what you think is right? How arrogant do you have to be to believe you have all the answers? How do you explain the complexities of life? How can you say for example “Love is just chemical firings in our brains that make us stay with our mates and raise kids.” You can’t possibly believe that can you? That your cognition is entirely biological?

Screw it, I’m off to class. You have yourself a wonderful day, and remember. God Loves you.

Zach Miller said...

Agenda? What? I'm thinking out loud, wondering who Expelled is trying to reach. And in wondering about THAT, I wonder who I am reaching on this blog. I'M not necessarily trying to change any minds--I'll leave that to PZ, Laelaps, and other more well-spoken bloggers. I do like getting a kick in now and then (like the squid thing--what was THAT?), though.

And are you seriously suggesting that our knowledge of dinosaurs has not improved SIGNFICANTLY within the last century? Because I think you're wrong!

BusaFan said...

Ahh good clarification!

I actually have seen a lot of different information about dinosaurs in the past 100 years, but could you call it improvement? Who is to say what we know now is so much more accurate than what they knew 100 years ago? And how do we know 100 more years down the road everything you're learning right now is junk?

That's what I was saying with that bit!

Zach Miller said...

100 years ago, dinosaurs were tail-dragging swamp lizards that went extinct because they were too stupid and mammals took over because of that.

Today, we know dinosaurs were active, sometimes feathered critters that left living decendants and went extinct ultimately because of that giant comet, but diversity was pretty bad at the end anyway...

Will be be wrong about some things in another 100 years? Sure! But there are certain animals, like T.rex, where we have SO much information that, without an actual clone, it would be difficult to significantly add to our knowledge or disprove it. I mean, we have unfossilized marrow! That's pretty good! They didn't have that in 1908!

Anonymous said...

I wonder, would a public school teacher in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, be allowed to say the following:

"It is interesting to contemplate ... [all the many forms of life on earth] ... so different from each other, have all been produced by laws acting around us. ... There is grandeur in this view of life, HAVING BEEN ORIGINALLY BREATHED BY THE CREATOR INTO A FEW FORMS OR INTO ONE; and that from so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved."

Just imagine a public school teacher who says those words: that God creates life and places it on the earth in a few forms, and then that life evolves according to the physical and natural laws that God put into place in the universe.

Would that be allowed?


Why? Because the quote is from: On the Origin of the Species, Chapter XV, Recapitulation and Conclusion, By Charles Darwin.

If you are going to teach Darwin's theory of evolution in public schools, you should teach what Darwin actually wrote about it.

Michael S. Class

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