Cracking the wall in science
Carl Wieland chats with Mark Mathis, producer of the movie, Expelled.
As you would gather from the article Expelled: New movie exposes persecution of anti-Darwinists on this website, CMI is pleased about the potential of the new Ben Stein movie Expelled: No intelligence allowed. It is being released in mid-April 2008 in the USA, where the controversy is particularly ‘hot’.
This powerful documentary is all about the persecution and censorship of any scientist who dares to oppose the Darwinist paradigm, by even suggesting the relatively modest hypothesis that the universe shows detectable evidence of design.
The producer, Mark Mathis, spoke to me about how he got involved. With his background as a TV news and anchor reporter and a media consultant for years, one of the film’s executive producers contacted him for some help in setting up interviews. However, the job quickly ballooned into a fulltime contract, one that suited his skills and, in particular, his passion.
He says, ‘My personality is one that gets really fired up about injustice—it’s part of the reason why I got into the news business, when I saw how badly people were treated by the media’. For that reason, Mark says, he has written a widely-read book called Feeding the Media Beast: An Easy Recipe for Great Publicity (Purdue University Press, June 2002). ‘It gives people clear and simple rules to follow that enable them to win powerful publicity while protecting themselves from what is often an unfair process at the same time.’
Working on this project gave him ample reason to become incensed about the ‘arrogant contempt’ of the Darwinist establishment, and much of the media, for people who believe that the data supports the hypothesis that the universe exhibits signs of design. He says:
‘It really is contempt—it’s not just that they disagree with them, but the way they describe them, treat them and so forth. The Darwinists make it sound as if such scientists are involved in some backdoor attempt to get religion into schools. What is really going on behind all this “smoke” is that they’re really scared of the hypothesis of design itself. As long as religious people stay in their churches, that’s OK, they don’t mind. But as soon as ID supporters get into the science arena, the atheists and materialists get very upset because they see this as their exclusive domain. It’s an elitist, arrogant position, and it’s the opposite of what science ought to be.’
Still in the context of Darwinist contempt, Mark referred to the denial of tenure to the astrophysicist Guillermo Gonzalez, which we have featured before (see Darwinian thought police strike again). ‘The Iowa State University Board of Regents just now officially confirmed its denial of that tenure’, Mark said, ‘despite the smoking gun email evidence that it was solely his ID work that caused this denial. This indicates the boldness of the scientific/Darwinist establishment, that they don’t care about all the public outcry, pressure, etc. and are prepared to make this eminently qualified astronomer unemployed when his contract expires soon.’
Mark believes that this battle is being ‘confused by definition’, that the terms are being deliberately fudged to give the ‘edge’ to evolution/Darwinism. He says:
‘The recent NOVA special by PBS on the Dover ID trial broadcast an analysis that was not only heavily slanted in favour of Darwinism, they then brought out a resource teaching guide, downloadable free, for teachers to use, to add to the pro-Darwinist effect. It uses this technique of equivocation, where evolution is defined as the “fact” of genetic change over time (which is a fact). Then a bit further down, it is switched to an atheistic, naturalistic definition in which evolution suddenly becomes the belief that random mutations and selection account for everything we see in biology.’
Mark himself has been a Christian for 25 years, but took this subject ‘mostly on faith’. He says, ‘I thought I knew a lot more than I did.’ Once he got into reading a lot of books and articles, he says, he quickly discovered that there was much more to know, and he is convinced that intelligent design is a viable scientific hypothesis that ‘should absolutely be on the table.’
In turn, he says, that reinforces his belief system. He says ‘Darwinism is a scientific hypothesis too, and I would never censor the teaching of that. I think it’s a weaker hypothesis, but it should be taught side by side.’ Which is similar to CMI’s position, too. What Mark finds ‘offensive’ is that ‘this relatively weak hypothesis is taught as scientific fact’.
Intelligent design, he says, ‘is a strictly scientific hypothesis that says that there is detectable evidence of design in the universe. It doesn’t say who the designer is—I wouldn’t want someone teaching my kids in science class that the designer is Buddha or Allah, that’s something for the home and the church.’
He personally believes that the source of the design is the God of the Bible, on philosophical and theological grounds. And Mark believes that his faith in the God of the Bible is philosophically, theologically and scientifically consistent—but that it’s personal. What he also finds hard to swallow about the stance taken against ID folk and creationists in general is that ‘we are being accused of trying to get our religion into the schools—but in fact the opponents of ID are doing exactly that—getting their religion into schools. The religion of atheism is being taught in schools, by way of naturalism and materialism. By teaching that everything we see around us came to be by way of mutation and selection, and shows no evidence of intelligence behind the process, that religion is promoted.’
Mark says, ‘The Darwinists talk about ID not being science, because it’s not testable—but the only aspects of Darwinism that are testable, such things as adaptation and so forth, neither confirm Darwinism nor refute the design hypothesis.’
We agree that we can and should carefully define the parameters of the debate, delineating the scientific and other aspects to avoid confusion. But our ministry position for years has recognized that being upfront about one’s personal presuppositions is the most effective way to reach folk. In short, we think that leaving the Bible and God out of the debate has many disadvantages. I suggested to Mark that the ID folk must have been surprised at the strength of the opposition to them, thinking that maybe excluding the Bible and God would ensure a courteous scientific debate. He agreed, saying, ‘Our film shows this—the way in which people were shocked at the nastiness, the baseness of the opposition in particular. Michael Egnor, a brain surgeon who is featured in Expelled, says that the Darwinists called him “unprintable names that were printed”.’
Mark went on to say, ‘Even we folk working on the project experienced this same sort of attack—they’ve made all kinds of false accusations and resorted to name-calling. I’ve been called a liar, a hypocrite, and have been mocked as some sort of evil creationist with ulterior motives.’
I asked him about whether the age of the earth issue came up during the project, and he said it didn’t, ‘mainly because the issue of origins is so huge that one has to narrow the field somewhat. We wanted to talk more in the film about the persecution of scientists who disagreed with the establishment view—about the issue of freedom of thought and opinion, and the implications. Because this issue is not simply academic—it reaches deep into the culture.’
Mark says that the film uses the metaphor of the Berlin Wall as descriptive of the way in which scientists who do not share the establishment belief in Darwinism/naturalism are ‘kept out’. He says, ‘We’re trying to crack that wall in science. Our film by itself can’t do that, but it can be a catalyst. We need large numbers of people to go see this film on its opening weekend in the US. This will send a strong message to our culture and our political leaders that the people care about this issue. If the public makes that statement, then the leaders will start caring about it, and we can start to see some accountability in the universities, and return proper freedom and standards to science. But one way or another, I would say to any strident Darwinist, it’s naïve for you to think that this issue will go away, by just putting your fingers in your ears and saying you’re not going to listen to a valid scientific hypothesis.’
We certainly agree that the issue isn’t going to go away. It would be really good for as many US Christians as possible to help make a ‘splash’ with this movie, emailing their friends to go along. The more that people are awake to the issues, the harder it is for the Darwinists to maintain their grip on the scientific establishment.
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