Yesterday I had the pleasure of reading Roger Ebert's eviscerating review of Ben Stein's film "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." I hesitate to link people there, because while it does a fantastic job of pointing out the poor logic and deceptive tactics used in the film, it also carries a tone of condescension that is sure to turn off anyone who might have fallen trap to the film's dishonesty. Like most well-written screeds against the ideologies to which logic-minded people take issue, Mr. Ebert's is clearly intended to "preach to the choir," using language aimed at individuals sharing the opinions therein. Everything Mr. Ebert has to say is backed by logic and scientific evidence, but while saying it he sounds like a total asshole.
I think this one-sidedness is one of the many things keeping this ludicrous "debate" alive, ensuring that people on both sides of the issue keep fighting into the coming decades. I airquote "debate" in the previous sentence because the actual issue is extremely simple: Intelligent Design is not science, and thus doesn't belong in science classrooms. See, Science™ is a protocol devised to get to the bottom of things logically and rationally, limited to what can actually be observed and tested. That's it. No magic, no faith; just What You See is What You Get™. If you can't observe it, it can't be covered by science. If a theory cannot be backed up by testing and observation, it can't be called science.
Rather than putting effort into explaining to the layman that science is a protocol designed to attempt the determination of how things work, using ONLY WHAT CAN BE OBSERVED AND TESTED, proponents of science (who are by definition anti-ID -- not because of some hatred for religion, but because an Intelligent Designer CANNOT CURRENTLY BE OBSERVED OR TESTED FOR) feel the need to attack the misguided attempts by ID-proponents to attack the theory of evolution, and even science itself. Back and forth these attacks go, doing nothing but reaffirming what IDers already believe: that evolution is an attack on Christianity.
Unfortunately, I fear this is going to continue for a very long time. While I take issue with how the ID movement portrays science as "anti-religion," I have to admit that many of the outspoken folks trying to cry foul of Intelligent Design's methods, logic, and purpose happen to actually BE anti-religion folks, many of them of rather asshole-ish persuasion themselves. (I'm looking at you, Richard Dawkins.) I find this incredibly disheartening.
As of now, the opposition to the teaching of Intelligent Design in science classrooms is as follows: scientific theories are based upon the notion that observations and evidence overwhelmingly back them up. Intelligent Design theory posits no such testable, observable theories. All their time and energy is spent finding problems with portions of the evolution model, which, while actually pretty useful, is not the same thing as positing a theory of their own. The notion that everything was created by an intelligent force is a nice notion -- one which I happen to believe -- but it is not the same thing as a scientific theory. If you want to do science, then you have to do considerably more than just come up with a nice notion.
ID proponents (and Ben Stein's film) portray themselves as being "shut out" by science, that what they're doing is being ignored on the grounds that it attacks the accepted model, and that science is akin to persecution of religion. This simply isn't true. If the ID folks actually were to do the work involved in creating such a theory, doing the experimentation and observation necessary to back it up and get their work peer reviewed, it WOULD be accepted by science. Unfortunately, the main proponents of Intelligent Design Theory have no interest in doing that; they'd rather just fabricate controversy, pretending that the mean-old scientists just won't let them play because scientists hate Christians.
Sadly, it's far easier to rile up congregations and make them feel persecuted than to actually do the science they purport they're doing. By portraying evolution as anti-religion while claiming persecution at the hands of scientists, they've painted an inaccurate portrait of the "debate." People with no understanding at all of science now feel that their viewpoint ought be represented where it simply doesn't belong. This two-faced approach is nothing short of dishonest, and I personally feel that the level of dishonesty exhibited suggests that it's not just misguided, but also intentional.
I'm not sure What Jesus Would Do™, but I'm pretty darn confident that he wouldn't support lying to and misleading people in order to get them to believe the things he says.
If, upon learning that there's an R-rated Christian horror film in theaters, you feel that you just HAVE to experience it for yourself, I very strongly suggest you fight the urge.
I didn't, and thus had the extreme displeasure of sitting through what is quite possibly the worst movie I've ever seen -- and I saw both MASTER OF DISGUISE and MIMIC while they were in cinemas. The film in question is HOUSE, a low-budget adaptation of Frank Peretti & Ted Dekker's novel that somehow got released to theaters.
I've been trying to write this post for a couple weeks now, intending to summarize the film and give an idea of how truly awful it is, but it's just too awful. The film depicts a couple going through their own personal Hell, but I think the true intent of the film was to put ME through an hour and a half of Hell. I'm still not certain that Hell is a physical place, but I ain't takin' any chances... I almost didn't survive the screening, so an eternity of that is unfathomable. I'm catching up on back-tithings as we speak.
In any case, lest you're curious, this movie in no way deserved an R-rating. There's virtually no blood, no on-screen violence, and it's about as scary as a Very Special Episode of TV's BLOSSOM. The producers purportedly fought with the MPAA over the R-rating, but I find that highly suspect. I think instead that they asked Mabel to give it an R so as to trick hapless heathens into seeing it. Just now, while trying to find a copy of the poster of the film, I stumbled across Ted Dekker himself talking about the film, and I find that what he said completely backs up my impressions regarding the theatrical release of this film:
“This is still essentially the same story from the book. It’s the story of four lost souls entering their own hell, mistaking their one hope of rescue as something evil, and in the end either living or dying.
But the marketing has changed. The message is now going out to the millions who would never be caught dead watching a movie like ‘Left Behind,’ no pun intended. "
Indeed, it appears that some well-intentioned zealot put a lot of money into getting this stinker into theaters in order to turn some people's lives around. I'm all for trying to make people's lives better, but by tricking them into seeing a horrible movie?