FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–A controversial documentary set for release nationwide April 18 could foster a cultural shift “equivalent to the fall of the Berlin Wall,” says William Dembski, research professor of philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The seminary hosted a private screening of “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” (PG) in early March. In the film, host Ben Stein tracks down scholars who have been “expelled” by the academic community for their support of intelligent design (ID), a research program that flies in the face of Darwinism. Dembski is featured in the documentary.
“This film exposes the hypocrisy of an academic and cultural elite who pretend that they value freedom of inquiry and expression but in fact suppress it when it clashes with their deeply held materialistic convictions,” Dembski said. He and other proponents of ID have suggested that the universe shows signs of having been designed by an intelligent being.
Many fields of study within modern science involve intelligent design, including archeology, forensics and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), Dembski said. An archeologist, for example, examines the evidence -– such as a curiously shaped stone — to determine whether it might be the product of a human intelligence.
“These sciences, however, are uncontroversial because any intelligence detected through them could be an ‘evolved’ intelligence,” Dembski said. “Most of the action with ID, on the other hand, centers in biology, so that any intelligence involved with the emergence of living things is likely to be an ‘unevolved’ intelligence. ID therefore challenges materialistic theories of evolution, such as Darwinism.”
Unlike biblical creationism, ID does not begin with the Genesis account of creation, nor do its proponents attempt to describe the nature of the intelligence that designed the universe. Despite this fact, Dembski noted, “ID is friendly to Christian theism in a way that materialistic forms of evolution never have been.”
“One of the biggest obstacles to people coming to Christ in Western culture is the impression that science has disproved the Bible and Christianity,” he said. “ID therefore helps to correct this false impression by showing that our best science supports belief in a higher intelligence responsible for life. ID does not give you the Christian God as such, but it puts you in the right ballpark.”
Dembski’s trials at Baylor University — which describes itself as “the world’s largest Baptist university — from 1999-2005 are not documented in the film. Among other things, he drew the wrath of the science, philosophy and religion departments early in his tenure there when it was learned that he was heading up an ID think tank on campus. Dembski’s role in the documentary is mainly as someone explaining Intelligent Design for the audience.
Dembski told the Southern Baptist TEXAN that those who most need to see the movie are “parents of children in high school or college, as well as those children themselves, who may think that the biological sciences are a dispassionate search for truth about life but many of whose practitioners see biology, especially evolutionary biology, as an ideological weapon to destroy faith in God.”
Robert Marks, who holds the title of “distinguished professor of engineering” at Baylor University, also appears in the film as one of the “expelled” academics. Although he remains at Baylor as a tenured professor, Baylor officials last year forced Marks to return grant money it received related to ID research and forced his ID research website to an off-campus server.
“I sat there and I laughed,” Marks said of his reaction watching the film. “I laughed because I have seen this atheistic, big-science mafia squad come out and kill the careers of many of my friends. Guillermo Gonzalez, who I knew at the University of Washington. Richard Sternberg, who I recently met. And to see their motivation and goals so clearly exposed in a Ben Stein sort of dry humor was incredible. I really, really enjoyed the movie. I think it is going to have an enormous impact. I hope it does.”
For more information visit www.getexpelled.com or www.expelledthemovie.com. The movie is rated PG for thematic elements and very brief language. Based on reporting by Benjamin Hawkins, a writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Jerry Pierce, managing editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN newspaper.