The Battle that Never Ends
A new movie is scheduled for showing in theatres during the spring of 2008. It is not your average movie fare. This one, although entertaining, has the objective of educating the public about an issue of great importance. The film is actually one skirmish in a bitter battle for the hearts and minds of North Americans.
The issue is the nature of science, and by implication, the nature of truth. The immediate issue is whether the practice of science should be like a monopoly, where only one point of view is allowed. Specifically, this monopoly view holds that Darwinian evolution is true. There are a lot of highly qualified scientists who object to this view of course, but when they speak their minds, they are often expelled from their jobs and denied research funding. Thus the name of the new movie is Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. It recounts the stories of many scientists, especially intelligent design supporters, who seek to use their minds to examine evidence, rather than simply assuming that the majority position is correct.
Ben Stein, a writer and star in the new film, is well known in the United States. Not a scientist, his interest in the issue comes from a political interest in free speech. He wants to know why some highly qualified scientists are forced out of their professions when they question Darwinian evolution. Why is evolution so important to the majority of scientists that they refuse to allow any discussion on the topic?
The challenge for the film makers is to attract the interest of the public. Is this possible? We shall see. Certainly the promotional clips look promising. The film is produced by Premise Media Corporation whose objective is “Producing world class media that stirs the heart and inspires the mind to truth, purpose and hope.” The director and writers are all big names and it is expected that the film will be distributed through the usual commercial outlets. Watch for it!
In the meantime the defenders of evolution have not been idle. The American National Academy of Sciences in January 2008 released a new edition of their booklet Science, Evolution and Creationism which declares that evolution is essential to scientific research and to teaching. The 88-page booklet is aimed at anyone involved with science whether from a learning perspective, a teaching perspective, or from applied applications (like medicine and agriculture) or from a research perspective. One of the showcase examples of the reliability of evolution theory in the booklet is a Canadian fossil fish. In April 2006 Neil Shubin and others published an account of a Tiktaalik, a fossil fish from Ellesmere Island, Nunavut Territory in Canada’s north (Nature April 6/06 pp. 757-771).
In addition to the National Academy of Sciences booklet, a book by Neil Shubin, called Your Inner Fish: a Journey Through the 3.5-Billion Year History of the Human Body appeared in print in January 2008. According to media reports, Shubin hails Tiktaalik as a particularly dramatic demonstration of evolution. The confident cheers of the pro-evolution community might cause one to suspect that Tiktaalik supports their case. Nothing could be farther from the truth! When one considers the fossils themselves, an interesting story emerges.
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