Sunday, April 20, 2008

Expelled Exposed?

Last night I got a chance to see Ben Stein's new docu-drama "Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed". At first I did not know what to expect since the documentary interestingly was not critically reviewed (they did not let critics give reviews beforehand)? So perhaps I was in for a "decent" semi-popular level documentary such as Lee Strobel's "Case for Christ". I already had a red flag placed in my mind when Stein was interviewed by famous Presbyterian scholar R.C Sproul on his "Renewing your mind" radio show and the show seemed to go out of its way to preface Stein's interview by the recurring statement, "Renewing you're mind does not endorse all the views expressed by Ben Stein and the documentary Exposed".

Without going into all the various details and debates of the documentary what I witnessed was a rather poor attempt by Stein and his collaborators to use emotion rather than fact and professional protocol (such as showing both sides of an issue without bias or logical fallacies, such as strawman arguments, ad hoc, red herring, etc). And a good job Stein did in his bombastic presentation of the very serious issues surrounding intelligent design vs the thesis of common descent. Sure the audience laughed and pointed at the caricatures that were made of Dawkin and the "evil evolutionists" but this does a great disservice to the American popular mind. Instead of presenting the very serious issues on this great debate of our generation in a sober and analytical fashion, we are given cartoons. A much more intelligent and cautious introduction to these issues starring powerhouses of both sides (Dr. Alister McGrath, celebrated Anglican scholar and Professor Richard Dawkins) is found here -

The problems trailing Expelled do not end here on philosophical grounds. The guerilla ambush tactics and falsehoods that the producers of Expelled used are well documented, one example by the NY Times - Very disconcerting and problematic are the deliberate falsehoods and decievements of the producers of Expelled to get these scholars "in" their documentary, classical methods of the unlearned crowds, similar to the way heretical groups such as the "Jehova's Witnesses" do to patristic scholars to bolser their views upon the ignorant.

The question naturally arises, what does the church then believe concerning human evolution? The regula fide is obviously silent on this issue since this scientific concept is a relatively new one post-dating the fathers and the major thinkers of the historic church. However since Darwin proposed his theory the response of Christians have been one of these two;

1. Reject all forms of evolution and believing God created instantaneously mankind (represented mostly by fundamentalist Protestants who hand in hand believe that the world is 6000 years old and a literal 7 day creation).

2. Belief that the evolution of humans was providentially guided by God (known as the Theistic view of evolution). Usually this view is accompanied by the old age earth or that it is billions of years old and that the account in Genesis is poetic genre not to be taken as literal 24 hour periods.

Protestants being consistent in their hermeneutic (sola scriptura) you can understand why they would be trenchant about taking the account of Genesis literally and thus believe evolution to be unholy, the work of a blind universe unconcerned about love or the care of the infirm. Catholics on the other hand have been much more open to Theistic evolution (not blind untheistic evolution). Pope Pius XII declared that "the teaching authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions . . . take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter—but the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God" (Pius XII, Humani Generis 36). In other words, Catholics are not obliged to believe in evolution or on the other hand, in an instantaneous creation of humanity. Behind this thinking for Catholics is the thought that God reveals Himself both in Sacred revelation (the regula fide and the Scriptures) and in the natural world (as Paul explains to us in Romans 1). Our Protestant brothers once again rob themselves following slavishly the fantasy of sola scriptura and thus by believing in a "young earth" blind themselves to the painful truth (to them) that science has revealed certain dates about the earth's age. Catholics are much more common sense people in basing their epistemic conclusions, obviously the earth is not young since it is manifest to our eyes in science, likewise obviously the innovation of sola scriptura is not right since the New Testament was not canonized until the fourth century in Athanasius' Easter Letter and thus the early Christian church looked to the regula fide as well as Scripture for the correct interpretation of doctrine.

But I digress, the point being far from ignoring God's handiwork in His universe we should embrace and meditate on the great truths He is displaying in them. What is necessary for Catholics is the understanding that the souls of mankind are not in anyway a process or developed (or undeveloped). God is the sole and unique creator of the souls of man and He does this for a specific reason, His Son died for these souls in redemptive history. Our final resurrected bodies is what really counts, not that we are ugly, fat, dismembered, eaten by lions or burned at the stake in this world.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, I was thinking about renting the movie. I saw his interview with Dr. Sproul on YouTube and I thought it was fantastic. Granted Dr. Sproul seems to have done more of the talking, but man there was some great information packed into it. Anyway, thanks for the info.