This week I interviewed Expelled producer Mark Mathis for my WorldNetDaily column.
The interview lasted an hour, and reading comments to my column from Darwinian apologists, I see Mathis covered many questions and misinformation: What exactly is Expelled about? Were Darwinian academics/scientists hoodwinked into being interviewed for the film? Did the film purposefully misinterpret their thoughts? What about that Scientific American review? Does teaching Intelligent Design violate the separation of Church and State? Is teaching ID just a backdoor attempt to teach religion in the schools?
Mathis has been conducting Q&A after Expelled screenings across the country and said the experience has been eye-opening. What was the biggest surprise, I asked?
Read his answer to that and all other questions on page 2.
What exactly is Expelled about?
Some commenters have wondered what Expelled is about. Explained Mathis, “The film is really about the academic persecution. It gets into some areas of social Darwinism: When a society embraces a materialist philosophy, what then are the applications? We get into Nazism and eugenics. There has been a tremendous amount of literature written about Darwinism ideas and Nazi ideas. Darwinists today want to deny any connection. We are not saying in the film there is a direct line, that Darwinism leads to Nazism, but that it is a necessary condition.
“And so we get into the cell, beautiful animation of what goes on inside the cell, continued Mathis. “We get onto some questions. One of the big problems with Darwinism doesn’t talk about how life comes from nonlife. Darwinism starts with the cell, which seems to be by my way of thinking an intellectually dishonest approach. How can you start with the cell, when you don’t describe how you get from inanimate matter to an extraordinarily complex organism? Darwinism doesn’t address that.”
[From Expelled discussion guide]
Nor can it be addressed. “I can tell you anecdotally based on all the different universities and professors I have encountered, my personal belief is you’ve got thousands upon thousands of scientists and students who look at the evidence and see Darwinism greatly lacking, but they don’t say a word because they will be expelled. They know they will be treated as a pariah. They will compromise their career path.”
“The big shock for me is the way the scientific establishment has responded in such a hostile way,” said Mathis. “They are looking for any little crack they can to damage or discredit the film, to act as if the academic persecution hasn’t been going on.”
Mathis said when he screened Expelled in New York for Scientific American magazine, an American science journal, “there wasn’t even a pretense of journalistic balance.” [Read review here.]
Mathis said during the “too long” one-and-a-half hour interview following the screening, “It was just one attack question after another. They didn’t hide the fact they were devoted Darwinists, and that they thought the premise of the film was completely inaccurate and driven by an agenda they felt like it was their job to dismantle.”
Is Darwinism a religion?
What comes first these days, Darwinism as a scientific theory to be analyzed or an ideology to be protected? Responded Mathis, “Their philosophy of life influences how they interpret the data. They broad-brush: ‘We don’t know answers, but we are collecting data as to where this information come from.’ But how is it that mutations are supposed to build all information, but our genetics show mutation destroys information? There are levels of complexity; this is difficult stuff. And there is no accountability. When you’re in a biology department, and 90% of the people are all in agreement, they’re all secularist atheists, you just run amuck.”
How can this absolute power be uncorrupted? Said Mathis, “Through academic freedom laws. This is a way we can return some level of freedom to science where, even if Intelligent Design isn’t taught, at least it needs to be discussed as an idea that is there. ID apologists want Darwinism clearly defined and fully taught, with all of its weaknesses.”
Are evolution and ID compatible?
Continued Mathis, “Here’s something that is important that people paying attention to the debate should know: Evolution is something ID theorists say is a reasonable. But the problem is where does the information come from? These two mechanisms – Darwinism or random mutation – are not going to get it done. But if there was programming behind it that allowed evolution to work, that would be a plausible idea. This is not opposed to evolution specifically. But Darwinists cannot accept this. Darwinism is a specific form of evolution which excludes everything but material processes. We say if evolution is true, there has to be some programming, ID, behind it. Theistic evolution: a superior being is behind it.”
Is teaching ID a breach?
What about the separation of church and state? Responded Mathis, “That is a banner they wave. But wait a minute. Then we’re not going to be able to teach evolution at all in school, because religion, church, is deeply seated in the science class via evolution. Atheism qualifies as religion. This is part of the problem, they have. This is core important piece of this debate. The scientific establishments wants to pretend they are not driving a secularist atheist agenda. They want to pretend they are on some high ground, unencumbered by philosophical baggage. That is preposterous. Every human being who ever lived is affected by philosophical baggage.
They act as if people who favor ID are driven by a belief system in God and the scientists driving Darwinism aren’t driven by atheism and secularism. But both sides are driven. [Graphic, left, from Expelled’s discussion guide.] The high priests in control are pointing: ‘If you believe in ID you’re being religious nut cases driven by your religion. But not us. We’re just driven by the evidence.’ That’s bogus. Their philosophy is impacting how they look at the evidence. They are teaching atheism by default. There is no way to get around this question other than to say let’s talk about both sides. Here’s the evidence for design. Here are the weaknesses. Here is the evidence for Darwinism evolution. Here are its weaknesses. Now decide for yourself.”
What about the complaint wanting to teach ID is just a sneaky way to teach religion in schools? Responded Mathis, “This is a red herring, most interesting to me. The biggest complaint that people who all the power in academia give about ID is this is a way to backdoor religion in the schools. I can destroy that myth in less than a minute. Line up everyone on the political atheists – religious atheists on left and those on the right and everyone in between, and ask this one question: Who among you wants religion taught in the science class? No one will raise his or her hand. Fundamentalists don’t want that. No one wants a science teacher teaching religion. What religious people want is an honest discussion in the science class about ID.”
Is abortion as it relates to eugenics broached in Expelled?
What about Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood, and abortion? Said Mathis, “We discuss that in the film. If you can devalue human life… if you’re no more valuable than an ant or bacterium, if this is a “fetus,” at what point is this a baby? We talk about PP. [Graphic, right, is from Expelled’s discussion guide.] PP is a direct outgrowth of Darwinism because of Margaret Sanger and her belief in eugenics. That’s part of what has gotten the Darwinists unglued. The eugenics movement is directly impactedby Darwinism.
What about complaints about Michael Moore type editing or Darwinists being interviewed under false pretenses? Responded Mathis: “You haven’t heard any complaints by scientists reviewed in the film about that sort of editing. They are saying rather that they were interviewed under false pretenses. Here’s the deal on that. I set up most of those interviews. I did most of those interviews. We told them we were doing a film that examines the cultural flashpoints of ID, evolution – 100% accurate. I sent many of these people the questions in advance. What journalists do that? We went over the interviews with them in advance They did the interview, signed a release, and were paid for their time. Two important things:
1. When you’re interviewing someone you want honest answers. So you don’t fill them in with every bit of background. It’s going to affect their answers, and you don’t want that. You want them to be as straight up as possible.
2. The important question is, what happened with the interview footage afterwards? What then will be done with those interviews? Will it be edited is such a way that the person talking feels his or her words were twisted? Ask them. They will say everything they say on the film is completely consistent with what they say publicly.
Any other enlightenments through the process of making Expelled?
Mathis: “The big wake up for me in this whole deal? I am stunned with the bad information, incomplete information that pops up on the net. The Internet grabs it, repeats it, and it gets misstated so many times it becomes fact. I’m stunned by people who pick stuff up and run with it. We’ve read accounts are so fantastically absurd, you don’t know where to start. This makes me very concerned. The society we live in, truth is not valued.”