SPECIAL NOTE: Hey there, RYM readers, this is Barry, Brian's twin brother (or evil double, you take your pick). While he's away for a short bit to officiate at a friend's wedding he offered to let me try my hand at posting. By day I'm a Marketing Consultant, but for most of my adult life Brian has been plugging me into his ministry as either a youth group sponsor, Sunday school teacher or camp counselor. My involvement with this blog is usually as 1) a reader and 2) the guy who feeds Brian all his cool technology links, but I'll do my best to add some value in Brian's brief absence.
In a country where roughly 50% of the population continues to hold a strong belief in creationism as the most compelling theory for the existence of...well, everything...its not surprising that the recently released documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is creating both strong interest and controversy (including from some of the scientists interviewed in the film who allege they were mislead by the producers). The film -- hosted by the endearingly droll actor/economist Ben Stein (of Ferris Bueller fame) -- apparently takes a position in favor of the proposition known as Intelligent Design and against what it sees as the persecution of ID true believers in US scientific and academic circles.
In an interview on Beliefnet Stein explains that he got involved with the film because he sees the origins of evolutionary theory as something much darker than is commonly suggested:
I decided to work on it because I've always had questions about Darwinism. I have always been very concerned that Darwinism gave the basic okay to terrible racism and to the idea of murder based upon race. And I think most people don't realize what a sinister role Darwinism has had in the history of the 20th century, and I guess part of the history of the 19th century too.
Unfortunately for Stein (and the film's producers) Expelled has already been panned by most major critics, many of whom make a case similar to Beliefnet's Becky Garrison that the film simply falls far short of making a compelling case:
While Expelled set its sights on disarming their enemy - the "neo-Darwinists" who have ostracized scientists who dare give credence to intelligent design - more often than not they ended up shooting biblical blanks. Unfortunately, the nuances of the evolution versus intelligent design debate were left on the cutting floor in favor of more provocative soundbites that one might expect from say an NBC Dateline "Catch an Evolutionist!"-type special.
I haven't yet seen the film, but plan to despite the fact that I see no inherent contradiction between a belief in evolution and a belief in a biblical perspective of the world. And while I'm definitely more on the skeptical side of the ID debate, I think this is a fascinating debate that we should be eager to expose our young people to and invite them to engage in. These are the sorts of topics that I love bringing into a youth group meeting or into my high school Sunday School class because it allows you to challenge the youth to take a stand and then explain and defend that stand. And if they get passionate about it and argue a little, so much the better! To me it matters little which side of the controversy they come down on as long as they are gaining experience in taking ownership of what they believe and in articulating a reasoning for that belief.
I've been looking for an outing for my Sunday School class to shake the students up a little -- maybe I'll take them to see this movie. What do you think?
Friday, April 18, 2008