Thursday, April 24, 2008

What is Meant by: "It's political"

Unfavorable reviews of the movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed largely focus on the allegation that the movie is political. Given the strong feelings of those involved in discussions of Intelligent Design this was inevitable. I don't think a movie can be made about Intelligent Design that does not invoke this response because of the mileage critics get from the political charge. Before developing this point let's look at two of the more reasonable complaints.

One points out that more moderate voices were not included in the film while the polarizing types were represented. Bilbo made this point:

We also get to see Dembski, Stephen Meyer, Paul Nelson, David Berlinski, and some minor ID guys. But NOT Michael Behe. Why? Probably because Behe argued for Common Descent in his latest book. That's a no-no when talking to most people in the religious right. They usually prefer YECism.

Michael Behe has been put forth as an example. Behe is prominent and considered more moderate than some IDists included in the film. However, based on the brutal comments directed at Behe when his most recent book was published, it is doubtful that the inclusion of Behe, or others considered more moderate, would have muted criticism. Opposition to ID is too deeply ideological to allow for fair and reasoned responses.

The best objection is the movie's linkage of Darwinism to the holocaust. There was a clear fitness concept in Nazi racial arguments and artificial selection was practiced through implementing the final solution. However, aside from knowing that homicidal maniacs will employ anything to advance their goals what can we take from the Darwinist connection? It is not going to bring about the removal of natural selection from evolution. Expect critics to focus heavily on the holocaust issue.

One of the lightweight objections is the complaint that Ben Stein is conservative as evidenced by this remark:

Bradford, you can pretend you know absolutely nothing about 20th-21st century American politics if you want to, but I'm not playing that game. Stein was a speech writer for Nixon, he's a well known conservative commentator,

Your basic red herring and a blatent emotional appeal to ideological motives at the expense of a fair assessment of the movie itself. In fact Hollywood bemoans the McCarthy era precisely because the political views of those in the entertainment business became a focus rather than their work. It hardly behooves critcs to practice McCarthyism.

So what is driving resistence to the movie? Some of it is nothing more than opposition to a movie advancing a cause critics oppose. The movie is doing better than expected at the box office and many are seeing the film's message.

There is a more fundamental reason for wanting to taint a cause with the politics charge. There is no better political strategy than one which convinces others that one message is to be taken at face value while the other is political. It is an almost certain guarantee of success. Political strategists struggle to achieve this objective during campaigns. No one likes to be had and that is essentially the message of the politics charge. Don't trust what he says for he has an agenda.

What is not being acknowledged by ID critics is the political nature of their own cause. That's also the reason they will strive to keep the focus on the "ID movement." It keeps your eyes off their own non-scientific intentions.

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