Thursday, April 10, 2008

ID leaders fail--again?

The producers of Ben Stein's Expelled, the Nazi-stock-footage-laden documentary and alleged exposé of systematic and pervasive discrimination against ID proponents scheduled to be released next week, are now being threatened with legal action for copyright infringement.

(That link is to an atheist site. The gloating in the comments may be a bit much for the tenderhearted. You are forewarned.)

The complaint is that an animation of the inner workings of the cell shown in the movie is way too similar to one produced and copyrighted by a company with the peculiar name XVIVO. As I understand it, the similarities include the proverbial "copying a fake street" cartographer's trap. That is, recognized errors on the copyrighted animation also appear, I am told, in the Expelled version.

Sigh. I hope the case has no merit. Not because I have any grand expectations for the movie, but because it would be another black eye on the Christian community courtesy of the leaders of the ID movement. That is, to the ever growing list (from memory, I probably forgot one or two or ten):

  1. Deception (The Wedge Strategy.)

  2. Evangelism by deception (Even worse, also the Wedge Strategy and document.)

  3. Unsupported claims of imminent victory, also known as false prophecy.

  4. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, by ungracious press release.

  5. Collaboration in the "culture wars" with heretics.††

  6. Bizarre and silly pretenses of legal expertise, shown to be so much hot air by subsequent...

  7. Sir-Robinining.

  8. Juvenile, flatulence-laden (and then deskunked) animations mocking a federal judge.

  9. Publishing, in a tizzy fit, the names, addresses and home phone numbers of the Baylor Board of Regents. (Due to the Potemkin character of the Uncommon Descent web site, the link no longer exists.)

  10. Resource wasting, mean-spirited, childish, unseemly referrals to Homeland Security.

  11. Fostering an unbiblical science vs. faith false dichotomy.

  12. Fostering an atmosphere of whining, Christian victimhood.

We would have to add, should the charges prove to have merit, plagiarism.

Let's hope not.

Anecdotally, I tell anyone who cares to ask either at the national lab I work at or at my university where I teach physics that I think the universe was intelligently designed by God. In fact, I have had many such discussions. I have never endured any adverse consequence. Of course, I don’t ever state that ID is science, because it isn’t. And I don’t ever state that my ID related writings should be part of my professional evaluation—because they aren’t science. The last thing I would want is for my scientific evaluation to be partly based on things I have written about ID. Or my theological writings in general, of which the ID writings are a proper subset. And I don’t state that I should be allowed to put my ID views in the physics curriculum. Which would be dumb, because they are not science. And I don't believe that the university should be required, in some misuse of the concept of academic freedom, to host my writings on its server.

†† OK, that one is a bit personal. I'm not a culture warrior. But if I were, if I wanted to influence the culture directly because I though it glorified God, then I'd consider it ministry work and would not collaborate with someone who affirms that Sun Myung Moon is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. I understand that other Christians may feel differently. Some feel that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

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