Monday, May 05, 2008

Why Was Michael Behe Expelled by Ben Stein?

Ever since the publication in 1996 of his book Darwin's Black Box, Michael Behe has been the most prominent biologist supporting "intelligent design theory." It is not surprising, therefore, that he was interviewed by Ben Stein for his movie Expelled, as indicated at the website for the movie. But it is surprising that this interview was cut out of the movie before its public release.

Or maybe this isn't so surprising if one considers how Behe's new book--The Edge of Evolution--subverts some of the crucial points in the Discovery Institute's rhetorical strategy, which would explain why Behe has fallen from favor with the folks at the Discovery Institute.

Was Behe expelled from Stein's movie for saying that "it's hard to imagine how there could be stronger evidence for common ancestry of chimps and humans" (p. 72)?

Was he expelled for suggesting that the evolution of orders, families, genera, and species could be explained in a Darwinian manner through random mutation and natural selection (pp. 217-20)?

Was he expelled for saying that "treating the Bible as some sort of science textbook" would be "silly" (p. 166), and that in science there should be "no relying on holy books or prophetic dreams" (p. 233)?

Was he expelled for saying that "the purposeful design of life to any degree is easily compatible with the idea that, after its initiation, the universe unfolded exclusively by the intended playing out of natural laws" (p. 232), which would support theistic evolution?

Was he expelled for saying that "an intelligent designer deliberately made malaria" to kill millions of innocent children, and therefore we should consider the possibility that "the designer isn't all that beneficent or omnipotent" (pp. 237, 239)?

Of course, Behe still supports "intelligent design" reasoning. But he is enough of an independent thinker in his assessment of the scientific evidence and arguments that he can move away from the prescribed doctrines of the Discovery Institute. Was that independence of thought the reason he was expelled from Stein's movie?


Anonymous said...

Great post. It'll be an interesting story to follow.

Anonymous said...

Yes indeed. See also deliberate removal of Ken Millar from "Expelled" because the makers didn't want to "confuse" the audience by showing a prominent Christian scientist supporting evolution.

(Nice blog, btw).

John Farrell said...

So Miller was actually interviewed for Expelled? Interesting.

Larry Arnhart said...

I have seen no evidence that Ken Miller was interviewed.

That Behe was interviewed seems clear based on the movie trailer and the website for the movie, which show Behe being interviewed by Stein.

It appears that originally Behe was interviewed as someone who had been "expelled" for his ID views. But although the Lehigh University biology faculty have put a disclaimer on their website saying that they disagree with Behe's views, Behe's job has not been threatened in any way. So it would have been hard for Stein to suggest that Behe's free speech or academic freedom were being denied.

Paul D. said...

GOOD POST! I wasn't aware that Behe was expelled. As for Ken Miller check out his op-ed piece. He was not interviewed for Expelled but what he says is quite interesting!

John Farrell said...

Thanks for posting that link, Paul. Great piece by Ken Miller. If there's any good news at all in this, it's that the Expelled movie is bombing. 50% and more box office drop every week since it opened.