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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Expelled: Kind correspondent wonders why I am not in the film

Mohammed writes to tell me that he and his friends saw Expelled recently and notes,
My friends haven't really been engaged in the ID/Neo-darwinism debate, so it did it a lot in terms of changing their impression of who the ID guys were. Essentially their impressions went from these guys are probably religious nut-cases to....wow, these guys are pretty intelligent. I imagine that was probably one of the intents of the film, to dispel the stereotypes created largely by a powerful and also often biased media. We all really enjoyed the film.

Well, some day I hope to write a book about the legacy media attempt to shape the design controversy to suit the journalists' own views.

Mohammed also wants to know why I wasn't in the film. Well, for one thing, I wasn't kicked out of anything for making the intelligent design controversy my major beat.

Oh sure, people laughed at me in 2001 when I said it would be one of the biggest stories of the decade by mid-decade. But I didn't mind because I knew I had to be correct. You see, when I first started tracking the controversy in 2001, I discovered that every six months people were saying that ID was dead. Then every four months, three months, then practically every week. If it were really dying out, the "It's dead!" trend line would be inverted from that. So in 2002, I found a publisher and started writing By Design or by Chance?.

Actually, I was interviewed extensively for the film on two separate occasions, once in Toronto in (I think) 2006 and once in Seattle in 2007. I might end up on the DVD, who knows?

In any event, I promise NEVER to claim, as Richard Dawkins has, that I was tricked into getting involved. True, I had no clear idea what producer Mark Mathis was planning to do when he interviewed me the first time, and I am not sure how clear an idea Mark had either. But I figured if I said something sensible, he could do what he liked with it.

His uncertainty didn't surprise me. When you first start researching a story for any medium, you don't know exactly what you will find. You know it's a story for the kind of reason I have given above (a "red flag" trend line, for example). After that, it's all hard digging to figure out what's generating that trend line.

Incidentally, I replied to Mohammed, saying,

I am glad your friends grasped the central point. Essentially, the universe and life forms shows evidence of intelligent design.

It is semi-accidental that most of the people who now insist that that is true are Christians.

Most North Americans are at least nominal Christians, and only a serious Christian would care enough to risk his career.

The atheists have a problem with that fact so they are looking for other solutions. (That’s no surprise.)

As the story is unfolding in the Middle East too, we will find that most of the people on the design side would be serious Muslims. Mustafa [a Turkish journalist friend] calls it like that, actually.

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