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Flock Of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus

May 28th, 2008 | by Daniel DiRito |

The following video, Flock Of Dodos, is a documentary on the debate between those who accept evolution and those who argue in favor of an intelligent designer. I could be wrong, but it is arguably one of the best I’ve seen on the subject.

While the filmmaker is an avowed evolutionist, the treatment of the subject is an even handed and thoughtful exploration of the issues. Rather than add to the already large body of rhetoric and propaganda, this documentary is refreshingly unbiased.

The documentary exposes the crux of the intelligent design argument…that evolution and Darwinian Theory are not necessarily one and the same. Hence, they contend their disagreement isn’t necessarily with the general notion of an evolutionary process but with the fundamentals of the origin of life as elaborated by Darwin. That provides the necessary opening for the introduction of an intelligent designer (creator).

While it is possible to understand the contentions of those supporting intelligent design, I suspect their approach is more about creating a difference without a distinction in order to find an opening for the introduction of their religious ideology…albeit repackaged and disguised to look like a simple scientific disagreement.

The problem I have with those who push the intelligent design angle is their endless energy and ability to impose an absolutist bent when confronted with the volumes of evidence for evolution. While I understand their position, I cant get around the contradictions that exist in their other applications of their absolutism.

On the one hand, they suggest that the fossil record lacks enough transitional creatures to conclusively support Darwin’s contentions. On the other hand, they believe virtually every word written by numerous authors over a number of years in the Bible. This includes a belief in Jesus based primarily upon the written accounts of those followers who embraced his ideology. When Kansas school board member Kathy Martin states her disbelief in the fossil record…and argues that no one was there to see a lung fish walk out of water…the selective application of evidence becomes apparent.

Regardless, the filmmaker, Dr. Randy Olson, argues that the successes of those who favor intelligent design comes from their ability to approach the debate with a seemingly reasonable and unemotional demeanor…a demeanor that has the potential to be viewed as distinctly less dogged than the outrage that is coming from the scientific community. Olson contends the anger coming from the scientific community isn’t all that advantageous to succeeding in squelching the quasi-creationists.

Olson’s treatment is beneficial because he’s able to think about outcome without becoming overwhelmed by his own understandings of the scientific evidence. In other words, he’s kept his eye on the dynamics that may well determine the end result of the debate. Olson’s awareness of voter sentiment…and the predisposition towards religious beliefs that has dominated American politics for the last thirty years…assists Olson in remembering that those supporting evolution must win the public relations discussion as well as the scientific debate.

In the end, Olson’s documentary should instruct us that this battle will be about far more than a arrogant and erudite recitation of the scientific evidence. Winning hearts and minds remains a relevant endeavor…one that the scientific community and those who support it must not ignore.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

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  1. 9 Responses to “Flock Of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus”

  2. By Paul Merda on May 28, 2008 | Reply

    Yes, it is sad but we (scientists) must “win hearts and minds” in this debate. I say its sad because the fact that so many Americans don’t understand science or the scientific method, yet are willing to make a judegment in favor of ID just because it pulls at their religious (and unscientific) heartstrings.

    The problem is that ID isn’t science and can’t be because at some point “its a mircale” has to come in. Science is now, has been and always should be a naturalistic approach to understanding the Universe and life etc. Science is a Naturalistic endeavor meaning that nothing that isn’t a part of the Universe can affect it, otherwise, everything could be related to a miracle and no explanation would be needed. “Its a miracle” has no explanatory power and certainly isn’t repeatable in experimentation. That’s why ID can never amount to anything more than philosophy.

    We wouldn’t need to win hearts and minds if Americans actually understood science… The Euro’s do and few of them buy ID or any of the other mythologies about creation and biological diversity.

    “It is always more difficult to fight against faith than against knowledge.” – Adolph Hitler

  3. By Lisa on May 28, 2008 | Reply

    It is always more difficult to fight against faith than against knowledge.” – Adolph Hitler

    Nice quote from mass murderer. He is his own self proclaimed God

  4. By Craig R. Harmon on May 28, 2008 | Reply

    “It is always more difficult to fight against faith than against knowledge.”

    What does he mean, do you suppose?

  5. By Paul Watson on May 29, 2008 | Reply

    Craig,
    He probably meant that faith is quie capable of being held in spite of evidence, while knowledge tends to break down when contradictory evidence occurs.

    As an example, a Christian and Taoist can both absolutely believe themselves correct in their beliefs, but there isn’t any objective evidence to choose between them to an external observer. That makes faith difficult to argue against.

    And Lisa, congratulations. You win the award for unnecessary Godwinisation today.

  6. By Chris Radulich on May 29, 2008 | Reply

    I love the fact that they use the eye to illustrate irreduceable complexity. Meanwhile most of the people in the clip wear eye glasses

  7. By Paul Merda on May 29, 2008 | Reply

    What I mean by adding thge Hitler quote is that it is really easy to get a bunch of hyped religious idiots whipped up into a frenzy over things they know nothing about. That it is also clear that intelligence and knowledge are easily cast away in favor of religious dogma. Hitler knew that and used it to his advantage much like the religious right is doing today.

  8. By Paul Merda on May 29, 2008 | Reply

    Just to make myself clear, I am merely comparing the tactics used by Hitler with the religious right, not the outcome of their endevours.

  9. By Paul Watson on May 29, 2008 | Reply

    Lisa,
    I apologise. I thought you’d introduced the Hitler quote, but on rereading it was in the original article. Bad, Paul, bad. No cookie!

  10. By Lisa on May 29, 2008 | Reply

    Apolology accepted Paul W.
    Paul M-Sorry but Hilter’s tactics and the religious right are not comparable to me. Very different things indeed.

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