Friday, April 18, 2008

"Expelled" weekend box office, theater counts, and ratings

Click the image for the facts that "Expelled" doesn't give you.

This post is a placeholder to report on "Expelled"'s weekend box office and the accuracy of my five predictions about the film, as well as a few more I'll add here. My five predictions were that "Expelled" will:
(1) be on fewer than 800 screens, (2) will have an initial weekend box office of less than $2 million, with (3) a per-screen take of less than $2,500, (4) won't break the top ten despite it being a slow opening week, and (5) will make less than $10 million in box office take by the end of 2008 (though it may make more than that through DVD sales).
Prediction (1) is already falsified, since it's opening in 1,052 theaters. Prediction (4) may well be wrong due to how weak this weekend is for new films--it's pretty clear that #1 and #2 will be "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "The Forbidden Kingdom." Al Pacino's "88 Minutes" is also opening in many theaters and has the draw of its star, but it's getting terrible reviews. C.S. Strowbridge at The-Numbers estimates that "Expelled" will only need a $3 million opening weekend to make the top ten, so my predictions are at least consistent with each other.

Looking at the list of top Christian films below, I see that the most recent "Veggie Tales" movie, "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything," came in at number 6 in January 2008 with an opening weekend of $4.2 million on 1,337 screens. I doubt that "Expelled" will do that well, though I expect (6) it will break the top ten in the Christian films category, probably about to the eighth position. Looking at controversial films, however, I think it's unlikely to make the top twenty--(7) it will probably end up around 22nd at best, beating "The Last Temptation of Christ." Documentaries are a bit easier, and it could very well make the top ten, but (8) I wouldn't expect it to get above the seventh slot.

Finally, (9) I expect to see its theater counts drop rapidly starting next week, losing at least 500 theaters by next Friday as its audience sees the film and more popular entries displace it in the new week.

UPDATE (April 19, 2008): I expect that predictions (2) and (4) may be falsified; a weekend take of $3-4 million looks likely after Friday's estimated take of $1,126,000 and its coming in at #8 on Friday. #1-#7 ahead of "Expelled" were: "The Forbidden Kingdom," "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "Prom Night," "88 Minutes," "21," "Nim's Island," and "Street Kings." Prediction (3) looks like it will easily be proven correct; "Expelled" earned $1,070 per-theater on Friday, making it #5 for per-theater take.

UPDATE (April 20, 2008): Prediction (2) has been falsified as the current estimated box office take is $3,152,896. Prediction (4) looks like it will be falsified, with "Expelled" barely cracking the top ten--it has been passed by "Horton Hears a Who" and looks like it will be #9 for the weekend. Prediction (3) looks like it will be false, too, though in my defense I intended to predict a per-screen daily average take rather than a per-theater take for the entire weekend. Saturday's take was $941/theater, versus Friday's $1,145, and Sunday looks like it will be lower still (projected to be $911/theater).

UPDATE (April 21, 2008): "Expelled"'s weekend take has been revised downward from the estimate, to $2,970,848, or $2,824 per-theater. So my prediction (3), taken the way I said it rather than meant it, was not wrong by much. It also came in at #10 for the weekend (#9 was Leatherheads), so prediction (4) was falsified in the most minimal way possible. Predictions (5)-(9) appear to be on solid ground. Sunday's take was only $737/theater, and it's all downhill from here.

UPDATE (April 24, 2008): The-Numbers has posted its list of theater counts for the weekend of April 25, 2008, and "Expelled" isn't on the list. I'd guess this means they just don't have the information yet, rather than that it's not appearing in any theater (since none of last week's openers and only one of this weekend's openers are yet listed), but we'll soon find out if my prediction (9) is correct and it is down to 552 or fewer theaters. (If Arizona is an indication, the drop may not occur until next week.) Box Office Mojo is now reporting "Expelled"'s theater count at 1,041 for its second weekend, a drop of 11 theaters, which falsifies prediction (9). It looks like it's not common for a huge drop in theater counts to occur in the first week, so this was probably a dumb prediction unless the movie was a total bomb, which it hasn't been. I think a 500-theater drop is much more likely for next week, however--call that prediction (10). For this weekend, I suspect we'll see each day's average take in the $500-$700 per-theater range, or $500,000-$700,000 total per day; probably closer to the low end, and thus ending the weekend with a total take of between $5.4M and $6M, and leaving prediction (5) accurate unless it turns out to be popular internationally. It will also probably drop out of the top ten starting today.

UPDATE (April 26, 2008): "Expelled" began its second weekend with (The-Numbers' estimate) a $505,000 take ($485/theater) on Friday, even lower than I guessed yesterday. Box Office Mojo's estimate is even lower: $450,000 ($432/theater).

UPDATE (April 27, 2008): The second weekend's estimated take is $1,378,867 ($1,325/theater, The-Numbers) or $1,379,000 ($1,324/theater, Box Office Mojo), which will put the total at about $5.2M, below the lower end of my guess on Thursday, with a total of about $5.2M.

UPDATE (April 28, 2008): The weekend's estimated take is now $1,395,000 ($1340/theater), with "Expelled" ranked at #13, according to Box Office Mojo. Looks like it followed the more normal pattern with a Saturday peak ($529,000) and less on Friday ($452,000; The-Numbers estimates $505,000 for Friday) and Sunday ($414,000), all still estimates. Today will probably drop well below $200,000.

UPDATE (April 29, 2008): Monday's take was $157,191 ($151/theater), though the rank went up to #12.

UPDATE (May 2, 2008): "Expelled" is staying around longer than I would have imagined, but it has now dropped 386 theaters to 655, and its daily box office take will suffer accordingly. It looks like "Expelled" is going to end up doing about the same amount business as "Megiddo: The Omega Code 2," and not as well as "The End of the Spear," two Christian movies that were previously distributed by Rocky Mountain Pictures. Prediction (5) looks dead on (less than $10 million in box office by the end of 2008); prediction (6) looks like it was too generous ("Expelled" should easily break into the top ten on Christian films, but it now looks unlikely to reach #9, let alone #8); prediction (7) also looks too generous (hitting #22 on the "controversial" film list; #23 or #24 looks more likely, though Box Office Mojo has decided not to list "Expelled" in that category at all); prediction (8) is easy at this point (it won't reach #7 on the documentary list; it looks like even breaking into the top 10 is out of reach). So my prediction accuracy was about as good as coin flipping. I was way off on theater count-related predictions, but more accurate on revenue and rank-related predictions. But enough about those predictions. I'll continue to update this post with the data until it drops completely out of the theaters.

Some websites for statistics:

"Expelled" box office numbers and rating at The-Numbers:
4/19/2008: "Expelled" came in at #8 for Friday, with an estimated box office take of $1,126,000, and a per-theater take of $1,070 (ranked #5).
The-Numbers rating: 3.75/10 (16 votes; 25% rated it 10 and 62.5% rated it 1).
4/20/2008: "Expelled" has dropped to #9 for the weekend, with an estimated box office take of $3,152,896 for the whole weekend, and a per-theater take of $2,997.
4/22/2008: The-Numbers gives different numbers than Box Office Mojo, though their weekend totals agree: Friday: $1,126,000 ($1070/theater), Saturday: $967,000 ($919/theater), Sunday: $878,000 ($835/theater), for an opening weekend total of $2,970,848 ($2,824/theater). Monday: $238,804 ($227/theater).
04/23/2008: Tuesday, April 22: $227,232 ($216/theater). Total: $3,436,884.
04/25/2008: Wednesday, April 23: $234,596 ($223). Thursday, April 24: $231,440 ($220). Friday, April 25: $505,000 ($485), ranked #13. Total: $4,408,000.
4/30/2008: Still no numbers for Saturday or Sunday. Monday, April 28: $157,191 ($151).
5/1/2008: Tuesday, April 29: $162,396 ($156). Wednesday, April 30: $159,273 ($153).
5/2/2008: Thursday, May 1: $158,232 ($152).
5/5/2008: May 2-4 weekend: $683,552 ($1,042/theater).
5/6/2008: Monday, May 5: $66,912 ($102/theater).
5/8/2008: Tuesday, May 6: $74,128 ($113), Wednesday, May 7: $73,472 ($112).
5/9/2008: Thursday, May 8: $78,720 ($120). Total: $6,906,488.
5/12/2008: Friday, May 9-Sunday, May 11: $328,836 ($818). Total: $7,235,324.
5/14/2008: Monday, May 12: $38,994 ($97); Tuesday, May 13: $35,778 ($89).
5/16/2008: Wednesday, May 14: $43,818 ($109), Thursday, May 15: $43,014 ($107).
5/28/2008: Monday, May 26: $16,019 ($193). Total: $7,598,071.

Theater counts at The-Numbers:
4/18/2008: 1,052
4/25/2008: 1,041
5/2/2008: 656
5/9/2008: 402
5/16/2008: 210
5/23/2008: 83

"Expelled" ratings at Rotten Tomatoes:
4/18/2008 7:54 a.m. MST: 8% fresh (12 reviews, 11 rotten, 2.9/10 rating)
4/18/2008 11:48 a.m. MST: 7% fresh (14 reviews, 13 rotten, 2.9/10 rating)
4/18/2008 1:35 p.m. MST: 5% fresh (21 reviews, 20 rotten, 2.8/10 rating)
4/18/2008 2:56 p.m. MST: 9% fresh (22 reviews, 20 rotten, 3/10 rating) (Christianity Today review added)
4/19/2008 4:15 p.m. MST: 9% fresh (23 reviews, 21 rotten, 3/10 rating)
4/22/2008 6:23 p.m. MST: 12% fresh (25 reviews, 22 rotten, 3.2/10 rating)
4/24/2008 4:39 p.m. MST: 10% fresh (30 reviews, 27 rotten, 2.9/10 rating)
4/292008 8:08 a.m. MST: 9% fresh (33 reviews, 30 rotten, 3/10 rating)
Top Critics: 0% fresh (13 reviews, 13 rotten, 2.6/10 rating)
RT Community rating: 50% fresh (377 reviews, 188 rotten, 4.8/10 rating)

"Expelled" ratings at IMDB:
4/19/2008 4:15 p.m. MST:
Average rating is 3.3/10 with 402 very polarized votes--81 (20.1%) rated the movie a 10, 276 (68.7%) rated it a 1.
Females like it more than males, and those under 18 and over 45 like it more than those in between.

Average rating for males: 3.1
Average rating for females: 6.3
Average rating for under 18-year-olds: 6.7 (male 6.7, female 10)
Average rating for 18-29 year-olds: 3.0 (male 2.5, female 7.7)
Average rating for 30-44 year-olds: 3.0 (male 3.1, female 2.0)
Average rating for 45+: 4.7 (male 4.5, female 5.5)

4/21/2008 10:36 a.m. MST:
Average rating is now 3.6/10 with 659 votes, still highly polarized (22.2% 10, 61.0% 1), but now with a few more 7, 8, and 9 ratings (2.4%, 4.2%, and 4.7%, respectively), and a few more 2 and 3 ratings (2.1% and 1.2%, respectively).

Average rating for males: 3.3
Average rating for females: 6.7
Average rating for under 18-year-olds: 6.5 (male 6.3, female 7.8)
Average rating for 18-29 year-olds: 3.4 (male 3.0, female 7.7)
Average rating for 30-44 year-olds: 3.3 (male 3.3, female 2.4)
Average rating for 45+: 4.1 (male 4.0, female 7.7)

4/24/2008 4:41 p.m. MST:
Average rating is now 3.6/10 with 2,332 votes (25.4% 10, 57.0% 1; 5.1% 9, 4.0% 8, 2.0% 7, 1.5% 3, 3.1% 2).

Average rating for males: 3.4
Average rating for females: 5.4
Average rating for under 18-year-olds: 6.0 (male 5.5, female 7.9)
Average rating for 18-29 year-olds: 3.2 (male 3.0, female 5.5)
Average rating for 30-44 year-olds: 3.6 (male 3.6, female 3.4)
Average rating for 45+: 4.6 (male 4.4, female 6.7)

Expelled box office and ratings at Box Office Mojo:
4/19/2008 9:54 a.m. MST: Box Office Mojo readers rate the movie a B, with 110 votes (66.4% A, 3.6% B, 28.2% F).
4/20/2008 12:21 p.m. MST: "Expelled" took in less money on Saturday than on Friday--$990,000, or $941 per theater. Sunday's projected take is $958,000.
4/21/2008 5:07 p.m. MST: The opening weekend box office take was $2,970,848, a per-theater average of $2,824. Sunday brought in only $775,000, or $737 per theater.
4/22/2008 6:25 p.m. MST: Monday's box office take was $238,804, another 68.8% drop in daily gross, for a per-theater average of $227. Total take is now $3,209,652. Friday-Sunday have been updated: Friday: $1,208,748 ($1,149), Saturday: $996,244 ($947), Sunday: $765,856 ($728). The weekend total agrees with The-Numbers, but the daily totals do not.
4/23/2008 2:01 p.m. MST: Tuesday: $227,232 ($216); Wednesday: $234,596 ($223). Six-day total: $3,671,480.
4/24/2008 3:04 p.m. MST: Thursday: $231,440 ($220). Seven-day total: $3,902,920.
4/25/2008 6:56 p.m. MST: Friday: $450,000 ($432) (estimate), rank #13. Seven-day total: $4,353,000.
4/30/2008 1:58 p.m. MST: Saturday: $529,000 ($508), Sunday: $414,000 ($398), Monday: $157,191 ($151), Tuesday: $162,396 ($156). Weekend numbers are all still estimates.
5/2/2008 7:04 p.m. MST: Wednesday: $159,273 ($153), Thursday: $158,232 ($152).
5/5/2008 9:20 a.m. PDT: May 2-4 weekend: $684,000 ($1,042).
5/6/2008 7:40 p.m. PDT: Friday, May 2: $216,480 ($330), Saturday, May 3: $270,272 ($412), Sunday, May 4: $191,552 ($292), Monday, May 5: $66,912 ($102), ranked #15. Total: $6,680,168.
5/7/2008 7:53 p.m. PDT: Tuesday, May 6: $74,128 ($113).
5/8/2008 8:29 p.m. PDT: Wednesday, May 7: $73,472 ($112).
5/9/2008 5:17 p.m. PDT: Thursday, May 8: $78,720 ($120).
5/11/2008 4:01 p.m. MST: May 9-11 weekend: $328,836 ($818), in 402 theaters, ranked #21.
5/12/2008 7:39 p.m. MST: Friday, May 9: $100,902 ($251); Saturday, May 10: $120,600 ($300); Sunday, May 11: $107,334 ($267). Total: $7,235,324.
5/13/2008 3:55 p.m. MST: Monday, May 12: $38,994 ($97).
5/14/2008 8:04 p.m. MST: Tuesday, May 13: $35,778 ($89).
5/16/2008 7:40 p.m. MST: Wednesday, May 14: $43,818 ($109); Thursday, May 15: $43,014 ($107). Total: $7,396,927.
5/18/2008 6:13 p.m.: May 16-18 weekend estimate: $89,000 ($423) in 210 theaters.
5/21/2008 11:14 a.m. MST: May 16-18 weekend: $102,690 ($489). Total: $7,499,617.
5/28/2008 12:38 p.m. MST: May 23-26 four-day weekend: $46,314 ($558). (May 23-25: $35,109 ($423).) Total: $7,598,071.

All-time top box office for documentaries at Box Office Mojo
All-time top box office for controversial films at Box Office Mojo.
All-time top box office for Christian films at Box Office Mojo.


Reed said...

The RT freshness rating continues to slide, now down to 5%. Among 'Top Critics' there are no tomatoes.

Ken McKnight said...

Did you notice that under the RT rating it now says, "Consensus: Full of patronizing, poorly structured arguments, Expelled is a cynical political stunt in the guise of a documentary"? I think that accurately sums it up, don't you?

savvyconsumer said...

I saw "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" yesterday (Friday, 4/18.) Highly recommended.

My observation is that those who agree with Stein highly rate the movie, those who disagree deride the film. The middle ground is desolate.

That few top critics endorse, is therefore no surprise ... it speaks more to the "group think" among critics, than the merits of the movie.

Paul said...

I can't figure out why both Lippard Blog and Box Office Mojo are calling this a Christian movie. Stein, Berlinski?

The film may be theist, but there is nothing particularly Christian about it. If Jesus had never existed, it wouldn't have directly affected the content of the film, except that some Christians were featured.

I also don't understand how anyone thinks this is a film supporting ID (like "Privileged Planet") or trying to destroy Darwinism. It is a movie supporting freedom of inquiry when the prevailing view is atheistic naturalism. It further seems that the anger directed toward the movie tends to support its central allegations, no?

Stein positioned himself in a no-lose posture, did he not? That's not genius (amorally, of course)?

I do understand much of the critique and the use of Michael Moore techniques/deception, but I don't understand the hyperbolic and near-hysterical piling on, as if the sky were falling.

Or is it?

Jim Lippard said...


Nearly everyone associated with the making and distribution of the film is an evangelical Christian. The producers are evangelical Christians (Craft, Ruloff, Mathis). The writers are evangelical Christians (Miller, Ruloff). The distributors are evangelical Christians who specialize in the distribution of Christian films (Rocky Mountain Pictures). The advocates of intelligent design (which is really just creationist arguments against evolution, it has no positive scientific content of its own) are evangelical Christians, except for a few people they've managed to pick up as supporters who have their own agendas, like Berlinski.

Stein was specifically hired to provide cover for the Christian motivation behind the film.

Jim Lippard said...

savvyconsumer: If there was groupthink among critics, then wouldn't all of the ratings at Rotten Tomatoes fall at one end of the spectrum or the other? They don't--this film is relatively unique in the strength of the negative critical reviews, which is usually the sign of a genuine stinker.

Jim Lippard said...

Paul: I'd say it's probably the case that the vast majority of the positive reviews and ratings are also from evangelical Christians.

I suspect that the major effect of the film will be negative upon evangelical Christianity, however, because of the dishonesty of its producers.

Dana Hunter said...

This film is just having the effect of making anyone who falls for it look like a total boob. Great advertising for their ideas, eh?

This film wasn't about academic freedom. It was about deceiving people into advocating said freedom, so that creationists can get their foot in the classroom door and boot science out. It's too bad there are some who are deceived by such transparent tactics, and who can't understand that maybe that kind of slimy dishonesty is why folks are so angry about it.

Jay Rogers said...

What if it only breaks even before goes to DVD?

At 3.4 million it would rank at only the #3 opening weekend for a documentary film?

Oh! What a failure!

Really, if it does that well, the DVD sales are sure to make it a big profit and Premise will trot out more of these low-budget documentary films.

I see that as a great victory.

See my blog for my take on all of this plus some EXPELLED clips.

I saw a prescreening and one of the producers said it cost around $5 million to make (I've also heard $7 million including distribution) and they were planning to spend "millions" more in marketing.

So I think it's safe to say the entire production was in the single digit millions.

Think about it, DVDs cost about a buck to reproduce and package. That's where the profit is. It means Premise will have to sell about 200,000 units to raise a budget for another film like this one.

Can't wait.

Jim Lippard said...


Thanks for outing yourself as a gleeful purveyor of lies, deception, and dishonesty for profit.

Jay Rogers said...

Ditto. Right back at ya!

Jim Lippard said...

The difference between us, Jay, is that I've posted extensive documentation on the dishonesty in the film at this blog (see the "Expelled" label). You've offered no rebuttal.

In your response to my comment on your own blog, you didn't address any of the evidence--you merely argued that Scott, Myers, Dawkins, Shermer, etc. were paid for their interviews and signed releases and have not filed lawsuits, therefore nothing unethical or deceptive occurred. That's a complete failure to engage with the actual evidence, as well as a bad argument that assumes that anything unethical must also be illegal.

Jim Lippard said...

Dana: Looks like Jay's out to prove your point.

Jay Rogers said...

EXPELLED numbers for the weekend thus far.

Rank: 9

Theaters: 1,052

Per Theater: $2,997

Total Gross: $3,152,896

Days: 3


So everything you predicted was wrong?

Everything ...?
Everything ...?
Everything ...?


Some unrelated questions ...

I am somewhat new to the atheist blogosphere. The reaction to EXPELLED and posts to my YOUTUBE clips from a documentary I recently released called THE REAL JESUS, have clued me in.

I notice a syndrome.

Skeptics and atheists do battle by calling Christians "stupid," "dishonest" and by fabricating claims of "lying" and "illegal and unethical" behavior.

Or worse, that we refuse to a "offer a rebuttal."

Of course, any rebuttal to a "begging the question" fallacy won't ever be accepted as a valid rebuttal.

For instance, "When did YOU stop beating your wife?" is tantamount to "How do you justify the lying and dishonesty of the producers."

It doesn't satisfy you to say that EXPELLED is a movie about "the intersection or crossroads between faith and science."

Isn't that what the movie is about?

Did the producers give Myers and Dawkins the questions by email prior to the interviews?

Were they satisfied enough with the interview results in order to sign releases AFTER the interviews?

How is that lying and deception?

Did you want them to say: "This is a Christian movie promoting only creationism and I.D. in a favorable light."

I saw the movie. It's not a Christian movie. It's not about I.D. per se.

It's about freedom of speech vs. censorship in academia and "the intersection of faith and science."

I think your response is interesting because that was the Roman pagans' tactic to try to stop Christianity in the second century.

If you read Justin's "First Apology" and his "Dialog with Trypho" -- you see the same tactics.

The difference was that when the apologists tried to be reasonable and engage in debate, the pagans just responded by executing them.

Today we are merely expelled from the debate as having "not offered a rebuttal."

Jim Lippard said...


The first part of your comment is redundant with what I've already posted here. I'm an honest person and I admit when I'm wrong. Not all of my predictions have been falsified at this point--note that (1)-(5) were made weeks ago, and I already indicated a week ago that some of them were likely to be false based on new information.

You claim to have identified a "begging the question" fallacy in the form of leading questions, but I don't know what you're referring to.

Answers to your questions:

No, the movie is not about the intersection of science and religion--it is a propaganda film claiming that intelligent design is being systematically suppressed by atheist scientists. You already know that Myers would have had things to say specifically about intelligent design if he knew that was what the film was about and had been asked about it--you've been a commenter at Pharyngula in late March, so surely you've read some of what he's written on the subject. No one has argued that Myers et al were not given the questions in advance and did not sign releases afterward and accept payment for their appearance--your claim is itself a fallacious straw man argument.

What is the deception? Here are just a few examples: Misdescribing the film with an alternate title and description when they already knew they were making "Expelled," setting up a phony "Rampant Films" website as part of the deception when Barbara Forrest asked why they didn't have a website (she smelled a rat and refused to participate), using a copyright-infringing film taken from XVIVO's film for early screenings, filing a bogus lawsuit for declaratory judgment against XVIVO in Texas, giving false explanations for Myers' expulsion from an early screening, giving a misleading description of the film in order to get a license for the use of a song by The Killers in the film, falsely claiming that early screenings were cancelled in order to screen out undesirable attendees, giving the false impression that Richard Sternberg lost a job because of ID advocacy (while omitting good reasons that he could have been, but was not, removed from his position), giving the false impression that there were no good reasons for Guillermo Gonzalez to be denied tenure, giving the false impression that there were no good reasons for Caroline Crocker to not be rehired for an additional teaching contract at George Mason, and so on. You address none of this.

Here are some questions for you:

(1) You say you are being "expelled from the debate for having 'not offered a rebuttal.'" What debate are you being expelled from? I'm specifically soliciting your input, I've not expelled you from anything.

(2) What is the scientific theory of intelligent design that is being suppressed from academia? (A pointer to a publication describing the theory, its predictions, and research supporting it would be nice.)

(3) Who has been fired from a job for advocating ID?

(4) How many scientific papers presenting positive results for ID have been rejected by science journals, and what reasons have been given for those rejections?

(5) How much of the Discovery Institute's budget is spent on research? How much on PR?

(6) Do you think that scientific theories should be taught in science classrooms before any research has been done into their validity?

(7) Do you agree with the actions that have been taken against Christians who advocate evolution described here?

Reed said...

jay: that 'total gross' number of $3,152,896 is an estimate, not an actual.

Reality suggests that the estimate was a bit optimistic. It'll probably be around $2.8M by my calculations.

The movie only took in $990K on Saturday, which is a surprising drop-off from Friday's receipts.

Jim Lippard said...

Jay: I still expect predictions (5)-(9) to be accurate. If I had correctly phrased (3), it would have been accurate (as the movie peaked in its per-theater take on Friday at $1,145 and has been dropping since). My failure rate of 4/9 (3/9 given my intentions for prediction (3)) makes me far more accurate than "Expelled"'s producers' claims that it would be another "Fahrenheit 9/11," "An Inconvenient Truth," or "Passion of the Christ."

And my rate of correctly reporting all of my falsified predictions places me far ahead of the "Expelled" producers and the Discovery Institute on the honesty scale.

Ken McKnight said...

The box office take dropped off almost 18% from Friday to Saturday. Not one other film in the top 13 went DOWN in receipts for the same period. That's extremely telling. Expelled is a monumental BOMB!

Harry Dale Huffman said...

I am an independent research scientist, not a part of anyone else's agenda, including "ID". (In fact, I have started telling people that "intelligent design" is a redundant term, since "design" by itself means an intelligent plan.) I am the one scientist competent to comment on "ID", because in my own research into an objective origin of the "ancient mysteries", I discovered a wholesale re-design of the Earth and solar system, in precision mappings of the celestial sphere onto the Earth globe. My research has uncovered the fact--fact--that all of the ancient mysteries have their original motivation in that world design. So IT IS NOT TRUE that there is no scientific evidence for design in or of the natural world. I don't expect anyone here to confront the evidence--no other scientist or scientific publication has done so in the last five years--but it exists, and it is verifiable if one gives it the proper scientific consideration and study time. See, and my contact information is on that site. The movie (which I have not seen) is correct that science is wrongly suppressing the concept of design of the natural world. That is a fact I have five years of harsh experience with. The design I found was not creation but re-design of an already-populated Earth, and done by the "gods" of worldwide ancient testimony, not "God". So the assumptions of both sides of the ongoing dogmatic debate are equally wrong. Where do I get a hearing, under the present circumstances? (There are no easy answers--I have been trying all over for 5 years, and nobody wants to be bothered to learn new truth that proves a verifiable design.)

Reed said...

Jim: that Sunday 'projection' of $958K is merely the difference between the actual receipts (for Fri and Sat) and the original estimate.

As hinted in my earlier message, I based my projection on an average dropoff from Saturday receipts to arrive at my wild-ass-guess of $2.8M for the weekend.

Jim Lippard said...


I looked at your document on independent confirmation of your claim that the earth and solar system were re-formed 20,000 years ago on a dodecahedral design of the earth's land masses. It seems that the scientists you say have "independenly confirmed" your findings have refused to respond to your emails, and that you have been unable to get your evidence published in scientific journals or even in alternative publications such as Nexus or Atlantis Rising.

Have you tried submitting to Answers in Genesis or the Discovery Institute?

I suggest that instead of selling your work through that you make it all freely available on the web. I have no doubt that you will find some sympathetic readers, though I will not be one of them.

Jim Lippard said...


I hope you'll come back and respond to the questions I've put to you.

I'll also observe that, contrary to you claim that "Expelled" is not a Christian movie, the "leadership guide" distributed from the film's website contains young-earth creationist material.

Physicalist said...

"No one has argued that Myers et al were not given the questions in advance."

A minor quibble: Myers wasn't given the questions in advance (but that's a non-issue).

I love the way creationists like Jay Rogers pretend they're clever and persecuted, and then when they're asked some straightforward questions they suddenly disappear. No doubt he'll come squeaking out of the corner at some later date, whining about how you just ignore him.

John Heininger said...

Ben Strein has hit on an issue that is at the core of what constitutes real science, and what is scientism and pseudo science. ID Vs Darwinism. Real science, based on the Empirical & Scientific Method, is testable, repeatable, verifiable and readily observable by all, such that people are compelled to except its conclusions, in spite of their beliefs. The Theory of Evolution is light years away from the Theory of Gravity or Electricity, which can be readily, proved when any evolutionist jumps off a roof or grabs both ends of a live wire.

Because evolution and natural selection supposedly happened over vast spans of time (ensuring no observers) it is based exclusively on "inferences", "interpretations", and "speculations". In short, it is science by "explanations" (with Dawkins as the "explanations" guru) Yes, I am well aware of the supposed 'proofs' paraded by talkorigins and co, but these too turn out, on deeper analysis, to be presuppositional inferences based on Darwinian interpretations of fossil or other data. There exists no watertight evidence for evolution that is of a nature that, like empirical science, compels people to accept its conclusions, in spite of their beliefs. Because of this, all evidence advanced in support of evolution is based on subjective interpretations of fossils or other data.

In the Evolutionary Wonderland, the impossible happens all the time, and always in reverse. For example, regularity comes from irregularity, life from non-life, consciousness from non-consciousness, mind from mindless matter, and intelligence from non-intelligence. Thus, we have a theory where the effect is not only far greater than the cause, but actually opposite to the cause. Moreover, all these natural 'miracles' supposedly happened without a miracle worker, which one would have to concede is "really" miraculous. Even more miraculous is the way natural selection preserved within human genetics the need for the vast majority of humanity to believe in a God/gods that don't exist.

But nothing amazes me more than scientists and supposedly objective science magazines who banish the concept of Intelligent Design from science and the universe, when in fact the essential assumption within science (and mathematics), and the underlying foundation of science, is the starting premise that regularity, order and complexity exist within the universe that can be intelligently discovered and harnessed for practical purposes. In short, in their collective attempt to defend evolutionary theory they are now cutting of the limb they are sitting on. (Someone should whisper this in their scientism ear, before its too late).

I was therefore intrigued by a review of Expelled in the Time article, Brainiac Brawl (Time April 21, 2008 p.59), where Jeffrey Klugers takes a shot at Stein, and the movie Expelled. Firstly, Klugers tells us what real evolutionary science is, "Organic chemicals needed eons of stirring and slow cooking before they could produce compounds that could begin to lead to a living thing." Seemingly unaware that his conjecture is based on mere inference and speculation having no testable empirical basis. Even the simplest life form is complex well beyond chance events, needing pre-existing nurturing and reproduction capabilities, just for starters. Life only comes from life. There has never been an exception to this, either in nature or in any world laboratory. And secondly Klugers statement regarding the unsolved problems (of which there are heaps) of evolution that, "A fishnet is made up of a lot more holes than strings, but you can't therefore argue that the net doesn't exist. Just ask the fish." I would suggest that for most people the issue now is not whether or not the net has holes in it, but whether the net exists at all.

Jim Lippard said...

John: You are sadly uninformed. First, your definition of science is deficient, and would be rectified by reading Christopher Toumey's _God's Own Scientists_. The kind of distinction you're trying to draw between directly observable and inferential doesn't get you the division you want--even the observational sciences rely on inferences, and even the historical sciences involve observation.

Second, evolution and much of its evidence is directly observable. Speciation events have been observed. Evolution has left records in fossils and DNA. Common ancestry is supported by overwhelming evidence from many areas.

You don't want to believe what this evidence shows, so you pretend it doesn't exist.

Jim Lippard said...

For anyone who was wondering, John Heininger is described on this creationist web page thusly:

John Heininger M.A. has been the Vice President/Secretary of the National Alliance of Christian Leaders (NACL) since its inception in 1986. A graduate of the Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, he has done graduate studies at the Simon Greenleaf University in California, and received his MA from Sutherland, Australia. Heininger currently resides on the Gold Coast, where he serves as Director of Alpha Digital.


Simon Greenleaf University, founded in 1980 by John Warwick Montgomery and Walter Martin (the "Bible Answer Man"), is a school specializing in "legal or juridical apologetics"--applying 19th century legal scholarship to Christian apologetics. It's now Trinity Law School, part of Trinity International University. Sounds like Heininger didn't obtain his J.D.

Sutherland, Australia is a suburb of Sydney, not an educational institution. There is a Sutherland University that's an online university, but its website doesn't seem to indicate where its operations are located.

The NACL is based in New South Wales, Australia. John Heininger's picture is on this article he wrote on "Culture Wars", where he writes that "In the midst of these difficult issues, groups like the American Civil Liberties Union threaten schools with financial devastation for permitting activities such as Bible clubs, pro-life clubs and community religious organisations' access to public school facilities." This is, in fact, a falsehood--the ACLU has argued forcefully for equal access to public school facilities. Apparently Heininger is no better informed about that than he is about evolution.

John Heininger said...

Appreciate your comments Jim, but your response doesn't quite do the trick. Firstly, there is a distinct difference between empirical science and historical science, no matter what definition of science you choose. I have worked in electrical systems design and IT most of my life I know what empirical science is. And evolutionary theory falls well short of that definition, which is precisely why evolution is still widely disputed and far from compelling.

If the lizard example is the best empirical proof you have to offer for direct observation of evolution in action you are really grasping at straws, for several reasons. Firstly, for all the variation (as oppossed to evolution)you still finish up with a lizard, with all variations working towards the preservation of the lizard. The same applies to viruses, bacteria, or any other lifeform. As every breeder and researcher since the year dot well knows, there is a definite boundary beyond which lizards, dogs, or whatever cannot reproduce, however broad the variation. Secondly, the fact that the variation happened so quickly places it well beyond being the product of undirected chance mutations and natural selection. Rather, it necessitates the "variation capability" being already resident, or pre-existent, in the lizards DNA mechanism.

In short, nothing comes out at the end that wasn't already inherently pre-existing in the beginning, as any software programmer or system designer well knows.

An intelligent effect always demands an intelligent cause. And the variation in the lizard was certianly directed. Otherwise it would not have happened in such a short time. Establishing that chance mutations and natural selection had no detectable role.

The key question therefore is where does this directed variation capability come from. Certainly not from chance undirected evens. And certainly not from simpler life forms, as random mutations only work on "existing" DNA. One must look elsewhere for where new DNA and information comes from.

Thus, all the points I made in the previous post stand. Including the remarks about the role of intelligent causes being foundational to science.

All evidence for evolution does in reality come down to the subjective "interpretation" of fossil data and disputable claims as to how certain direct (lizard) observations are to be interpreted.

Define science as you will. This is far from compelling science, and well short of the Empirical & Scientific Method. This is the bottom line.

All the other assortments of evolutionary proofs have similar deficiencies, but that will await another posting, at another time.(I head off for three weeks holiday tomorrow.)

I was of course aware when I posted my comments that you would know my name, from past activities in support of origins by special creation. I organized the debate in Sydney between Gish and Plimer, and Plimer's now well documented misinformation, thanks partly to you.

However, we are dealing with issues as to the scientific viability of evolutionary theory and that is the issue worthy of comment, and debate.


John Heininger said...

P.S. I don't know where you get you information from re my background. By relying on secondary sources is very risky business. Just though I would mention it. Attacking the man rather than the argument is one approach I suppose.

Jim Lippard said...

John: I actually don't recall having heard of you before, though given your role in the Gish/Plimer debate it is certainly possible. I linked to the source I was quoting about your background. It's by notoriously sloppy creationist Jerry Bergman, so it wouldn't surprise me if it contains errors.

The lizard example was not necessarily the best example (perhaps a better example might be bacteria which have evolved to consume nylon), only one which I just came across yesterday.

Creationists like to claim that there is some barrier to change, but they have yet to successfully document the existence of any such barrier. I've thought that might be a way to actually build a scientific case against evolution, and that's the line that Michael Behe took in his latest book, but it appears to be a failing strategy.

Your claim that "An intelligent effect always demands an intelligent cause" is a philosophical one, but I see no reason to believe it and many reasons to think otherwise, including from genetic algorithms and cellular automata. You'll no doubt argue that such simulations have somehow smuggled intelligence into the simulation, but I think you're making a level confusion.

I also think you're confusing engineering and science, as well as evaded the bulk of the points I made in my previous comment. The variation in life we see today is well explained by evolution, but not at all by creationism, and creationists still haven't even made an attempt to produce an explanation remotely comparable to those that evolutionary sciences have produced. Evolution dominates the biological sciences because it works and is fruitful in discovering new facts and building understanding of life. Creationism and intelligent design have utterly failed to do so.

John Heininger said...

I appreciate your feedback Jim. I have read enough of your material to know you are sincere, honest and fair minded in your approach to the issues of life, and origins. And for that reason I take time interact on such issues, when time and commitments allows, and so make the effort to comment on your input, though a little late.

I see atheism and philosophical naturalism (evolutionism) as being just another form of fundamentalism. (As you would be aware, in order to establish raw atheism and materialism you would need to prove a number of universal negatives, which is impossible, by any measure).
God may be absent in Dawkin's and other evolutionist’s narrow atheistic world, but science has affirmed God's reality for the vast majority of humanity; revealed in the mathematical basis of the universe, the fine tuning of the universe's cosmological constants, the earth’s finely balanced ecological system/s, the dependent nature of the cosmos itself, and the breathtaking complexity and interdependent nature of all lifeforms. Lets face it! Even Dawkins is 'spiritually' moved by the marvels of the universe, and no doubt by the birth of a baby, with its astonishing proceedings.

To use the bacteria example as proof of evolution is, like the lizard example, less than persuasive. You start with a bacteria and finish with a bacteria. A bacteria that possesses the preexisting capability to organise itself to consume nylon, and no doubt other materials. The flue virus has the preexisting capability to repeatedly vary its outer characteristics but not its core. Flu viruses have a preexisting capability to change through a genetic swapping method microbiologists call reassortment, and have a segmented genome that allows them to swap genetic information easily. Genetic material is located on eight discrete segments of RNA rather than on one string. This preexisting capability of bacteria and viruses is rather like my car which normally runs at 100km per hour, but, when pushed, has the preexisting capability to reach 200km per hour.

The statement that “an intelligent effect always demands an intelligent cause” is both a philosophical statement and a reality that applies in every field of life, be it engineering, science, or biological systems. One could imagine what your response would have looked like had your posting been devoid of intelligence. I doubt anyone would bother to read it. Genetic algorithms and cellular automata only affirm that reality. To quote Wikipedia. “Every cell has the same rule for updating, based on the values in this neighbourhood. Each time the rules are applied to the whole grid a new generation is created”. So even here rules and judgements are made (needing a complex computer and an intellectually devised software program to carry out the rules). Hardly a non-intelligent cause or a product of chance!

As for the variation of life being explained by evolution, we are light years away from ever establishing that one species can change into a species of a different kind, and this has never been observed or demonstrated in any world laboratory. It’s all based on inference. Even though you yourself may regard these inferences as conclusive, the evidence is not of the kind that compels belief, on the same level as the laws of gravity and motion. Every breeder knows there is a natural limit or boundary beyond which no offspring is possible, be it dogs, peas, horses, or bacteria. . All this cell activity works to preserve the particular lifeform. The “virus” is preserved as a virus, and not something else. In short, virus in, virus out; bacteria in, bacteria out; gumpies in, gumpies out; pigeons in, pigeons out; herring gulls in, herring gulls out. Indeed, were it possible for the extremes variants of each species to interbreed, there would be real case for macro evolution. However, all we ever get is a sub group of a particular species, with ever diminishing genetic material and code. There is proof of species boundaries is all around you. Just talk with any pigeon breeder.

Of course, I could elaborate on the multitude of other reasons why evolution just does’nt fit reality, but that is for another time, and perhaps another place. Because Natural Selection is deemed to work at a local level, it can never account for the broader reality of a finely tuned life supporting planet and interdependent environment. There are at least 25 unique factors in terms of the earth alone for life to exist, including the presence of most remarkable molecule in the universe, the water molecule, which because of its unique displacement of hydrogen atoms, has the capacity to rise up against gravity. All of which explains why natural selection (which supposedly only preserves useful variations) would produce or maintain within human genetics the need for the vast majority of humanity to believe in a transcendent creator, that supposedly does not exist.

Jim Lippard said...

John: Just a quick reply tonight and I'll read your comment more carefully tomorrow. Your statement that it is impossible to prove universal negatives is mistaken, as I argue in detail here. It doesn't require doing the impossible to show that certain conceptions of God are logically inconsistent or that certain religious claims about the world are inconsistent with the facts.

There is arguably such a thing as atheist fundamentalism (I think Madalyn Murray O'Hair might serve as an example of an atheist who had such a dogmatic form of believe), but not all atheists are fundamentalists any more than all Christians are fundamentalists.

The evidence required to establish abiogenesis is different from the evidence required to establish biological evolution. I think it's perfectly reasonable to be a skeptic about any and all current proposals regarding the origin of life, but not reasonable to reject biological evolution and common ancestry.

John Heininger said...

Hi Jim,

You must life at the computer to respond so quickly. Wow! I'm impressed! I have briefly checked out your links, and will comment once I have fleshed it out properly. Just a wee intrim post on the subject of proving universal negatives, as apposed to proving negatives. This was a real discussion. I post it below.



Some years ago I attended an event jointly run by the Humanists and Skeptics. One of the professors, who now heads up the science department of a major university, enjoyed a discussion we were having earlier and asked me to join him to continue our discussion at a post meeting dinner. I was the lone theist and creationist in a den of hard core evolutionist and skeptics (Daniel in the lions Den, literally) - It was great, and the dinner was free. I was placed at the end of the table with the professor on one side and a noted paleontologist on the other. The conversation went something like this:

John: Professor, do you believe there is a God.

Professor: No! I’m an atheist.

John: How much knowledge do you have? Einstein said he had less than 1% of available knowledge. How do you think you compare to Einstein? Would you know more or less.

Professor: I would have to say I know less than Einstein.

John: So there’s over 99% of available knowledge you don’t have. Is that right?

Professor: Yes! That right.

John: So how can you say there is no God unless you know everything there is to know – you can’t can you?

Professor: No! You can’t.

John: You can’t logically be an atheist so you must be either a soft boiled or a hard boiled agnostic.

Professor: What’s the difference?

John: Well a hard boiled agnostic says that you can never know whether God exists or not…and….

Professor: Yes! Then I would have to say that I’m a hard boiled agnostic. I would say you can never know whether God exists or not.

John: But unless you know all there is to know, how can you say that you can never know.

Professor: I can’t really, can I.

John: No! So you must be a soft boiled agnostic.

Professor: What’s a soft boiled agnostic?

.John: Someone who just doesn’t really know for sure. Would that be you, then?

Professor: Yes! I guess so.

At this point the leading paleontologist sitting on the other side of me, who had earlier been distracted, interjected.

Paleontologist: What are you two talking about.

Professor: Whether God exists or not.

Paleontologist: I would have to say that I am agnostic or an atheist.

Professor: it’s not logical to be an atheist.

The science professor said it all for me. No need to even open my trap.


Einzige said...

"...but science has affirmed God's reality for the vast majority of humanity; revealed in the mathematical basis of the universe..."

F=MA, therefore...
Jesus is Lord

That's what you're claiming for science?

...the fine tuning of the universe's cosmological constants...

"Fine tuning" assumes that something was "tuned", which is begging the question. That the universe would be different if it weren't what it is is a meaningless tautology.

...the earth’s finely balanced ecological system/s, the dependent nature of the cosmos itself, and the breathtaking complexity and interdependent nature of all lifeforms.

Again, these are all begging the question, as you (not science!) are making the claim that their origin is a causeless being that is even more complex.

Plus, there's the problem of getting from that logical fallacy to the notion of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Where's the science in that?

Jim Lippard said...


I completely disagree with the professor in your reported conversation. He was mistaken to accede to your claim that you can't know whether God exists or doesn't exist if you only know 1% of what is available to know. The knowledge that we have is smeared out over the space of possible knowledge, not located down in one small corner of knowledge space. To refute the existence of the Christian God doesn't require knowing 99% or 100% of all possible knowledge, it only requires knowing a single fact that is logically inconsistent with claimed attributes of the Christian God, and we can do a whole lot better than that.

Regarding your earlier comment: We *have* observed speciation, so we already know that evolution is capable of traversing species boundaries (though "species" itself is a fuzzy concept and probably not a "natural kind" that "carves nature at its joints," as my friend John Wilkins can explain in detail). I completely disagree that "intelligent effects require intelligent causes" is any kind of demonstrated philosophical principle--on the contrary, we know for a fact that it is possible for simple, unintelligent, unconscious processes to generate complexity, as even the nylon-consuming bacteria example demonstrates. This means that the creationist argument for the impossibility of such increases in complexity are wrong, and the creationist's best option is to argue for limits to that capability. That's the maneuver Behe attempted in his latest book, that fell stillborn from the presses and was regarded as a failure by both evolution scientists and creationists.

BTW, I do spend a lot of time at the computer, but catching you quickly last night was a matter of luck--I was up past my usual bedtime after going to see "Walking with the Dinosaurs," and just checked email before hitting the sack. I ran into creationists outside the U.S. Airways Center, handing out copies of Ken Ham's "What REALLY Happened to the Dinosaurs?" to as many people as they could.

Jim Lippard said...

BTW, John, you yourself clearly do not accept the argument you gave to the professor, unless you are a "soft-boiled agnostic" about the existence of Krishna.

I suspect that you *disbelieve* in Krishna--you are an atheist with respect to all of the Hindu gods, as well as all of the tens of thousands of gods that humanity has invented but one--on the grounds that you believe that the God you do believe in has given you good reason to disbelieve in them. But you have that reason in the absence of knowledge of the 99% of possible knowledge that humanity has not yet attained.

That is enough to demonstrate my point and refute your argument--you don't have to possess all knowledge in order to have a good reason to reject any particular god. Nor to reject any class of gods with relevantly similar attributes that those reasons serve to contradict.

John Heininger said...

Jim, I like your style, and the fact that you (and einzige) really hoe into these issues, but your response goes no where near addressing or answering the universal negative issue. I noticed from just a quick reading of the articles you referred to that there is a confused application (and understanding) of positive, negative and universal negative concepts (more on this later).

No one, I repeat, no one, can affirm conclusively that something cannot exist in "universal" terms, unless they have total knowledge of all that exists, and can exist, have checked under every rock in the universe, simultaneously, been to every galaxy; the extremities of outer space, and checked out every dimension, including the supernatural. I'm sure that no one you know has done all of this. In fact, as stated by fellow evolutionist, Kenneth Miller, in Finding Darwin's God, "Quantum physics tells us that absolute knowledge, complete understanding, a total grasp of universal reality, will never be ours." Similarly, French existential philosopher Jean Paul Sarte (and atheist), correctly concluded that we will never have a big enough picture to make universal negative claims, said Sarte, "a finite point without an infinite reference point is meaningless and absurd."

Jim, neither you nor I can "conclusively" and practically demonstrate that Krishna does not exist in some remote Galaxy or alternative dimension Morover, The fact that this universe exists testifies to both the possibility, and probability of other dimensions, including the supernatural. We can only argue that there is no positive evidence for Krishna's existence from our limited finite reasoning and perspective.

The reason I personally don't believe in a multitude of Hindu gods is because there is positive evidence that the universe is too unified to have been organised by a "committee", and far too complex to have happened by chance.

The reason I, and the vast majority, instinctively believe and logically conclude there is a God is because of the "existence" and "dependent" nature of the cosmos, and everything in it.

A "dependent" universe running down towards maximum entropy cannot naturally wind itself up,nor bring itself into being, and this would apply to everything in the universe, including atheists.

The reason we need a first cause for the existence of life, is because the same "natural" chemical processes that cause a dead body to decay once the code of life is gone, cannot have also initially brought it to life. Life comes only from life. If you know of any non-living thing that brought itself to life I would certainly like to know.

Everything which is "dependent" in nature needs a cause outside itself. Which is why the universe, and us, needs something beyond ourselves to explain our existence. (likewise, if you know of anything in the universe that is not dependent in nature please let me know.)

If whatever brought the universe into being is likewise dependent on something else, we would finish up with an "infinite" regression of preceding dependence, "forever", and thus no basis for existence, no ever.

Yet the universe exists. The only way out of this infinite eternal dependence delimma is
the necessary existence of a non-depended self-existing first cause, which theists call God.

In other words, God is both a philosophical and scientific necessity, in order to explain why our dependent universe exists.

Atheists remind me of the mechanic who looks at dissambled car parts (Mathematical structure, Cosmological constants, life, DNA, etc etc etc) and can't see the car or imagine a car designer. (more later)

Jim Lippard said...

John: "No one, I repeat, no one, can affirm conclusively that something cannot exist in "universal" terms, unless they have total knowledge of all that exists, and can exist, have checked under every rock in the universe, simultaneously, been to every galaxy; the extremities of outer space, and checked out every dimension, including the supernatural."

And again, I disagree. If the thing in question is logically incoherent or logically entails local consequences that are contradictory to what is observed where I have looked, then I can legitimately conclude that it doesn't exist.

Further, absolute certainty is not a requirement for reasonable belief.

It is reasonable to disbelieve in the existence of Krishna in this universe. It is likewise reasonable to disbelieve in the existence of the Christian God in this universe.

Einzige said...

The reason I, and the vast majority, instinctively believe and logically conclude there is a God is because of the "existence" and "dependent" nature of the cosmos, and everything in it.

So, the universe is dependent (i.e., "needs a cause"), but God is not. On what basis do you make that claim? And how exactly does this satisfy as an explanation of anything? It seems to me all you've done is "solve" one mystery by creating another, bigger, and (perhaps equally) insoluble one. What was God doing before he made the universe?

Oh, and again, you've still got a large gap between "God is first cause" and "Jesus is Lord".

Jim Lippard said...

John: Einzige's final point can be expanded to observe that you're trying to take a short cut that doesn't lead to your destination. Even if you were able to prove atheism false--or even that something approximating the Christian God existed--that wouldn't make young-earth creationism true or evolution false without some additional premises.

John Heininger said...

Jim, the statement that nobody has universal knowledge of all that exists, or can exist, is a statement of fact, and is therefore both logical and coherent. (if you know of anyone who is an exception to this I would like to know their name). Furthermore, something with "local" consequences hardly fits the "universal" category, as any dictionary would show.

Likewise, the fine tuning of the the universe is not a teutology but a statement of fact. If Elizije doubts this he could start pulling the leads off the spark plugs on his car and watch what happens to the cars tuning. Or, in the broader sense of the cosmos, if he could even slightly alter any of the values of the cosmological constants, I guarantee he would be able to watch himself disappear, as Stephen Hawking and other physicists would expect.

Elizije also seems to have difficulty coming to terms with the resurrection. Firstly, it's not a matter of whether or not one believes in dead matter coming to life, but rather at what point. Every atheistic evolutionist believes that at some point in the past dead matter came to life. Its called abiogenesis. Point A, dead dumb lifeless matter. Point B, a living replicating lifeform.

Secondly, at least the resurrected Christ had all the body pieces already in place to be refired up by the Guy who was the origin and author of life. I can affirm this with some confidence, as the origin of life by natural causes alone remains the achiles heel of atheism and philosophical naturalism. Life only comes from life, and that is scientific reality. Thus, the necessary non-dependent self-existing first cause. (I'm not sure either of you really understand the full implications of a "dependent" universe that had a beginning, and is running down. So I ask either of you, yet again, to name a single thing in the universe that is not contingent or dependent in nature and essence. To avoid an infinite regression of dependence you need, of necessity, a non-dependent self-existing first cause in order for the universe to exist at all. This also is a logical self evident reality.

As for the resurrection of Christ, the evidence is more than adequate for me, and represents the highest probability. Articles by atheists attempting to refute this fall far short from my perspective. However, I have long ago discovered that there are people for whom no amount of evidence for God existence, however self evident and compelling, would ever be sufficient. And so, we will have to agree to disagree.

None-the-less, on the resurrection I would recommend material by William Lane Craig. Even A. N. Wilson gets it too -- No Resurrection, No Christianity.

Similarly, for those who argue that the Biblical prophecies about Christ don't stack up I would suggest they read the four volume set (soon to be five) by a leading jewish authority on this issue, Dr Micheal L Brown, titled "Answering Jewish [and atheist]Objections To Jesus". I suggest this because atheist and Skeptics web sites also fall well short of the mark in terms of scholarship on this issue.

Jim, the issue of what constitutes a species may be "fuzzy" for evolutionists, but breeders well know where the boundary lies, as do the multitude of living fossils which seem forever stuck within their species boundaries.

Anyway, guys, I appreciate your input. Hopefully, you guys are enjoy such dialogue too. Jim, I can't always respond immediately as I am building my own sizable home (in addition to other commitments) but there is still a lot of issues already covered to be more fully discussed and fleshed out, so I will continue to post as time allows. Also appreciate your input Elizige.

Jim Lippard said...

John: I don't think you're engaging with my knowledge argument. I agree that no one has all knowledge, but that doesn't contradict the premises or validity of my argument. There's a nice diagram in Douglas Hofstadter's _Goedel, Escher, Bach_ which depicts knowledge space which is a good companion to my argument.

You write: "Furthermore, something with "local" consequences hardly fits the "universal" category, as any dictionary would show." Universal claims have local consequences. That's all that my argument requires for the ability to logically infer conclusions about the universal claim from the observed local consequences. If a claimed god performs certain types of actions in certain circumstances universally, then a local failure for that to happen is sufficient to show that that claim about god is false.

I'm the author of a critique of messianic prophecies, "The Fabulous Prophecies of the Messiah."

BTW, it's "Einzige."

Jim Lippard said...

Robert M. Price and Jeffrey J. Lowder's book, _The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave_ (2005, Prometheus Books) responds to Craig and others. Perhaps someday Craig will write a response; so far he has not.

Einzige said...

I didn't say that "the fine tuning of the the universe" was a tautology. What I said was that it's assuming what it's trying to prove. It's as if I came along and asked you "How hard did you beat your wife last night?"

The tautology arises from the notion that it's oh so amazing that the universe has the characteristics it has. No it isn't. If it didn't have these characteristics then it would have some others or it wouldn't exist. Big deal. Counter-factuals are sometimes fun, sometimes helpful, but in this case they're simply mental masturbation.

...the statement that nobody has universal knowledge of all that exists, or can exist, is a statement of fact, and is therefore both logical and coherent.

Are you sure you want to take this road as a means for defending your Christianity?

Every atheistic evolutionist believes that at some point in the past dead matter came to life.

That's a straw-man argument, and if you talk with any biologist about this issue they'll tell you that, at the edges, the difference between life and non-life is pretty fuzzy. Is a virus "alive"? Meanwhile, the origin of life on Earth continues to be controversial subject in science.

So I ask either of you, yet again, to name a single thing in the universe that is not contingent or dependent in nature and essence. To avoid an infinite regression of dependence you need, of necessity, a non-dependent self-existing first cause in order for the universe to exist at all. This also is a logical self evident reality.

We're not the one's making the claim. That the universe exists is self-evident. Either everything has a cause or there's something that doesn't. If everything has a cause then God does too. If there's something that doesn't have a cause then it might as well be the universe. Why does it have to be "God"? On what basis do you make that claim? And how exactly does this satisfy as an explanation of anything? It seems to me all you've done is "solve" one mystery by creating another, bigger, and (perhaps equally) insoluble one. What was God doing before he made the universe?

We are now repeating ourselves.

As for the resurrection of Christ, the evidence is more than adequate for me, and represents the highest probability.

What is your standard of acceptable evidence?

Paul said...

"The tautology arises from the notion that it's oh so amazing that the universe has the characteristics it has. No it isn't."

If I can jump in for just a moment...

It seems to me that if the above statement is true, then, by definition, nothing--no scientific discoveries, no beauty, no human achievement, absolutely, positively nothing --in the universe is amazing. It just is, and the psychological phenomenon of amazement over anything (including the alleged fine tuning of the universe for life on earth) is simply a neurological weakness that may someday be overcome.

But since that phenomenon exists and is endemic in the human race, it shouldn't be seen as philosophically anomalous, it just is as well.

If you'll forgive me, I find that perspective amazing.

It seems we all have our amazing, internally semi-consistent logical circles do we not? Yet we call each other's circles squares, which really advances knowledge, does it not?

Jim Lippard said...

I think we can all agree that there are amazing improbable things that happen, but all measures of improbability require a background measurement of either frequency of occurrency or subjective prior probabilities.

What's the relevant background information to assign probabilities to the values of fundamental constants? Are all values equally probable? Is there an infinite number of possible universes, of which only one is actualized, or is there an infinite multiverse where all possibilities are actualized?

I think it's *possible* that the universe we live in was exceedingly improbable and therefore amazing, but what's the background information against which to determine if that's the case?

Paul said...

We only know what we know. That's why all new discoveries are "amazing."

To argue that we should not be amazed by each new advance in discovering realities, whether cosmological or otherwise, it seems to me, is to take away all wonder. It is the understatement of the year to say that we are less than tiny specks in a vast universe, the vast majority of which we do not yet understand.

All present theories are tentative, and many slam-dunk present day theorems will be the flat-earth theories of tomorrow.

So, in the meantime, why can't we give each other some space as we play in this huge cosmological sandbox? Why do we, as P.Z. Myers once said, have to "get mean?"

One wonders what lies behind such ferocity.

Jim Lippard said...

Paul: What's the "such ferocity" to which you refer? Do you mean to refer to someone here with your remark about getting "mean"?

Does your stance of epistemic humility only apply to science, or do you, as a Pentecostal pastor, apply it to the Bible and theology as well?

Paul said...

Jim, my reference was to PZ Myers. If no one that reads this blog think his ideas are worth anything, then please feel free to dismiss the reference.

Yes, Jim, I try to apply the same standard to me. In fact, I describe my biblical hermeneutic as a 'naive' hermeneutic, rather than 'literal.' You may not be familiar with the name, but it's kinda a bit to the right of Karl Barth, with a childlike experiential wonder tossed in.

Jim Lippard said...


I think I and many of my readers consider P.Z. Myers to be worth reading (and certainly wouldn't characterize his ideas as not worth anything), but here we also tend to be somewhat less incendiary, and to favor discussion to ridicule even with many whose beliefs might appear crazy to us. (That's not to say that it never occurs here--it does.)

I've never read any Barth, but I've encountered his name from time to time, and I just read the Wikipedia entry on him. On which spectrum or issues do you consider yourself to the right of Barth?
Do you not go as far as he does in the rejection of biblical inerrancy?

Thanks for coming by my blog, I enjoy having commenters from different perspectives, especially if they're capable of cordial discussion, as you've demonstrated.

Did you happen to discover my blog as a result of my past posts on Pentecostalism, or Sarah Palin, or some other subject like this particular post on "Expelled" where the comments have wandered rather far from the initial subject?

Paul said...

Thanks, Jim.

I found it during the Expelled aborted phenomenon and had commented early on, and just kept the blogger notification.

Re:Barth, the big difference is that I embrace the historical/propositional truth of the Resurrection; Barth would not believe that to be essential.

I love the phrase, "second (or post-critical) naivete," coined by Paul Ricoeur, but I think it only works if you actually believe it. My Pentecostal phenomenological experiences help in that regard.

Fundamentalists, on the other hand, feel a need to defend their faith/the Bible from the outside in. If one verse is not 100% accurate, the whole thing caves in.

I think it should be seen from the center out. That center is the Resurrection, for me. If it were conclusively disproved, there is no reason for faith at all, I believe. In my understanding of Barth, he would not throw in the towel if Jesus was not physically raised from the dead.

I don't know if that answers your questions, Jim, but I appreciate the opportunity to jump in.

John Heininger said...

Einzige, re your comments on the fine tuning of the universe etc. As you stated, "If it didn't have these characteristics then it would have some others or it wouldn't exist.". That's the whole point. In addition to recognizing the fact of a finely tuned universe, you also realize that if is wasn't finely tuned we would not exist. The reality of this fine tuning throughout the universe, and in regard to the earth itself, points to a cause beyond the universe, as leading world scientists well recognize, for reasons mentioned later.

The difference between life and non-life may be pretty fuzzy for you, but scientist and others have no trouble distinguishing between a dead life form and a live one, viruses included. A dead virus or other life form ceases to operate because the code of life imparted on the life form is gone, and normal natural chemical processes take over causing all lifeforms to decay, viruses included.

Re your comment, "If everything has a cause then God does too. If there's something that doesn't have a cause then it might as well be the universe.".

The problem here is that the universe (and everything in it) is "dependent" by nature, and therefore could not have brought itself into being, any more than you, as a "dependent" person, could bring yourself into existence without parents.

This is further affirmed by the reality that the universe is running down towards heat death and maximum entropy. If it was its own cause it would be eternally self-existing. But it is not, and therefore we need, of necessity, to look beyond the dependent universe for its origin; because everything "dependent" needs a cause outside itself, just as we do.

To repeat an earlier statement, if the cause of the universe (God) is likewise dependent on a preceding cause you have only two alternatives. Either an infinite regression or eternal dependent gods or causes, or a "non-dependent, self-existing God or first cause".

The problem with the infinite eternal regression of dependent gods is that there is ultimately never any basis for existence. This is because an infinite regression of dependent gods or causes means that no preceding god or cause is "ever" able to bring "itself" into existence. So we have no basis as to why our dependent universe exists.

Yet the universe does exist. The only possible resolution and basis for existence of our dependent universe is a "necessary non-dependent self-existing first cause", which theistic scientists and the vast majority of humanity call God.

In short, the universe is not self existing and therefore cannot be its own cause. It cannot wind itself up, because it is in the process of running down.

The issue then proceeds as to whether this God, or necessary self-existing first cause, is the revealed God of Judaism and Christianity, or some other worldview. This is a separate issue entirely, and arguments for and against must be evaluated in terms of other realities.

None-the-less Einzige, you raised good questions that theists need to address, as does Jim.

Eamon Knight said...

A dead virus or other life form ceases to operate because the code of life imparted on the life form is gone, and normal natural chemical processes take over causing all lifeforms to decay, viruses included.

That sounds a lot like vitalism. If so, I think your understanding of biology is a tad out of date (to an extent that's likely to scupper the discussion).

Einzige said...

"...the "dependent" by nature..."

You treat this claim as if it were, prima facie, apodictically certain when it's not. It may be true. I'm willing to admit that I don't know. Given your earlier exposition on the problem of induction I would assume that you are, too.

If it was its own cause it would be eternally self-existing.

Here's another statement I reject. What is your basis for such a claim?

So we have no basis as to why our dependent universe exists.

So your way out of this conundrum is to posit that an incredibly complex, intentional (i.e., conscious), benevolent being, itself entirely uncaused, "fine-tuned"--like some sort of auto-mechanic--the universe, then sent his only begotten son to save us from our sins.

You find that you're able to sleep at night with that kind of solution to the problem?

...viruses included.

This statement makes me suspicious that you are ignorant of basic biology. Viruses lack almost all of the cellular structures that exist in, and are essential to, even the simplest of bacteria. A virus is almost nothing more than a packet of DNA surrounded by a lipid bi-layer. Viruses can't reproduce without commandeering the cellular machinery of a host organism. Whether this counts as "alive" is not just fuzzy to me.

...ceases to operate because the code of life imparted on the life form is gone...

What is this "code of life" of which you speak?

In addition to recognizing the fact of a finely tuned universe, you also realize that if is wasn't finely tuned we would not exist.

Your attempt at being dense here is amusing.

There's an interesting fact about a deck of cards. Because of the mathematics involved, when you randomly shuffle a regular deck, it's a near certainty that the resultant arrangement of cards has never before existed and never will exist again. Is that cause for amazement on our part? Would you hold up the deck and say "This is a 'special' deck" because the order of its cards is so amazingly unlikely? Would you say that you 'intended' it to have the arrangement that it has?

John Heininger said...

Eamon, when I use the term code of life I'm talking about two different states of the "existing" genome code (material, DNA, or whatever term you want to use to describe what makes us human). One state in the genome code is alive, and a second state in which the same genome code is dead. Life is what makes the two states different, and what prevents the normal natural chemical processes from taking over causing decomposition. People use common generic expressions such as "the spark of life has gone" or the "life force has left him". That does not mean that people believe that there is actually something extra residing in the life form other than the state of the genome code itself. Some do of course believe a "spirit" or literal "force" in addition to the genetic material itself, but that is not my position.

I would be most interested to hear you define what "life" actually is, and to explain what happens to the genome code in a living and dead state. Keeping in mind that at the instant of death the genome code is all in place.

John Heininger said...

Einzige, it not only "May be true", it is true, and it would be a brave person or scientist who denies the contingent, or dependent, nature of the universe, or the related fact that it is running down towards a state of heat death and maximum entropy. To prove me wrong, all you have to demonstrate is that the universe, or anything in it, is non-dependent and self-existing. If you can you there may be a Nobel Prize on offer.

Re, "If it was its own cause it would be eternally self-existing." The basis for this has already been stated, and is that everything "dependent" needs a cause outside itself, with the only basis for existence being ultimately a non-dependent self-existing first cause, or an infinite regression of dependence forever, and thus no basis for existence.

You may not like the idea of am "incredibly complex, intentional (i.e., conscious), benevolent being, itself entirely uncaused", but that is exactly what is necessary in the end to explain our dependent universe, and is one of the principle reasons why many of the world foremost scientists are theists, including those who believe evolution to be a fact (Miller, Collins, etc etc.

As for the code of life, I have explained my position elsewere.

That the universe is finely tuned has been recognized by the vast majority of scientists, Hawking included. If you deny this reality you may find yourself out to left field, without a paddle.

As for the cards, having cards in any particular random state is no big deal. Try shuffling the cards and see how long it takes to get to a state where all the cards line up in the exact order and arrangements of the suits. Then you have something. Then try shuffling around 3 billion cards so they line up in specific way. Then you have something somewhat akin to the human genome.

Just a final word of advice, cut the childish language such as, "Your attempt at being dense here is amusing.". If gives me the impression you are a real novice, which I am sure you are not. Take a leaf out of Jim's book. He answers issues directly and in a reasoned fashion, without all the garbage.

Einzige said...

I appreciate the suggestion, and I respect Jim a great deal--and often follow his example. I have my own style, however, and while you may see it as "childish", I think it works for me.

Meanwhile, we seem to have reached an impasse, given that you are asserting the "truth" of unprovable statements, so I think it's time for me to bow out of the discussion.

Jim Lippard said...


Daniel Dennett's distinction between crane and skyhook explanations is that skyhooks come down from the sky as a deus ex machina, and don't really explain, while cranes provide a way to build up from the ground. We know from computer science, mathematics, and biology that complexity can evolve from simple rules without the need for the complexity being built in from the start. We are in the process of learning how mental phenomena arise from neurological material, and it is the crane explanations which are more productive than the skyhook explanations.

I'm not sure that the idea of a "self-caused" being is coherent, nor that the idea of a necessarily-existing being is coherent. I do think that if there must be some logically necessary thing to answer the question of why there is something rather than nothing, I would expect that thing to be simple rather than complex, I would expect it to be external to space-time and unchanging, which seems to me to rule out a personal god, which would have to be immanent and changing in order to have mental activity (or any kind of activity at all). I'm not familiar with any reason to rule out the idea that there is a multiverse of universes contingently coming into existence for finite lives, given the existence of quantum fluctuations and current Big Bang/inflation cosmology.

BTW, the more eminent a scientist is, the *less* likely he or she is to believe in God. Of all scientists in the U.S., about 40% believe in God (vs. 80%+ of the general population); of the most eminent such as Nobel prizewinners and members of the National Academy of Sciences, it drops to 7%. It's lowest of all among physicists and biologists; highest among mathematicians and engineers.

I think your code of life comment engages in a level confusion--there is no *genetic* difference between a person at the moment before death and at the moment after death--the differences are at a higher level of biological description involving respiration, cardiovascular activity, and brain function. You can also look at living/dead at the cellular level, but again the difference is not a genetic one. Viruses fall into a borderland because they don't have all the features of cellular life, e.g., they can't reproduce on their own and don't have their own metabolism. BTW, scientists have built self-replicating molecules in the lab.

Jim Lippard said...

John: "As for the cards, having cards in any particular random state is no big deal. Try shuffling the cards and see how long it takes to get to a state where all the cards line up in the exact order and arrangements of the suits. Then you have something."

Yet that's exactly as likely as any other combination. With living things, on the other hand, not all combinations are equally likely, and when you have a process of self-replication and natural selection, you have a mechanism for generating new adaptive features. Snoke and Behe's paper attempting to show the impossibility of the evolution of a new disulfide bond in a bacterium, yet the cross-examination in the Kitzmiller case showed that in fact, his paper proved the very high probability of such evolution, given the number of bacteria in a single ton of soil.

Eamon Knight said...

One state in the genome code is alive, and a second state in which the same genome code is dead. Life is what makes the two states different, and what prevents the normal natural chemical processes from taking over causing decomposition.

I'm sorry, but I can think of no kinder way to express this than to say: you are horribly confused, and are utterly and irredeemably wrong in two ways here.

1) There is *no* *observable* *difference* in the genome in a living organism and in that same organism moments after it dies. The DNA is all there, in the same configuration it was before. About the only peri-mortem difference is that, over short period of time (I don't know how long; I'm not a biologist) as the energy reserves of the cell are depleted, various ongoing chemical processes associated with the genes (eg. the transcriptase enzymes that synthesize the messenger RNAs)will peter out.

Indeed, this is one example of the fuzzy boundary between life and non-life: if my heart has stopped beating, but various bits of cellular metabolism continue for minutes or hours, am I alive or dead? As a medico-legal matter there must be a declaration one way or the other, but as a scientific or philosophical matter, the line is not so clear.

2) The chemical processes that operate when the organism is alive are every bit as "normal and natural" as those that take place after death -- there is nothing mystical-magical about them. While the detailed list of reactions taking place will be different, there is no essential, ontological distinction between them. This has been known by chemists for something like a century now -- ever since it became apparent that organic compounds could be synthesized in the lab, and that many if not most reactions observed in vivo could be replicated in vitro.

You may refrain from using the terms "life force", but the way you talk about "two states" is logically indistinguishable. However much you may waffle on the language, you are in fact a vitalist.

Which means you are wrong.

John Heininger said...

Jim, I posted comments addressing the number of issues you raised, but for some reason it has not appeared on your blog, even though it seemed to go through. Included were details regarding factual shortcomings in your critique of messianic prophecy. It may have been too lengthy perhaps. Anyway, I will redo it in a week or so when I have time and break it into sections. Appreciate your feedback.

Jim Lippard said...

John: I don't have comment moderation turned on--so long as you have a Blogger account, anyone can post comments that immediately appear here. I have this blog configured to email copies of any comments posted, and I haven't received the ones of which you speak, so they apparently didn't get through to the blog for some reason.

John Heininger said...

Thanks Jim. You did not appear to be the type that would monitor access our filter out responses. We have visitors from interstate at the moment, and a couple of Israeli friend's who were staying with us have only just left to return to Israel. But when it settles down I want to get back into the fray, as there are a number of issues raised that needs to be addressed. If I can get any time to post a brief comment off I will do so. Regards.