If you’ve spent any length of time in the atheosphere over the past month, you’ll be aware of the by-now-infamous “Expelled from Expelled” debacle involving PZ Myers. Myers himself gives the most entertaining account of what happened (but see also Matt’s series of posts on this incident). Basically, the producers of Expelled have been so desperate to get bums on seats that until very recently (hmmm) they were encouraging people to sign up on the movie’s website for private screenings, and to bring guests. Myers (who appears in the film as is thanked in the credits) signed up, arrived at the Mall of America screening with guests in tow, had his name checked off, and was then pulled out of the queue by a security guard, acting on the specific instructions of the producers, who threatened Myers with arrest if he attempted to enter the theatre. What the producers failed to notice is that one of Myers’ guests was none other than Richard Dawkins (who has written his own piece on the incident), who announced his presence to an ashen-faced producer Mark Mathis in the Q & A session after the screening.
Sure, it’s one hell of an own goal for the creationist movement, but for me the bigger irony lies in the tremendous amount of spin the producers and other ID luminaries have attempted to put on this incident, given Expelled‘s overarching thesis–that evolution –> atheism –> the Holocaust–and, by implication, antievolutionists’ claim to the moral high ground. (The motto of the production company behind Expelled reads as follows: “Producing world class media that stirs the heart and inspires the mind to truth, purpose and hope.” (Emphasis added.)) The creationists have been manifestly dishonest about the “Expelled from Expelled” fiasco–that much is certain–but they also seem to think they’re doing the right thing.
So here’s my question. Under what circumstances is mendacity theologically, ideologically or ethically justifiable?