Saturday, April 12, 2008
I had the pleasure of catching comedian Ben Stein on the Bill Oreilly comedy show last night talking about the Intelligent Design propaganda piece "EXPELLED".
Stein claims (and I absolutely do NOT believe him) that they originally set out to make some sort of movie about the intelligent design versus evolution contraversy, and in the process of researching for the movie he was surprised at how little evidence there was for evolution, and how ideas of intelligent design were not given fair play. In the process, they were able to trick Dawkins and other notable quotables into participating in the movie (which was going under a different name with no apparent agenda at the time of the interviews).
For me, the statement that there is little evidence for evolution is hysterically absurd and impossible to take seriously. Being a former IDer myself who thought evolution may have been directed by a designer, I was very quickly persuaded by evidence to the contrary. I couldn't have been persuaded dragging kicking and screaming away from my faith by something with "very little evidence". Sorry. The evidence is overwhelming.
In my conversion process, I found time and again that the IDers made cases that were easily swatted away by the elite scientists (read "the best scientists in the world in the field"). Even while rooting for the IDers I eventually became embarrassed by them while I watched them get man-handled by people who clearly had better evidence on their side, and much greater numbers. Thus, I was initially persuaded and have since gone on to be solidly persuaded. And who cares about Ben Stein? Why do all these economics professors and lawyers think that *I* should give a hoot what their opinions are on evolution?
Stein gave the example that no species has ever been observed to have evolved. This is like planting grass seeds and staring at the ground for 5 minutes and stating "no grass has ever been observed to grow from grass seed, this is grounds for skepticism. We can see the lawns and the fields and we can see the grass that has been already attached to the seed, but we cannot observe the grass shoots actually coming from the seed after 5 minutes. Somebody MUST have glued them together somehow."
Amazingly he cited dogs and said that no new species of dog has been observed to have been formed. Every breed of dog from the miniature Doberman to the Mastiff are a recent variation of an animal almost identical to today's Wolf from around 12,000 years ago. In just that short amount of time, selective breeding has led to all these amazing variations. Does it take a rocket scientist to see that if you expanded that time period to a million years (100 times that much) or 10 million years (1,000 times that much) it would lead to different species? How stone cold visionless does a person have to be to make Stein's argument?
But the truly chunk blowing part of Steins spewage was the insinuation that Darwin's ideas led *directly* to the atrocities of the Nazis. This is morally and intellectually deplorable, and a silly argument to boot. This would be the equivalent of blaming Jesus' ideas for the Spanish Inquisition. I've never seen anyone dumb enough to do that. But Darwin gets the blame for making the Nazis what they were despite the fact that anti-Semitism was around long before Darwinism. And despite the fact that after all this time since Darwin, tomes upon tomes of new information about genetics and zoology have made the theory of evolution as solidly confirmed as a scientific theory could possibly be. A century and a half of hard work by thousands of people have confirmed that Darwin's basic ideas were correct time and time again. How can someone blame a man for discovering a truth about how nature works? Hitler's distortion of the ideas and atrocities have nothing to do with Charles Darwin's personal ethics (by all accounts he was a very conscientious and ethical man), and especially *nothing* to do with whether our current understanding of Darwinian evolution is true. It is an appeal to emotion, which people who don't have evidence on their side always seem to do.
I think many intelligent people who have little science education and sit on the fence will watch this movie and be particularly embarrassed by this sick tactic (which apparently is one of the main themes of the movie).
The desperation of the ID community is obvious. Losing doesn't phase them, and they prey on the willing ignorance of those they preach to.