Friday, November 16, 2007

Expelled? No, but perhaps it should be.

So I've just watched the extended trailer for Expelled, Ben Stein's "documentary" about science's discrimination against intelligent design. It was shown at the voters value summit, and Ben Stein addressed the summit after the trailer. It took me a while to get through the whole thing - I had to keep pausing it and giving myself a chance to calm the mounting exasperation. I'm not sure how this "documentary" can be taken seriously, but I have no doubt that it will be. It would take forever to address every point that was made in the trailer and speech, so I'm just going to bring up a few that particularly got on my nerves.

Probably the most annoying part to me was that Ben Stein makes straw men the entire way through. Life is mud animated by lightening? Who claims that? That's certainly not a theory for the origin of life that I've ever heard. Perhaps he is talking about the clay theory? Regardless, he is completely misrepresenting the opponent. He does this again when he says that it is some sort of intellectual taboo to question the origin of life. Really? Then how come there are currently scientists researching this very question? Why is there a multitude of theories out there attempting to provide answers? He probably means that it is intellectual taboo to suggest that life originated through a supernatural being: god. First of all, I don't think that is true. I have yet to hear of a scientist that was out of a job for believing in god. In fact, even proponents of intelligent design still have positions teaching science at accredited universities. Take a look at Michael Behe! He continues to be a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University, even though he is an intelligent design proponent on the basis of his belief in irreducible complexity. To quote Richard Dawkins (which perhaps I shouldn't, but I don't think anyone reads this anyway):
"What he has done is to take a standard argument which dates back to the 19th century, the argument of irreducible complexity, the argument that there are certain organs, certain systems in which all the bits have to be there together or the whole system won't the eye. Darwin answered (this)...point by point, piece by piece. But maybe he shouldn't have bothered. Maybe what he should have said is...maybe you're too thick to think of a reason why the eye could have come about by gradual steps, but perhaps you should go away and think a bit harder."

Now the point of that wasn't to personally attack Michael Behe on his intellectual convinctions, however misdirected they may be. The point is to illustrate that intelligent design is in NO WAY science. It is unscientific to say that just because you cannot think of a way that some complex form could have come about, it must have been god. Ben Stein claims that free inquiry is being attacked by science, but its the opposite! Science is all about inquiry. Positing God as an answer to the big questions, such as the origin of life, is what limits inquiry. So if scientists do lose some credibility for believing in a god (which, in most situations I don't think they do), it's for a decent reason.

Stein also keeps bringing up Galileo, Newton, and Einstein. I'm not going to discuss Einstein right now. It is too big of a topic that I would like to address some other time when I can devote a whole entry to it. However, I do want to point the idiocy of Ben Stein's statement that, in his time, Galileo wasn't persecuted for believing in a god. Um...yeah, he wasn't persecuted for his religion, he was persecuted BY his religion. I wonder Stein realized the irony if his statement. Is he seriously suggesting we should regress back a few hundred years to a time of greater acceptence?

Between the trailer and speech there are a ton of other points I'd like to address...however, if I attempted to address all of those points I'd be here all night. I really hope people don't buy into this BS (but of course they will).

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