Monday, April 21, 2008

Ben Stein bombs

By Capt. Fogg

I used to watch the Comedy Central quiz show Win Ben Stein's Money -- not because I liked the guy, but because I liked to be amazed at what he didn't know. Of course, not knowing all kinds of political and historical trivia isn't an indication of being a dumb schmuck, but letting one's name be affiliated with a movie like Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is proof positive. It's slightly gratifying that the public largely has ignored Ben Stein's turd of a film although divine intervention in some really ghastly way would have been more gratifying. The premise that "Intelligent Design," the resurrected, quasi-deist argument that life and perhaps the universe is too complex to have arisen through natural processes, has been so soundly, thoroughly and often humorously debunked over the last two centuries that it shouldn't be necessary to note that existence not only predates our inability to understand it but isn't subject to reducing its complexities to the level where a religious person can understand.

Yes this is a religious argument and that's why it's only applied to Human evolution and not to the equally difficult aspects of quantum physics, general relativity, and advanced mathematics. Imagine my saying that Tensor Calculus is flawed because it's beyond my ability!
Comprehensive denunciations of Intelligent Design have been around for centuries. It's a buried fallacy now exhumed like some hollow zombie only because our culture has lost touch with itself and the majority of us are as ignorant if not more so than we were 200 years ago. Percy Bysshe Shelley's refutation of deism and his Necessity of Atheism not only makes Ben Stein's vaunted brain look dull and pedestrian, but illustrates the ironic appeal to victimhood that is this movie's argument.

Shelley was thrown out of school for his brilliant efforts; thrown out by the same militantly dishonest dullards who claim to be unfairly treated by science.
The argument from ignorance has it that biological structures like the eye cannot have originated without guidance from a supernatural intelligence because, say the the proponents of God, they don't understand the process. This proposition begins with the absurd and doesn't need to be reduced far for one to notice that according to such arguments, the greater the ignorance, the more true the propositions must be. To the ignorant, all things are equally possible.

Of course, nature can be difficult to understand and even when understood, it can be counterintuitive. Humans took a long time to accept that up and down were relative directions and they roasted scientists alive for showing evidence that myths were incorrect. Battles were fought over such things as atomic theory and of course the heliocentric universe. Being less and less able to do so today, those who cling to and insist that others must cling to myth, have to create an additional saga of their own persecution: hence this movie.

If you buy into it of course, you cannot avoid admitting that you value comfort above honesty; that you see evidence as less valuable than comfort and that you want to punish anyone who disagrees. There is not only no evidence for order in the universe much less order than can only be a design, but the conjecture does not provide for the design of the designer. It's like the classic rebuff to the argument that there is no giant turtle upon whose back the Earth rests: it's turtles all the way down, says the little old lady to Bertrand Russell. It's not an argument, it's a hysterical fugue. Imagine arguing for the existence of a "Firmament" or for a world that floats on water or a heaven one can walk into from a mud brick tower! Although ID may require only the Deus Absconditus of the Deists; a God who created things and moved on, there is no evidence, there is no science, nothing that can be demonstrated, nothing that can be inferred from demonstrable fact. ID is of the same ilk as magic, voodoo, deception, outright stupidity and pathological delusion.

The evidence for the origin of species through natural selection is sufficient that no alternative explanation can compete fairly, hence the unfairness, the dishonesty and the outright sleaziness of Steins movie. Do I need to repeat that there is no evidence whatever for the Divine hand other than the argument ad ignorentiam? If we must give equal opportunities for bogus theories and reject all standards for truth in education, we must abandon the notion of education altogether and return the universities to the churches we took so long to dethrone. Ben Stein has bet his money that we will. I hope he loses every dime.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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2 Comments:

  • Well you use a lot of big words, hate and bashing, BUT How did life begin??
    It seems you know a lot tell me and the world how and also why the whole ecosystem works so well together like the human body and is so similar in function to that of something man has designed to work and perform specific function?

    P.S. Without bashing
    Thanks and GOD bless
    Carl

    By Blogger carlinpa, at 11:17 PM  

  • 1) calling people out on lying is not bashing. 2) what does P.S. Without bashing mean?

    can i tell you something about why the human body works so well like a car? well, what would you expect? if the human body was evolved over time, it wouldn't work? and it doesn't run smoothly, it has weaknesses like bullets, sharp things, cancer, viruses, too cold/too hot, and little mistakes like aneurysms.
    and i don't understand how it's like a machine (let's say car). a car doesn't think. it doesn't poop. it isn't created from combined dna from its parents having sex that traces back through billions of ancestors overtime.

    By Anonymous Mia, at 1:30 AM  

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