Archive for April, 2008

Help Raise Mathis’ Blood Pressure

You can help raise Mark Mathis’ blood pressure! All you need is access to the Internet, and some links which I’m about to provide.

First, there’s a poll on MySpace. If enough people go there and vote “No” on the question “Should Intelligent Design be taught in schools?” PZ Myers says you can raise his blood pressure a few points.

Next, I’ve noticed that Google keeps track of online reviews of Expelled. Currently, there are 13 positive reviews, 4 neutral reviews, and 8 negative reviews. I’d like to have faith in the proportion of people with brains who’ve seen the film being a little larger than that, so, if you were masochistic enough to sit yourself through that tedious movie, go here to write a review and hopefully we can increase the number of negative reviews just a tad.

Don’t let the small army of cdesign proponetsists that Mathis has raised continue to twist the truth. They can actively support that stupidity propaganda, but we can put the truth out there, eh.

Ignunt Fool of the Week

This week’s ignunt fool of the week is…

Ben Stein

Ok, maybe you’re annoyed that I’ve repeated him… But sometimes you just come across an ignunt fool that you just can’t stop laughing at.

Alright, the truth is I was so bowled over by the extent of his ignunce that I could think of no other ignunt fools. His ignunce is so dumb that no other ignunt fools could enter my mind.

I promise I won’t do it again.

In the mean time, here’s a lovely video which does a splendid job of explaining why he’s an ignunt fool.

In fact, the entire Why do people laugh at creationists? series of videos is splendid. Thunderf00t, you’re brilliant. Please marry me. Or not?

Absurdity Bill Passed by Senate

Kudos to you, oh Florida.

“This is a freedom of speech issue.”

That was sarcasm, in case you haven’t already guessed by the content of the link. What I really think we should do is reject the Confederacy’s surrender and eject them from the Union so that the Bible Belt can go off, have their own constitution, and stop embarrassing us. They may have Disney World, we still have Disney Land.

What I’d like to say to the Florida lawmakers is this… why single out teachers who don’t believe in evolution for protection? Surely there’s other forms of scientific orthodoxy out there that must be questioned…

Heliocentricism (sun-centered model of the Solar System) is virtually unquestioned for some reason. Perhaps the Big Science conspiracy has a hold over the geocentricists too?

And why limit it to scientific orthodoxy? What about historical orthodoxy? Maybe the holocaust really was just a zionist plot!

Oops. You just pissed off the Jewish lobby. But for now, you’ve only pissed off the non-existent Atheist lobby. No worries, eh?

As for freedom of speech, while you’re at it, why not pass a bill that lets teachers teach their religious and political views as well. Considering the fact that most teachers are Liberals, I’m sure the religious right behind this wont mind in the slightest…

Nobody Could Expose Expelled Better

I do believe that I am now desperately in love with the NCSE. They’ve now produced several splendid videos exposing cdesign proponentists.

Creationism disproved?

Teaching Creationism in Schools

Jesus in my School

And of course, there’s still the lovely Expelled Exposed website.

Some of Them Read the Book

As usual, a bunch of theists are pissed at Richard Dawkins and are saying foolish things. At least it seems that some of them have actually read his bookunlike some people I know.

Re “Gods and earthlings,” Opinion, April 18

Atheism has its fundamentalists like Richard Dawkins. Everyone has faith in something that is beyond science to prove. Science itself is based on the assumption that the universe is rational and logical and not absurd. Dawkins has a similar problem to those who cannot explain where a complex God came from. Where did the Big Bang come from, and what existed before? If the anthropic principle (the laws of nature seem to have been crafted for the emergence and sustenance of life) was inherent in the Big Bang, then where did that complexity come from? If it was all random, that is a faith assumption also.

Ken Savage

Palm Desert

I applaud you Ken. You have demonstrated that you have actually read the book and did not babble incoherently. However, you said that there is such a thing as a fundamentalist Atheist. Perhaps somebody could explain to me exactly what a fundamentalist Atheist is. For my definition of fundamentalism, I turn to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Fundamentalism

  • a. A religious movement, which orig. became active among various Protestant bodies in the United States after the war of 1914-1918, based on strict adherence to certain tenets (e.g. the literal inerrancy of Scripture) held to be fundamental to the Christian faith; the beliefs of this movement; opp. liberalism and modernism.
  • b. In other religions, esp. Islam, a similarly strict adherence to ancient or fundamental doctrines, with no concessions to modern developments in thought or customs.

So, could somebody please tell me what doctrine Atheism is supposed to follow fundamentally? We have no holy books. No strict rules on morality. The only thing that Atheism is is a lack of belief in God. Doesn’t that make every Atheist a fundamentalist Atheist?

The theist continues by missing the point of the Anthropic Principle, and asking about the Big Bang. The answer to the question about the Big Bang: nobody knows. Oh noes! Then we must throw all of science out the window and replace it with the Judeo-Christian god!

Alright, you got me again. I’m not entirely Atheist. I’m an agnostic on the technicality that you can’t disprove the deist god (yet) for that reason. However, there is the issue of explaining how this intelligence could have popped into existence if you’re going to use an intelligence to explain the Big Bang making the deist god all the more improbable and the Judeo-Christian god even less possible.

Dawkins’ atheistic rants about creationism and God’s existence are tiresome. Fundamentalist creationists are equally wrong. It is not logically contradictory to hold both that God is the author of all that exists and that the Big Bang and evolution are the ways God created and continues to create everything that exists. Neither statement can be proved nor disproved by science. Even Jesus didn’t worry about proofs for God’s existence.

James McDermott

Pasadena

True, science can’t necessarily disprove theistic evolution, but there certainly is no evidence that evolution was guided (hence, dinosaurs as an entirely inconvenient and unecessary evolutionary offshoot). And besides, natural selection works well enough on its own. Postulating another intelligence is, again, harder to explain and Occam’s razor makes a nice clean cut.

Dawkins argues that if vastly superior beings from some distant planet did indeed seed life on Earth, they could not be considered gods because someone must have created them. Thus, the only true God must be the one who created the universe itself.

This is, of course, the position that is reflected in Christian teaching. During my Catholic upbringing, I was taught that God “is,” meaning he always was and always will be. Defining God in that manner is another way of saying that no matter how sophisticated our theories become, ultimately we cannot explain how the universe got started from nothing and why the world exists. This notion embodies the ultimate mystery of life, which is beyond our power to penetrate from a purely logical and philosophical point of view, and which we must accept on that basis and learn to live with.

Paul Rosenberger

Manhattan Beach

Can I just ask why he’s so sure that science will never find the answer? What “unsolvable” mysteries have been solved by science before? I’ll leave him to think of some examples of his own.

Dawkins argues that “intelligent design” is not science. He is correct. But after that, he moves into less certain territory in which his reasoning inevitably moves to the problem of first causes. There he pretty much avoids the details. In the end, he, like everyone else, must confront one of two choices: Either the universe has always existed, or it was created by someone who has always existed. If the latter is improbable, as he claims, then why is not the former also? Without saying so explicitly, he clearly favors the former, which he is free to do. Nonetheless, it would be interesting to know why he favors one and not the other. Could it be that the latter might make moral claims on all of us, something that would threaten our desire to be morally autonomous?

William S. LaSor

Apple Valley, Calif.

Now there’s an interesting postulation. Either the universe has always existed or someone created it? Again, Occam’s razor. And secondly, if the universe needs somebody to bring it into exsitence, then who brought the deist god into existence? If the deist god can be passed off as being “outside of time” then why can’t the universe also be passed off as being “outside of time” as well?

And, lastly, it has nothing to do with morality. If somebody started the universe, it’s likely to be the deist god who probably doesn’t give two shits about our morality.

How could natural selection create the first living cell? There is no advantage to non-living material becoming a living cell, so the process had to be pure chance, a result of random atoms forming thousands of extremely complex molecules within a few micrometers of each other at the same time. It is statistically a highly improbable probable event, and it bears all the earmarks of design.

As a former evolutionist, I have seen the results of following the data to the most logical conclusion in today’s scientific community. Evolutionists control the scientific community, and any questioning of the current paradigm is cause for ridicule, harassment and sometimes destruction of careers. They should be ashamed, for they have created a totalitarian science community in which everyone must parrot the party line and independent thought is not allowed.

Elaine Fleeman

Bakersfield

Does the argument from personal incredulity ring a bell? Off the top of my uneducated head, I reckon that having a cell could be good protection for the self-replicating molecules. There’s all sorts of chemicals that can destroy DNA or cause “unwanted” mutations.

The ramblings about science being totalitarain are just characteristic of another person brainwashed by Expelled.

But I’ve gotta hand it to them, they were pretty darn coherent and used proper grammar. Most of them even seem to have read The God Delusion though have apparently missed some of the points. As usual, they ignore evolution now and try to use the Big Bang to prove the existence of the Judeo-Christian god. They’re evolving!

Another Bad Review

It seems that if your news organization isn’t affiliated with a baptist church or a pro-ID organization, you have enough intelligence to see through Ben Stein. From MSNBC:

Rarely has a movie subtitle so capably assessed a movie’s content as does “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.”

Actually, I’d dispute that. “What the Bleep Do We Know?” really did make me wonder how ignorant you have to be to think that thoughts change the atomic structure of water.

From Canada.com:

The result of poor reviews and mediocre box office, I expect, is that Expelled will not succeed in changing American laws and forcing schools to teach Intelligent Design as well. The exercise — whipping up public opinion, holding restricted screenings, selling the movie to a targeted audience — is of more interest as a marketing campaign than as a debate between science and religion.

I agree with the latter part, but when you have people utterly convinced that evolution=Nazism, they will try to actively get rid of evolution.

And of course, they have gotten good reviews from church organizations, the Discovery Institution, and… Yahoo! “News”. Don’t worry, Yahoo! I’d already lost whatever respect I had for whatever credibility the news you churned out was when you reported that Destination Truth (a Sci-Fi channel (un)reality show) had found Yeti footprints.

Anyway, overall it’s good news for the good guys.

A Pre-Schooler’s Journey to Disbelief

I often get asked why I’m an Atheist. That’s why I’ve decided to go ahead and do a post for Coming Out Godless and for this blog so that I can just give people linkage and they’ll know.

I was a child of Atheist parents. I, like all other children, came into the world with no concept of God whatsoever. I was unaware of my parent’s lack of belief for some time, though.

When I was… well, I don’t remember at all how old I was, I went to a Montessori school for pre-school. The teacher was a very nice evangelical Chinese woman. It was there that I first learned what God was.

I was excited my first day there. There was loads of fun games to play, nice people to play them with, picture books…

And then we sat down to lunch. I was ravenous, so I went ahead, opened up my lunchbox, and started shoveling food into my mouth.

“What are you doing?!” came a harsh whisper. I looked up from my food to see everybody’s heads bowed along with the teacher.

“She hasn’t finished praying!” said another child.

It was then that I learned that there was somebody called “God”. God was an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-benevolent being. He created us, protected us, and watched over us, sometimes granting us prayers. Cool!

I remember two major falsehoods they taught me there. God and Santa Claus. Santa Claus I debunked sooner. My first Christmas after learning about him, I was laying awake listening for him. When I heard a sound outside my room, I snuck out to be confronted by my Dad. Wasn’t much of a mystery how the presents got into the house the next day…

But God I believed in for a while.

Not only was the teacher at my pre-school teaching us about God everyday and making us pray, but my mother would take me to church. It’s not that she was a theist. She couldn’t care less whether I believed in God or not. She wanted me to go to church so that I could understand American culture.

I still remember the song I learned on the first day there. “Jesus loves me this I know, because the Bible tells me so.” And why do we know the Bible is true? Because it says it’s telling the truth. And how do we know the Bible is telling us the truth about telling the truth? Because it says… When I grew up and became more educated I learned that the term for this is circular reasoning.

At the same time, I started reading a lot. My favourite books were about science and… dinosaurs! I dunno if I became interested in them after I was obsessed with Land Before Time or if I became interested in them because of Land Before Time. Either way, dinosaurs were really cool… except… they were dead. Quite a shame but… wait a minute… If God created us and the dinosaurs, and God protected us and loved us because we were His creations… Why would God have let the dinosaurs go extinct?!

This bothered me and kept me awake during nap time. It made no sense.

Columbine happened a short while later. If God was protecting us and loved us, why would he let something like that happen?

Then there was another paradox that really killed God for my pre-school brain.

If God wanted us to believe in him, and he made us, why not make us so that we already believed in him? Of course, he apparently gave us free will to choose, but I wasn’t born with a conception of who God was. Why not instill in me at least some knowledge that he existed so that I could rebel against him if I chose to?

And then I said to my parents “this religion stuff is really stupid” or something to that affect.

I’d like to say I’ve been an Atheist ever since but in 4th grade I tried praying to God to help me on math tests. It didn’t work. I’ve been an Atheist ever since.

Why I Get Out of Bed in the Morning

I’ve been taking a lot of time on this blog to talk about Expelled. I’m sure that I could continue to debunk it, but it is getting a little tiresome to continue talking about it. Most people are actually intelligent enough to see through it (and it’s gotten bad reviews all over the place) so I suppose that I’m mostly satisfied that the truth is out there and it’s going to die quietly soon.

I imagine that most of my viewers (you mean all four of them? Naw… I appreciate y’all greatly…) are getting sick and tired of hearing me talk about that most recent well-funded piece of stupidity propaganda. So, I’ve decided to balance it out with a completely random musing about life as an Atheist.

Well, considering that Expelled made the claim that evolution leads to nihilism, I reckon you could see this as a response to that but…

Why do I get out of bed in the morning?

On most mornings, it’s because I have to. I have to go to school. I never want to go to that hell hole of anti-intellectualism, creationists, and general ignunce.

But even if I didn’t have school to go to, I’d probably only sleep for another hour before waking up to the view of sunlight out my window. My bed is rather comfortable and cozy, so why do I leave it?

Because… I get bored. Can you imagine how boring it would be to lay in my bed all day with nothing to do except stare at the picture of a bunny I taped onto my ceiling one night when I was high on caffeine and feeling random? I’d even rather watch Expelled again than do that, and Expelled was the most boring movie I have ever seen. I would rather go to school than stay in bed all day.

Even before I start to get bored, my mind begins to wander. I wonder what’s going on in the Atheist blogosphere. I realize that there are books on science on my bedroom floor that I haven’t yet gotten around to finishing. I get hungry and go downstairs to make something yummy.

Besides, there’s a whole universe out there. There’s a whole universe out there made of millions of galaxies made of millions of stars. Why would anyone confine themselves to the bed?

So, my friends who think that atheism leads to nihilism, why do we need non-secular reasons to get out of bed?

Nihilism is not sexy.

Expelled: No Theistic Evolution Allowed!

Hello, you’re probably wondering what I’m doing here. Like most people, I also have questions. Very big questions like… how did we get here? Where are we going? Is there a scientific answer to these questions or are we in the universe merely the result of a guy with pink robes in a beard?
Most of my life, I believed that the answers to these questions were fairly straight forward. We are the result of a long, magnificent, elegant process known as natural selection. That includes birds, trees, people, really, all living things.
I also knew that other people, very smart people, believe otherwise. Rather than see the hand of nature at work, they see the universe as the product of the Judeo-Christian god. And rather than see us as the culmination of billions of years of evolution, they believe that we are merely dust that was breathed on by a guy with a beard.
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;
Genesis 2:7
I have no problem if people want to believe that sort of thing. After all, we live in a free society. This isn’t Nazi Germany. People are entitled to say whatever they want about God and the creation.
At least, that’s what I used to think.
My dear ex-creationist theist friend, James T. Kirk, has been trying to form a science group at his church. However, his pastor told him he couldn’t do it and he has reason to believe that it has something to do with his being theistic evolutionist.
March 22:
3:04 PM James T. Kirk: This is unrelated but I have found that probably 80% of my church and 98% of the people at the High Scholl group are anti-evolutionists
me: What church do you go to?
Baptist?
3:05 PM James T. Kirk: independant evangelical
me: Ah.
James T. Kirk: the denomination is called Calvary Chapel
3:06 PM So I have gone from being right at home to being like a rabbit inside a cave full of wolves
me: Yeah… I was having trouble imagining a theistic evolutionist in that environment.
3:07 PM James T. Kirk: Luckily my church is not militantly anti-evolutionist, just passively and nominally
3:08 PM As a result the group I have been leading was sort of banned by the youth pastor because it was causing confusion (which was probably related to creationism)
me: I don’t know what militantly anti-evolutionist means.
James T. Kirk: Kent Hovind, Ken Ham, Henry Morris, Jack T Chick etc.
3:09 PM they are all active (militant) anti-evolutionists
me: So they’re active anti-evolutionists.
James T. Kirk: yes, but my church is not completely against evolution–just the people who lead it
3:10 PM when I started a church science club I intended to strengthen peoples faith, love for the creator, and love for the creation not overthrow the church‘s current theological thinking
3:11 PM me: Ah. I see.
Good intentions.
3:12 PM James T. Kirk: But unfortionately being that the church is young earth creationist toddlers to seniors its a little difficult not to threaten the current views on genesis
But I wouldn’t say I am going through exactly what Galileo went through
me: Ah.
3:13 PM If you want me to come talk sense into your church
Want to do a creation/evolution debate?
I’ll be the token evolutionist, and you can set a whole panel of creationists against me.
I’ll hold my own.
3:14 PM James T. Kirk: Alright, It’ll happen on March 30,2008; you have to fly here of course (keep in mind I am being facetious)
me: Lol.
3:15 PM James T. Kirk: But the reasons I was censored are a little more complicated then that
me: Oh?
James T. Kirk: It appears the senior pastor learned I was giving out newspapers to those in my group…
me: Newspapers?
3:16 PM James T. Kirk: Yes… I was givng them out to circulate ideas for scientific projects among the members it was a scientific/theological journal
Well anyway…
3:17 PM me: Evolutionist?
3:18 PM James T. Kirk: (neutral actually I was going to let the young earth view also be defended) He learned about this and came to the High School, after seeing what I was doing he didn’t want me to do it without his permission (also he was probably making sure I was doing something like “Satan worshipers Weekly”)
3:19 PM me: So he didn’t want them learning about the evolutionist view?
James T. Kirk: I guess
And to top that…
3:21 PM A few weeks later a member of the club apparently told my youth pastor I was confusing him/her, so he decided to shut it off to stop any confusion, and as I later found out–the person apparently is either lying or doesn’t exist
3:22 PM me: Confusing? How so?
James T. Kirk: I dont know he simply told me the person was confused
3:23 PM I could have been theological or grammatical either way he was confused
me: That’s confusing.
3:24 PM James T. Kirk: Yes, the last time I talked to my pastor he said it was the senior pastor who told him not to because of confusion
3:25 PM meanwhile we are planning things as harmless as rocket launches
(theologically harmless)
me: So was it because of evolution?
3:26 PM You ought to know that I have to go in 5 minutes.
3:27 PM James T. Kirk: I supported the Big Bang, but I was more passive on evolution, what I focused on more when it came to biology and God was Abiogenesis and I agree with the church‘s position on it
I’ll finish soon
But what ever it was the senior pastor found it biblically and theologically troublesome
me: Hm… Let me know if you find out more…
April 12:
2:39 PM James T. Kirk: Well I talked to my Youth Pastor and said I’d water it down so all we talked about was pure current science (no evolution or historical geology beyond 1,000,000 years or anything) and he said I might be able to resume activity with it and the people in the club but first he hads to talk to those in the club who were supposedly confused
This does seem like giving up but there is still productive research we could do
2:40 PM Like look at out planet’s future
me: sigh Such a terrible shame, my friend…
Evolution is such a wonderful truth.
James T. Kirk: What?”
2:41 PM me: Evolution is one of the greatest scientific theories ever.
Your group will be missing out on so much.
Do you think you could do an… unofficial field trip to your local natural history museum?
2:42 PM James T. Kirk: Possibly but first I have to get it back into action and not allow the members of club to talk to the pastor (just kidding)
me: lol
2:43 PM James T. Kirk: Well in studying evolution, we will study recent evolution
2:44 PM me: You mean… anthropology?
2:45 PM James T. Kirk: That and Natural history going back to the late pliesticine
Of course its doubtful I’ll be talking about prehistoric humans
except perhaps the neanderthals
me: Hm… You’re allowed to talk about micro-evolution, yes?
2:46 PM James T. Kirk: yes
Just not Homo erectus to homo sapien evolution
2:47 PM I’m more making judgements on what I should present, I have decided to let the members decide
What was so dangerous about potentially telling school kids about evolution? Nothing that I could tell. It merely suggested that we weren’t just dust animated by air on the sixth day of Creation.
Not only was James oppressed for questioning Genesis, but I was finding that not only was Genesis improbable, it could also be dangerous.
After all, in Genesis, Eve is created for the purpose of making Adam happier, Eve is the one who is tempted to take the apple. Is this not fundamentally misogynistic?
And what if a person, taking Genesis literally, decides that the whole Bible, a text which doesn’t say one word against slavery, is true? What about all those quotes that support the death penalty for everything from being a witch, being a homosexual, blasphemy, to gathering sticks on the sabbath? Could Genesis lead to another holocaust of Atheists, Wiccans, and homosexuals?
As I continued to investigate, I became more and more disturbed, but I’m not letting that keep me from speaking out.

Expelled

I don’t know what masochistic tendency within me compelled me to sit myself down in a theater and watch Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed!

I think that the best way to describe my experience of viewing Expelled is… so much stupid, so little caffeine.

Apparently, the film is only 90 minutes long, but while I was watching it (or studying the ceiling out of tedium, more precisely) it felt like it was much longer. I was being force-fed with so much dumbness that my mind was shutting itself down and all I wanted to do was drift off into a state of sleep, but I forced myself to stay awake. If it weren’t for the earl grey tea I had this morning, I imagine I would still be in that chair, my sub-conscious mind still absorbing all the misconceptions until it exploded in a marvelous display of gore as it splattered the creationist-filled theater.

Actually, when I entered the theater (a few minutes late because my mum was driving to the wrong theater and I had to inform her that the only reason it was showing at the one we were actually supposed to be going to was because a bunch of Christians had bombarded them with phone calls) I can’t have counted more than fifteen people. Most of them were cordial retired people, while I saw two teenagers dragged along by their parents.

I sat down, listening to their first example of an academic losing their job for “questioning Darwinism”. I went ahead a kept a tally, making a total of five marks for examples they used. Five. Oh, that definitely indicates that there is a giant conspiracy in the entire United States, out to get those poor creationists!

Because I’d like to move on to other things, if anybody is interested in the truth behind the academics who lost their jobs, Expelled Exposed has information on what really happened.

Ben Stein continued to say the words “academic freedom” many times throughout the film, yet I don’t think that I ever saw him define it. So, I’ve decided to give it a go…

The first college class I took, fresh out of the eighth grade, was College Composition. The professor didn’t treat it like it was just about writing in college. The professor taught us what it meant to be an academic.

The first day, as she took a lumbering stroll around the room, she told us “here’s my policy in this class… you can say anything that you want as long as you’re prepared to back it up with evidence.” I’ve only been taking college classes for, well, less than a year now, but I think that that is the essence of what academic freedom is.

So, backing up one’s claims with evidence is not only the job, but also the responsibility of an academic. You can’t hire firefighters who are unwilling to risk their lives to save somebody, fire them when they let somebody die for their own fears, and then say that you took their freedom away.

It may not be freedom as is granted to us in the constitution, but it is academic freedom nonetheless. The problem with Intelligent Design is it doesn’t back up its claims with good evidence.

When Stein finally moves on to what he tries to pass off as evidence for Intelligent Design, the best he provides is asking multiple times “how did life get started?”

That’s not evolution, that’s abiogenesis. But hey, creationists love to just avoid evolution altogether and take it far back to something that they think scientists will have trouble explaining. “How did life get started in the first place?” or “how did the universe begin?” Stein says that to have the simplest form of life, you need to have at least 250 proteins.

Alright, sure. Having 250 proteins spontaneously pop out of the primordial soup is far-fetched. But you don’t need to have 250 proteins spontaneously pop out. As Richard Dawkins has shown in at least three of his books, all you really need for selection pressures to take over is a self-replicating molecule. Like… DNA or RNA.

Well, I understand that there’s some controversy over whether RNA came first or DNA came first. But, DNA is truly a very simple molecule. It’s the simplest molecule in the cell. Really, it’s just some hydrogens, nitrogens, oxygens, and carbons joined together in a not-particularly exotic order. However, the evidence suggests that it was actually RNA that came first which really is just as simple as DNA.

Either way, once you have self-replicating molecules, natural selection will play out by “selecting” molecules that are good at becoming more numerous. If having a cell around you to protect you happens to make you better at replicating yourself, then you will get “selected” as well. Since RNA is not as good at copying itself without error as DNA (though you still need to leave room for error to have mutations occur) RNA, or whatever the first self-replicating molecule was, was probably eventually replaced by DNA.

I learned this from a book that was written in the 70’s (The Selfish Gene). Though we’re not entirely clear on how exactly abiogenesis occurred, we have some highly plausible explanations. There is no need to invoke an “intelligent cause” that is many fold more difficult to explain.

Of course, Stein doesn’t tell you that. He talks about crystals, and mocks panspermia (the theory that life was seeded on Earth by aliens, proposed by Francis Crick).

Dawkins mentions it later in the film when Ben Stein asks him if there’s a way that Intelligent Design could be possible. After talking a bit about the whole panspermia business, Stein says “What? Richard Dawkins says that Intelligent Design is a scientific possibility?”

No, dumb ass. He’s talking about a possible way Intelligent Design could be true because you asked him to.

Stein accuses Dawkins of accepting ID as long as the intelligence is not God, ignoring Dawkins when he points out that the origin of the aliens could be explicable naturally. When you invoke the supernatural in science, you have the burden of proof of showing that the supernatural thing exists and explaining how the supernatural thing came into existence. In short, Occam’s razor slices through it like butter.

And of course, there’s the claim that Darwinism is a necessity of Nazism. This was the part where I really wanted to fall asleep. Stein goes to old Nazi labor camps and tours the places where the Jews went through all that suffering. There is nothing but pity in my heart for the victims of that mad-man we call Hitler, but you can’t place the blame on Darwin, for cryin’ out loud.

As PZ Myers has already pointed out, the idea that really supported eugenics (artificial selection) had been around for thousands of years before Darwin. What Darwin did was apply selection to nature. No part of Darwin’s work, however, gave Hitler the idea that Jews were for some reason inferior. That was all personal hate on the part of Hitler.

But let me just humor Ben Stein for a moment and say that Darwin contributed to Nazism. As awful a conclusion that is to draw from a scientific theory (we probably shouldn’t be getting out morals from evolution anyway), it has nothing to do with whether or not the idea is true. Is it still for the good of society to limit academic freedom to explore evolution by natural selection?

Can you spell doublethink (seriously, is it one word or two)?

While I’m on the topic of doublethink, what about that scene where he’s writing “do not question authority” and “do not question darwinism” on a chalk board? What about questioning Ben Stein? How many of the fifteen people in the theater are actually going to think about it and question Stein?

Stein ends the film talking about freedom, of course. He gives a rallying cry for creationists to break down what he calls a “wall” that science has erected to give academic freedom only to people who are on the right side. A lecture hall of extras students stands up and cheers for him. A statue of Thomas Jefferson (a deist… oops) is shown. Etcetera. The movie ended, and I rushed out of the theater like a gust of wind on a summer’s afternoon, and drank in the rays of the setting sun.

Freedom. Freedom from that awful piece of shit.