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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thoughts on Ben Stein's Expelled

I saw Ben Stein's "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" last night. It was as good as the trailers indicated it would be.

The film starts with black and white scenes of the Berlin Wall going up in Germany, and the analogy is quickly drawn that while on one side you have freedom (e.g. freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of inquiry, etc.), on the other you have repression.

There is also the analogy of separation--where "science" is on one side, and theism is on the other, and the dominant scientific community refuses to even consider the existence of anything on the other side of the wall.

Expelled makes the case that rather than an environment of open-mindedness and freedom of inquiry, the modern scientific community has become a police state that vehemently denies ideas that don't fit the politically correct paradigm, and ruthlessly punishes transgressions into verboten territory.

Though there are a number of scholars featured in the film who have felt the brutal heel of the academic establishment, the primary case study is that of Richard Sternberg, a journal editor from the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. Sternberg approved the publication of a pro-intelligent design paper by Stephen C. Meyer of the Discovery Institute. As a consequence of allowing such a "scientific heresy" to be published, Sternberg was forced to resign from his job and cast into academic outer darkness.

"Questioning Darwinism was a bridge too far for some," Sternberg says. "I was viewed as an intellectual terrorist."

(I had to chuckle at the irony of this, knowing how on one hand the elites tend make excuses for terrorists who blow up innocent people, but on the other hand get so indignation at even considering an idea outside of their politically correct orthodoxy.)

Dr. Caroline Crocker from George Mason University was punished for a passing mention of intelligent design in a couple of slides in a presentation.

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor was hammered for making the statement that doctors didn’t need to study evolution in order to practice medicine. Tell me: what great medical advance will be missed, or what ill may befall a patient, because a doctor doesn't study evolution?

Were scientists like Newton, Kepler and Galileo the slightest bit impeded in their research by their belief in God? Many scientists who have believed in God considered their faith helpful in their investigation of science; after all, in believing in an intelligent designer, they expected the universe to make sense, to conform to certain behavioral norms, to have intelligent design that could be reverse-engineered.

When Baylor University found out Professor Robert Marks believed in intelligent design, they forced him to shut down his website and return grant money. What was this college professor thinking--that he could just think what he wanted, believe what seemed reasonable to him???

Even journalists who give a fair shake to theories outside the evolution sphere get smacked down. The establishment is thorough and systematic in its intolerance of dissent: from the academy, to the watchdog groups, to the media, to the courts.

When Stein interviewed David Berlinski, Berlinski said the question should be considered: "Is Darwinism theory clear enough that it could be correct?" Berlinski says the theory is muddled and, "It's a mess."

The high priests of evolution disagree. Dawkins says unequivocally in the film: "Evolution is a fact." He says he is an atheist and that there is absolutely no evidence for the Christian God. "Most people who don't believe in evolution are ignorant." (Apparently that includes not only rubes like me, but a lot of PhDs who are "ignorant.")

Expelled also points out that despite the disingenuous contention of some evolutionists that Darwinism wasn't about origin of life--only the evolution of life--the title of his famous book is "On the Origin of Species." It obviously deals with origins. After all, the first organism had to come from somewhere. Where did it come from? How did it come about? What were those circumstances? The contention that we might examine theoretical changes in organisms without considering the origin of organisms is so silly it borders on being lunatic.

In fact, Stein asks in the film how can there be a theory about life without addressing the origin of life? He asks some evolutionists about the origin of life and gets some, uh, interesting answers: maybe lightning struck just the right set of chemicals (without frying them?), maybe it was crystals, maybe aliens seeded life on earth (but where did THEY come from?).

Expelled points out the incredible complexity needed even for the simplest life form: 250 proteins in just the proper order. What are the odds that these could come together on their own? Pretty astronomical, but belief in an intelligent designer is supposedly less rational. Uh huh.

It became obvious through the 90 minutes of the film: the scientific establishment is willing to believe pretty much ANYTHING (crystals, aliens, etc.) as long as the process was NOT intelligently designed. No wonder the subtitle of the film is "No Intelligence Allowed." (I think maybe there's no intelligence allowed in the scientific establishment).

Another thing became clear through this movie: evolutionists are terrified that the intelligent design movement is a disguised effort to "teach creationism in school and get prayer in schools."

Dismissing for a moment that many serious creationists don't have much that's positive to say about intelligent design (some believe it's a cop-out not to consider God as that intelligent designer), this prejudice exposes a bit of the real agenda of the evolutionist establishment. Not only do they adamantly oppose consideration of the idea that God might have created the universe (a contention that has not been disproved or found to be impossible in the slightest degree), it would be even worse if our school children went back to praying, like they used to do back in the dark ages of the 1950s and earlier. In short, the evolution establishment has a deep and profound contempt for God.

The most benevolent sentiments from the evolutionist camp about religion was that religion is "Something fun that people get together and do over the weekend, but it doesn't really affect their lives." (Isn't that what Christianity has become for a large segment of church-goers today?)

There were funny, illustrious clips interspersed throughout the film, most in black and white. One featured the scene from the Planet of the Apes where an intelligent ape uses a fire hose to spray down Charleton Heston's astronaut character in a prison cell. Another illustrated the war between evolution and everything else with a couple of gunslingers; after one shoots the other, the victor spits out in a disgusted tone: "Creationists!" Or the clip of the Wizard of Oz revealed behind the curtain (the revelation that there's nothing remarkable behind evolutionist ideas, maybe?)

If the theory of evolution were really so solid, so sure, so proven as its disciples claim, why the religious indignation displayed any time it is questioned? Why not dismiss those who disagree as we might casually dismiss the flat-earther or UFO-believer today? Why the Stalinist-type academic purge of verboten thought? Could it be a deep insecurity about the soundness of the theory? Could it be that there is something much larger at stake?

A statement made by Richard Dawkins near the beginning of the film was very much correct: "The battle over evolution is only one skirmish in a much larger war."

Dawkins' meaning in this statement is never explicitly elaborated upon, but regardless of what he meant, it is correct because the war in which evolution theory is only one part of the war of worldviews. It is near the center, but it's not the whole thing.

The interpretation of scientific evidence is only one part of what makes up a worldview. Worldview also involves the interpretation of history, philosophy, the arts, work, human nature, government, family and the community.

A worldview is essentially the lens of interpretation through which we view the world. It's a philosophical lens crafted from a set of foundational assumptions.

There are basically two worldviews: (1) belief that God is the Creator of all things, and the orderer of that creation, and (2) belief that the universe is the result of random, unguided happenstance with no design, and with no transcendent or absolute truth, and no moral accountability in this life (and certainly no other, since no afterlife exists).

Right now in Western culture, a battle between these two worldviews has been raging for some time. For most of the last 2,000 years, the West has embraced the creation worldview. Around the turn of the Nineteenth Century, a new worldview began to arise which looked for alternate theories to explain the universe--an explanation that did not involve God. That worldview was propelled into dominance through the widespread acceptance of Darwin's theory of evolution and natural selection--which has, incidentally, been mostly abandoned in its original form even by those who claim to adhere to it.

As one person in the film put it, "It is no longer about science; it's now a religious war." This statement would be abhorrent to evolutionists because they are utterly blind to their religious bias. It is a bias against theistic religion, but a religion nevertheless, in that their belief system meets one of the definitions of religion: "a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith." The ardor is self-evident, and since there are a number of foundational tenets of evolution/naturalism/materialism which are impossible according to the natural laws of the universe (not to mention that there are no records of evolution taking place, and it has not been observed in the laboratory), then obviously a lot of faith is required to believe in evolution.

William Provine of Cornell provides insight into the religious motivation behind the fervor of evolution apostles: if the worldview claims of evolution are true, there is no God; if there is no God, there are no transcendent moral values. If there are no transcendent moral values, not only are we not eternally accountable for our behavior, we can establish any system of "morality" we find convenient...and we can cast off any tenets of morality we find inconvenient, just as Hitler and Stalin and a host of other Darwinists have done.

When the correlation between Darwinism and communists/facists like these are pointed out, disciples of evolution quickly get into a lather. That's understandable: the harmony is logically undeniable, and it illustrates to the casual observer the danger of this philosophy.

Expelled visits some sites in Germany where not only Jews were systematically exterminated (being one of the "unfavored races" as Darwin put it), but the handicapped as well. When you consider some of the basic tenets of evolution (that there is no transcendent morality, and that evolution can improve a species), it makes perfect sense to rid society of people who have physical defects or other undesirable traits. As the tour guide at Hadamar, the place where the handicapped were exterminated, pointed out, these people were judged to make no no significant contribution to society, were only consuming valuable resources, and polluted the gene pool. So why not get rid of them? Under Darwinism, such a position is PERFECTLY LOGICAL. That's why Hitler, Stalin and many other disciples of evolution murdered millions in the last century--it was logical in their worldview.

But such evolutionary logic didn't just take place overseas; we've had our share of it in America, too. The eugenics movement of the early 20th Century was behind the forced sterilization of many people who were deemed "unfit to breed."

Planned Parenthood's roots with Margaret Sanger are evolutionary and racially elitist. Sanger was very much into eugenics, and believed that things like contraception and abortion could do much to end breeding among the undesirables of society. As the racists leanings of Planned Parenthood have shown recently, this apple hasn't fallen far from Sanger's tree.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the worldview war, Christ's teachings call on us to protect and help the poor, the weak, the needy, the outcasts. This has little to do with their ability to contribute to or improve society or an ethnicity, but because of their inherent human dignity, being created in the image of God Himself.

Stein wraps up the film with the contention that the traditional American values of freedom (freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of inquiry) are imperiled today, and only someone invested in prosecuting that war against freedom could reasonably disagree.

But there is hope. "No lie can live forever," Stein says, while images run of the Berlin Wall being bashed down by the citizens of Berlin.

He's right. Expelled is evidence that people are picking up the sledge hammers and moving toward the wall. The fact that a few people are starting to question the monolithic but unproved assertions of the evolution establishment are evidence that the wall may come down.

And perhaps the best indication that the wall may come down is the hysterical terror displayed by those who have a moral and religious investment in the hope that evolution is correct. They know that if it is commonly revealed for the empty house of cards that it really is, the whole framework of moral relativism is imperiled.

The idea that we are morally and eternally accountable for how we treat one another can be scary. For that matter, simply being subject to the power of an almighty being can be terrifying. It's no wonder evolutionists want to avoid a return to widespread acceptance of such a a worldview.

But a little humility before that almighty being Christians know as God can erase that terror, with the realization that He really does love us, and really does want what's best for His created ones.


36 comments:

BS7671 said...

If it wasn't for science's continuing open minded inquiry into the world around us we would still be living in mud huts and executing witches. The church would still be burning heretics etc and we would be dying of terrible diseases. Don't you ever wonder why in different parts of the world there are different religions? its because each group of people made up a different story to help their society to live in peace. If America was colonized by the Chinese instead of Europe you would all be buddist not christian.
MacroEvolution is a fact shown clearly in the DNA of everything. How life first started is unknown but the evolution of all life on earth after that is obvious. This article is all wishful thinking (and wrong), please open your mind to logical and rational explanations of the world around us.

Dr. Theo said...

Dear bs7671, you should brush up on your history just a bit. The era of Christianity in Europe was characterized by amazing architecture, great discoveries in science, social reform and human freedom.

DNA is, indeed, the code for all of life on earth, from bacteria to bs7671, and its origin is as inexplicable today as is the Left's rejection of science and logic. I hardly think that the ubiquity of DNA in nature is sufficient to deny the Creator and embrace superstition.

Olorin said...

If Mr Ellis is as credulous in other matters as he shows himself to be in this review, the Dakota Voice is in big trouble.

For starters, let's lay out the logic of "Expelled".
(1) Evolution holds that species change into other species over time because all individuals inherit variations from their parents, and some of these variations are more adapted to their environment than others.
(2) Hitler embarked on a campaign to slaughter groups of people that he considered inferior.
(3) Hitler's campaign was evil.
(4) Therefore---
(a) Evolution does not occur, and
(b) Scientists who accept evolution are evil.

Here's an idea. Let's make another movie, along the lines of:
(1) The theory of special relativity holds that matter can be converted into energy.
(2) Nuclear weapons operate by converting mass into energy.
(3) Nuclear weapons produce great destruction, and are evil.
(4) Therefore---
(a) Special relativity is incorrect, and
(b) Scientists who accept special relativity are evil.

As to the movie's contrast betwen theistic intelligent design and "atheistic" science, other reviewers have noted that avowedly Christian evolutionary biologists---such as Francis Collins, Ken Miller, and Francis Ayala---were deliberately not inteveiwed for the film. (One was in fact interviewed, but was dropped when his strong Christian faith became apparent.)

In addition to the many outright lies in the film itself, it is notable for the amount of fraud and theft that went into making it. The interviews with Dawkins, Myers, and others were obtained fraudulently. The evidence shows that animations in the film were ripped off from Harvard and from PBS. Yoko Ono has sued the producers for unauthorized use of John Lennon's song "Imagine." The Killers publicly state that rights to their song were obtained under false pretenses. Almost every day, some new allegation of fraud or theft comes to light.

"Expelled" is a sleazy movie produced by sleazy people.

BS7671 said...

As I said, the religion enabled the society to live in peace, thus it could progress its science and technology.

If we can all accept MacroEvolution (as proved by the ubiquity of DNA) then what's the problem? The origin of the first life can only be speculation until some solid evidence exists and until that time it is not science.

Dr. Theo said...

OneNewsNow rports that EXPELLED has had a good opening weekend,
http://onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=76952


'Expelled' breaks into Top 10 on first weekend
Allie Martin - OneNewsNow - 4/21/2008 12:05:00 PM

"Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed took in $3.2 million on opening weekend. The movie stars Ben Stein, who interviews scientists and professors who have been blacklisted, lost tenure, and in some cases were fired for questioning Darwinian evolution and wanting to teach intelligent design.

"Mark Mathis, executive producer of the movie, says the strong showing will get Hollywood's attention. 'There's a lot of garbage out there in our theaters, and when investors stick their necks out and risk their hard-earned money to see a movie like this produced, they're taking a big risk -- and they're hoping that people will honor that and actually go see it,' he shares.

"Mathis points out that Expelled opened on 1,052 screens -- about half the number of screens of other Top 10 movies."

daenku32 said...

Sternberg was NOT fired from the Smithsonian. Neither was he fired from NIH (his actual employer).

I suppose you will not correct this fatal mistake in your opinion.

drewas said...

Dr. Sternberg was not fired, but was forced to resign, as Mr. Ellis clearly states in his piece. Furthermore, if you'd like to learn the other side of this controversy you can read Dr. Sternberg's account here:
http://www.rsternberg.net/

Will you, daenku32, retract your allegation that the review is "fatally" mistaken?

Bob Ellis said...

Fatal mistake, daenku32? Will I die for it? Does it undermine in the slightest the contention made by the film? Dream on.

If you prefer "forced to resign" and that'll help you get beyond your bias against objectivity, so be it (I'm not holding my breath). If you've been around a while, you know that there is little difference between "forced to resign" and "contract not renewed" and "fired." But petty criticisms do help distract from the overall point, don't they?

Bob Ellis said...

drewas, your comment came between the time I made the, ah, correction in the post and the time I left my last comment explaining that correction.

I'd encourage the interested and open-minded (if there are any reading this) to check out the link to the account you mentioned, however. It sheds some light on why, in my last comment, I said that sometimes there is little distinction between "fired and "forced to resign."

Still, I want to do everything I can to be accurate and remove any distraction daenku32 might encounter on his journey to truth.

Bayesian Bouffant, FCD said...

"Dr. Sternberg was not fired, but was forced to resign,"

Still wrong. Von Sternberg did not have to give up his office, did not have to give up his access to the Smithsonian collections, did not lose his job at the NIH - what was he forced to resign?

http://www.expelledexposed.com/index.php/the-truth/sternberg

Oh my, co-workers actually said mean things about him and asked about his religious beliefs! How terrible. If a co-worker of yours faced Mecca and prayed several times a day, might you wonder whether he was a Muslim? Likewise, if a fellow scientist snuck into print a Creationist paper, I might wonder whether he was a Christian fundamentalist.

Anonymous said...

It was a lot more than a little good-natured ribbing. Von Sternberg was forced from his position because he committed the unforgivable sin of giving the enemy the slightest hearing. This is precisely why it is disingenuous of Darwinists to insist that dissenters from the orthodoxy of naturalism publish in peer reviewed journals. What editor in his right mind would give any submission a reading unless it is absolutely straight down the party line?

Grant LaFleche said...

The author of the above article clearly needs a history lesson. He refers to Stalin as a "disciple of evolution." This is so wrong, and well known to anyone who has studied the history of the Soviet Union, that Bob Ellis's claim that Stalin did what he did because of Darwin is laughable.

First, and critically important to this point, is that Stalin openly REJECTED Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. Stalin, because of his nutty communist views, regarded evolution as a "capitalist" idea and as such was wrong by definition. Not only did he reject evolution, but Stalin followed the science "beliefs" of a raving nut named Trofim Lysenko, whose insane view of science directly resulted in massive crop failures in the USSR.

Lysenko opposed evolution and favored a form of Lamarckism that said that physiology was not genetic or the result of natural selection, but formed because of experience over a life time. In 1948 Stalin officially made scientific dissent from Lysenko's views illegal in the Soviet Union.

So to claim that Stalin is a "follower" of Darwin is completely wrong. And those who want to make such a claim should do their homework before doing so.

Bob Ellis said...

Stalin wasn't a disciple of evolution?

According to "Landmarks in the Life of Stalin" published in 1940 (while Stalin was still in power) by E. Yaroslavsky:

G. Glurdjidze, a boyhood friend of Stalin's, relates:
"I began to speak of God, Joseph heard me out, and after a moment's silence, said:
"'You know, they are fooling us, there is no God. . . .'
"I was astonished at these words, I had never heard anything like it before.
"'How can you say such things, Soso?' I exclaimed.
"'I'll lend you a book to read; it will show you that the world and all living things are quite different from what you imagine, and all this talk about God is sheer nonsense,' Joseph said.
"'What book is that?' I enquired.
"'Darwin. You must read it,' Joseph impressed on me"

Stalin had been attending a seminary until he read Darwin; he then became an atheist.

Marx believed Darwin's work "contains the basis in natural history for our view." Stalin, being a communist, was a follower of Marx, as was Lenin, the founder of Soviet communism.

Even if there had been no official connection in philosophy, Stalin's tactics were, as with Hitler, in keeping with Darwinism: no God, no accountability, and the weak must make way for the strong.

But there is obviously a connection.

Grant LaFleche said...

Bob, with all due respect, you are just completely wrong on the history of Stalin. He jailed Russian geneticists who argued that Lysenko was wrong and Darwin was right. (The USSRs top biologists and geneticists died in prison because they were working with Darwin's ideas) It was not until the 1960s, long after the worse of Stalin's purges were over and the Soviet government began the period we call "the thaw" - which included a repudiation of everything Stalin did - that the situation changed.

Stalin was utterly ignorant of science, and evolution had nothing to do with his world view. He hunted down scientists who worked on evolution with the same ruthless zeal he used to try and destroy churches and clergymen. You either are unaware of this well known fact, or simply ignoring it.

A "follower" of Darwin would not have evolutionary biologists jailed and killed, would not outlaw Darwin, and would not refer to it as a false "capitalist" science. He did all these things. Its all well known.

Also, you clearly need to study the history of communism in the Soviet mould. Stalin was using anything Marx wrote as a model. He learned at the feet of Lenin, who changed Marxism to a considerable degree. This is why we refer to his ideas a Marxist-Leninist. Its Marxism with a serious bent to it. Stalin's "philosophy" if it can be called that, is simply "Stalinism" and is ever further away from Marx's (rather short sighted) ideas.

I'm sorry to say but you just have your history wrong. There are miles and miles of history written on Stalin. None of what I just wrote is even controversial.

Stalin was indeed an atheist, but he was a scientific ignoramus who openly and often repudiated Darwin's ideas.

Bob Ellis said...

You're still missing the point, Grant (perhaps purposefully?).

You don't need to be a genius or a scientist to buy into the philosophical conclusions and make the best of them.

Do you believe in evolution?

Grant LaFleche said...

Further, Bob, while the Nazi's used a social Darwinist (which has nothing to do with the theory of evolution or Charles Darwin) element in their justifications for mass murder, Stalin did not.

Part of the Nazi thing was to claim racial superiority over everyone else. The whole master race thing, right? This is not at all part of Stalin's gig. His killings were driven to wipe out all opposition to him. That included scientists and religions as both were competitors with the state cult he built around himself.

Finally, the Nazi's anti-semetism was not even an invention of their social Darwinism. Rather their social Darwinism supported what was already there. Europe at the time was rife with a deep hatred and fear of Jews. And what created that? Christianity theology that believed Jews were "Christ killers." Hitler himself was a theist and occultist, not an atheist, who created a mishmash of Norse mythology and Christianity to create what is known as "positive Christianity." Even in the apocryphal "table talk" where Hitler is sourced as rejecting Christianity he speaks in glowing terms about Jesus. (What Hitler rejected was the Christian church, not the figure of Jesus which Hitler strangely viewed as a "fighter" against the Jew).

Nazi storm troopers even wore the phrase "Gott Mit Uns" (God is with us) on their belt buckles.

The point is that none of this has anything to do with Charles Darwin or evolution. Stalin completely rejected it. Hitler, a theist, used social darwinism as part of his nutty Nazi philosophy.

When you look at the facts, most of your thesis actually falls apart.

Grant LaFleche said...

bob:

I understand your point, but you have alot of your history wrong.

No, one does not need to be a scientist to understand evolution. However, your specific claim was that Stalin was a "follower" of Darwin. He was not and openly rejected Darwin and the theory of evolution. I'm sorry, but you are just wrong on that point.

In the case of Hitler, you can least point to social darwinism. But again, you ignore Hitler's religious beliefs and source of much of his hatred toward Jews. To claim, as Stein does, that Hitler was driven only by social darwinism, is both wrong and foolish.

Do I "believe" in evolution. Not in the religious sense in which you used the term. on the weight of evidence is the best explanation for how life develops. New evidence can change that. Just ask Newton what happens when new evidence shows up. LOL. but to date, evidence has supported evolutional by natural selection.

Bob Ellis said...

Thanks for your honesty, Grant. I could see this coming a couple of comments ago.

You're one of these who blame Christianity for Hitler's crimes and ignores the glaringly obvious atheistic and Darwinst connections.

Christianity was founded by a Jew and and brought to the Gentiles by Jews; hating Jews is completely inconsistent with Christianity.

Meanwhile, as I've exhaustively pointed out, Hitler's master-race ethnic cleansing is in perfect harmony with the logical ends of Darwinism.

Grant LaFleche said...

Bob, rule one of journalism - never assume someone motivations.

I do not "blame" Christainity for Hitler. Hitler is to blame for Hitler. All am I pointing out is some not insignificant historical facts you got wrong.

Hating Jews may well be "inconsistent" with Christianity as you see it. But the FACT is that for centuries Christians were openly hostile to Jews and persecuted them viciously. Have you ever heard of the "blood libel?' This was a crazy idea cooked up by Christians of the period that Jews stole Christian children in the night and used them for blood sacrifices.

Of course Jesus was a Jew and to you living in the 21st century this is a perfectly logical point. To the Christians of even 80 years ago, not so much. For a VERY long time Christians in Europe persecuted Jews. Hitler's anti-semetism was a direct inheritance of that history. Remember, most Germans were Christians in the 30s and 40s, largely Catholic and Lutheran.

It is also interesting that in Mein Kampf, his insane book, Hitler doesn't talk about Darwin or evolution at all. He does, however, talk about god and Jesus. This does not make Christianity, as a doctrine and religion, "responsible" for what he did. However, Hitler believed in a god and found inspiration in his view of the bible. That's just a fact.

To ignore this well known historical fact is just a bit silly.

You cannot run about telling people they are ignoring the Nazi use of social Darwinism (which I am not) and then pretend Hitler was an atheist and that long standing Christian hatred toward Jews didn't exist. Perhaps recognizing the dark side of Christian history makes you uncomfortable. I don't know. but pretending it didn't happen won't change the past.

Generally you've made two errors which, if you did a little research beyond evangelical tracts, you'd see.

Stalin was an atheist, but not a Darwinist in any sense.He openly rejected Darwinism, embraced Lysenkoism and made that part of the communist cult he set up in Russia. He replaced religion, or tried to, with his cult of personality.

Hitler was a theist who was, in part, a social darwinist. He created a state religion (Positive Christianity) that blended Christian theological ideas with Norse pagan myth. His hatred of jews was not only rife in German before he came to power, but unfortunately common in the West at the time (including Canada and the United States.)

To say social darwinism had no role in Nazi's ideology would be silly and would be a lie. Similarly, Bob, to ignore Hitler's religious faith, the role centuries old Christian bigotry toward Jews played in his ideology is just as silly.

It seems to me you are trying to paint the past in very simple strokes of black and white. But that is just not how things happened.

BS7671 said...

I wonder why American fundamentalist Christians claim that evolution's logical conclusions are racist. Genetic analysis has shown that all races of modern humans are incredibly similar (have a very recent common ancestors) so there is no basis in fact. I conclude that it must be that they "feel superior" to other races/societies/religions. (Maybe they feel guilty about this due to their "high moral standards" as Christians and blame "Darwinism")

Bob Ellis said...

Grant, you're still missing the point, though I assume that's on purpose. Straw men are useful to deflect from the point. That point, again, being not that Hitler or Stalin were perfectly orthodox followers of Darwin, but that their methods were in complete harmony with the logical conclusions of Darwinism, and that the worldview of Darwinism, rather than the worldview of Christianity, is what justified their actions. Ideas don't exist in a vacuum.

Bob Ellis said...

BS7671, Darwin's ideas can lead to racism because of the contention that "races" compete for survival (remember that the title of Darwin's hallmark book was "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life").

Further, when you accept the premise that there is no God and no transcendent set of values, all morality is up for grabs.

When you couple a desire to form a powerful political union with a lack of objective morality, you tend to get the kind of thing Hitler showed the world.

But as I said in response to Grant's misdirection, straw men are useful when we want to avoid the truth, aren't they?

Grant LaFleche said...

Bob, Bob, Bob....straw men? Please.

You get history wrong - in the case of Stalin GROSSLY so. Remember you made a very specific claim, which was that Stalin was a "disciple" of Charles Darwin. I didn't make that claim. You did. I am explained to you in some detail why that claim is just plain wrong. It's not even sorta of right. It's wrong. If you are being honest about this whole thing, you'd at least admit that. Instead you change your argument to say "well maybe he wasn't following Darwin but his views 'fit' with Darwin."

Well no they don't. Stalin made no claims of racial superiority at all. That's Hitler, you know the guy Stalin was at war with? Stalin's purges had NOTHING to do with a master race, or genetic superiority or anything we associate with the Nazi scheme. Stalin was all about power. He was wiping out those who he considered a threat. So he killed his generals, scientists, religious leaders, political leaders....all because the saw them as a direct threat to his absolute power.

You're distorting historical facts, and then not even facing up to the fact that you were wrong.

Further, you attempt to ignore, it seems, the highly religious nature of the Nazi's, the roots of European hatred of Jews. You even imply, as does that insipid Ben Stein, that anti-semetism was CREATED because of evolutionary theory, as thought it wasn't kicking around for centuries - which it was. Christian hatred of and violence toward Jews in Europe was kicking around long before Charles Darwin. That is just a fact, not a straw man. And again, you made a specific claim which is refuted by facts.

Your arguments would be much stronger if you at least admitted you got well known historical facts wrong.

Regarding "darwinism." As a scientific theory it does not prescribe any organizing principle for society. In his great work, On the Origin of Species, Darwin in fact says that it is to the credit of human beings that we take care of the weak and sick. Of course "Expelled" dishonestly quote mines and actually cribs entire passages of Origins to make its case. Indeed, they actually CHANGED passages from the book rather that quote Darwin properly.

Finally, this bit about "favored races." Darwin is not talking about human beings. He is talking about all animals and the word "races" means "species." You are taking an 18th century use of language out of context.

BS7671 said...

Bob, I don't accept that without a god "all morality is up for grabs". Morality evolved because of the advantage it gave humans to live in large groups. See:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/18/science/18mora.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin

Although religions do formalize and encourage good morals (which is great), they also in some cases have suppressive and negative effects (e.g in this case trying to suppress science and discovery).

In the modern world you don't need a religion to get all the good parts e.g Humanism.

Bob Ellis said...

Grant, I'll say it one more time in the remote hope that you might have an interest in the truth and aren't simply trying to obfuscate.

The point is not whether Hitler or Stalin were orthodox students of Darwin, but that their philosophies and methods were logically in harmony with Darwinism--and it's historical record that Stalin was profoundly influenced by Darwin.

Whether the ultimate goal was racial purity or simply to remove enemies, the tenets of Darwinism (that the weak make way for the strong, and that there is no objective truth) are in harmony with the methods of both these men--and there is a historical connection, no matter how many times you deny it.

Finally, if you knew history as well as you claim (or would simply admit it), you'd know that 19th Century Darwinists viewed negros, Aboriginese and other ethnicities as stunted or less evolved races (separate races or species) which happened to be similar to humanity--and used the "fact" of their lack of evolutionary advancement to place them farther down the chain of dignity (like a dog or a horse) and justify their horrific treatment of their fellow humans. Which was, once again, in harmony with and ultimately a logical extension of Darwinism.

Bob Ellis said...

BS7671, it doesn't matter whether you accept it or not; it's a simple fact. Without a transcendent, objective moral standard, the moral values of a society will drift just as surely as an unanchored ship in the middle of a storm.

Humanism, on its face, can provide all the "do unto others" that Christianity can. But what happens when those in power decide to change the definition of humanist values?

If we reach a state (which some already say is near) where resources become limited, what objective standard exists to prevent humanists from redefining the standard of what's right and wrong to say exactly what Hitler said: that the weak and inferior must make way for the needs of the strong, for the survival of the species?

BTW, your contention that religions (i.e. Christianity) suppress science and discovery is beyond asinine. The list of scientists who held Christian beliefs is long and distinguished, including Newton, Galileo, Kepler and Mendel. Christians want to understand the universe at least as much as evolutionists do; the only difference is their assumptions about origins differ from the assumptions of evolutionists. You've been consuming too much evolutionist propaganda.

Grant LaFleche said...

Except that Bob, you made a very SPECIFIC claim about Stalin in particular, which history does not support.

Tell me are you simply unaware of Lysenko? Are you actually going to claim the hatred of Jews did not exist in Christian Europe, propagated by believers, prior to the rise of the nazis and prior to Darwin? Because, and I stand to be corrected, that appears to be what you are implying.

I've yet to see you acknowledge the well known fact that Hitler was a theist and that his troops wore the phrase "god is with us" on their uniforms. I have no difficultly in acknowledging the role social darwnism played, particularly in Nazi Germany. You however, appear to want to paint history into black and white. Good Christianity on one side and bad evolution on the other. I'm sorry to say but history just doesn't play out like that.

I am surprised you would cite Mendel as a good Christian scientist because his work is a key element in Darwinian evolution.

Also, it is indeed true there were many a racist idea kicking around. There still are isn't there. And those racist ideas were there before Darwin. Your thesis is like blaming Plato for communism. It doesn't follow.

Also, are you aware that Darwin himself was an abolitionist who argued for black slaves to be freed and treated equally? Are you aware that Darwin argued that, from an evolutionary point of view, there is no significant difference between a black man and a white one?

To say that because some people used evolution as a means to try and organize society proves Darwin was evil or evolution wrong is about the as saying because the Puritans thought it moral to burn woman alive for being suspected of witchcraft means Christianity is immoral and evil.

Glass houses and all that Bob. Facts matter.

Grant LaFleche said...

"But what happens when those in power decide to change the definition of humanist values? "

Bob, are you unaware of the history of Christianity? Are you seriously going to argue that Christian values have never changed?

Christians, mostly no longer think that it is moral to stone to death people who committ adultry. They once did. They no longer think it moral to burn woman alive who are believed to be witches. They once did. Many Christians - including the popular Jerry Falwell - once believed that black people were evil "the curse of Ham." In Europe, many Christians believed it moral to torture and execute heritics. Most Christians no longer believe this. And so on and so forth.

Why don't you believe any of things? Well because you in a society where the moral zeitgeist has changed for the better. What you believe as a Christian in 2008 is rather different that what a Christian of 300 years ago thought and believed.

So once can VERY easily turn the tables on your question. What happens when Christians redefine what their faith means again?

Bob Ellis said...

Grant, you seem to love straw men.

I never said there was never any racism or hatred of the Jews before Darwinism. I said Darwinism was in harmony with Hitlers actions; it even added a "scientific legitimacy" to his dark ideas.

Mendel's work (Mendel believed in God, by the way) actually runs counter to Darwin's claims, illustrating that genetic variation falls within a confined set of parameters. You don't get birds from dinosaurs.

The Christian "changes" you mentioned were abberations at best; I've noticed that liberals like to make rules of exceptions. I don't know that Falwell believed that about black people, but if he did, he was mistaken. And it would be contrary to the teachings of the Bible...meanwhile, Hitler's actions were logically consistent with the implications of Darwinism.

Anonymous said...

Grant, I commend you for your patience with Bob.

Bob, are you really going to use Galileo as a good example of how Christianity promotes science? Talk about asinine, your ability to gloss over Christian warts is astounding. The church burned people at the stake for claiming the earth was not the center of the universe. Of course Galileo had good motivation to renounce his publications. And what about the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, the list kept by the Christian church that forbid heretic books to be published. It's a who's who of scientists who were "expelled" by the church! Google it and come back here and let me hear your argument.

Bob Ellis said...

Anonymous: was Galileo a creationist--yes or no?

James_g said...

Bob, I don't know if Galileo was a creationist actually. I expect all Catholics were at that point in time, at least publicly of course.

Did you google the index? Are you still going to argue that Christianity hasn't obstructed scientific advancement?

Here's a short list of great thinkers who's publications were "expelled" on the Index by the Christian Church:

Copernicus
Descarte
Diderot
Galileo
Hobbes
Hume
Kant
Locke
Pascal
Rousseau
Sarte
Spinoza
Voltaire

I could go on but any freshman in the history of science knows the impact of christianity and the Index on scientific development. Of course there are positive impacts such as the jesuit schools etc, but the negatives are overwhelming.

What's your take Bob?

I'm James by the way.

Grant LaFleche said...

So history, according to you Bob, goes like this: Everything is good for 2,000 years or so when everyone believed in Jesus. Those who did bad things like burning women, hunting down Jews, stoning people, starting bloody religious wars, torturing and burning heretics and the like were 'abberations "

According to you there is no possible way anyone could read the bible, a book filled with gory violence, that it is acceptable to do any harm to anyone. So anyone who does is an abberation.

Then along comes evil Darwin who figured out how species develop. He makes no pronouncements about human society and actively discourages using his scientific ideas as a social blue print. However, there eventually develops an unscientific notion called "social darwinism" which in some places like Nazi German contributed to some very nasty stuff.

According to you, these nasty Nazis and the like are not abberations because, well, because you say so.

So when bad things are down with Christanity is twisted, that's an abberation. But when Darwin's scientific ideas are turned into something they are not, that is logical.

seriously man, glass house. Stones. bad mix.

And you should maybe READ Mendel before you claim he disproves evolution. Mendel's worked helped build the theory.

Grant LaFleche said...

James;

Well said. The idea that because Galileo was a Christian somehow means that the faith is "pro-science" is silly. History shows otherwise. Galileo was charged withs suspicion of heresy and threated to be tortured if he did not recant work which, as he wrote in a letter to a Dutchess, the bible was wrong on scientific points. He went as far to say: "I think that in the discussion of natural problems we ought to begin not with the Scriptures, but with experiments, and demonstrations."

The argument is even more foolish because nearly everyone in Europe was a Christian and to not be one was very, very dangerous for your health.

Was Galileo a creationist? What a silly question. The term "creationist" didn't even exist and the sum total knowledge about the age of the earth was, well, nearly zero. That's like saying because Archimedes was smart and a scientist, and believed in Zeus, there must be something to this Zeus thing.

Newton is another funny example. Many believers will say, in effect, he was a believer and the proves how scientific the faith is. Yes he was a believer. he was also big into the occult as well. So does that mean that the occult is true too?

Unfortunately, there are those who want to pain history into a childish black and white with Christianity on one side and everything else on the other. We see this with many of Bob's posts, where he cannot even acknowledge the role of the Christan religion in Nazi Germany for example.

History is vastly more complex and deep that the kind of white hats vs. black hats theocratic history we seem people trying to peddle.

Jon B said...

By the way guys, Bob is not very good at admitting when he's wrong.

He stated emphatically in another blog that evolution is NOT TESTABLE. Whether or not evolution is true or false in this matter is completely irrelevant. The theory of evolution has made a plethora of predictions that can be tested and anyone with high school research skills can discover this for themselves.

We're still waiting for him to admit he doesn't know the facts.

Bob Ellis said...

The Index Librorum Prohibitorum wasn’t simply an anti-science list, as some here have insinuated; in fact, its inclusions had more to do with immorality and theological heresy than science. Still, I’m not defending the list.

At the same time, the Catholic Church doesn’t comprise the entirety of Christianity, nor does it always follow the Bible—just as Protestant churches do not always follow the Bible.

And on the subject of Galileo, the scientific theory his work undermined was not Biblical doctrine, or even church doctrine, but a theory developed by Aristotle which came to be accepted in society, including many in the Catholic church. Some in the church failed to recognize the difference between what the Bible actually says and what Aristotle theorized. In a sense, the church made a mistake similar to one a large number of evolutionists make today: the failure to distinguish between fact and interpretation.

I think you make the common mistake of believing that in Christianity the INSTITUTION sets the standard, when that is simply not the case. The standard is the Bible, and everything that strays from that is itself a heresy or aberration…whether it be an individual Christian who strays or an institution which strays. The Bible constitutes the worldview, or to use a secular word, the sum total of the philosophy of Christianity. Anything that does not conform to the Bible does not conform to Christianity. Christians and Christian institutions, being made up of fallible human beings with limited perception, will frequently get things wrong—especially when they move away from the Bible as the standard.

God created the universe, establishing science by his creative work, and establishing the scientific laws by which we can study the universe, making it possible to develop expectations and make reasonable assumptions about how it should work. We are able to do this because God is a God of order, not chaos and randomness. He is intelligent, and we expect that what he has created will function according to an intelligent design—and it does, making scientific inquiry possible—as these great creationist scientists recognized. Positions held by Christians or within Christian institutions which run counter to this are inconsistent with the tenets and logical conclusions of Christianity.

And, as I have attempted well beyond exhaustively to explain (and feel as if I’ve been talking to a tree), the tenets of Darwinism include no intelligent designer, no transcendent moral standard, and the struggle for races to improve. Therefore, it is perfectly logical to do whatever we want with our fellow man, especially when he is weak and less able to defend himself, and when his demise will improve the gene pool and remove someone who is wasting resources that could be better utilized elsewhere.

For the last time, Darwinism and its implications, and Hitler’s actions—and those of many other savage dictators around the world—are in complete harmony with one another. I’ve beat this horse into a pulp; anyone who can’t grasp the glaringly obvious truth of this by now is beyond the hope of a mind open enough to do so. That, and the ability to distinguish the difference between objective FACT and the INTERPRETATION of fact. But these self-imposed limitations of the mind married to Darwin are not new.

I recognize that these are scary implications, and I also recognize that evolutionists don’t appreciate the light in which they cast the theory of evolution. But if you accept the theory as true, then intellectual honesty demands you accept the implications and the path of logic that theory dictates. If it’s true, it’s all you have, and denying it only wastes everyone’s time and jeopardizes the advancement of the species.

I don’t know about you guys, but I have a life, and it’s an ongoing one—and so is the new content of Dakota Voice. This poor horses carcass has been beaten enough here, so I’m shutting down comments on this an another related post. But thanks to all who’ve commented. Maybe after the guns have gone silent here, in quiet reflection you’ll be able to not only ponder where Darwinism leads (and whether you really want that kid of world), but also consider some of the fundamental flaws of evolution/naturalism/materialism, and realize that not only does the creation account present a much more attractive moral and societal option, but a superior scientific theory that is far more viable within it’s framework and fits the evidence better.

 
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