I see P.Z. Myers already has the video of Bill O’Reilly’s interview with Ben Stein. But just in case you’re at work and don’t want to get caught watching such filth, I have taken the liberty of providing a transcript below. Read it and weep:
O’REILLY: In the unresolved problems segment tonight, how did life begin? Religious people believe a higher power created the universe; secular progressives say all kinds of things, but God is not in the equation. And some believe, those who subscribe to intelligent design; that is a deity created life; are being persecuted in America. Joining us now from Washington Ben Stein, who has put together a new documentary called “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” The film set to open in theaters this February.
So, what’s the issue in your mind?
STEIN: Well, the issue is that Darwinism, which was a brilliant theory and a great, great relic of the age of imperialism in the 19th century, basically said that mankind evolved from apes and monkeys and from cells and so forth. And that’s a brilliant proposition; Darwin was a brilliant guy. But it didn’t say how life began. It didn’t say how the cell got to have hundreds of thousands of moving parts each of which has to work perfectly. It said maybe life was created by lightning striking a mud puddle. That has never struck me as convincing. And I thought there are a lot of gaps in Darwinism. Intelligent Design is an effort to try to fill in some of those gaps. It might be totally wrong, but at least it’s an effort to try to fill in some very obvious gaps.
O’REILLY: All right, but you know when you say that, particularly you being in the show business community, you have one foot in there, that Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher who we just saw, are going to say that you’re a primitive, that you’re an intellectual deficient, that you have no right to intrude on the American secular culture by bringing up there may be a creator. And you say what?
STEIN: I say there’s a first amendment, I’m allowed to say anything I want and Bill Maher has nothing to say about it and Christopher Hitchens, an obviously brilliant man, has nothing to say about it. In fact the whole problem is about violations of the first amendment. There are many scientists we interviewed, many, who have been expelled from their jobs, have had their websites shut down, who have been denied grants, been denied tenure, because they wanted to question the limits, the boundaries of Darwinism, the gaps in Darwinism, and they’ve been expelled, shut down. That’s not how societies progress. Societies progress by asking questions, having freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry. We’re not trying to shut anyone up. Bill Maher can say anything he wants. All these Darwinist people, all these atheists can say anything they want. We would just like to have freedom of inquiry and freedom of speech. And is this problem important? Is freedom of inquiry important?
O’REILLY: Well, but it’s interesting because the state of Kansas, not a crazy liberal state, has ordered its people, teachers, not to mention that there might be a creationistic aspect to the universe. And you’re right! I mean, the academics now have shut down. And I could never understand that. Why can’t you just mention in biology class, in wahtever calss you want, that there are theologians who believe a higher power was responsible for the first life. Because whenver I get these atheists on the Factor, and you probably now this, I’ve said, “Okay! How did ti all start?” [mockingly] “Well, we really don’t know yet.”
STEIN: Well, the reason they’re so angry about it and so defensive is because the thoery has so many holes in it, and it’s such a weak theory, that they have to be defensive about it to fight off what what are going to be some obvious attacks on it. I mean this is a theory which was a brillinat theory in th emiddle of the 19th century. It’s the 21st century, there are a lot of questions being raised about it. Nobody had any idea the cell was so complex. We would just like to be able to ask the questions. Maybe we’re wrong. Maybe we’re stupid, but we’d like to be able to ask the questions.
O’REILLY: Okay, do you think thought that people who believe in creationism are being persecuted in America?
STEIN: There’s no doubt about it. We have lots and lots of evidence of it in the movie. And you know Einstein worked within the framework of believing there was a God. Newton worked within the framework of believing there was a God. For gosh sakes Darwin worked within the framework of believing there was a God. And yet, somehow, today you’re not allowed to believe it. Why can’t we have as much freedom as Darwin had?
O’REILLY: I don’t know. It’s an excellent question. I’ve never been able to understand why the secular authorities in education basically persecute people who raise a very legitimate question. &;dquo;Hey! You guys haven’t figured it out. You secular pinheads. You haven’t figured it out! You’ve had a lot of time.” So perhaps, we just want to let the kids know there are opinions on this. But no! You can’t have the kids hear that! [mocckingly] Separation of church and state.
I’ll let you have the last word, Mr. Stein.
STEIN: Because there’s so much fear out there in the secular community that their position is so precarious. We’re not trying to shut them down. We just want to be allowed to talk and think.
O’REILLY: Just want to have all cards put on the academic table.
O’REILLY: All right, Ben Stein everybody. We’ll look for his film. Thank you.
Pretty much defies comment, don’t you think? At least we can be happy that O’Reilly unambiguously conflated creationism and intelligent design. That should get the folks at Discovery and UD a bit annoyed.
Interviews like this bring into stark relief what scientists are up against in fighting ID propaganda. Here you have two folks who understand absolutely nothing about the issue. O’Reilly routinely conflates the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and evolution, which are three entirely different things. He acts as if ID is just the bald assertion that God created the world, apparently oblivious to and uninterested in what ID folks actually say. And Stein was obviously coached on his talking points. Just keep harping on freedom of speech and dogmatic academics and then it doesn’t matter if you actually know anything about science.
Most people have this idea that some basic sense of shame keeps folks from behaving this way. They know that they wouldn’t go on television and speak with confidence about issues they know nothing about, so they naturally give others the benefit of the doubt. The possibility that what they are seeing is wall-to-wall nonsense never enters their mind. The existence of conscienceless freaks like O’Reilly and Stein, who only care about their own face time, is not something that is recognized by most people.
Now think of all the scientists you know. How many of them, were they on opposite Stein in that segment, would have made a good showing for themselves? It’s just not in the nature of most scientists to speak in short sentences and throw all sense of detial and nuance under the bus. Most would go on the show not having been coached in appropriate talking points, indeed, most would sneer at the thought of such preparation. They would go on thinking naively that they were about to participate in a serious discussion, and then they would get blindsided by stupidity of a magnitude far beyond what even their worst students would think to produce.
I find that vexing.