The gang of prevaricators behind Ben Stein’s Expelled movie had their own way of celebrating Darwin Day: they wrote a blog post that was a solid wall of lies and nonsense. In a way, I’m impressed; I’d have to really struggle to write something that was such a dense array of concentrated stupid, but for them, it seems to be a natural talent, allowing them to blithely and effortlessly rattle off a succession of falsehoods without blushing.
Let’s begin with the beginning. You don’t even have to be a biologist to be embarrassed by these wankers.
Until the late 1980’s when the generic “President’s Day” became the official holiday that subsumed them, America used to celebrate the birthdays of both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
As a result, “Darwin Day” has now supplanted Lincoln’s Birthday in the popular imagination; both men were born on February 12, 1809.
We think that that is a shame.
I agree that the consolidation of “President’s Day” did diminish awareness of Lincoln’s birthday and reduced the appreciation of a president in exchange for a 3-day weekend, but Darwin had nothing to do with that, and it did not replace Lincoln with Darwin in the popular imagination — ask most people what the significance of 12 February might be, and you’ll get a blank look. Darwin Day is a public relations effort to make people aware of the contributions of a great scientist, nothing more; there is no official holiday and no government recognition.
The title of Charles Darwin’s book is not “The Origin of The Species.” The full title seems shocking: “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” That last half of the title, often overlooked, sounds like it could come straight out of a Ku Klux Klan manual – which is precisely why Big Science rarely quotes the full title (even though Darwin was not referring specifically to “man” in his use of the words “favoured races.”). Big Science is uncomfortable with even the suggestion that evolutionary theory might favor politically incorrect thinking.
Umm, no, that’s not why scientists rarely state the full title: it’s because saying “the Origin” is an awful lot shorter than saying “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” It’s really that simple. When I introduce the book to my classes, I’ve got a presentation slide of the cover page and I state the title in full the first time, and then just say “the Origin” afterwards. I’ve only got an hour!
As they note, the book isn’t about giving human races special privilege at all — he seems to go on and on about ‘races’ of pigeons, and is really using the word in an old-fashioned sense to refer to varieties. But hey, if a propagandist wants to tar biologists with a false equivalency to the Ku Klux Klan, they’ll go ahead and do it.
Try to parse the last sentence in that paragraph now. Is he really trying to suggest one of the flaws of modern science is that we’re trying to bury the notion of ‘favoured races’ because it is politically incorrect? I’m puzzled about the inconsistency of on the one hand accusing biologists of being akin to Aryan supremacists, while also accusing them of falsely promoting a PC notion of racial equality. But then nothing in their tirade is particularly consistent.
Darwinian evolution theory is a viable scientific theory. Author of The God Delusion Richard Dawkins has stated that Darwin’s evolution theory has provided atheists with “intellectual fulfillment.” If you grant that, then you must also grant that it has given a great many racists “intellectual fulfillment,” too.
The Bible has also been a source of intellectual fulfillment to racists. So? In the case of atheism, we can say it provides fulfillment because the theory is a framework for studying the origin of life on earth that makes a creator god superfluous; it also provides a framework for studying biological diversity within a single species. When a scientist says something is intellectually fulfilling, it doesn’t mean it slaps down an answer that fits his predispositions, it’s because it provides a path for probing deeper. The Expelled losers are confusing what a real scientist finds valuable with the post hoc rationalizations of racists and Christians who are not open to real inquiry.
Here is how Darwin himself translated his own gloomy scientific theory into an even more disturbing worldview (from the Descent of Man)
‘At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropological apes… will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state…even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of now between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla‘.
Whenever I see an ellipsis in a creationist quote, I always reach immediately for the original source. So, just for the sake of completeness, here’s the offensive paragraph from Darwin’s Descent of Man.
The great break in the organic chain between man and his nearest
allies, which cannot be bridged over by any extinct or living species,
has often been advanced as a grave objection to the belief that man is
descended from some lower form; but this objection will not appear
of much weight to those who, from general reasons, believe in the
general principle of evolution. Breaks often occur in all parts of the
series, some being wide, sharp and defined, others less so in
various degrees; as between the orang and its nearest allies-
between the Tarsius and the other Lemuridae- between the elephant, and
in a more striking manner between the Ornithorhynchus or Echidna,
and all other mammals. But these breaks depend merely on the number of
related forms which have become extinct. At some future period, not
very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will
almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout
the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor
Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The
break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it
will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may
hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon,
instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.
It is entirely true that Darwin was a Victorian gentleman who carried the full measure of the prejudices of his time, and he did believe that non-Caucasian people (and actually, non-British people, and he probably had doubts about the Irish) were inferior. At the same time, he knew and described his personal relationships with, for instance, black people, and he regarded them as fully human and deserving of all the privileges of humanity, so he was actually a good step above a great many Christian gentlemen of his day.
Note also the context. He isn’t advocating extermination, he’s explaining the absence of extant intermediates: because breaks in a series inevitably occur, over time we’ll see a widening of the differences between the surviving nearest neighbors in a lineage. He’s describing a fact, not a desired end. He has also been shown to be right: the “savage races” of his day are being displaced and increasingly adopting the “civilized state” of today. Now, though, most of us wouldn’t consider an Australian closer to a gorilla than a British civil servant is. Darwin was wrong about that (or perhaps now Ben Stein will berate me as being PC for considering that a false statement.)
Now, before you protest the analogy, consider that Professor Dawkins himself understands full well the analogy – to the extent that he’d prefer to just side step it:
In his “The Ancestor’s Tale,” he posed the Welfare State as a challenge to Darwinism. When asked by an Austrian journalist in an interview (Die Presse -July 30, 2005) how he would justify that challenge?
Dawkins: “No self-respecting person would want to live in a Society that operates according to Darwinian laws. I am a passionate Darwinist, when it involves explaining the development of life. However, I am a passionate anti-Darwinist when it involves the kind of society in which we want to live. A Darwinian State would be a Fascist state.”
Or, in other words, “I really don’t want to think about it!”
What a bizarre mangling.
The term “Darwinian” refers to a specific, selectionist mode of change in which some individuals die or suffer impaired reproduction, while others thrive and are fecund. It is a fact. It happens. When a gazelle out-runs a fellow member of the herd and allows the slower member to be eaten by a lion, that’s Darwinian. When a tree drizzles a few toxins onto the ground to suppress other species from growing in its neighborhood, that’s Darwinian. It’s not pretty and it may not be the utopian paradise fantasists dream of, but it’s a description of reality. It’s how live evolved and is evolving on this earth.
Dawkins has a clear understanding that an is isn’t an ought, something these amateur filmmakers need to learn. A Darwinian world is a harsh sort of place; it’s perfectly legitimate for a product of evolution to aspire to a less dangerous situation and to work towards reducing the threats surrounding it. It is -10°F outside my window right now, but that harsh, measurable, empirical, irrefutable reality does not mean that I am obligated to strip off my clothes and go stand in the snow right now.
It’s quite clear that Dawkins has thought about the implications of evolution quite a bit, unlike our simple-minded friends in the creationist movement.
The new film, ? EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed” does not presume to bury the theory of evolution… but it declines to praise it, either. As a worldview…no thinking person (certainly no moral person) can view a scientific theory of life based on an undirected, purposeless and random process as anything but pessimism. Certain people, and many scientists are drawn to pessimism, and thus pessimistic scientific theories. But that does not make their theories, or them, for that matter, any more attractive or intelligent.
Pessimism is a malady to be overcome, not encouraged – and it is certainly not a quality (or a theory) to be celebrated. As history teaches us – inherently pessimistic scientific theories, like all decadent theories (socialism, communism) eventually give way to those that actually work.
Evolution is pessimism? What kind of inane argument is that?
First of all, we don’t judge the validity of a theory on whether it’s conclusions are what we want to hear, or on whether it is pessimistic or optimistic. If that were the case, my optimistic hope that magic elves will scamper over and take care of some necessary maintenance on my house would be a useful and powerful idea. Scientists adopt ideas that work, which is why evolution is popular and Intelligent Design creationism is a dead end; they are drawn to utility, not pessimism.
As far as optimistic theories go, has this bozo ever read the Communist Manifesto? Communism is an incredibly optimistic idea — human beings are perfectable, societies are working towards an inevitable workers’ utopia, etc. It’s highly non-Darwinian, unlike capitalism, which is very Darwinian. It’s like they don’t even think their own arguments through.
They certainly don’t read their critics’ arguments through. Dawkins was just quoted as rejecting Darwinian ruthlessness as a just principle for society, yet here they go off ranting and raving about his pessimism, and the ultimate failure of evolution. It’s insane.
The sixteenth President of the United States believed what our country’s founders believed and that The Bill of Rights so clearly stated – that all men were endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
That’s a “theory” that works.
Like Darwin, Lincoln was a man of the 19th century. Here’s something Lincoln did say:
I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races – that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything.
Squirm, Lincoln hagiographers, squirm. That’s pretty much the standard background noise of the cultural beliefs of the period — everyone was putting everyone else in a hierarchy of superiority and inferiority on the basis of race. Lincoln was brought up in it and accepted it, as did Darwin; we don’t judge them by how much they reflected the false prejudices of their society, but by how much they rose above them. Both Lincoln and Darwin were liberal for their time in their views on race, and they did their part to move culture forward.
Shall we quote Lincoln saying, “the white man is to have the superior position” and therefore declare that the aspiration of the Bill of Rights must be invalid and rejected? That’s what these twits are doing by quoting fragments of Darwin’s work, declaring, “Golly, that sounds like the Klan,” and trying to discredit a major scientific principle.
Choosing to believe in but one scientific theory that effectively negates the whole notion of an intrinsic intelligence, a higher power, an intelligent designer – is fine, if pessimism is what floats your boat.
But that is your choice – or at least it should be a “choice” – for there is ample scientific evidence accumulating under the theory of Intelligent Design that presents an equally compelling – and much more optimistic scientific perspective on life’s “origins.”
It’s odd how they constantly claim that there is growing scientific evidence for their theory of ID, but they never present any. I guess that’s what they mean by calling ID an optimistic theory: they have hope that someday they’ll actually have something constructive to propose.
But currently, Big Science is still enamored with only the gloomy, 150-year old theory originally developed by Darwin, the man who believed that “superior” races would eventually wipe out the “inferior” races. The problem is…the scientific theory justifying that repugnant view is being forced on all of us, to the exclusion of any other scientific theories, in our nation’s public schools and taxpayer-funded government science institutions.
Abraham Lincoln ended slavery in America forever, to put to bed the whole notion of “inferior” races. And to be fair – the gentle Mr. Darwin himself did not favor slavery – even of those whom he described asbeing of the”savage races.”
The 150-year old theory is not the modern theory. I wish we could get that through their heads: they could prove that Darwin was a baby-raping cannibal, and it wouldn’t matter a whit to what we teach and study now. And seriously, get over yourselves: whining that Darwin was a racist does not turn your belief that invisible magic being(s) conjured life into existence into a scientific theory that should be taught in schools.
And you really have to be an ahistorical ignoramus to think that Abraham Lincoln ended the notion of “inferior” races. He subscribed to it. It’s still an issue in our culture today.
Should the theory of Intelligent Design be allowed to be debated alongside Darwin’s depressing 150-year-old theory of Evolution? Should scientists who want to explore Intelligent Design Theory be shunned, ostracized and even fired from the teaching profession?
If you have to ask the questions – perhaps you don’t understand the difference between academic freedom… and the State-sponsored pessimism that is currently all but mandated by Big Science.
Science, even little-s science, only mandates that there be a an empirical foundation and open inquiry into what we’re going to call science. Bad ideas that presume their conclusion and insist that evidence is not required for their proposals is not suitable for science classrooms. Show us what new evidence and ideas you’re going to introduce and we’ll think about it; whining about conspiracy theories and protesting that you have support but will not show it is not the answer.
“EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed” is a new film that will open your eyes to the scientific evidence that challenges Darwin’s lurid theory of life. It reveals the distinctly non-scientific agenda that is driving Neo-Darwinism today. It also presents exciting new evidence accumulating behind the theory of intelligent design.
But most importantly – it will also remind you of the importance of maintaining the values of freedom and hope that Abraham Lincoln championed, and that some folks wish to deny us by fiat.
We stand squarely behind The Bill of Rights and our constitution’s First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of speech.
Interesting. Every review I’ve read so far fails to mention this challenging scientific evidence for ID. When I get a chance to see it (hey, they interviewed me, even if they don’t use much of the footage — are they going to send me a DVD?) I’ll be sure to look for that evidence. It’s not in any of their books, so it’s a little odd that they’d pack it into fluffy little movie.
Don’t you just love how they wrap themselves in the flag, the bill of rights, and the first amendment while trying to force their religious ideology into the schools? Patriotism really is the last refuge of the scoundrel.