Antisemitism in Expelled

Meanwhile, the release date for Ben Stein's antievolution propaganda piece Expelled draws nigh. If you've been following any of the press coverage you are probably aware that one of the main charges in the film is that Darwinism in some way led to the Nazis and the holocaust.

In that light, it is worth noting that one of the “scientists” appearing in the film to cast aspersions on evolution spends his free time saying things like this:

By their own will, [Jews] prefer to live a separate life, in apartheid from the surrounding communities. They form their own communes (kahals), they govern themselves by their own rules and they take care to maintain also a spatial separateness. They form the ghettos themselves, as districts in which they live together, comparable to the Chinatowns in the USA. It was only Hitler's Germany that created the concept of forced separation, of a closed ghetto from which Jews were not allowed to leave.

Jews are not pioneers. They do not go conquering the wild world or overpowering the hazards of nature. They settle among other civilisations, preferably among the rich. They tend to migrate from poorer to richer lands.They do so always as a group, immediately forming their own separate community.

John Lynch has the gruesome details.

So much for Darwinism being the cause of antisemitism. It tells you something about their desperation that this was the best they could do in finding someone with actual credentials to challenge evolution.

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Mr. Lynch,

I don't suppose you could have gone to any other theater.

The Expelled statement on racism & eugenics goes to Darwin's beliefs and a directly-attributal result. It does not at all maintain the generalization that all Darwinists are racists/eugenecists/anti-semites.

What I would like to clarify on the matter of racist claims is this: The persistentce of Brayton to say that Christianity is somehow "racist" finds a home on a "science" blog.……

Rosenhouse joined in with his own non sequitur: So much for Darwinism being the cause of antisemitism. It is true but it is not the theme for modern eugenics and the character of the Nazi movement.

And finally your non sequitur -- that the film contains "the equation of Darwinism with Nazism". The film presents this as a necessary relationship, not a simple correspondence.

What's left? Brayton's content is undeniable. But with you and Rosenhouse, somehow this racism is thrown back into the laps of the non-evolutionist. What Darwinism is and what Darwinism has done (the negative things) are things we want to ignore. (Christians also don't like to admit the failures of many Christians. It's one of those evidences of human depravity.) Trying to argue that those things were not is not historically honest.

They may not be what you want to hear, but it is history. (I don't think opposing this would be a position you would want to defend.) It casts no unnecessary aspersions on people today; it casts them on the world view of naturalism and Darwinism. The same applies to the rest of the post-enlightenment philosophers.


Mr. Lynch,

I added a response but it seems lost in the ether.

Let me further explain my concern. First, the film dealt with the world view of Darwinism. The concerns were about world views and did not cast aspersions on everyone who holds to Darwinism.

My problem with the tendencies being expressed is this:
"There is racism. I don't know any racists. So the (pick one: evangelicals, non-evolutionists, religious right) gets it back because we know they have the problem."

Jason's title was clear: "Antisemitism in Expelled"
Your title followed suit: "Expelled: Now with added anti-Semitism"
Brayton's material has problems that are beyond question.……




Get honest.
Antisemitism in Expelled is a strong assertion.
Expelled: Now with added Anti-semitism is an equally clear assertion.
Played, nothing.

You'll find a suitable understanding of Naturalism and Physicalism in many places.
This is hardly the starting point for Theism. ;)
BTW, I didn't contrast Physicalism with Materialism but with Naturalism. You argued the wrong point.

As far as Plantinga is concerned, he's one of the people that knows that you have to change the definition of science in order to have his view accepted

Nonsense. In Naturalism Defeated? serious evolutionists like Jerry Fodor and a host of others made no such challenge. Your argument is specious at best.

I think that everyone understands the philosophical dilemma underlying certain knowledge of the world but what do you have that is better?

Not really. SLC has no idea what we're talking about.

Collin, you are an angry, bitter, narrow-minded man. Please seek help.

Whoa! I'm scared! ;-)

I was somewhat horrified by this particular part, if for no other reason that Ben Stein is a fellow member of the tribe.

Of course, its interesting to note that Evolutionary theory can explain perfectly well why memes like Nazism, and humanism rise. Meanwhile, ideas like ethnic cleansing and eugenics have been around in various forms throughout human civilization.

Are we surprised that Ben Stein could so dishonestly use the fact that he is Jewish to drum up some sort of emotional sympathy and then try to turn that into rage against the evil Darwin? I mean, he WAS a speechwriter for possibly the most blatantly criminal President this nation has ever suffered through, so why is it such a surprise to see such morally bankrupt, integrity-draining conduct straight from him now?

By brokenSoldier (not verified) on 14 Apr 2008 #permalink

Anti-semitism? Really?
That's historically the same behavior as Mennonites from Germany and Russia. They went from country to country to make a better living. I think a bit more and broader history would be useful as you discuss what is supposedly anti-semitic. After all, Stein is Jewish.

Chris Hedges covered the topic nicely:
When Darwin published On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life in 1859, he named natural selection as the mechanism that drives and defines life. Evolutionary science, however swiftly became for many a surrogate religion. It was used to promote racism and pseudoscience such as eugenics, a theory of biological determinism invented by Francis Galton, Darwin's first cousin. It was turned like a club on religion and used to justify exploitation and neglect of the poor and disadvantaged.


Re Collin Brendemuehl

Mr. Brandemuehl wants antisemitism, I'll give him antisemitism from Martin Luther, the father of the Reformation.

"What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews? Since they live among us and we know about their lying and blasphemy and cursing, we can not tolerate them if we do not wish to share in their lies, curses, and blasphemy. In this way we cannot quench the inextinguishable fire of divine rage nor convert the Jews. We must prayerfully and reverentially practice a merciful severity. Perhaps we may save a few from the fire and flames [of hell]. We must not seek vengeance. They are surely being punished a thousand times more than we might wish them. Let me give you my honest advice.

First, their synagogues should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it. And this ought to be done for the honor of God and of Christianity in order that God may see that we are Christians, and that we have not wittingly tolerated or approved of such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of His Son and His Christians.

Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed. For they perpetrate the same things there that they do in their synagogues. For this reason they ought to be put under one roof or in a stable, like gypsies, in order that they may realize that they are not masters in our land, as they boast, but miserable captives, as they complain of incessantly before God with bitter wailing.

Thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer-books and Talmuds in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught.

Fourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more...

Fifthly, passport and traveling privileges should be absolutely forbidden to the Jews. For they have no business in the rural districts since they are not nobles, nor officials, nor merchants, nor the like. Let them stay at home...If you princes and nobles do not close the road legally to such exploiters, then some troop ought to ride against them, for they will learn from this pamphlet what the Jews are and how to handle them and that they ought not to be protected. You ought not, you cannot protect them, unless in the eyes of God you want to share all their abomination...

To sum up, dear princes and nobles who have Jews in your domains, if this advice of mine does not suit you, then find a better one so that you and we may all be free of this insufferable devilish burden - the Jews..."

If Hitler were looking for inspiration, he wouldn't have to read Origin of Species, he could read the rantings of his fellow German (and yes, Hitler was born in Austria but considered himself a German).

However, it should be noted that even if the Expelled crew were 100% accurate in their claim that the theory of evolution led to the Holocaust, it has no bearing on the scientific validity of the theory. The fact that Johannes Stark was a follower of Hitler and an opponent of "Jewish science," e.g. the theory of relativity, has no bearing on whether the Stark effect, for which he won a Nobel Prize, is a valid discovery in physics.


I have cousins who spell the name with the "a".

Luther was a problem. But Luther is not the sub and substance of evangelicalism. You'd be better off looking into the anabaptist heritage for that material.

Let's not pretend that any human behavior is above sin, especially when it comes to various types of racism. It's a part of human depravity, that one empirically verifiable Christian doctrine (Chesterton). Of course, if there is no God then there is no Sin, so you may have a way out of that one.

But you miss the point: You can't pretend that the evolutionary paradigm is somehow without this problem. It goes to Sanger's racism that the Left wants to pay for at the rate of about $100M per year, and more. These movements share a common heritage.

If you want to criticize an error it would be the insinuation evolution today is necessarily accompanied by racism. I think that makes the position weak though it is part of the history of the movement that should not be forgotten. Evolutinists are no more racists than evangelicals Christians, no matter what some say.……

Racism was part of Luther's error but it is not an original part of Christianity.


I responded but it is under review.
I've been "expelled".
Sort of prophetic, really.

Re crb

1. I think that comments sometimes go into review when they contain more then one link. AFAIK, Prof. Rosenhouse has not followed the example of Mr. Brayton and placed Mr. Brendemuehl on the shit list.

2. Sorry about the misspelling. Note that I did spell it correctly in the Re introduction.

3. The point here is that the misuse of a scientific theory in no way says anything about the validity of same. Thus, those who object to what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki would be foolish to therefore claim that Einstein was all wrong about relativity. Similarly, the fact that some early 20th century scientists believed in eugenics in no way supports the notion that Darwin was all wrong about the evolution of species. By the way, Charles Darwin was, for his time, quite a liberal on the subject of racism and was a noted critic and opponent of slavery in the United States and in no way a follower of his cousin, Francis Galton.

4. As to the subject of Martin Luther, there was a talk by Biology Prof. Ken Miller, who is a devout Roman Catholic, at the Un. of Texas which I will link to. The issue of the Expelled movie came up during the question and answer period and some one in the audience mentioned Luther. Prof. Miller despite obviously not being a great fan of Luther, was quite blunt in stating that the latter could not be given the entire blame for Christian antisemitism as it went back much further all the way to Constantine. By the way, this is an excellent presentation and I highly recommend it to Prof. Rosenhouses' readers.


The misspelling doesn't bother me. I though you might know some of my cousins.

Ed is an angry man. Someone must have hurt him badly.

In the Council of Constantinople the Jewish believers were excluded. That was the notable beginning of the problem. But as any tehologian will note, this dearly developed theology is not visible in the primitive (aka "Biblical") theology ofund by simply reading the NT. That's why I pointed to the anabaptist movement (with its emphasis on Biblical/primitive theology) as an alternative to the Reformation.

Your third point is the most interesting. As a "science", Darwinism and "evolution" are often abused in their inappropriate application to a broad variety of subjects outside of genetics. Right now I'm immersing myself in naturalism and philosophy of science. It's fascinating that Suppe says Darwinism is not "science" because of its obscurity.


Re Collin Brendemuehl

1. Mr. Brendemuehl is on the shit list over at Mr. Braytons' blog because of his insistence that punctuated equilibrium is saltationism, despite being instructed otherwise by other commentors there. Mr. Brendemuehl seems to have a problem admitting he is wrong when his errors are pointed out by individuals having a better grasp of the subject matter. I would point out to him that both the late Prof. Gould and his sidekick Prof. Eldridge, who proposed the theory, were adamant in stating that it was not saltationism.

2. Mr. Brendemuehl persists in referring to the theory of evolution as Darwinism. Does he refer to the laws of motion as Newtonism, the theory of relativity as Einsteinism, the theory of quantum mechanics as Heisenbergism, the theory of quantum electrodynamics as Feynmanism, or the germ theory of disease as Kochism?

3. I fail to see any value in the opinions of philosophers relative to the theory of evolution, any more then the value of their opinions relative to the theory of relativity. The fact is that the weight of scientific evidence supporting the theory of evolution is greater then almost any other theory of science. Just as a for instance, the General Theory of Relativity, for the first 50 years of its existence, was supported by exactly one observation, namely the precession rate of the orbit of the planet Mercury. By the way, I assume that Mr. Brendemuehl is referring to Fredrick Suppe who is a professor of philosophy at the Un. of Maryland, Baltimore.

4. If Mr. Brendemuehl thinks that the theory of evolution is obscure, I suggest he take up the study of quantum mechanics. Just to provide a couple of quotes by Nobel Prize winners in physics, the late Richard Feynman once said, "If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics;" or Steven Weinberg, "Quantum mechanics is a totally preposterous theory which unfortunately appears to be correct." The conundrums of quantum mechanics (or general relativity for that matter) make the theory of evolution look almost transparent.


Your comment reads as though you went from civil to angry in a few hours.

1. I attempted to explain that statement and most certainly agreed that they were not the *same* but shared a commonality. I've ordered my own copy of Gould's book to study the subject further. But from my early looks into the subject it appeared that *the question of time* was a common thread shared by the two. I will correct as further study may show otherwise. (The insistence that I said "same" in the sense of "identical" misrepresents what I said.)

2. Darwinism is a major part of evolutionary theory. I try to use the terms appropriately but it is easy to conflate the two. Mistakes may have been made. If you can point to a statement that was confusing or that you understand to be erroneous then perhaps we can discuss it.

3. On this you are certainly in error. There is no science without a philosophy of science. There is no faith without a theology. There is no language without a common language reference. But as there are multiple theologies there are multiple philosophies of science with various degrees of relative orthodoxy.

Likewise, if you want to remove the constraints of a philosophy of science from evolutionary theory then it would be consistent to remove those constraints from ID/IC. Stop treating it socially and treat it according to its content. (I think ID/IC has some serious problems and an essay is forthcoming this Fall to attempt to bring ID/IC inline with a reasonable physicalist approach.)

W H Newton-Smith's edited work "A Companion to the Philosophy of Science" makes for some good reading.

4. To Quoque.
"Obscure" was a poor choice of words. In accordance with scientific theory, check Suppe, bottom of page 64.



Re Collin Brendemuehl

1. By Darwinism, I assume that Mr. Brendemuehl is referring to that part of evolution known as natural selection. The correct scientific term is, indeed, natural selection which was Darwins' explanation for the observed fact of common descent. It is no different then Newtons' theory of motion which provided an explanation of why the planets are observed to move in orbits described by conic sections. If Mr. Brendemuehl is going to be consistent in his terminology, he should describe the latter theory as Newtonism.

2. Saltationism is an assumption that speciation is generated by large mutations which create hopeful monsters. This theory has been in disrepute for over a century (although a naturalist named, I believe, Goldstone briefly revived it in the 1940s). Punctuated equilibrium merely states that allopatric speciation can occur in tens of thousands of years rather then hundreds of thousands of years under the condition that the portion of a population that is isolated is subjected to very different selective pressures then the rest of the population. Clearly, a speciation event taking 10,000 years is not a saltation!

3. I would not recommend the late Prof. Goulds' tome, "The Structure of Evolutionary Theory," as a source of information about the theory of evolution. This book has been described by many of Prof. Goulds' former colleagues as confused and obscure (possibly the source of Prof. Suppes' obscure comment). A much better book would be Ernst Mayrs', "What Evolution Is." The year 2000 edition which was a updated version is recommended. Just as a matter of interest, the year 2000 addition was written when the late Prof. Mayr was a young whippersnapper of 96 (he eventually managed to make it to the century mark in 2004)! Prof. Mayr is one of the fathers of the neo-Darwinian synthesis that combined paleontology and genetics in the 1930s. He was also the individual who proposed the notion of allopatric speciation.

4. Never having taken a course in philosophy or having read anything about it, I will defer to Mr. Brendemuehls' opinion as he obviously has a considerable interest in the subject.


Each post reads like a different student response.
The style and tone continue to change.

I'll put Mayr on my list. Today I'm going through Couvalis, Silberstein, and Hoy.

Just wanted to point something out:

To say that Darwin is the cause of Nazi anti-Semitism is like saying that the inventor of the screwdriver is to blame for the deaths caused by someone who goes on a killing spree with a Phillips head.

It was Hitler's interpretation of Darwinian theory that led to the Holocaust, not Darwinian theory itself. It didn't help that the theory had already been misinterpreted into Social Darwinism

Hilter used virtually nothing of "Darwinian" science. He was elected on a Christian anti-democratic, anti-communist platform to save Germany from the deterioration of German society by the Weimar republic's liberation of women, Jews, homosexuals and the weak parlimentary government.

He quoted Luther's diatribes about Jews, he never referred to Darwin. His was a political tactic, not a scientific argument and plan.

Mein Kampf is filled with Catholic and christian diatribes about saving Germany from the stab in the back of loosing WWI, but there was none of Darwin nor evolution in it.

He wasn't an atheist, and eugenics wasn't a Nazi idea. He certainly wasn't a Darwinist.

"Racism was part of Luther's error but it is not an original part of Christianity." Collin

Please. Spare us the apologist version of the New Testament.

Jews didn't crucify prisoners, and no Roman General was weak enough to give one small wit of attention to local populations' wishes about a religious leader.

The Centuries of blaming Jews for Jesus' crucifixion, long preceeded Luther. And German Crusaders killed many Jews along the way to Jerusalem, and Christians killed Jews for Killing Jesus especially around Easter times when guess what? They heard Hitler giving a sermon about the Jews?

Christianity is anti-semetic from the New Testament on. And Hitler used a tactic perfected as part of Christianity, and got a good ear from Germans in part, yes only in part, but no small part, because of the New Testament, not because Germans liked Darwin.


Has anybody suggested that Darwin was the *cause* of Nazi anti-Semitism? It was a contributor. His Hegelianism was the greatest contributor.

If you give Darwinism this out, then I hope you confront bmkmd on not giving Christianity the same "out" because of misinterpretation.


The persistent branding of Hitler as Christian is just plain bad history. He opposed Christianity as well, but not with as much fervor. SS weddings were all secular. His plan was to get Christianity out of Germany at a later time. Read his works. He was a secularist.

You can read the works of Nazi scientists in their employment of Darwinian ideas

You need to read more history.

Re Collin Brendemuehl

1. The argument as to whether Hitler was a Christian is probably not resolvable as there is evidence to support either the yea or nay position. There is no question that, for public consumption, and in his prison authored book, "Mein Kempf", he professed to be a Christian. There is also evidence that, in his private conversations, he professed contempt for religion in general and Christianity in particular. My suspicion is that, in his heart of hearts, he was probably not. However, mind reading is, at best, a tenuous proposition, especially for someone as devious as Hitler.

2. Mr. Brendemuehl has still declined to respond to the question as to whether the misuse of Darwins' ideas by the eugenicists in any way, shape, form, or regard reflects on the scientific validity of the theory of evolution. Just to be clear about what we are talking about, what is referred to as the theory of evolution is actually 5 separate statements, 3 of which are observational facts, 1 of which is an inference drawn from those facts, and 1 which is a theory that providers a mechanism to explain the inference. The three facts are: a. the earth is old, now estimated at 4.5 billion years; b. animals and plants have experienced extinction (i.e. Tyrannosaurus Rex no loner stalks the earth, fortunately for us as we wouldn't be here if it did); c. most animals that exist today did not exist in the distant past (to quote J. B. S. Haldane, nobody has yet found a cat in the pre-Cambrian). The inference drawn from the previous three facts is common descent (this notion actually preceded Darwin as it was proposed by Darwins' paternal grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, the Compte de Lamarck, and Geoffrey St Hillaire, although they didn't have the evidence to support it). The theory of evolution is actually the 5th item, namely that the mechanism for inducing speciation was natural selection, or as the neo-Darwinian synthesis would put it, changes in allele frequencies due to habitant effects. The theory of natural selection is analogous to the inverse square law of gravitation in that it provides an explanation for speciation just as the latter provides an explanation for the motion of the planets.

3. Just to be perfectly clear, so that there be no misunderstanding, if one is going to take the position that misuse of a scientific theory implies lack of validity of that theory, there will be a long list of such theories. For example, the theory of relativity was used to develop nuclear weapons, the germ theory of disease was used to develop germ warfare techniques, etc.

I don't remember declining anything.
I also don't recall either making or supporting that assertion that the misuse of a theory necessarily discredits the theory. But if you want to maintain that the alternative, that a theory so broad as Darwin's, with the almost Nietzschean perspective and very clearly positivist & postmillennial outlook do not make the theory subject to criticism, then I will challenge you to re-examine the historical context issues. Or, if you would like to maintain that Darwin's views should be held above criticism, then I will maintain it is you who violate the precepts of science and proper theory. Such contextual misuse should remove Darwinism from science. Why? Because such "religious" (metaphysical) presuppositionalism is outside of proper science -- the very reason for rejecting ID/IC.
Consistency is important here.

Re Collin Brendemuehl

Philosophical criticism of the theory of evolution is about as relevant as philosophical criticism of quantum mechanics or general relativity. I would argue that quantum mechanics (and, to a lesser extent general relativity) posits far more serious philosophical issues then does the theory of evolution.

Consider the issue of quantum mechanical intertwining, which appears to violate causality, as a for instance. Or consider the theories of General Relativity and cosmology that posits such constructions as black holes, worm holes, dark energy and dark matter.

The point of all of this is that the theory of evolution either provides an accurate description of the observable biological world or it doesn't. If one insists on putting a philosophical spin on it, then I would admit to accepting the notion of methodological naturalism as science. This has not always been true. Isaac Newton was not a pure methodological naturalist as he thought that god had to give the planets a nudge every once in a while in order to maintain the stability of the solar system, but that was 300+ years ago and Laplace proved him wrong. Darwin was 150 years ago and we have moved well past him in our understanding of biological systems, just as we have move well past Newton, Laplace, Maxwell and Faraday in our understanding of the cosmos. It would not be surprising if we eventually move beyond Einstein, Dirac, Heisenberg, Feynman, etc. also.


You seem pretty certain. Which theory of evolution? Darwinian? Neo-Darwinism? And what is your level of certainty? And why should the alternative view holders be uncertain? Me thinks thou simplifiest too much.

And don't pretend that empiricism comes without philosophical foundations. At this point you've reduced the discussion to Brayton's Causality. (Denounce the critic and call them a "dumb f***".)

Such a leap. Justifying a theory because of its applicability. Is that what the profs are teaching these days? Sad.

You still maintain a lot of optimism. Too bad it's not justified. If you're looking to the future, does that mean what you are certain about today will certainly be proven false? Sounds like your cognitive functions have failed. Probably because it's Friday.

Your post is rich. But there's not enough evening left.
Enjoy your weekend.


"I don't remember declining anything."

You didn't comment, hence you declined comment.

"Which theory of evolution? Darwinian? Neo-Darwinism? And what is your level of certainty? And why should the alternative view holders be uncertain?"

Why would you think that these issues wouldn't "come out in the wash" provided by the winnowing effect of the scientific process?Who called someone or insinuated that someone else was not intellectually up-to-snuff? I'll remind you of this comment: "Each post reads like a different student response.
The style and tone continue to change."

"Such a leap. Justifying a theory because of its applicability."

I don't see the problem. If the basic framework of a theory is applicable & continues to be applicable why wouldn't it earn a certain amount of justification?

"If you're looking to the future, does that mean what you are certain about today will certainly be proven false?"

Are you implying that researchers believe that the community knows all there is to know about evolution already & any new knowledge resulting in the slightest of tweaks would render the entire framework false? I don't want to carelessly attribute such a strange idea to someone, so please feel free to clarify.


They won't come out in the wash because they haven't come out in the wash. It's done. You've got a modern choice between Dawkins' determinism and the other compatibilist systems. The results show quite a divergence.

Given the character of what I've been reading, differing authors would not be far-fetched.

Lots of things work but they're not correct.

I think you've gone the wrong direction with this one. The problem is that what is Truth is not really Truth but Concensus on Explanation. I was challenge his sense that the world is so absolute as he would like it to be.


Re Collin Brendemuehl

1. I think that the problem here, if I am reading him correctly, is that Mr. Bremdemuehl doesn't accept the concept of methodological naturalism. On that, I am afraid that we will have to agree to disagree, hopefully not disagreeably. Unfortunately, nobody has yet put forward another approach to doing science. If we were to accept the possibility of supernatural explanations, it would no longer be possible to do science as anything can be explained by god did it, which, as devout Roman Catholic biologist Ken Miller puts it is a science stopper.

2. Mr. Brendemuehl is apparently not aware of what the neo-Darwinian synthesis is. It combines the science of genetics, of which Darwin and his contemporaries were totally ignorant, with Darwins' proposed mechanism of natural selection and provides an explanation of how natural selection works on the molecular level (i.e. change in allele frequencies).

3. Just as an example of why supernatural explanations for observed phenomena are eschewed by scientists, take the results of the Michaelson-Morley experiment. If we were to accept a supernatural explanation, then one might postulate that the result that they found was due to god diddling with Michaelsons' interferometer so as to prevent the detection of the absolute motion of the solar system through the aether. If Mr. Brendemuehl queries as to why god, or the designer would want do such a thing, I would merely quote the ID folks, namely that the intentions and motivations of god or the designer are opaque to humans. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately if the results of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are considered), Einstein looked for another non-supernatural explanation and discovered it in his two 1905 papers on special relativity.

If you substitute physicalism for naturalism then we have no significant problem. The problem with naturalism is that it comes with a set of metaphysical and epistemological baggage which does not conform to "science".
I am aware, though perhaps not with the same detail that you may be aware of. Darwin's proposals are broad and sweeping and have *nothing* to do with molecular biology. At best they are broad principles. They are postulates but have *absolutely nothing* to do with a molecular biology that did not exist at the time.
If you want to exclude the metaphysical then you must dismiss naturalism and return to physicalism.
It is ironic that you would criticize the search for an origin when even Ernst Mayer in What Evolution Is states clearly that evolution would like to answer the question but there are no suitable theories. When Brayton & Co. say that evolution does not address origins, perhaps that group should do its homework.

... and ...

I went to see Expelled tonight. The premise that Rosenhouse brings to this post is nothing but a falsehood. There is no antisemitism. False. Lie. A Braytonism.

Consistent Brayton's pattern of lies and deceptions, Expelled presented a very public lie by Ed's favorite National Center for Science Education. So it's not a surprise that Ed would write for them.

The statements about Nazis and eugenics were correct. Providing a quote from Darwin as a eugenics promoter was enlightening. It might be good for those who criticize the film to actually watch it instead of make up things about it. The statements were clear and used precise language: Darwinism was not sufficient to bring about the Nazi problem but it was necessary. The Nazi films provided suitable evidence to that teaching.

And the film makes for some good education about George Mason and scientific inquiry.

Go see it. Don't be afraid based on propaganda like Rosenhouse's.


It might be good for those who criticize the film to actually watch it instead of make up things about it.

If you're going to attack critics who haven't seen the film, don't you think you should be equally critical of the film's producers who have been consistently dishonest, both when seeking interviews for the film and in response to critics? For a film that's supposed to be about the suppression of free speech the makers of Expelled seem pretty intent on suppressing free speech.

If you're going to attack critics who haven't seen the film,

Seems a pretty specious complaint just on its face.

For a film that's supposed to be about the suppression of free speech the makers of Expelled seem pretty intent on suppressing free speech.

Excuse me, it it's their film. Produce your own.

Dawkins was the most candid person in the film.
Sort of like Nietzsche.

So avoid dealing with the complaints. Argue with me, but remember that I didn't produce the film. False complaints only show desperation and a lack of substance. Unless you really, really think Rosenhouse's lie is somehow justified ...

It seems clear enough to me that what is meant by the title of this post is that the film project, Expelled, is influenced by antisemitism; not necessarily that antisemitism is explicit in the film. One could only come away with your interpretation if they didn't actually read the post, or if they were looking for a way to obfuscate. Based on my history with creationists it could be either, but based on your established history of clearly dishonest intent I'm betting on the latter for this one.

By pissedjew (not verified) on 21 Apr 2008 #permalink

The insinuation is quite enough.

but based on your established history of clearly dishonest intent
My dishonesty? Sorry, you'd better fill us in.
Any apparent error I've made has been corrected or otherwise clarified.

Try watching the film. Truth helps.

Let's talk about the "gruesome details".
First, that quote in the linked post wasn't in the flm I watched.
Second, Rosenhouse is giving support the gruesome details post that claimed anti-semitism in the film. Nothing to obfuscate.
Third, Lynch hasn't seen the film. The term "apparently" stands out clearly. I trust you read Lynch's post.
Finally, the film makes clear from Nazi material its necessary dependence upon Darwinism. It's not that Darwinism was sufficient [it could do it on its own] to cause Naziism, but that Darwinism was necessary [it would not have been what it was without it] component of Naziism . Those are rather precise terms. I trust you have a dictionary.

It tires me to hear Brayton and his ilk, and now Lynch and Rosenhouse, try to make racism a necessary part of (a) the religious right, (b) evangelicals, or (b) non-evolutionists. It's a steady and generalized theme that some will not drop even though it's at minimum a hasty generalization and at worst a lack of both scholarship and decency.

I stand corrected. It now seems more likely that it's a reading issue for you.

Let's talk about the "gruesome details".
First, that quote in the linked post wasn't in the flm [sic] I watched.

No one ever said that it was. In fact, John Lynch provided a handy blue hot-button labeled "source" at the end of the quote so nobody would be confused about where it came from. Well, he tried. So, here it is again:

Second, Rosenhouse is giving support the [sic] gruesome details post that claimed anti-semitism in the film. Nothing to obfuscate.

The "gruesome details" were for Maciej Giertych's antisemitism, which is clear if you actually read the post. Either post.

Third, Lynch hasn't seen the film. The term "apparently" stands out clearly.

You base this on Lynch using the phrase "apparently interviewed"? First, that only tells me that he didn't know who the hack being interviewed was when he saw the film. He certainly doesn't indicate anywhere that he hadn't seen the film & implies everywhere that he had. Second, the phrase "apparently interviewed" is another blue hot-button linking the reader to a clip of the actual part of the film where the antisemite is being interviewed! So, don't you think it's fairly certain that Lynch has at least seen that part of the film with Giertych's interview?

I trust you read Lynch's post.

Unfortunately, I have no such trust in you.

By pissedjew (not verified) on 21 Apr 2008 #permalink

No, nobody said it was from the film. But for Lynch it said something about the flavor of the flim. That's the persistent insistence that racism/anti-semitism is the issue. It's unnecessary and destructive to dialogue. But Lynch insists on adding that ingredient to the mix. That should bother somebody. Maybe his logic prof.

I find that the "gruesome details" is also Lynch's post and the flavor that he and Rosenhouse bring.

Of course there is a hot link. Giertych is apparently interviewed in Expelled says that he doesn't know for certain that he is in the film. He's going from the list page. Though his presumption is correct it is still a presumption. It does not seem certain at all, given the choice of words.

I hadn't seen the movie (I was prevented from doing so) but watched the clip to the Giertych interview online (it's linked at the original post). It is - to the best of my knowledge - either still in the final cut or on the supplemental DVD that was being distributed at the advance screenings. Either way, they interviewed Giertych and made a piece of the interview available online.

My claim (please read my original post) wasn't that "racism [is] a necessary part of (a) the religious right, (b) evangelicals, or (b) non-evolutionists" as Collin seems to think (again, read the post). It was simply that the supporters of Expelled can hardly throw accusations around considering the bed-fellows they are keeping.

By John Lynch (not verified) on 22 Apr 2008 #permalink

@ Jason

Thanks for the confirmation.

By John Lynch (not verified) on 22 Apr 2008 #permalink

Though his presumption is correct it is still a presumption.

I stand corrected then on this point.

By pissedjew (not verified) on 22 Apr 2008 #permalink

Providing a quote from Darwin as a eugenics promoter was enlightening.

No, it was dishonest - Darwin actually decried eugenics (as we now use the term). Here is the rest of the quote:

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.

Yes, Darwin recognized that Nazi-style eugenics would be an overwhelming present evil that could not possibly be counter-balanced by the fringe benefits.

Re Collin Brendemuehl

1. Mr. Brendemuehl attempts to tar Darwin with the views of his cousin Francis Galton. Well lets see then how this would play out. One of the leading Nazi criminals was one Martin Borman. His son, Richard, was a Catholic priest who spent much of his life in Africa serving the poor there, thus clearly not being in sympathy with his fathers' views. By Mr. Brendemuehls' logic, if Darwin is to be tarred with the views of his cousin, then Richard Borman must be tarred with the views and activities of his father.

2. The term methodological naturalism is used by philosophers to refer to science. See Prof. Barbara Forrest, Prof. John Wilkins, etc. I haven't the slightest idea what the difference between naturalism and physicalism is. This sounds like typical Brendemuehl hair splitting to me. Mr. Brendemuehl is a world class hairsplitter, exceeding even former President Clintons', "it depends on the meaning of the word is."

3. Mr. Brendemuehl seems to be stubbornly unable to acknowledge that the theory of evolution has progressed far beyond what is recorded in the Origin of Species. Darwin had no knowledge of genetics or the advances of technology that have made possible the sequencing of DNA profiles. All the results of molecular biology in the 20th century have been entirely consistent with common descent, without a single dissenting finding. This stubbornness is the reason why he was placed on the shit list over at Mr. Braytons' blog. Mr. Brayton is a man who does not suffer fools gladly. Prof. Rosenhouse is rather more tolerant in that respect as he has not banned a YEC moron calling himself JonS who would have been banned on just about every other Scienceblog blog.

4. I freely admit to not having seen the Expelled movie and have no intention of seeing it. However, it is my understanding that they invoked good old Joe Stalin as well as Hitler. That shows why the producers of the film are either ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked. Stalin sent scientists who accepted the theory of natural selection to the gulag for not accepting the views of his Lamarckian agriculture "expert" Trofim Lysenko.


Ok. So tar me and others with Anti-semitism because we oppose the fallacies within naturalism's and evolution's presuppositions? Get a life. Better yet, get an education.

Physicalism means we test the natural world. Naturalism means we presume that the physical world is all there is. The philosphical underpinnings of any "science" are necessary to its construction. See my post today.

I freely admit to not having seen the Expelled movie ... ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked My, what an evolved vocabulary and sense of investigation.

If you don't know the problems that occur with trying to reach deductive proof using inductive methodologies, then you don't understand your epistemological failings. Let alone what the term means.

I would suggest the following books for you, all by or including Alvin Plantinga.
Warrant: The Current Debate
Warrant and Proper Function
Naturalism Refuted? (by Bielby)
Warranted Christian Belief



Ok. So tar me and others with Anti-semitism because we oppose the fallacies within naturalism's and evolution's presuppositions? Get a life. Better yet, get an education.

This is the kind of dishonesty that other posters have been referring to. You conflated, exaggerated, & took out of context. Congratulations, well played sir.

Physicalism means we test the natural world. Naturalism means we presume that the physical world is all there is.

You do like to hair-split; problem is, you don't seem to know which side of the hair you happen to be on. If you look at Neurath's essay, Physicalism suggests that the language of physics is the universal language of science, therefore any knowledge can be brought back to the statements on the physical objects -- in other words, Materialism. You could probably find this much in a Wiki entry. The only way you could say that Physicalism differs from Materialism is that it takes into account non-material forces produced by particles which Materialism did not consider (for obvious reasons). Oh, & there is no need to go to the christian/creationist twisted versions that Collin dutifully lists. After you read the Neurath essay, & you still want more, than Ayer's Philosophy of the 20th Cenury & Place's Token Vs Type-Identity Theory will do. As far as Plantinga is concerned, he's one of the people that knows that you have to change the definition of science in order to have his view accepted ... "if you exclude the supernatural from science, then if the world or some phenomena within it are supernaturally caused - as most of the world's people believe - you won't be able to reach that truth scientifically." No, probably not someone you would want to go to for advice about honest investigation.

My, what an evolved vocabulary and sense of investigation.

Pot-kettle alert!

If you don't know the problems that occur with trying to reach deductive proof using inductive methodologies, then you don't understand your epistemological failings.

I think that everyone understands the philosophical dilemma underlying certain knowledge of the world but what do you have that is better? Collin, you are an angry, bitter, narrow-minded man. Please seek help.

Re Collin Brendemuehl

1. "Physicalism means we test the natural world. Naturalism means we presume that the physical world is all there is."

This is not true. Methodological naturalism does not in any way, shape, for, or regard presume that the physical world is all there is. See the book by Forrest and Gross on ID or Prof. Forrests' testimony during the Dover trial. What Mr. Brendemuehl is describing is philosophical naturalism, which is totally distinct from methodological naturalism. Philosophical naturalism implies methodological naturalism, the reverse is not true. Proof: Ken Miller, Francisco Ayala, John Polkinghorne, and Francis Collins are all methodological naturalists; they are not, repeat not philosophical naturalists. They are philosophical theists. Miller and Ayala are roman Catholics, Polkinghorne is an Episcopalian, and Collins is an evangelical Protestant.

2. I must take great exception to the charge that I have accused Mr. Brendemuehl of antisemitism. I have made no such charge or implication and, quite frankly, am greatly offended by it.

Did I accuse you personally?

Thank you for your dishonest "pull anything out of your butt whenever you can" rhetorical trickery dude. Thanks a lot dude!

For something more useful on defining "methodological naturalism", the wikipedia definition goes into some detail.
This is consistent with physicalism:
Contingent methodological naturalism entails the belief that, judging from past experience, empirical methods are far more likely to uncover natural facts than supernatural ones, so that it is generally an ill-advised waste of resources to pursue supernatural hypotheses, but it would not be impossible to confirm them empirically if any were true.

And the paragraph's conclusion is also useful here:
With all this understood, every metaphysical naturalist will be either a contingent methodological naturalist or an absolute methodological naturalist, but not all methodological naturalists are metaphysical naturalists.

Perhaps both of us should refine our terminology so that we are saying things that are clear to the other party.

Re Collin Brendemuehl

"And the paragraph's conclusion is also useful here:
With all this understood, every metaphysical naturalist will be either a contingent methodological naturalist or an absolute methodological naturalist, but not all methodological naturalists are metaphysical naturalists."

Assuming that metaphysical and philosophical are synonyms, this paragraph says exactly what I said in my last comment, namely that philosophical naturalism implies methodological naturalism but the reverse is not true. Nobody who is neither ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked would deny that Ken Miller is a methodological naturalist and a philosophical (or metaphysical) theist. That is exactly as he describes himself to distinguish his approach from that of Richard Dawkins.

As I and others here have explained several times, allowing supernatural explanations for observed phenomena cannot be science because such explanations are not falsifiable, in addition to not explaining anything or predicting anything. Perhaps a link to a post on this topic by Dr. Steven Novella will clarify the issue.

I provided an example from physics which I am more familiar with then biology, of why supernatural explanations are science stoppers which is perfectly clear so that there can be no misunderstanding.

Would you agree then that (per Wiki) absolute metaphysical naturalism is what many would generally call "naturalism" and that contingent metaphysical naturalism fits a different category? If so, then I think we might be at a point of (at least) agreeing on a semantic issue.

I would like to understand how falsifiablity applies to either Model or Mechanistic approaches which are not deductive theory structures. What's a good text on this?

Re Collin brendemuehl

1. With all due respect, I would venture to say that Sir Karl Poppers' reputation at a philosopher is at least equal to that of Prof. Plantingas'. Prof. Popper was the man who proposed the doctrine of falsifiability as a requirement for a scientific theory. I suggest that Mr. Brendemuehl go to the article by Dr. Novella to which I linked.

2. Mr. Bremdemulehl has still not responded to Prof. Ken Millers' contention that supernatural explanations are science stoppers, nor to my example of the Michael-Morley experiment. Mr. Brendemuehl seems rather obsessed with issues in biology to the exclusion of similar issues in physics. I wonder if that's because religious conservatives have fewer religious issues with theories in physics, aside from the YECs' difficulties with an old solar system.

3. Prof. Gould, who Mr. Brendemuehl likes to quote, also once stated that the real problem that religious conservatives have with the theory of evolution is the issue of humans and chimpanzees having a common ancestor.


I'm not questioning the need for falsification. Just wondering how it applies in non-deductive situations. It was a clear and simple question. (A&B) requires (!A|!B) (in C terms rather than propositional terms)

By the standards of physicalism, yes, anything metaphysical should stop the process. But what is commonly called "naturalism" has a metaphysical component, and that should also raise those same alerts.



Re Collin Bremdemuehl

1. Once again Mr. Brendemuehl evades the issue by inserting the word physicalism. If by physicalism he means both methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism, then he is seriously in error. As as been pointed out to him by numerous individuals on numerous occasions, methodological naturalism does not, repeat does not imply philosophical naturalism. Period, end of discussion. Mr. Brendemuehl can insist that it does until the end of time but he would be in disagreement with most philosophers, other then religious philosophers like Prof. Plantigna. I am afraid that the good professors' views lie far outside the mainstream of philosophical thinking.

2. The fact is that one cannot do science if one accepts the possibility of supernatural causation. Would Mr. Brendemuehl care to explain how one would go about falsifying a hypothesis that god did it.

3. Invoking a supernatural explanation also cannot predict anything because god, being by definition all powerful, is not limited by human made rules.

SLC says "Prof. Rosenhouse is rather more tolerant in that respect as he has not banned a YEC moron calling himself JonS who would have been banned on just about every other Scienceblog blog."

Yes, Prof Rosenhouse is surprisingly tolerant, which is a credit to him. You, however, don't seem to be a very tolerant person. You consistently resort to name calling to make yourself feel superior, hoping it will discredit those you disagree with.

1. You are in error.
I gained the term "physicalism" from Suppe, not Plantinga.
The structure of Scientific Theories, p. 15.
That is a mainstream term.

2. & 3. I've not suggested that theolgoical tests were subject to any scientific methodology. And (the opposite) I've not wrapped the theological around any scientific theory. Please stop with the non sequiturs.

What I've asked for, and have yet to receive, is how falsification applies to non-deductive theorie structures. So as to save a few of your brain cells, here's an example: Tachyon theory. Right now this is (as best I can assess) only mathematical assessment. There are no identifiable tachyons in existence. The theory seems sound but is yet without empirical evidence so falsification appears impossible. My question to you is how, if at all, falsification might be applied to this non-deductive theory structure?

Collin writes:

But you miss the point: You can't pretend that the evolutionary paradigm is somehow without this problem.

And if it has this 'problem', right along with Protestantism, why single out evolution for vilification?

Plantinga seems to be Collin's favorite source for information on the supposed philosophical problems with evolution, including his absurd claim that evolution undermines naturalism. I prefer to ignore philosophers when they rant about science. They are usually well out of their element.

The Macrodevelopment page, while purporting to be scientific, oddly had a 'Darwin fish' at the bottom with a crucifix for an eye.

A side observation regarding the U.S.: How does it come that those who deny evolution in biology seem to vote for the party of Social Darwinism, namely the Republicans who advocate a free-market/ may the strongest survive ideology, and oppose any charitable government activity(if it is directed to the poor; they are in favor only of bailouts for companies 'too big to fail').
At least I read in the press about 'conservative Christians' in the U.S. being considered the natural constituency of the Republican party.