Monday, April 21, 2008

The Passion of Ben Stein

Over the years Ben Stein has played many roles. He was a speech writer for Richard Nixon, a game show host, and an actor whose roll call made him famous: "Bueller . . . Bueller . . . " You get my drift. But now Stein has taken on a huge challenge: the science community and the theory of Evolution in his film "Expelled."

Set upon the backdrop of the Berlin Wall, the movie symbolizes the rift between Evolution and Intelligent Design just as the wall was the physical barrier between democratic West Germany and Socialist East Germany. While academia is designed to be a place where ideas may be freely discussed, Stein’s film paints a picture that departs from the ideals of the ivory tower and has a message which resonates with readers of William F. Buckley’s inaugural classic "God and Man at Yale." Just as Buckley’s subtitle was "The Superstition of Academic Freedom," Stein’s could well have been "The Myth of Academic Freedom" or even "The One-Way Street of Academic Freedom." The truth in this film is that one has freedom academically, but only if they have the right position. Believing the right way may be the difference between earning tenure and losing one’s job, regardless of what their research indicates.

The film features several scholars from both sides of the Evolution–Intelligent Design divide. The film is structured in a way so that both sides of the argument may be heard. Appearing in the film is prominent atheist Richard Dawkins. The other side featured, among others, Alister McGrath, a Christian scholar with a background in molecular biophysics. The Evolutionists paint Creationism and Intelligent Design as identical theories, a claim which Stein makes nowhere in the film. In fact, the Evolution scholars by and large dismiss any possibility of an Intelligent Designer. It is a ludicrous theory and only those stupid Fundamentalist Christians think Intelligent Design has any merit or truthfulness to it. Translation: Evolution = smart people, Intelligent Design = ignorant people who rely on religion to cope with their existence and who wish to impose a theocracy, or even worse, bring prayer back into the schools.

The most chilling moments of the movie revolve around Evolution’s role in the eugenics movement, its impact on Nazi Germany, and its U.S. incarnation of Planned Parenthood. As a Jew, Stein is especially concerned about how Evolution contributed to the sick idea of the disposal of unnecessary people or those not worth the air they breathe. Hence, people who had disabilities or had the poor luck of being born Jewish were rounded up, sterilized, or simply put to death because they were deemed to be of no contributive value to the country. It is even scarier to think how that functions for much of the rationale for abortion in this country. It is still the disposal of people who would be considered burdens of the state or just born into bad situations. It’s disposal of people deemed unnecessary however one slices it.

The Evolutionists offered hypotheses to explain how life began which range anywhere from arising out of the primordial soup to being planted on earth by an intelligent civilization from another planet, which of course does not explain how life begins, just how life arrived here! However, the only unacceptable answer is anything that resembles God or any other sort of Intelligent Designer.

Everyone is still free to make their own decision on the matter, but Stein provides a new platform for Intelligent Design, and gives more than ample time for Evolutionists to answer criticisms, but for this reviewer, their only rationale for Evolution is, "It’s Evolution. It’s scientific fact and if you disagree with me then you, sir, are stupid."

And if you disagree with me, then feel free to crawl back into the primordial soup. Or Berkeley.

1 comment:

Ojalanpoika said...

Ben(jamin) Stein is under heavy artillery for 'exaggerating' or 'going easy' on the influence of evolutionism behind Nazism and Stalinism (super evolution of Lysenkoism in the Soviet Russia). But the monstrous Haeckelian type of vulgar evolutionism drove not only the 'Politics-is-applied-biology' Nazi takeover in the continental Europe, but even the nationalistic collision at the World War I. It was Charles Darwin himself, who praised and raised the monstrous German Ernst Haeckel with his still recycled embryo drawing frauds etc. in the spotlight as the greatest authority in the field of human evolution, even in the preface to his Descent of man in 1871. If Thomas Henry Huxley with his concept of 'agnostism' was Darwins bulldog in England, Haeckel was his Rotweiler in Germany.

'Kampf' was a direct translation of 'struggle' from On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859). Seinen Kampf. His application.

Catch 22: As an indication of the evolutionary 'PUS', Haeckel's 140 years old fake embryo drawings have been mindlessly recycled in most biology text books until this millennium. Despite factum est that Haeckel's crackpot raging Recapitulation/Biogenetic Law and functioning gill slits of human embryos have been at the ethical tangent race hygiene/eugenics/genocide, infanticide, and Freudian psychoanalysis (subconscious atavisms). Dawkins is the Oxford professor for PUS - and should gather the courage of Stephen Jay Gould who could feel ashamed about it. Text book authors are making science a mockery!

Some edited quotes from my conference posters and articles defended and published in the field of bioethics and history of biology (and underline/edit them a 'bit'):

The marriage laws were once erected not only in the Nazi Germany but also in the multicultural states of America upon the speculation that the mulatto was a relatively sterile and shortlived hybrid. The absence of blood transfusion between "white" and "colored races" was self evident.

The first law on sterilization in US had been established in 1907 in Indiana, and 23 similar laws had been passed in 15 States and sterilization was practiced in 124 institutions in 1921 (these were the times of IQ-tests under Gould's scrutiny in his Mismeasure of Man in 1981). By 1931 thirty states had passed sterization laws in the US. Typically, the operations hit blacks the most in the US, poor women in the Europe, and often the victims were never even told they had been sterilized.

Mendelism outweighed recapitulation (embryos climbing up their evolutionary tree through fish-, amphibian- and reptilian stages), but that merely smoothened the way for the brutal 1930’s biolegislation - that quickly penetrated practically all Western countries. The laws were copied from country to country. The A-B-O blood groups, haemophilia, eye colours etc. were found to be inherited in a Mendelian fashion by 1910. So also the complex traits and social (mis)behaviour such as alcoholism, schizophrenia, manic depression, criminality, rebelliousness, artistic sense, pauperism, racial differences, inherited scholarship (and its converse, feeble-mindedness) were all thought to be determined by one or two genes. Mendelism was "experimental" and quantitative, and its exaggeration outweighed the more cautious biometry operating on smaller variations, not discontinuous leaps. Its advocates boldly claimed that these problems could be done away within a few generations through selection, persisted (although most biologists must have known that defective genes could not be eliminated, even with the most intense forced sterilizations and marriage restrictions due to recessive genes and synergism. Nevertheless, these laws were held until 1970's and were typically changed only when the abortion legislation were released (1973).

So the American laws were pioneering endeavours. In Europe Denmark passed the first sterilization legislation in Europe (1929). Denmark was followed by Switzerland, Germany that had felt to the hands of Hitler and Gobineu, and other Nordic countries: Norway (1934), Sweden (1935), Finland (1935), and Iceland (1938 ). Seldom is it mentioned in the popular media, that the first outright race biological institution in the world was not established in Germany but in 1921 in Uppsala, Sweden. (I am not aware of the ethymology of the 'Up' of the ancient city from Plinius' Ultima Thule, or the secret organ Thule Gesellschaft that introduced Adolf, however.) In 1907 the Society for Racial Hygiene in Germany had changed its name to the Internationale Gesellschaft für Rassenhygiene, and in 1910 Swedish Society for Eugenics (Sällskap för Rashygien) had become its first foreign affiliate. Today, Swedish state church is definitely the most liberal in the face of the world.

Hitler's formulation of the differences between the human races was affected by the brilliant sky-blue eyed Ernst Haeckel, praised and raised by Darwin. At the top of the unilinear progression were usually the "Nordics", a tall race of blue-eyed blonds. Haeckel's position on the 'Judenfrage' was assimilation and Expelled-command from their university chairs, not yet an open elimination. But was it different only in degree, rather than kind?

In 1917 the immigration of "defective" groups was forbidden even in the United States by a law. In 1921 the European immigration was diminished to 3% based on the 1910 census. Eventually, in the strategical year of 1924 the finest hour of eugenics had come and the fatal law was passed by Congress. It diminished immigration to 2% of the foreign-born from each country based on the 1890 census in order to preserve the "nordic" balance in population, and was hold through World War II until 1965.

Richard Lewontin writes:“The leading American idealogue of the innate mental inferiority of the working class was, however, H.H. Goddard, a pioneer of the mental testing movement, the discoverer of the Kallikak family, and the administrant of IQ-tests to immigrants that found 83 % of the Jews, 80% of the Hungarians, 79% of the Italians, and 87% of the the Russians to be feebleminded.” Regarding us Finns, Finnish emmigrants put the cross on the box reserved for the "yellow" group, until 1965.

Germany was the most scientifically and culturally advanced nation of the world upon opening the riddles at the close of the nineteenth century. And she went Full Monty.

Today, developmental biologists are anticipating legislation of laws that would define the do’s and dont’s. In England, they are fertilizing human embryos for research purposes and pipetting chimera embryos of humans and monkeys, 'legally'. The legislation should not distract individual researchers from their personal awareness of responsibility. A permissive law merely defines the ethical minimum. The lesson is that a law is no substitute for morals and that dissidents should not be intimidated.

I am suspicious over the burial of the Kampf (Struggle). The idea of competition is innate in the modern society. It is the the opposite view in a 180 degree angle to the Judaeo-Christian ideal of agapee (contra epithumia, eros, filia & storge) (ahava in Hebrew), that I personally cheriss. The latter sees free giving, altruism, benevolence and self sacrificing love as the beginning, motivation, and sustainer of the reality.
Biochemist, drop-out (Master of Sciing)