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Scientific American

Expelled Exposed

published June 2008 | comments (36)
A film challenging evolution, by game show host
and financial analyst Ben Stein, is a case study
in antiscience propaganda
magazine cover

“Should I be worried about the Crips and the Bloods up here?” These were the first words out of the mouth of Ben Stein as he entered my office at Skeptic magazine, located in the racially mixed neighborhood of Altadena, Calif. I cringed and hoped that the two black women in my employ were out of earshot of what was perhaps merely Stein’s hamhanded attempt at humor before he began interviewing me for what I was told was a film on the intersection of science and religion entitled Crossroads.

That is not what the interview was about. And neither is the film, now called Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The subtitle exposes its motif — intelligent design has been expelled from classrooms and culture, and Ben Stein sees a sinister conspiracy at work. This supercilious financial columnist and ersatz actor and game show host proceeded to grill me on whether or not I think someone should be fired for expressing dissenting views. My answer: it depends. Who is being fired for what, when and where? People are usually fired for reasons having to do with budgetary constraints, incompetence or failure to fulfill the terms of a contract. If you are hired to teach biology according to the curriculum standards of your school district but instead spend the semester telling students that science has no explanation for DNA, wings, eyes, brains and that mystery of mysteries — bacteria flagella — then, yes, you should be fired posthaste. But I know of no instance in which this has happened, and the film’s examples of such alleged abuses have less menacing explanations detailed at www.expelledexposed.com, where Eugenie Scott and her tireless crew at the National Center for Science Education have tracked down the specifics of each case.

After asking the question a dozen different ways, Stein finally changed the subject and queried my opinion on the social impact of Darwinism. Having just finished my book on evolutionary economics (The Mind of the Market), I drew the connection between Adam Smith’s invisible hand and Charles Darwin’s natural selection and noted how capitalists have long used social Darwinism to justify unfettered market competition, from the early 20th-century belief in the survival of the fittest corporations to Enron’s CEO Jeffrey Skilling, who said his favorite book in Harvard Business School was Richard Dawkins’s The Selfish Gene. This was not the answer Stein wanted, and he rejoined with a vehemence I did not understand until I saw his film.

Expelled’s exegesis is this: Darwinism leads to atheism, communism, fascism and a repetition of the Holocaust. We are in an ideological war between a scientific, natural worldview that leads to the Gulag Archipelago and Nazi gas chambers and a religious, supernatural worldview that leads to freedom, justice and the American way. Expelling intelligent design from American classrooms and culture will inexorably take us down a path of doom, and the film’s blunt editing intersperses interview snippets from evolutionary biologists with black-and-white clips of, in ascending scale of ominousness, bullies pounding on a 98-pound weakling; Charlton Heston’s character in Planet of the Apes being blasted by a water hose by a gorilla thug; Nikita Khrushchev pounding his fist on a United Nations desk; East Germans captured trying to scale the Berlin Wall; and Nazi crematoria remains and Holocaust victims being bulldozed into mass graves. The formula is unmistakable: Darwinism = death.

Expelled is pure propaganda that would make even Leni Riefenstahl blush. The film deserves the Michael Moore Palme d’Or Award for Objective Journalism. Tellingly, it is being marketed to church groups, religious organizations and conservative Christians. I saw it at the National Religious Broadcasters convention, where Stein and the producers received a standing ovation and we were all given an Expelled “Event & Resource Kit,” which includes movie posters, bumper stickers, teaching outlines, literature from the pro–intelligent design Discovery Institute and even a whistle for “Blowing the whistle on suppression.” A DVD includes interviews with intelligent design proponents and suggestions on how to “host a ‘Dinner with Darwin’ … using the Discussion Guide, DVD and the film as an opportunity to educate yourselves about the ‘good science’ in support of our faith.”

When will Americans learn that evolutionary theory has nothing whatsoever to do with religious faith and that “good science” is the product of good data and theory, not good fit to scripture? After Expelled, will anyone take Ben Stein seriously again? Anyone? Anyone?

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36 Comments to “Expelled Exposed”

  1. George Parry Says:

    This is purely a money making scheme. Stein cannot have read any of the books, Who wrote the Bible, Who wrote the Scriptures or 101 Myths of the Bible. Or has he and continues with his money making project?

  2. peter johnson Says:

    He does seem to favour dishonest methods but I think he is a true believer. I have personal experience with ‘born again’ christians and quite simply no amount of evidence can dissuade them. Anything that indicates the bible may be incorrect, is to them, clearly the work of the devil. In this way all contrary evidence can be easily dismissed.
    This is what makes any discussion or debate with creationists very difficult if not impossible, they have no interest in any other explanations. They already have the truth, for them all learning has stopped.

  3. Mary Says:

    recently spoke to some folks associated with the filmmakers. Bottom line: they’ve lost millions on Exposed(primarily because of marketing costs) and many of the people involved are quietly (off the record completely)saying that the entire experience has exposed them to learning more about evo and done the opposite of what was intended (i.e., moving people towards i.d.) Of course, they would all be shot for saying any of this out loud, so everyone’s staying on script. Once they give up on getting their money back, I suspect you’re might hear some very interesting comments from some of those involved (not Stein)

  4. John Beck Says:

    Churchill allegedly said, “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”
    So let’s not be surprised when Christian Soldiers enlist the aid of a bodyguard of lies to spread the Truth.

    I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian church that was keen on recruiting converts. As were proselyted, we were taught to avoid embarrassing topics by changing the subject or even denying them. Tell a white lie for God … you’ll be forgiven for sins done in the name of God.

    This same attitude taken to greater extremes resulted in the crusades, the inquisition and the WTC bombing.

  5. Daryal Gant Says:

    My Webster’s gives the number one definition of “faith” as “unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence.”

    Based on the definition, the “faithful” are plainly silly to try to argue that their position is based on facts of any kind. As a faith, it is not required or expected. If they think their “belief” is supported by real evidence, then it should not be called a “faith,” but a “proof.” Objectively, there is no such thing as a “reasoned faith.”

    Seriously religious people should just say, “I believe it because I want to believe it.” and leave it at that. Any further argument is foolish and not required.

    Non-believers are similarly foolish to try to argue with the faithful–there simply is not an argument to be made. One can not argue against faith alone.

    The best approach to this subject is for both the faithful and the unbelievers to give each other a pitying smile, and change the subject. Don’t waste each others time.

  6. Horace Gaims Says:

    As an atheist, I cannot believe that our grand and immense Universe was created and managed by a “supernatural” agency. Even so, I do not attack the religious beliefs of others because they provide solace for afflicted believers.

  7. John Blessinger Says:

    Ben Stein has joined the ranks of other self-hating Jews such as Michael Medvid,Laura Schlessinger and David Horowitz. Who seem to want to expiate their Jewish religious beliefs(heartfelt and sincere,I presume) by publicly ingratiating themselves to the fundamentalist Christian right.How can they disply such disengenuousness? John Blessinger

  8. Phil Roslaniec MD Says:

    What are “Crips and Bloods”?

  9. Anonymous Says:

    When Anonymous is done with Scientology, they need to turn their sights on the religious fundamentalists who refuse to accept reality. This is just as much a suppression of free logical thought that deeply damaging to the collective psyche of America.

  10. Monado Says:

    Those are the names, or nicknames, of two notorious gangs in Los Angeles many years ago. They were sworn enemies of each other.

  11. Ed Symington Says:

    I have not see the Ben Stein film “Expelled:No Intelligence Allowed”, and probably will not in the future. I don’t need something like that to “bolster” my belief in a God who created the universe and everything in it. However, I am consistently amazed by the number of otherwise intelligent folks who continue to blast Christians for believing something that they (nonbelievers)say is unproven, while yet themselves believing in the “theory” of evolution. NONE of the Darwinian principles of evolution have ever been proven; in fact Darwin himself shortly before his death denounced his own research and said that his theories of macro-evolution were not possible. Yet so many continue to believe the lies………..very sad really!

  12. Phil Says:

    I was raised and educated within a conservative Christian environment. My post secondary education is in both Bible (at a conservative Bible College) and Science (at a secular University) and I have made my living for 30 years as a Research Scientist. I still believe in a transcendent, personal God and the Gospel. For this reason, I look at Ed Symington’s comments above and see a caricature of Christian’s that is often presented by non-theists. But in my experience, I know well-meaning people like Mr. Symington. It is important to read and understand this issue and I have seen the work theory in quotes too often not to react to the laymen’s misunderstanding of science. Here’s the difference – in matters of incomplete understanding, a Scientist is comfortable with the uncertainty. He has the tools to deal with it. Too many Christians feel the need to provide the certainty that God has never revealed to them either explicitly or through the physical universe. So – I’ll see “Expelled” when it comes out in DVD and then I’ll put it on a shelf with books by Shermer, Dawkins, EO Smith, Davies, Behe and Polyani. Read widely and think for yourself!

  13. Phil Says:

    And of course – that’s a typo. I meant to type “the word theory” not “the work theory”

  14. Ed Symington Says:

    Phil,
    I appreciate your response, but I’m confused as to what you mean by your statement, “I look at Ed Symington’s comments above and see a caricature of Christian’s that is often presented by non-theists”. I am definitely a theist, if fact a pure theist as opposed to a “theistic evolutionist”. I have a question for you. Why is it important to “read and understand this issue”, and to what issue are you referring? Are you able to say that after a lifetime of scientific research and study that you now have a better, more thorough understanding of the beginnings of time than what you have by reading, (and believing) the Biblical account of creation?

  15. Phil Says:

    Ed –

    You may not like this clarification of the term caricature. If I were setting up a staw-man providing the expected Christian viewpoint in this discussion – I’d invent Ed Symington. Apparently, you are a living and breathing person. My use of “issue” above referred to the tension between science in practice and the non-theist’s expectation of a Christian’s views of science.

    You are a theist – of course. Therefore, you are not the non-theist to which I referred.

    Your final comments set up a false choice for me. If all I need to know about Creation is in the pages of Genesis, why did God give me so much excess brain capacity that leads me to ask so many other questions? Or more simply – the fundamental characteristic of a scientist is curiosity. What is the fundamental characteristic that describes you?

  16. Ed Symington Says:

    Phil,
    Have I touched a nerve? You say of me, “Apparently, you are a living and breathing person.” Isn’t that a little 2nd gradish? And by the way, you failed to answer my question. So typical of people who have no answers…they just respond with questions of their own. You have just made my point. None of us have the answers, not even the scientists who would so love to believe that they do. And yet they would openly ridicule those who choose not to believe in the science of macro-evolutionary theory, which has proven absolutely nothing in approximately 150 years. BTW, the fundamental characteristic that describes me is, “thinking for myself”!

  17. Al Says:

    God did not give you excess brain capacity to think past his (Genesis’ account of “god” is plural so I suppose I should say “their” instead of his or her) account of creation. Creation did not happen 10,000 years ago. There was never one man and one woman. Birds were not created before land animals (heard of the dinosaurs…), light was not created many times, snakes don’t talk (amazing how much the creation account sounds like Pandora’s Box), there is no “firmament” fruit does not contain the answers to all knowledge nor to eternal life.

    So, what you’re really saying regarding god’s gift of excess brain power is that he gave you this excess brain power so that you could see that the bible’s account of creation is absurd and nothing more than pure mythology. Or, you mean to say that millions of years of evolution gave you the brain power to see that these accounts are based on pure stupidity.

    Incidentally, a “theory” in science is not just a guess. A theory has to be defended. The Pythagorean theory is a theory too but you don’t see students of math calling it bunk. If evolution were just a theory, in the pejorative sense of the word, then we would not be able to use it scientifically. Yet, every year I go down and get a flue shot, millions of people die of AIDS, new breads of animals and plants spring up…. ALL of this is based on evolution which you call just a theory. Luckily some understand how to use this theory or our lives would not be nearly what they are.

    And to Mr. Stein, I’m an atheists and a free market capitalist. He should read some Ayn Rand and see what her take was on religion versus her take on the markets. Interestingly, a lot of conservatives are fans of Rand but they never seem to really see how she lambasted religion. Forgive the digression. The point is that one’s religious ideals has little to do with one’s ideals of freedom except to say that people with religious ideals tend to try to eliminate personal freedom through establishing theocracies. Since Since Mr. Stein shows terrible things done by some secular governments in a lame attempt to prove his point, I wonder if he also shows all the atrocities (the vastly greater numbers of deaths) caused and being caused to this day by peoples’ mythological beliefs. As it turns out, Jesus probably does not like you as much as you think he does.

  18. Howard Mauthe Says:

    Genesis was written by man, and has little to do with man’s actual origin. Belief in God may be our only path to everlasting life. Meanwhile, the ten comandments are very good advice, regardless of where they came from, and my beloved country should cling to that.

  19. Phil Says:

    Ed –

    Well, that was an unexpected response.

    Google “ad hominem”.

    I do not claim to have answers, I claim to be comfortable with uncertainty. You have not been ridiculed. Reread the posts. Think.

    Evolution is a conceptual thread, a working framework that has great utility and binds together biology, zoology, neuroscience, genetics, paleontology, etc. etc.

    ID makes God very small.

    Have a great life.

  20. Al Says:

    The bible is the “inspired word of god”. However, if it came from man and not from god, then how do you put ANY stock in it since it would necessarily not be based on anything observable?

    Some of the ten commandments are basic moral premises which almost all societies have shared regardless of their theocratic ideals. They and other principles evolved in us so you’ve got no worries about them. However, other of the ten commandments are based on banal ignorance. For instance, I don’t care if you have other fake gods before the fake god you believe in, I don’t care if you want my house, car or wife (you can’t get her anyways), if you work on Saturday (or Sunday – both days named after gods before yours), etc. And, I’m certainly not going to stone you if you break one of the commandments, are an unruly child or play for the other team. Because I don’t follow someone else’s moral code as written for me 2 to 3 thousand years ago, I get to define a much less violent existence. But, at least you’ve got god.

    Maybe you will get eternal life from a belief in god. But, I doubt it. However, you will get your life extended if you continue to support scientific endeavors, including the study of evolution. God can’t do that. He can just cause you to hate a bunch of people who don’t believe in your dreamed up god.

  21. Phil Says:

    Al –

    Please don’t put words in my or anyone’s mouth.

    I’m sorry this thread has degraded to the very thing we should avoid – personal attacks, prejudiced opinions about other’s beliefs and a diatribe on the “evils” of religion. I would never use the words stupid or absurb to describe any sacred text – nor should you. What I didn’t explain more fully is that I don’t expect that the Biblical account is, in it’s purpose, a treatise on science. Rather, the Genesis creation story is an explanation of personal responsibilty and accountability. My comment regarding “excess brain capacity,” a term that I really like, is that if we are created by God then he gave us the capability to think. (Or we evolved to be capable of advanced thought – a premise which in some ways is even more problematic.) For me, learning begins with questions.

    I just felt a short “rebuttle” might be in order.

  22. Al Says:

    BTW, Howard, you made a comment about your beloved country. I think the biggest thing holding us back is people’s need to fabricate ethereal ideals and experiences. America is based on INDIVIDUALISM. The entity to belove is yourself, not your country. Your country is a legal fiction. You can love your neighbor but abhor your country. I’m indifferent to my country. It either serves me or it does not. With congress having approval ratings in the low 20’s, most people apparently agree with me in spirit (pun intended). I think patriotism is one of the worst characteristics a society can have because it gives carte blanc to the government which will later abuse the people. It also creates a collective ideal of society when in reality, we are all individuals, free to love or hate whatever we like. It was lack of patriotism that formed America and it should be rugged individualism that carries it forward.

  23. Al Says:

    Phil,

    I used to be a bible toting christian. I do think it makes sense to call things stupid that are stupid. You seem to take an allegorical approach to the bible. That never made any sense to me as if I can pick and chose what is concrete and real versus what is told to me to prove a point (Genesis says, basically ‘This is the account of creation’ not this is a story to illustrate how you should live) then all I have is an eclectic set of beliefs that suit me. BTW, I find nothing in Genesis that is morally profound except that it’s okay to share your old wife with others if they may kill you, you should not have sex with angles as really bizarre creatures will result and god will have to flood you (thanks for the warning), men can build towers to heaven which worry the gods but the space shuttle causes them no concern… Instead of fabricating these ideals, why not just base your life on what you can observe? And, when the observations provide the answers, why do you need to take it back up to a higher power?

    I’m not trying to attack you but my tone is a little angry due to foolish comments made by another poster which I address interspersed in my earlier writing. On the contrary, I’m fascinated at how you can study all this and then hold on to your beliefs. I personally believe that to be a very egotistical position. But, I also remember my transition from really bothered christian sitting in church trying to believe to atheist with a much better life and absolute relief at knowing that I won’t spend precious time in church when I only have so much of it to use for myself.

  24. Phil Says:

    Last post to this thread –

    Al –

    You seem to enjoy reading between the lines. Just read the post. It is not this or that – allegory or “literally as you have been taught.” Think. Let go of your anger.

    The Bible has clearly caused you a great deal of confusion. The choice for you was atheism or “Bible toting Christian” – perhaps their are other choices.

    General Post –

    Part of the pain for me in the “Expelled . . .” debate, the ID vs Science debate, and the presidential race, is the mixing of assumption, sound bites, emotion and hidden motives and agendas. Is there a right conspiracy from the Christian right? Is there an evolutionary conspiracy? Are their hidden forces at work? Is there an agenda to change the science curriculum? Are we more concerned with maintaining parental control over schools and students or in real learning? We seem to find the issues too complex, too difficult and too overwhelming and so we resort to personal attacks, caricatures and expedient answers.

    Bottom line. When faced with a choice between this or that – look for a third choice.

    Ben Stein will always have an audience – and yes Dr. Shermer – there are those who will always listen to him. The sad reality is that faced with evidence and the high road of logic and reasoned argument – people will choose to have their ears “tickled” and will listen to those who agree with their preconceptions. School board decisions on curricula and teacher choice are not made based solely on the facts – these are politically motivated decisions and as is often the case – the few decide for the many.

    The two headed enemey is apathy and ignorance. When certainty is equated with truth and when personal conviction is seen as more important than integrity we understand how long a journey remains ahead of us.

  25. Bill Perron Says:

    Ben Stein is attacked and James Randi is adored, now isn’t that interesting. Randi is a provable liar and Stein is a provable succesful man who earned his fortune honestly. Randi cowardly runs from the Bill Perron “Honesty Challenge” and Shermer screams like a little girl for Bill to go away, because he doesn’t want to face the truth of his guru being a liar. Ben Stein is not a coward and will not run like Randi and Shermer do. Please ask Randi and Shermer why they are such hypocrites.

  26. Bill Perron Says:

    By the way I forgot to mention the comments on why I was rejected on the comments section on phrenology was really funny, I suggest everyone read it. I had no idea you skeptics could live your agendas and still be so funny. That amazes me. Thank you, I see you in a different light….. Bill Perron

  27. George Parry Says:

    I believe all of this could be cleared up with a thorough understanding of how the Bible stories cames about. If both sides of this argument were to study the many books available about how the Bible came about they would present their points of view from a better understanding not from a personal point of view. None of the books I have read say there is no god. They just outline how the bible came about.

  28. bobcarp Says:

    Are there any religions that at some point DON’T have a story that involves a snake in a garden? Apparently the writers of these religious works are all Freudian.

  29. Tom McEwin Says:

    What a terrific thread! I love it when passionate, educated people argue with each other.

    Re: Devotion to the “Bible” – I suggest you investigate “solipsism.” Startlingly (to me), Christians (in general) and “evangelical” Christians in particular, seem to be able to ignore the fact that there are hundreds of religions with creation myths and methods of salvation and promises of paradise. Since they can’t ALL be right, somebody’s wrong. And the adherents of every religions all think they are the ones that are right! I love watching you guys argue about your prferred superstition like a little boy loves the circus! (thanks to H. L. Mencken).

    Re: Evolutionary Theory – Scientific “theories” not only explain observations, but predict future occurrences. If the Theory of Evolution failed to predict changes in existing flora or fauna, or failed to explain observed structures in animals and plants, then it would be junked in a heart beat by scientists who believe the evidence, rather than searching for evidence of what they believe. But it won’t be because some religious authority received some spurious “revelation” or relies on some really awful collection of middle-eastern mythology (the Bible) or someone has a sword to their throat. We’re living with the same kinds of people, who, when they were in authority, burned non-believers at the stake and retarded the progress of science and discovery at every opportunity, if it didn’t line up with the Bible. (Oh, and by the way – the discovery of the New World really caused a crisis in the organized Church of the day – none of the animals found in the New World appeared in the Bible! Holy Crap! How do we spin this? “God” isn’t an explanation for anything. Science is. When science doesn’t have an answer, scientists say, “We don’t know… yet.” When religionists don’t have an answer, they say God moves in mysterious ways.)

    And finally – re: the Ten Commandments – Doesn’t it seem a little odd that “God” would have to tell the Israelites that lying, murder, adultery and perjury were bad? They needed “revelation” for that? The most primitive cultures in existence have avoided the whole problem by either sharing everything, or have a highly developed sense of social interaction where predatory behavior against one’s fellows is considered abhorrent. But the God who doesn’t want you telling white lies to your Mother doesn’t find genocide, slavery, prostitution, ordinary murder (as long as they weren’t Israelites) were okay? It’s so obvious that self-interested priests that had an interest in controlling the community, for their own benefit, and had “revelations” that supported that control and their own power.

    For the religious – believing is seeing. For the rest of us seeing is believing. We require proof. They only need one book, and anthing that disturbs them must come from their “devil.” Would that they could live in a world where the Sun circled the earth, just like in the Bible. But, sadly, they don’t. Too bad.

  30. Eli Says:

    Bobcarp – Scientology (oh, I just couldn’t resist.)

    Tom –

    You may be a bit extravagant with the use of Solipsism to refer to the Christian worldview. The thought that their own minds are the only certain thing would fly in the face of revelation as the only means to truth. I’ve got to think more about that. Certainly it doesn’t apply to their view of other belief systems – there’s another word for that.

    Interesting comment re: new animals in the new world. But then, there are other animals that were already known in the 15th century that aren’t mentioned in the Bible – so maybe a problem for some.

    Seeing is believing? Really? I’ve never seen a subatomic particle (or a molecule for that matter.) I do trust that certain quantum physicists are telling the truth, and that they are doing their math well.

    Seeing is believing? Really? Explain a mind like Einstein’s. He certainly extrapolated far beyond his own senses . . . his predictions certainly bordered on the metaphysical.

    “Any sufficiently advanced technology will appear as magic.” Paraphrase of Arthur C. Clarke

    Nothing we think is as simple as we’d like to think it is. Or, as H.L. Menken might have said (but as far as I know, didn’t) “faulty logic is not confined to the ranks of people who disagree with me.”

  31. Jaco Says:

    Who is Bill Perron?
    What is he on about Randi being a liar?
    Someone please respond.

  32. Tom Coward Says:

    Jaco: Bill Perron is/was a stage magian who now fancies himself a mentalist or astrologer or some such. I gather that he submited some ill-defined ‘paranormal power’ to the James Randi Foundation to try to get the $1,000,000 prize that they offer for proof of such an ability. From what I can tell, they got into some sort of disagreement aboput this, and Perron has been sore ever since. Try this link for more info: http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=72485

    Or this one: http://www.randi.org/jr/2006-06/060906just.html#i2

  33. Matt Says:

    I would highly suggest for you, and any one else interested to read the book ““The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions.” by self-professed secular Jew and mathematics/philosophies teacher David Berlinski.
    This tells the story of a Jew who was forced to dig his own grave prior to being shot by a German soldier. Prior to being shot, the old Jewish man advised the German that “God is watching what you are doing.” The Jewish gentleman pointed what i think is the real problem with atheism. “If you have the time please check the book out

  34. Dwayne Says:

    Matt,

    That’s a common misconception made by theists. The truth of the matter is that I still do what is right because I have compassion and a conscience. I believe it is far more noble for a person to perform good deeds just for the sake of doing them, than for a person to do good deeds because they believe there is a reward in it for them in an afterlife. There may well be problems with atheism, but that is not one of them.

  35. Skepticus Says:

    I used to hold Ben Stein in high regard as an intellectual, political observer, humorist, etc. but I have lost all respect for him. Now he is just another sad, pathetic bible-thumper, cursing anyone not sharing his beliefs.

  36. M Davis Says:

    It is of interest to note that there may be some merit to what Dr B. Stein presents. It is to the discipline’s benefit to allow some controversy and free inquiry. It is also a scientific discipline’s advantage not to dismiss out of turn ideas that may not entirely meet with personal notions or widely accepted views.
    For example, when Apollo landed on the moon 2 incidents were reported in the news: (1) people interviewed in Lybia said that a moon landing was a fake, not possible. Why? Because anyone could see that it was too small! And (2) the Flat Earth society admitted that the world was round yet still flat. It was more like a “Pie pan than a sphere” and could therefore be both. Popular, widely held opinions can be dead wrong, can’t they?
    Recall if you will Immanuel Velikovsky ‘s worlds in collision. Even Carl Sagan said in his work “Cosmos” (paraphrased) that it was a blemish on the scientific community to dismiss this work without the proper rigor and balanced scientific rebuttal it was due. Perhaps you can quote more thoroughly but the point is well taken. Often it is in the crucible of scientific examination and inquiry that advances and newer ideas and explanations take place. Velikovsky pointed out several items – which came to be true- but had a different explanation than originally postulated.
    Dr. Sagan himself was key in developing idea’s to explain the extreme heat and radio phenomena of Venus, and later Jupiter, would later be confirmed to be. Several ideas and phenomena that later turned out to be true, yet not for the reason imagined, were brought about by science and inquiry.
    Among the notions that have been brought forward are 1850’s notions of the earth’s age. The idea was that the earth could have only been as old as it was because at the distance and size of the sun there was only about 6000 or so years of cord wood to fuel the blaze. It was because of that notion that several religious thinkers calculated the notion of the 4000 year old earth. There are now several ideas to contradict that notion yet it is still quoted as a problem with other positions; whether or not the belief is held at all?
    As Sagan said (again paraphrased) “…when Darwin came along the idea of evolution had been presented, discussed and dismissed because of the perceived time limit.” It is must be really tough to swallow the reason Charles Darwin originally set forth down his research: “To explain how it was possible for all of the animals to fit on the Ark.” An ironic historic note, isn’t it?
    Perhaps Ben Stein’s “expelled” presentation should be carried on your website along with other propositions.
    I am skeptical. I do not believe or embrace the “God” hypothesis. But neither is it prudent to consider the current state of disciplines worth vitriolic rebuttal. I continue to find that there is something inherently weak about the position that requires force (either of position or popularity) to maintain. This course chosen by many responders apparently.
    I think that upon close examination, Ben Stein’s presentation is well made. It seems odd to me the amount of air and lip service being given to a singular proposition without any debate or rebuttal. I had to watch the presentation several times to really see the subtle points that were at issue. Spontaneous Generation for instance: one idea that I first saw and debunked in chemistry class was the notion of putting in rags and grain and getting out mice. In the course of discussion the theory of spontaneous generation was effectively put forward as a Darwinian concept. Then came the startling revelation that Dr. Richard Dawkins said that aliens may have brought about the change from inorganic to organic chemistry. It is startling that even well considered individuals will embrace an idea in an unguarded moment.
    As an individual who has seen first hand the products of intelligence put into crop and livestock selection and breeding; a unquestionably specific result as well as some not so well intentioned results. The timeframes are remarkably short. I suppose that is why the “Eugenics” movement of the turn of the century was so widely embraced. Perhaps the counterpoint of ID should be embraced as an alternative opinion free of the religious overtones. Not one you agree with, but one that exists none the less.
    There was a time in the early 50’s when Carl Sagan was in the same position (popularity wise) with respect to planetary astronomy. Not popular; unworthy of serious study. Time and fortunes conspired to change that position though. To quote J. Randi “ hmm, Interesting.”

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