Posted by: Ticktock | April 28, 2008

Expelled Reinvents Hitler

 

I’ve been trying to avoid writing about Ben Stein’s anti-science propaganda film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.  Primarily, because the film has been picked at relentlessly by science bloggers and skeptics to the point that there is nothing left for me but scraps. 

The premise of Expelled is that creationist scientists are being blocked from academic and professional jobs because of their beliefs.  I’ll assume that this has been true in a few cases because I actually agree with the idea that one person’s ideology or faith shouldn’t contaminate the truth that flows from the scientific process.  Scientists have a responsibility to weed out ideas that aren’t compatible with the general consensus of collected knowledge regardless of whether the ideas stem from a baseless opinion or religious dogma. 

Science works because it isn’t stubborn.  Ideas can change and grow the more we teach ourselves about the natural world.  Believers point to the fact that science has been wrong before, but that is exactly the point.  The bible is like a blog comment that you can’t edit.  Certain people with the power (like myself) can delete the comments, others can discuss the comments, but they just sit there unchanged- typos and all.  Science is like a discussion forum where your peers can chastise you for a bad idea, and you can edit that idea to make it more perfect.  OK… that was a simplified analogy, but whatever.

I’ve been falling into the trap of commenting on other blogs and forums with posts about Expelled, so I thought I’d bring my battle back to my home page for all here to see.  My one true annoyance with Ben Stein’s film is that he goes to the effort to connect Hitler and the holocaust to Darwin.  This whopper of a lie is not only insulting, it isn’t true.   And even if it was true, the argument would be irrelevant because jewish genocide has been happening throughout history, much of it perpetrated by Christians.

Hitler never mentioned Darwin in his autobiography Mein Kampf.  He did say this…

“Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”

I don’t blame christians for the fact that Hitler was raised a catholic, nor do I draw any inferences from the fact that the majority of the nazi army were christian.  I also don’t blame christians for slavery, the KKK, the salem witch trials, or the crusades.  These acts are despicable, but it matters not whether they were perpetrated by atheists or christians.  This is an appeal to emotion that Expelled uses with maximum effect to manipulate an audience prone to believing without evidence, and it works. 

I could do the same appeal to emotion and point out parts of the bible where god commits genocide against his own creation, including passages that describe killing every man, woman, and unborn child, passages about bears divinely ripping apart 42 children for teasing a bald man, and entire civilizations being annihilated in bloody battles.  Oops…I just did an appeal to emotion.  Forgive me.

The idea behind creationism, that science must be wrong because it invalidates the inerrancy of the scripture, discredits all the scientific discoveries that have advanced our knowledge and society.  The bible says nothing about galaxies, internet, DNA, germs, minivans, gravity, relativity- all advancements that benefit our society, and yet they are only accepted as valid because they don’t negate the holy word.  But, creationists discredit science when the facts are not compatible with the bible.  There are a lot of facts that aren’t compatible with the bible- like a heliocentric solar system, or that Earth is a sphere, or that the moon is not a source of light. 

There are also aspects of the bible that even creationists won’t follow, like God’s commandment to stone adulterers.  Times change, our ethics and morals grow, and we don’t allow ourselves to stone people now.    So too must our understanding and interpretation of religion change to fit the known facts of the universe.  You can see the silliness of interpreting the bible as absolute truth by reading The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs.

I’ll leave it at that.  I hope to hear from you about your thoughts on this movie.

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Responses

  1. Stein is under heavy attack for exaggerating 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 continental Europe, but also the nationalistic collision at the World War I. It was Charles Darwin himself, who praised and raised the monstrous Haeckel in the spotlight as the greatest authority in the field of human evolution, even in the preface to his Descent of man in 1871.

    Darwin did not apply his revolutionary theory to the human beings until his Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex in 1871. This was after the ambitious Haeckel had firmly stepped
    in the print, and the old Darwin paid hommage in his introduction:
    “The conclusion that man is the co-descendant with other species… is not in any degree new… maintained by several eminent naturalists and philosophers… and especially by Häckel. This last naturalist, besides his great work
    ‘Generelle Morphologie’ (1866), has recently (1868, with a second edit. in 1870), published his ‘Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte,’ in which he fully discusses the genealogy of man. If this work had appeared before my essay
    had been written, I should probably never have completed it. Almost all the conclusions at which I have arrived I find confirmed by this naturalist, whose knowledge on many points is much fuller than mine.”

    I quote from my conference posters and articles defended and published in the field of bioethics and history of biology (and underline them a bit):
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Asian_Bioethics.pdf
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Haeckelianlegacy_ABC5.pdf

    Race biological reason was not only rhetoric, it was scientific. There is evidence, that In Ukraine and Baltic countries, the people wellcomed the German troops as redeemers. These illusions evaporated soon, when the SS (Schutzstaffel) and civilian administration followed the field-army. Hitler did not even try to separate the Russian people from the Soviet government. The Eastern Europeans Slavic people were born “slaves”, indeed. For Hitler, they were “Untermenschen” (Bullock 1958 pp- 423-5). The ethymology for the Greek “barbaros” was in their uncomprehensible tongue, the word was onomatopoetic.
    BUT 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 (Hailer 1963, p. 52).

    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 (Mattila 1996; Hietala 1985 p. 133; these were the times of IQ-tests under Gould’s scrutiny in his Mismeasure of Man 1981). By 1931 thirty states had passed sterization laws in the US (Reilly 1991, p. 87).

    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) (Haller 1963, pp 21-57; 135-9; Proctor 1988, p. 97; Reilly 1991, p. 109). Seldom is it mentioned in the popular Finnish media, that the first outright race biological institution in the world was not established in Germany but in 1921 in Uppsala, Sweden (Hietala 1985, pp. 109). (I am not aware of the ethymology of the ‘Up’ of the ancient city from Plinius’ Ultima Thule, 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 (Proctor 1988, p. 17).

    Hitler’s formulation of the differences between the human races was affected by the brilliant sky-blue eyed Ernst Haeckel (Gasman 1971, p. xxii), 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 Jewish question was assimilation, 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 (Hietala 1985, p. 132).

    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.” (1977, p. 13.) Finnish emmigrants put the cross on the box reserved for the “yellow” group (Kemiläinen 1993, p. 1930), 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 in 1933 the German people had not lived normal life for twenty years. And so Adolf Hitler did not need his revolution. He did not have to break the laws in Haeckel’s country, in principle, but to constitute them.
    Today, developmental biologists are anticipating legislation of laws that would define the do’s and dont’s. 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, that I personally cheriss. The latter sees free giving, altruism, benevolence and self sacrificing love as the beginning, motivation, and sustainer of the reality.

    pauli.ojala@gmail.com
    Biochemist, drop-out (Master of Sciing)
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Expelled-ID.htm

  2. The above copy & paste comment makes no sense to me. I have no idea what this person is trying to say, or what it has to do with my post.

    agape – selfless love of one person for another without sexual implications (especially love that is spiritual in nature)

    I don’t see any selfless love in the examples of genocide that I listed in my post. Nor in other biblical stories, like when Hosea was commanded to marry a whore or in Deut 21:18 when it says to stone rebellious children.

  3. You seem to have fallen into some of the same reasoning as some of the opportunistic post 9-11 atheist authors (dawkins, harris, hutchens). Oddly, as you have displayed here, their arguemnts contain a new fundamentalism based on science.

    Here is a exceedingly fair review of their (in particular, dawkins) work by other nontheists:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/03/books/03beliefs.html_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=sl gin

    If you want to read some nontheist arguments that display an adult understanding of metaphysics/philosophy try Nietzsche or Ivan from The Brothers Karamazov. Additionally, you might try getting to know some other form of theism than the ‘boogie man’ that you have created.

  4. I would just like to point out that I didn’t creat this ‘boogie man’, nor did I paint the entire bible as evil. I was raised in the methodist church, where all of the passages of genocide and all the scientific inaccuracies were just ignored in favor of the passive stories in the gospels.

    I don’t have a problem with theists. I’m not one of them, but I can completely understand the biological need for faith in a deity. I do have a problem with creationists, who believe that the bible is perfect and without error. And most importantly, I have a problem with Expelled, which you didn’t address in your response to my post.

    I think it’s unfair to minimize atheist authors as “opportunists” and “fundamentalists”. On the first point, these authors are timely. In an age when science has given us so much and taught us about our universe, we still have people flying planes into buildings so they can hang out in heaven with 99 virgins. And scientific fundamentalism? I think these authors would be the first to say that if god could be proven, they would change their stance. God has been disproven in many many different ways, and fundamentalists don’t change their minds. That is the difference.

    I’ve read The Brothers Karamazov. I don’t see how the argument that man can not match the perfection of Jesus is relevant when I don’t believe in Jesus.


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