Roger Ebert slams Ben Stein

By Phil Plait | December 3, 2008 11:50 am

Roger Ebert is best known as a movie critic on TV, but he has been writing movie reviews for far longer. I’ve read a great number of his columns and his writing is in general excellent, with an obvious and profound depth of understanding of movies.

Ebert has a fierce intellect backing up his writing, and that is on display very well in his review of the execrable "eXpelled: No Intelligence Allowed", the creationist "documentary" that is so chock full of lies that the creators’ pants will be on fire for centuries. Ben Stein was the host of this steaming pile of celluloid, and Ebert aims his keyboard directly at him.

Ebert’s review is dead on target, and I recommend reading it. "eXpelled" was a major flop and will most likely sink beneath the waves of history, but don’t think for a moment that the people out there trying to promote creationism won’t use the same slimy tactics again and again. Being aware of them is half the battle.

Comments (99)

Links to this Post

  1. Some Facts/What This Means for You | December 3, 2008
  2. Ebert on Stein « A Man With A Ph.D. | December 4, 2008
  1. Ryan

    the creationist “documentary” that is so chock full of lies that the creators’ pants will be on fire for centuries

    @ Phil

    You of all people should know that lies setting your pants on fire is just a myth.

  2. True Ryan, but we could all hope that the creationists who try to perpetrate this sort of celluloid excrement suddenly find their pants exploding!

  3. Peter Eldergill

    I have one question.

    Why write this now? Why not months ago when this “movie” came out?

    Pete

  4. Because he was accused of NOT reviewing it because of his position. I think that perhaps Ben should have just left this one alone….

  5. Awesome, awesome review – Ebert knows his skepticism! Attaboy Roger.

  6. Wow!!

    If you want to hand somebody’s rear end to them on a plate, hire Roger Ebert!

    Outstanding!

  7. Umm… but isn’t Ebert also a big creationist? I guess he thinks the movie was way off, but still believes?!? Weird.

  8. Elf Eye

    Ebert is not a creationist. He wrote a parody of creationism, but I guess creationism is so self-parodying that it is hard to tell a parody of creationism from the real thing. (Isn’t that what Poe’s Law is all about?)

  9. Lar

    Creationists should be the ones with the biggest problem over a movie supposedly arguing their positions, yet doing it so badly that it undermines their position.

  10. David D.

    Is there really much difference between “Expelled” and, say, “Loose Change,” or almost anything by Michael Moore, or (dare I say it) “An Inconvenient Truth?” These are all biased political docs with obvious axes to grind.

    Or is “Expelled” more “execrable” than the others?

  11. Quiet Desperation

    I’m still sort of down on him for saying video games cannot be art. Way to dump on the thousands of artists working in that industry. He joined a long line of blinkered critics who dismissed new mediums in the past. And he still owes me 2 hours for watching “The Center Of The World” based on his glowing review. Feh.

  12. Jason Heldenbrand

    I read Ebert’s parody of creationism. Sadly for a moment I was hornswaggled into believing it was real. It was at that moment I realized how jaded we’ve all really become into the ‘rationale’ of creationists.

  13. That was a great post, and I wish every Creationist/ID’er would read it, but I don’t think they would have the mental capacity to grasp what Ebert was saying. I do remember when this movie came out and that intellectual juggernaut, Glenn Beck, had Stein on his show for weeks, promoting this cr*p. Now, fortunately, both Beck and Stein seem to have slipped into relative obscurity. (At least until Beck’s new show starts this spring on Faux News…)

  14. James

    Man, that was just an intellectual smackdown. Way to go Roger. Nice!

  15. Does anyone have a link to Ebert’s parody of Creationism? I”d like to see that!

  16. Mick

    I always liked Ebert.

  17. ultraholland

    Unfortunately, Ebert did not address the fact that his quote from Y0 is only half true. ID is not, has never been and will never be a “scientific movement”. Having not seen the movie I will trust Yo when he says it continually links ID with god. As far as ID goes, it’s non-science. I wish more people would understand that.

  18. I found Ebert’s review to be rather long and rambling, myself, though it got better in the second half.

    These are all biased political docs with obvious axes to grind.

    The main difference is in how fast and loose they are with the facts, and how willing they are to distort, filter, draw unlikely conclusions, and just plain make things up. None of the movies you mention are objective, but some are vastly more detached from reality than others.

  19. Violetta Bloom

    Hi all,

    Here’s the real laugh. The religious right has totally missed their own astonishing biblical heresy, that’s right heresy, in invoking the concepts of “accidental evolution” and “blind” chance. According to the Bible (Pv. 16:33) God controls all chance and there are no accidents. That’s a pretty big Ooopsie! You might enjoy this from the current Google News listings:

    Intelligent Design Rules Out God’s Sovereignty Over Chance

    http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474977514804

    “What proponents of so-called intelligent design have cynically omitted in their polemic is that according to Biblical tradition, chance has always been considered God’s choice as well.”

  20. Actarus

    Even the vatican and the pope does not belive in creationism.

  21. Thanks ultraholland.

  22. Violetta, the way they see it is that evolutions has ZERO actually chance in it though. Evolution had to happen the way it did (i.e. guided by god) to make us. So, in essence there is no heresy.

    Ugh, I felt dirty writing that.

  23. Lawrence

    Science constantly changes as new information is made available. When new and better tools are built & we can see more of the natural world (like DNA, the inner workings of cells, etc) theories and scientific thought changes to adapt to the new circumstances & info.

    ID’ers are stuck with “God Did It.” And that’s it.

    Now tell me, which side is biased and inflexible?

  24. Davidlpf

    You know you are little backward when the Roman Catholic is more progessive.

  25. Science can neither prove nor disprove Religion. “God” is not a scientific concept. Therefore, one cannot scientifically determine whether any knowledge came from God.
    Likewise, when one has gained religious knowledge, it should not be presented as having been acquired scientifically, nor should it be assumed to be intended that way.

    Nobody has all the truth and all the knowledge., but people like to see a dichotomy where there is none, and to draw lines in the sand and pick sides and fight and feel like “their side” is superior for this reason or that reason.

    Sometimes one side plays dirty and unfair, and sometimes the other, usually both.

    As far as Truth and Knowledge are concerned, both ‘sides’ are flawed, and the amount of energy expended in the arguments between the two and in the jumping to false conclusions , despite some insignificant insights that may be so gained, is a huge waste, and could be better spent helping to build on common ground, and making the pursuit itself more uplifting.

  26. @Lars

    Have you every heard an arguement for Creationism that didn’t undermine the belief?

  27. Why don’t we “slam” Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, Immanuel Kant, Lord Kelvin, Michael Faraday, and James Maxwell while we’re at it. Yeah Intelligent Diesign is for morons….pfff.

    “Science without religion is lame….” — Albert Einstein, physicist, 1941

    “Anybody who has been seriously engaged is scientific work of any kind realizes that over the entrance to the gates of the temple of science are written the words: ‘Ye must have faith.’” — Max Planck, physicist, 1932

  28. Andrew P

    Had no idea Ben Stein had a movie out, have no desire to see it. Didn’t read Eberts review, have no desire to read it. Only clicked on the link because I have allot of respect for Ben Stein (within the confines of the financial sector of our economy) After reading some comments though I get the impression that the basis of the movie is that its trying to argue for the existence of a creator, or “creationism” as its referred to here. My question for any of you who have seen the movie, or are at least vaguely familiar with its premise is within what context is he arguing for a creator.
    I ask this because if he is postulating that there is a creator, he created the earth in 6 days, yada yada yada then I would unfortunately lose allot of my aforementioned respect for Stein. However, if hes postulating the existence of a creator in more of a Deistic realm of possibility then I don’t understand what the fuss is about. Can anyone clear this up for me?

  29. Bobby Thomas

    HAY I CAN QUOTE EINSTEIN TOO

    “”The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.”

  30. The original post for Ebert is here:
    http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080921/COMMENTARY/809219997

    Apparently I totally missed that this was irony, despite the fact the article isn’t dated April 1 nor does he state it’s irony on the page. He does that on a different website here:

    http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2008/09/this_is_the_dawning_of_the_age.html

  31. Davidlpf

    Newton, Galileo,Kant,Faraday,Maxweel et al.,lived in a time before intelligent design or before the current theory of evolution. They beleived in creationism but have we not progressed since then.

  32. scottb

    @OilIsMastery-

    nice cherry picking there. why don’t you show the FULL comments?

    Einstein was somewhere between atheist/agnostic and deist. He most definitely did not hold organized religion in high esteem – quite the opposite in fact.

  33. Daffy

    Ben Stein wrote speeches and was a lawyer for one of history’s worst liars. I mean, honestly, what else does anyone need to know?

    I rather doubt he cares about Creationism one way or another; I suspect his horrid little movie is yet another neocon assault against “liberals.” An assault where any tactic—however dishonest—is justified in their minds.

  34. Win Ben Stein’s Mind

    I never try for anytning
    My FSM, I was 4 years old when that $64K Q ticket was good!

    I have news for you. Everyone is made up before going on television. If they are not, they will look like death warmed over.

    See: WKRP in Cincinnatti: Carlson for President, the Debate

    J/P=?

    PS: favorite Ebert is the commentary on Dark City (IMHO one of the best movies ever made)

  35. Peter B

    Andrew P

    The issue is not Stein’s opinion about the nature of the Creator, it’s about the content of the movie, which misuses evidence to make evolution and its proponents look bad.

    Here’s a bit of material about it from Wikipedia: “‘Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed’ is a film described by its promoters as a controversial new satirical documentary. It makes considerable use of vintage film clips to convey its message, and opens with scenes of the Berlin Wall being constructed, used to symbolize what it alleges are barriers to intelligent design being accepted as science. Ben Stein provides narrative commentary throughout the film in which he is depicted as visiting a sequence of universities to question scientists and professors on both sides of the debate between evolution and intelligent design. He interviews those claiming to have been victimized, and several scientists supporting evolution who are also atheists. The film takes aim at a few scientific origin of life hypotheses, and presents a short animation portraying the inner workings of the cell as raising the question of how such complexity could arise from spontaneous mutations, to favor the idea of irreducible complexity. The intelligent design proponents shown include David Berlinski, who raises the claim that Darwinism influenced the Nazis. The film also attempts to associate Hitler’s ambitions of a master race and the holocaust to Darwinian ideas of survival of the fittest through stock footage film clips such as filmed images of Nazi concentration camp laboratories.

    “The film addresses the concept of intelligent design itself only superficially. It makes almost no attempt to show scientific evidence for, or even define, intelligent design, and deals with the subject almost entirely from a political, rather than scientific, viewpoint. Similarly, it critiques evolution without defining it or giving a basic explanation of evolutionary theory.”

  36. TheBlackCat

    @ Andrew: I have not seen the movie, but I have read a lot about it. From what I have read Stein really does not make any effort to even define creationism or intelligent design. The movie is not about the arguments for or against design, it is about a conspiracy the intelligent design folks have fabricated to explain why they don’t have any support from the scientific community. It basically trots out a lot of false martyrs who supposedly suffered terribly because they supported intelligent design. Of course every single one of them is wrong in some way. For instance a professor named Guillermo Gonzales is claimed to be someone who was was denied tenure for supporting intelligent design. They conveniently leave out that he had almost no independent publications, pretty much no money, and had graduated only one grad student. They are all like this, there was a guy who supposedly lost his job at the Smithsonian for publishing a pro-ID paper (he actually got to keep his unpaid position at the Smithsonian despite gross ethical misconduct and lots of other problems), or a professor who was fired for daring to just mention intelligent design in class (she was actually a temporary professor whose contract wasn’t renewed, nobody is sure why because universities don’t have to give reasons to not re-hire someone but it may have had something to do with her refusing to teach any evolution whatsoever in the introductory biology class she was hired to teach despite it being required to have an evolution component).

  37. Mark Hansen

    @OiM
    We don’t “slam” them because they had to work with less knowledge than we now possess. Would you think a 3 year old child was a moron for failing to grasp calculus?

  38. David D

    @Daffy–

    Ben Stein wrote speeches for Bill Clinton?

    Who knew . . .
    :)

  39. Troy

    At some point I’m going to actually watch the film, I haven’t yet. I do have a bone to pick with Ebert’s criticism of Stein’s slot machine analogy. The issue isn’t that statistically improbable things can happen; rather it is either that rare events with enough attempts are certainties or also likely that chemistry doesn’t interact randomly. In the genesis and propogation of life both of these overcome things that at first glance seem improbable.

  40. TMB

    I love that cartoon at the bottom!

  41. Phil B.

    I hink I liked Stein better when he was shilling eye drops.

  42. tacitus

    I hate to say it but Expelled wasn’t a “major flop” in box office terms — it’s number 12 all time in the documentary category, just behind “Hoop Dreams” which has never been classed as a major flop (though, unlike Expelled, it’s one of the best documentaries ever made).

    Although Expelled got terrible reviews, they did have a reasonably canny marketing campaign, focusing on sympathetic churches and other Christian outlets, suggesting that the success of Expelled would strike a blow against their secular “Darwinist” foes.

    In the end, they got a very wide release and made $7.7 million in box office receipts which isn’t too shabby for a documentary. It’s just a shame so many people spent money to see that dreck.

  43. Mark,

    Calculus was invented by the moronic Intelligent Design Squad, namely Pascal, Leibniz, and Newton, all Creationists, so it must be wrong.

  44. Todd W.

    @OilIsMastery

    Umm…I think you missed the point of Mark’s comment. At least, your response has absolutely nothing to do with his, except insofar as you talk about calculus.

  45. Todd,

    Intelligent Design has nothing to do with this? I’m afraid it does.

  46. Daffy

    David,

    Clinton was an pathetic and ineffectual liar…Nixon was a master. And Cheney worked for him as well; go figure.

  47. Darth Robo

    >>>”Calculus was invented by the moronic Intelligent Design Squad, namely Pascal, Leibniz, and Newton, all Creationists, so it must be wrong.”

    Oh, but Intelligent Design is nothing to do with religion, nope! Nosiree-bob! It’s just them lying atheist Darwinists who say it is!

    Right?

    And is it fair to call those scientists you mention ‘Creationists’? Believers maybe. Are all believers today creationists? Even those who accept evolution and think that ID is crap? Are they creationists too?

    Just out of interest, is there ONE PERSON who can tell me what the “scientific theory” of Intelligent Design actually is? Been asking this a lot, but never had an answer so far…

  48. Todd W.

    @OilIsMastery

    Let me just clarify what I think you’re saying. Since Ben Stein is being “slammed” for believing in Intelligent Design, despite its lack of evidence/predictive power/replicability, the rather robustly supported theory of evolution, and living in a largely secular society, we should also “slam” people like Galileo because they may have believed in some form of Christianity or creationism, lacked any knowledge of modern biological theories, such as evolution, and lived in a largely Christian society that exhibited significant powers to make life rather unpleasant for those going against Church doctrine?

    If that’s what you’re saying, we have Ben Stein, who should know better and is under no apparent pressure to follow religious dogma, and scientists and philosophers who didn’t have access to modern theories and could not know any better, who were under pressure to follow religious dogma. Not a very apt comparison, I’d say. It is rather like asking us, as Mark put it, to “slam” a 3-year-old for not knowing about advanced mathematics.

    As to saying that we should also be calling calculus invalid because it was discovered by someone who may have believed in some form of creationism (or simply just been a believer in the Christian faith), you’re setting up a logical fallacy, if I’m not mistaken. The whole basis for the critique on Ben Stein is about his promotion and underhanded tactics of ID in the movie eXpelled: No Intelligence Allowed. His other ideas, such as economic and political theses, are not being scrutinized here, let alone being dismissed due simply to his support of ID.

    A person can have good ideas and be quite intelligent in certain areas, regardless of their religious beliefs. They might be a phenomenal innovator in various aspects of computers but also believe in the healing powers of crystals. Do we dismiss their contributions to computer technology? No. Can we question their ability to reason logically regarding elements outside that expertise, such as “healing” crystals? Yes.

  49. Here are some questions for you since evolutionists seem to know everything and Creationists like Kepler, Huygens, Galileo, Newton, Faraday, and Maxwell are all part of the Moron Intelligent Design Squad.

    (1) What caused the universe to exist? Hint: it wasn’t evolution.

    (2) What’s the difference between the Big Bang and Creationism?

    (3) If you believe in the Big Bang, why don’t you believe it had a scientific cause (which for lack of a better word, people call God)?

    (4) Why hasn’t the tuatara changed in the past 140 million years even though it’s alleged to be the fastest evolving animal?

    (5) Why haven’t new species emerged with intelligence?

    (6) In what way have sharks and echinoids evolved in the past 400 hundred million years?

  50. Todd W.

    @OilIsMastery

    I’ll bite on a few of those questions. Nice dodge, by the way, away from my comment.

    Let’s see:
    1) Dunno. I know it’s not evolution, since evolution deals with the change over time of living organisms. It does not deal with cosmology. It does not even deal with how life began, only how it changes once it has begun.

    2) Big Bang – an as-yet-to-be-discovered phenomenon triggered the four basic forces (weak nuclear, strong nuclear, magnetic and gravitational) to be ripped apart from one another, at least according to current speculation and evidence, though that may change. Creationism – Goddidit, and that’s final…no changing, not ever.

    3) Who said anything about believing in a non-scientific cause of the Big Bang? Being part of the natural world, it is probably pretty safe to say that it had a natural cause, rather than some all-powerful deity existing outside the natural realm.

    4) Dunno. Haven’t studied it. My guess is that it probably has not been under any particular stressors that cause changes. Or, there may have been minute changes. But, again, I haven’t studied it, so this is just speculation.

    5) Ummm…define “intelligence”.

    6) Like with #4, I haven’t really studied this, so I can’t speak to whether there have or have not been any changes, nor what those changes might be if there were any. However, I will offer that a creature that has adapted to a point where it performs pretty darn well likely will not change very much unless the environment also undergoes a drastic change that might select for some new variation.

    Hope that answers your questions. For more detailed responses regarding numbers 4, 5 and 6, I would suggest asking those again over at pharyngula (a biology blog).

  51. kuhnigget

    OilisMastery question #5: (5) Why haven’t new species emerged with intelligence?

    Because human-like “intelligence” has yet to prove itself a viable long-term survival strategy. The reign of homo sapiens sapiens so far has been a minute blip on the geological (and evolutionary) timeline, barely even registering. Compared to us, the “dumb” dinosaurs, not to metion sharks, crocodiles, et al & etc. were, and are, phenomenally successful…without “intelligence.”

    This question illustrates how creationists approach evolution from a fundamentally wrong perspective: assuming there is a goal to it, and that the goal is to produce humans (or intelligence, if you will). Such is not the case. There is no goal, other than to survive. There is no pre-programmed “progression” of life from dumb to smart. Intelligence may go the way of the dodo if it doesn’t pan out. Meanwhile, the rest of the animal world will go right on its merry way.

  52. Darth Robo

    OilIsMastery

    Are Christians who accept evolution and think ID is nonsense “Creationists”?

    Do you think that “God” is incompatible with The Big Bang and/or the Theory of Evolution? If so, why are you placing limits on the Almighty, and how exactly did you assertain these limits? The only reason why God could not have been responsible for these phenomena would be a literal interpretation of ancient superstitious texts, as far as I can see.

    Do you yourself accept the Big Bang or Evolution? If not, could you please point out what you think is wrong with these theories and what falsifiable, testable and scientific alternative do you propose instead?

    I thank you in advance for your up-coming, non-evasive and enlightening answers.

  53. Todd,

    “1) Dunno. I know it’s not evolution …

    4) Dunno. Haven’t studied it. …

    6) Like with #4, I haven’t really studied this”

    Good answers. I’ve actually studied it and those are questions evolutionists need to answer in a scientific way, i.e. based upon observation and logic.

  54. Darth,

    “Are Christians who accept evolution and think ID is nonsense ‘Creationists’?”

    I don’t know of any Christians who think ID is nonsense. I believe that would be a blatant logical contradiction.

    “Do you think that ‘God’ is incompatible with The Big Bang and/or the Theory of Evolution?”

    No.

    “Do you yourself accept the Big Bang or Evolution?”

    No. I do not accept any hypothesis until they have been tested and verified by experiment. It’s called the scientific method.

  55. Todd W.

    @OilIsMastery

    I don’t know of any Christians who think ID is nonsense. I believe that would be a blatant logical contradiction.

    Next question is, what, according to you, is Intelligent Design? How do you define it? What is your understanding of how it works?

  56. Hevach

    (1) What caused the universe to exist? Hint: it wasn’t evolution.

    It wasn’t biological evolution. The term evolution on a broad setting has been applied (by both science and religion) to apply to just about everything involving deep time.

    (2) What’s the difference between the Big Bang and Creationism?

    The big bang is a specific though poorly understood natural event. Creationism is one of several hundred clearly defined series of primarily supernatural events.

    (3) If you believe in the Big Bang, why don’t you believe it had a scientific cause (which for lack of a better word, people call God)?

    Because science has a requirement that things be testable and disprovable – the the cause of the Big Bang is beyond any of our models – we can infintessimal moments afterwards, perhaps someday the Big Bang itself, but everything before that is beyond the capacity of science. It’s fine to say, “God did it,” but that isn’t a scientific cause until we can establish contact with him and say, “Hey, did you happen to blow up nothing to make the universe a few billion years back?”

    (4) Why hasn’t the tuatara changed in the past 140 million years even though it’s alleged to be the fastest evolving animal?

    That’s a claim I’ve never heard – in fact much the opposite of what I’ve heard. The tuatara is a living fossil – the last of a dead order. Also one that’s probably pretty much invalid, as true lizards, snakes, and fish have been introduced to isolated islands or waterways around the world and evolved new color morphs within a matter of decades.

    However, evolution doesn’t just involve speciation. Those fish and snakes are still the same species they were before, despite having evolved from primarily green to primarily brown or what have you.

    (5) Why haven’t new species emerged with intelligence?

    Because intelligence isn’t the goal of evolution. A guppy can eat and breed successfully with the miniscule intellect is has, increasing its brain size will only hurt it as it puts more energy into it’s brain and less into it’s prolific offspring.

    Intelligence itself isn’t that unusual – cephelapods are quite intelligent, they use their brainpower in part to control their extensive ability to camouflage their color and texture. Dolphins use theirs to outsmart prey and process sound data for ecolocation. Birds of prey use their brainpower to hunt prey over great distances. Pack hunters use theirs to coordinate hunts that are far more effective and take down larger prey than solo hunters like the big cats. Humans and chimps use their intelligence to organize societal structures more complex than alpha/subordinate packs, use tools to augment their physical abilities.

    Are you asking why other civilized species haven’t emerged? How could they, we’ve filled that niche in every part of the world, we’ve even moved into many where civilization could never get started, or even sustained without moving resources in from other areas. Some evidence suggests that at times in our evolution, there were other hominids in the world. We either outcompeted them for resources, killed them off actively, or if some theories are correct hybridized them into extinction. The only way a new civilization could hope to form is if we were eliminated, either globally or at least from a huge enough area.

    Even then, an animal would have to stumble into a similar niche that we did, where intelligence, along with all it’s disadvantages (our brains need a lot of energy or our vaunted intelligence diminishes. Our young are born early and helpless because a mother can’t fit a fully developed brain through her pelvis) is still a beneficial step.

    (6) In what way have sharks and echinoids evolved in the past 400 hundred million years?

    The modern species people are mostly familiar have largely superficial differences. Great whites are much smaller than megaladons, perhaps because big whales are too big to effectively hunt even for a megaladon, and smaller prey like dolphins wouldn’t fill the belly of a truely giant shark.

    Sharks especially are supremely good at what they do physically, to the point that there’s not much room for improvement. Without pressure, evolution slows down and no significant new features develop. Long periods of stability are normal in evolution, and there’s a few animals, like sharks, that have found a niche that they’re so good at that, that stability has lasted for ages as the world changes around them. They’re speed and senses make them unparalleled hunters and let them evade larger animals that might prey on them – say a new strain of sperm whale with a taste for sharks instead of squid. Their prey has not evolved to resist them, most prey fish employ the breed-like-hell method and produce more young than predators can eat – as sharks get better at hunting them, they breed MORE. And, to date, a predator has not emerged that can effectively hunt the bigger sharks. Few fish can compete with sharks on their own terms, and those that can (barracuda, for example) are still on the menu for a big shark.

    If, for some reason, many fish go extinct, and the surviving species are things like flounder that are well camouflaged or loricariids that are armored, sharks might finally be forced to change their game, or they may go extinct and be replaced by a new top predator that can handle the new prey menu. But as long as the ocean is full of mass-breeding egglayers like it is now, sharks are about as good as they’ll ever get.

  57. “intelligence isn’t the goal of evolution.”

    I could insert so many jokes here but I’ll refrain.

    If intelligence isn’t the goal of evolution, then why is man intelligent?

    That’s some accident.

  58. Darth Robo

    Oil

    >>>”I don’t know of any Christians who think ID is nonsense. I believe that would be a blatant logical contradiction.”

    Francis Collins is one such Christian who accepts evolution and does not accept Intelligent Design. So do you admit Intelligent Design is Creationism? Is Francis Collins a creationist? And does ID have any validity as a scientific theory? If it does, could you please explain the “science part” of ID?

    >>>“Do you think that ‘God’ is incompatible with The Big Bang and/or the Theory of Evolution?”

    No.

    >>>“Do you yourself accept the Big Bang or Evolution?”

    No. I do not accept any hypothesis until they have been tested and verified by experiment. It’s called the scientific method.

    I see. A search on Pubmed reveals 107196 articles on evolution. The Big Bang theory is currently accepted cosmological model of the universe. Do you have evidence which contradicts either? And more importantly, I ask again, do you have any alternative explanations that do the job better?

  59. kuhnigget

    If intelligence isn’t the goal of evolution, then why is man intelligent?

    Because he is.

    Seriously, there is no reason. It just happened. And for now, it seems to have given us an edge. But stick around for another million years and see if works out in the long run.

    That’s some accident.

    Yup. See, you’re still assuming that there is some goal to evolution, that it’s unwinding according to a plan. That point of view does not match the natural world and creates a skewed perception of what evolution is all about. Until you overcome that incorrect assumption, you will never understand the power of natural selection.

  60. John Phillips, FCD

    OilIsMastery: If eating dung isn’t the goal of evolution, why do dung beetles eat dung.

    For, ironically, the natural world can do without us, but it can’t do without dung beetles.

    We could play this game for ever and a day, but it would still be an invalid argument. For it to be a valid argument you first have to show that intelligence is the goal of evolution.

  61. Darth,

    I cannot comment on Francis Collins but suffice it to say you can find someone who believes almost anything. I don’t know how someone can say they believe in God and then simultanously reject Intelligent Design. What design does he believe in Retarded Design?

    “A search on Pubmed reveals 107196 articles on evolution.”

    That’s supposed to mean something?

    “The Big Bang theory is currently accepted cosmological model of the universe.”

    Science, like all human endeavors, is subject to fads and fallacies (Thornhill).

    “Do you have evidence which contradicts either?”

    Do you have any evidence that contradicts the existence of God?

    “do you have any alternative explanations that do the job better?”

    There are alternatives to Big Bang Cosmology. The fact that you’re unaware of them is a symptom of censorhip and peer-review. Look up Plasma Cosmology. Plasma: the other 99.99% of the universe.

  62. Kuhnigget,

    I will understand the power of natural selection when pigs fly. Unfortunately DNA prevents that from ever happening.

    John,

    Eating dung is the goal of evolution because eating dung is survival.

  63. John Phillips, FCD

    OilIsMasetrs: You are either a troll badly in need of attention or you don’t realise that you are answering your own arguments, i.e. intelligence is not the goal of evolution, survival is.

  64. Muzz

    Oils here is proving to be the standard creationist type. When actually responded to properly carries on arguing some minute point about ‘But people are smart. That can’t be an accident!’ ignoring that their points about eveolution’s suposed mysteries have been countered repeatedly.
    (next stage; when attention is drawn to this they dismiss said responses as unsatisfactory in as non specific a way as possible)

  65. Darth Robo

    >>>”Darth,

    I cannot comment on Francis Collins but suffice it to say you can find someone who believes almost anything. I don’t know how someone can say they believe in God and then simultanously reject Intelligent Design. What design does he believe in Retarded Design?”

    Perhaps God’s powers are beyond human understanding. But Intelligent Design claims that that is not the case. They claim that there is “evidence” that points to “design” by God, and that it can be determined scientifically. I am still waiting to find out what exactly IS this “evidence” and what their “theory” is.

    >>>”That’s supposed to mean something?”

    It means something to the scientific community. Whether it means something to you doesn’t really matter.

    >>>”Science, like all human endeavors, is subject to fads and fallacies (Thornhill).”

    Maybe so. But if other competing theories are to replace it, the burden of proof is on them. This has been the way throughout history. Heliocentrism wasn’t accepted straight away. Neither was relativity. Nor evolution. Nor the Big Bang. Maybe eventually, we’ll have a better theory. Time will tell.

    >>>”Do you have any evidence that contradicts the existence of God?”

    No. I don’t believe anything can. Hence it is not falsifiable. Hence it cannot be considered scientific. But we both agree that the idea of a God does not contradict the Big Bang or evolution. So you avoided my question: Do you have evidence which contradicts either? And more importantly, I ask again, do you have any alternative explanations that do the job better?

    >>>”There are alternatives to Big Bang Cosmology. The fact that you’re unaware of them is a symptom of censorhip and peer-review. Look up Plasma Cosmology. Plasma: the other 99.99% of the universe.”

    Well, there’s a proposed alternative to the Big Bang. Nothing for evolution. I am aware of peer-review, but not censorship. Quite frankly, it sounds like something Mulder would say.

    >>>”I will understand the power of natural selection when pigs fly. Unfortunately DNA prevents that from ever happening.”

    How so?

  66. Darth,

    If 500 million scientists believe a fallacy it is still a fallacy.

    Heliocentrism shouldn’t be accepted because there is no absolute Cartesian coordinate system with the sun at the center/origin (Einstein).

    Relativity has been empirically falsified because ideal math is not physical material reality.

    38 m.p.h. < c for example.

    And there is no such thing as a vacuum because mathematical space is full of plasma in physical actuality.

    "As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality." — Albert Einstein, physicist, January 1921

    Therefore Kant was correct: space and time are a priori mathematical ideas and not a posteriori physical material things in themselves.

    “I don’t believe anything can. Hence it is not falsifiable. Hence it cannot be considered scientific.”

    How is it possible to falsify the Big Bang when no Big Bang has ever been observed? How is it possible to falsify evolution?

    “How so?”

    Pig DNA does not allow them to grow wings.

  67. ndt

    OilIsMastery Says:
    December 4th, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    I don’t know of any Christians who think ID is nonsense.

    You’ve never heard of Ken Miller?

  68. Nope. He thinks God is unintelligent too?

    Anselm defined his belief in the existence of God using the phrase “that than which nothing greater can be conceived.” I assume that means intelligence not unintelligence.

  69. kuhnigget

    Look up Plasma Cosmology.

    AH-HAAAA!

  70. kuhnigget

    Pig DNA does not allow them to grow wings.

    Unless a mutation allows it.

  71. Davidlpf

    @Oil
    So according to Ken Miller your God.

    And there is no such thing as a vacuum because mathematical space is full of plasma in physical actuality.

    Space as denisty of 1 to 5 hydrogen atoms per square centimeter, if you cal full a guess you can but it is mostly neutral not changed.

  72. John Phillips, FCD

    OIM, Professor Kenneth Miller, professor of biology, Brown university and a catholic. Also author of one of the standard US biology text books who regularly holds lectures ripping apart ID as espoused by the Discovery Institute. You can probably find some of his anti ID lectures on youtube, there is one classic that is some two hours long which methodically tears apart with actual evidence every argument made by IDists about evidence of design.

    BTW, pigs don’t fly, but it is possible for mammals to evolve to fly, ever heard of bats.

  73. Muzz

    How is it possible to falsify evolution?
    Easy; demostrate its evidence does not prove the theory and its testable predictions don’t work. Since this hasn’t happened for evolution by natural selection and it’s been observed in nature it’s going to take a little more than some really bad phenomenology to unseat it.

  74. Muzz

    Ok, those tags didn’t work.
    The italics are loose in the top paddock

  75. “How is it possible to falsify evolution? Easy; demostrate its evidence does not prove the theory and its testable predictions don’t work.”

    So too for theism.

  76. Here’s another argument against evolution (not that I believe it): according to plate tectonics, evolution is impossible.

    “Biogeographic arguments for a closed Pacific (just like biogeographic arguments for a closed Atlantic and closed Indian) are based on evolutionary theory. Specifically, according to the theory of evolution, you can’t have a host of closely-related, poor dispersing taxa suddenly appearing on opposite sides of an ocean — when it is highly improbable for any of the ancestral taxa to cross oceans. So according to the referenced paper above, unless plate tectonic theorists want to rely on divine intervention, a slew of creation stories or a myriad of impossible trans-oceanic crossings of terrestrial taxa, their paleomaps are wrong. Panthalassa could not have existed between all of the hundred plus referenced taxa, which is to say, it didn’t exist.” — Dennis D. McCarthy, geoscientist, October 2003

  77. Zar

    Stein et. al. don’t define ID because they can’t. Because it isn’t anything. It’s not a theory. It’s an anti-theory. It’s not just its supporters who are trolls; ID itself is a troll. It’s like a guy on a message board who only writes, “no no no no no” and, occasionally, “ur ghey”.

  78. I believe several posters have already mentioned this, but what if evolution was intelligently designed? Then what?

  79. Muzz

    What testable predictions does theism make that can be assessed scientifically?

  80. Muzz, theism is testable insofar as Big Bang Cosmology is testable.

  81. Muzz

    Well I’m sure some physicist will be along shortly to contest that one. And while this thread is shortly to be consigned to the ether of old news, what does the big bang theory have to do with whether or not evolution by natural selection is solid theory?

  82. Mark Hansen

    Muzz, the big bang theory is always added into the argument by cdesign proponentists. Because evolution can’t explain the big bang, they say the theory fails. ID can’t explain the big bang either therefore it also fails. But you won’t hear that from them.

  83. Mark Hansen

    OiM, you point out that theism can be falsified by testing its predictions. Could you point out some of these testable predictions?

  84. Jeffersonian

    @David D. Says:
    “Is there really much difference between Expelled and, say, Loose Change, or almost anything by Michael Moore, or (dare I say it) An Inconvenient Truth? These are all biased political docs with obvious axes to grind.”
    I agree with you except for AIT. If you could point me to a website that successfully, and from an unbiased position, refutes the items in that film I’d be interested in taking a look. (I haven’t found one that satisfies yet.)

    @OilIsMastery
    “If intelligence isn’t the goal of evolution, then why is man intelligent?”
    Because all life prefers survival. In our case, we would not have survived had we not developed the capacity to become a dominant species through wits. In our case, intelligence was an advantage. We have an extremely narrow comfort range but are smart enough to make clothes and move beyond narrow climes. As a social networking species we learned to make civilization for distribution of goods/needs, etc. Without this capacity, ours may have been a dead end branch like so many others. Further, we have branches in our line that apparently were NOT intelligent enough to survive. You’re not alive due to an accident are you? Neither is anybody else, but because of a wonderful series of events. In your case, your parents (else you wouldn’t be here). In our species case, our ancestors (else we wouldn’t be here).

    “I don’t know how someone can say they believe in God and then simultaneously reject Intelligent Design.”
    C’mon, now. There are hundreds of theistic religions. (Is it safe to say you ascribe to just one of them?) All my xtian friends reject creationism. There are religions in which the member’s ancestors created God. Early Jews (as described in the bible) believed they had a separate God who didn’t answer to gentiles, thereby refuting ID for man as a species.

    “Do you have any evidence that contradicts the existence of God?”
    That’s just childish coming from someone who claims they understand the scientific method. It’s as valid as me asking you to show evidence that I don’t have an invisible leprechaun in my garage.

    So, you think you have a foot growing out of your forehead?
    (hint: it’s dishonest to put words in people’s mouths that aren’t even close to what they said, such as “He thinks God is unintelligent too?”).

    “according to plate tectonics, evolution is impossible.”
    You’re conflating “Biogeographic arguments for a closed Pacific” with “Plate tectonics”, and then not supporing it by the quote you offer (which appears to argue against creationism). Plate tectonics would be viable without inhabitance by advanced life forms.

    Since you have stated Theism is a scientific theory and can be falsified, care to describe the theory and from which hypothesis it came?

    “but what if evolution was intelligently designed? Then what?”
    Maybe life would be much less diverse.
    But what if it wasn’t? Then what?
    Would your life somehow be different?
    Would the world look any different?
    Of all the creation myths that have been espoused, why the Jewish one?

  85. Darth Robo

    Oil

    >>>”I believe several posters have already mentioned this, but what if evolution was intelligently designed? Then what?”

    What if it was? Evolution is still valid. But then the burden of proof is on those who say evolution was “designed”. I am still not hearing any definition here of what this “designer” is, what evidence there is for it, or what it did, how it did it, when it did it, how to test it or how to falsify it.

    >>>”Here’s another argument against evolution (not that I believe it): according to plate tectonics, evolution is impossible.”

    If you don’t believe it, then why even bring it up? Answer: to cast a shadow of doubt. You seem to be here to play word games.

    Theories make predictions. If these predictions are successful and support the theory, we keep it until more evidence or a better theory comes along. So for now, we keep evolution. There is no other theory that comes close to competing with it. Intelligent Design is simply Creationism with big “sciencey” sounding words. Creationism is unscientific, makes no testable predictions and has no validity. If anyone out there has a “theory” of Intelligent Design, please tell me what it is.

  86. Grant

    @Oil
    “theism is testable insofar as Big Bang Cosmology is testable”

    Oh, really?

  87. Mark Hansen

    Looks like OiM is having a little trouble finding those testable predictions.

  88. IVAN3MAN

    OIM: “… theism is testable insofar as Big Bang Cosmology is testable.”

    Sounds like a load of bollocks!

  89. IVAN3MAN

    I’ll now attempt to fix the italics…

    i {font-style: normal}

  90. BeinSilly

    Ben stein? Is that a drink? ;-)

    ‘Stein’ is german for well one of those big beer glasses .. :-)

    ‘Ben’ (& I kid you not) is Japanese for excrement! ;-)

    Put them together & you get “excrement drink”. Which seems to fit! ;-)

  91. BeinSilly

    Larian LeQuella Said :

    “True Ryan, but we could all hope that the creationists who try to perpetrate this sort of celluloid excrement suddenly find their pants exploding!”

    Urk! Putting the words “excrement” & “pants exploding” togthere like that creates a very unpleasant mental picture …

    Even if “Expelled” was expelled from the backside of a bull with dysentery! ;-)

  92. StevoR

    Can’t get the review to load here .. Sigh. $#@!@ dial up. :-(

    Was looking forward to an entertaining read ..

  93. Jim51

    OilisMastery,
    I was surprised to see you say this…

    “No. I do not accept any hypothesis until they have been tested and verified by experiment. It’s called the scientific method.”

    What about the God hypothesis?
    Jim51

  94. StevoR

    Finally got the review to work on my ‘puter.

    Liked it.

    Nuff said. :-)

  95. Buzz Parsec

    Can we get Mythbusters to test the combustible pants theory? They tested exploding pants once, but I don’t think they tried to use lies as an ignition source.

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