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No intelligence within

Well, I went and saw Expelled. I was not impressed.

The first thing that wasn’t impressive was the fact that the theater had the reels out of order. The first two reels were swapped, so there were no opening credits until a third of the way through the movie (right before they mocked panspermia). That’s not the documentary’s fault, though.

The film opens (for most people, anyway) with a discussion of those who’ve been “expelled” by the “Darwinian establishment” for their pro-ID ways. Unfortunately for Stein, he’s almost entirely wrong about these cases. Everyone likes martyrs, but there aren’t any to be found here.

The film talks all the leading lights of the Discovery Institute and the ID movement along with prominent anti-religion scientists. I characterize them like that for a reason, which I’ll return to in a moment. As other reviews have noted, the film’s lack of any real discussion of ID or evolution is striking. People say it’s science, it’s creationism, it has good supporting evidence, it doesn’t, etc, but there’s not discussion of any of those points. Granted, this is a pro-ID documentary and there really isn’t any pro-ID evidence, but you’d think they’d at least attempt to make the case that ID is a legitimate theory, rather just asserting its legitimacy. No one coming out of that film will have any idea if ID is any more credible than holocaust denial. Also, David Berlinski is sitting in the worst chair for talking head footage. Sit up, dammit.

The flow of the film is somewhat incoherent. We bounce around from talking to IDists, scientists, talking about court cases, watching Ben Stein in Germany, etc, all interspersed with footage from the Soviet Union and the Nazis. Much of the film’s message consists of demanding an open debate in academia about ID. Then they starting talking about court cases over the content of science classes in high schools. They avoid explaining how the two are related in order to pile it on as more suppression of ID. Then they go off and discuss how Darwinism inspired the Nazis. Is the message that we need open debate or that Darwinism causes evil? Of course the connection of Darwinism and the Nazis is quite dishonest. Anti-semitism and selective breeding existed long before Darwin. Science gives us descriptions of the mechanisms of how the world works. A scientific theory does not tell us how to act. It’s a description that’s either true or not true. What made the Nazis so bad was not what scientific opinions they held, but how they acted on them and other beliefs. The documentary could have criticized replacing morality with science, but it didn’t. It criticized Darwinism when it was used for illegitimate purposes.

There’s always lots of controversy about how scientists should engage the public on scientific issues like ID, which is grounded in religion. Someone like Dawkins is an outspoken and very open atheist. In the film he reads a passage describing the Hebrew god from The God Delusion. It’s one of my favorite quotes from the book, but it’s not likely to win anyone over. A similar situation exists with P.Z. Myers and Daniel Dennett, though Myers was very soft spoken and Dennett’s comments were limited. This is sort of an issue, but I don’t think it matters in the end. We who dislike religion should talk about it and we have every right to be angry. What does matter is the dishonesty in using almost exclusively outspoken non-religious scientists as the other side in the movie. Talk to someone like Ken Miller? That would just upend their entire argument. Science has certainly deconverted a lot of people (me included), but you don’t have be an atheist to be a successful scientist. You just can’t ignore the facts and try and publish papers that argue for your religious views and expect scientists to have much respect for you.

In any case, the film does appear to be a flop. I went to a late showing, but there were only four people in the theater, at least three of which weren’t there looking to be convinced of anything. I mean, I assume the guy behind the two of us who called Eugenie Scott a “fucking cunt” was already on a side. I know little about filmmaking, but my brother, a film student, said the documentary appeared to be shot by a “third grader with down syndrome,” so I don’t think it was good from a technical standpoint, either. The documentary is very much the Michael Moore formula, with interspersed animations, footage of the documentarian in his search for truth, attempted gotchas, and entering some place uninvited only to be kicked out. None of it’s done particularly well and with the content being mostly lies and distortions, it doesn’t add up to much of a documentary.

Categories: Culture, Religion, Science
  1. April 28, 2008 at 11:51 am

    I just want to add… I’m not trying to insult the mentally handicapped or even elementary school children, but honestly: You have all these shots where objects obscure half the frame (“hey hey, let’s dolly across the room and block the dude talking with some books! The kids’ll love it!”), random zoom-ins and un-steady shots in a DOCUMENTARY? I’m sorry, but that amount of “edgy-ness” is reserved for hyper-realistic media like 24. And that’s because it actually works there.

    The blatant Michael Moore ripping off is also pathetic. A silly animation halfway through the film illustrating the overall point? Wow, good thing Bowling For Columbine didn’t do that six years ago. And if I remember correctly, Stein tried to pass off the whole getting kicked out of a building as “waah, they don’t like creationists”. But let’s be realistic: You have Ben Stein, a camera operator, and a guy holding a boom pole running into your building. It’s incredibly intimidating, and you’re not going to make friends with security. At least when Michael Moore did it in Roger & Me he was persistent enough that it eventually got him an interview.

    There were some other subtle little tricks, like showing Dawkins getting powdered up before his interview, which is supposed to make him look pompous and such (the dude behind us scoffed when they showed it, so I guess it worked). Of course they had to do it to both parties, and for EVERY interview. The editor and director of this film display a dishonesty with their craft that is positively jaw-dropping in my view (regardless of whether or not I agree with the film’s message), and I sincerely hope that nobody lets them make anything ever again.

    Oh, and the content was silly too. “Darwinism blarg blarg Nazis! Evil!” is a great line, especially since they go on as if religion has a great track record- you know, like Hitler being Christian, the whole “Crusades” fiasco, pretty much every genocide in human history, etc. But hey, it’s not like anybody is gonna watch the film.

  2. April 30, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Contrary to what you may have taken from that film, any objective viewer would have to say that Dawkins and company looked pretty foolish when they tried to answer the question as to where original life began. On the backs of crystals, seeded by aliens – come now. It seems as if the intelligentsia and academic elite are convinced they can tell us how life didnt begin when they havent the foggiest notion as to how it began.

    The problems of original matter, irreducible complexity, the insufficiency of gentetic mutations to alter the species in a helpful way that can be transmitted to offspring, the laws of thermodynamics, the problems inherent with dating the earth, as well as the evidence for recent global catastrophism – all these make evolution a theory that requires more faith than the Genesis account ever demanded.

  3. April 30, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Contrary to what you may have taken from that film, any objective viewer would have to say that Dawkins and company looked pretty foolish when they tried to answer the question as to where original life began. On the backs of crystals, seeded by aliens – come now. It seems as if the intelligentsia and academic elite are convinced they can tell us how life didnt begin when they havent the foggiest notion as to how it began.

    By objective viewer, I assume you mean a fairly dim viewer. Dawkins and company made it clear they were talking about possible scenarios. I would hope that most people will recognize the anti-intellectualism involved in taking brief summaries of certain ideas and dismissing them out of hand. Some of us have actually read about the scientific hypotheses for the origin of life and aren’t so easily fooled.

    The problems of original matter, irreducible complexity, the insufficiency of gentetic mutations to alter the species in a helpful way that can be transmitted to offspring, the laws of thermodynamics, the problems inherent with dating the earth, as well as the evidence for recent global catastrophism – all these make evolution a theory that requires more faith than the Genesis account ever demanded.

    You might have a point if any of those things were real problems. Since they aren’t, you’re just another creationist who can’t see past his own narrow theology and evolution is the rational conclusion based on the evidence.

  4. May 1, 2008 at 6:28 am

    But, once more, I ask the question, how did life begin? Seems like evolution indeed does worship a god – the god of time. According to you guys, give anything enough time and anything can happen, regardless of the observations of known natural laws. It seems to me that the Olympian mindset of evolutionists is their greatest undoing – they cannot see the facts for their dogged devotion to a theory. Facts must precede the formulation of theories, for theories are nothing but an attempt to explain something based on observation.

    How do you explain the retrograde rotation of Venus, Uranus, and Pluto? If everything came from the Big Bang, then the laws of physics demand that all bodies which spin off this massive sphere spin in the same direction in linear motion. They do not, and to complicate matters further, they are angular, not linear.

    As far as me being another creationist who cant see beyond the narrow theology, how about lets have a rational discussion without insulting one another’s intellectual capabilities. The problems I mentioned are vital to the discussion, especially since this concept of evolution is more than just a scientific idea, it ultimately does influence a world view. And yes, it must be painful to realize that the ultimate conclusion of Darwinian worldview produced Dachau.

  5. May 1, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    And yes, it must be painful to realize that the ultimate conclusion of Darwinian worldview produced Dachau

    See, this is what happens when you get your WWII history from Ben Stein.

    I suggest picking up a history book and learning about things like the Treaty of Versailles, the effects of the great depression in Germany, and how Germany had a history of anti-semitism dating back to the Middle Ages (the First Crusade).

    That way, you could at least pretend like you have a high school education.

  6. May 1, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    But, once more, I ask the question, how did life begin?

    I don’t know, nor is that question answered by the theory of evolution. There are certain things we don’t know, though we have a few ideas. It’s not my fault ID can’t even formulate a testable hypothesis to compete with the scientific ones.

    Seems like evolution indeed does worship a god – the god of time. According to you guys, give anything enough time and anything can happen, regardless of the observations of known natural laws. It seems to me that the Olympian mindset of evolutionists is their greatest undoing – they cannot see the facts for their dogged devotion to a theory. Facts must precede the formulation of theories, for theories are nothing but an attempt to explain something based on observation.

    That’s a very impressive strawman. I’d prefer that you discuss what evolution actually says, but it’s ok if you want to go beat on that thing in the corner.

    How do you explain the retrograde rotation of Venus, Uranus, and Pluto? If everything came from the Big Bang, then the laws of physics demand that all bodies which spin off this massive sphere spin in the same direction in linear motion. They do not, and to complicate matters further, they are angular, not linear.

    I thought we were talking about evolution. That word doesn’t mean “science that conflicts with my theology.” What’s your alternative hypothesis, God made the planets go backwards to impress us?

    As far as me being another creationist who cant see beyond the narrow theology, how about lets have a rational discussion without insulting one another’s intellectual capabilities. The problems I mentioned are vital to the discussion, especially since this concept of evolution is more than just a scientific idea, it ultimately does influence a world view.

    I’m not impressed with the intellectual capability of anyone who thinks the laws of thermodynamics conflict with evolution. Sorry. And no, evolution is not more than a scientific idea. It explains observations we’ve made about the natural world. It does not assign value to any fact or process of nature, it describes them. The fact of believing certain things happen for certain reasons doesn’t imply you believe those things or reasons are moral. That’s the job of whatever “world view” you have. Evolution is either true or it isn’t. Presumably you aren’t saying however we believe nature works is automatically what we think is moral. I will absolutely start questioning your intellectual capabilities if you are.

    And yes, it must be painful to realize that the ultimate conclusion of Darwinian worldview produced Dachau.

    Yes, in much the same way you find it hard to look at the mirror because of all those suicide bombers killing innocent people because of religion.

  7. May 2, 2008 at 9:50 am

    I have absolutely no problem whatsoever looking in the mirror. I am proud of the impact Christianity has made on civilization – dont see too many orphanages caring the poor that have been started by died in the wool atheists. I cant speak for the impact other religions have made. As for the crusades, well, lets say that was a drk page but the facts have been largely ignored and the conflict is always portrayed as being purely the fault of European Christians without any responsibility going to the Muslim incursion in Europe centuries earlier.

    Conversely, I do see a lot of harm that has come from a worldview that is purely naturalistic. 250,000,000 died under the atheisitc regimes of communism. Evolutionary theory was a driving force behind the Master Race idea of Hitler, thus he wanted to rid the world of useless eaters. when you look at people merely as animals then the only law that governs their behavior is survival of the fittest. The bullying problem we have in schools now is in large part to a one sided worldview that views everything as being naturalistic. If students are taught that there is the possibility that they are made in the image of God, and that every human being alive has purpose, then the person can develop guiding principles about relationships that respects all life- regardless of color, capabilities, ethnicity, or other differences. I am sure you realize the argument inherent in the abortion conflict. No surprise that Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, was a Nazi who believed that the poor should reproduce and thus established her lucratively federally funded monopoly called Planned Parenthood to keep low level breeders from reproducing.

    Science must deal with fact, not just ideas. The fact is, evolution nor creation can be proved. What I see as being intellectually dishonest is that evolution is taught as though there were eyewitnesses in place observing the whole thing. True, there were no eyewitnesses to creation either, except the eyes of the Creator, but to teach evolution as fact when it is at best a very weak theory without including an alternative perspective for which there is ample evidence is not education, but rather indoctrination. And I must say when I look at the sad state of affairs in our culture, I would say that indoctrination has been pretty effective.

    Once again, evolutionists suchas Dawkins propose to definitely tell us how life didnt begin – that there is absolutely no chance God made it happen, all the while telling us we cant be certain how it began. This is a universal negative, and thus cannot be science.

  8. May 2, 2008 at 11:00 am

    One question I have in all these counterpoints. Is it customary to always question the intellect of the person who holds a viewpoint contrary to the establishment?

    I honestly seek to have a dialogue concerning the origins of life and the scientific problems inherent with Darwinism. Can we do that and leave off the insinuations of stupidity?

  9. May 2, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    One question I have in all these counterpoints. Is it customary to always question the intellect of the person who holds a viewpoint contrary to the establishment?

    No, it’s customary to question the intellect of the person who makes stupid claims that have been repeatedly debunked.

    I honestly seek to have a dialogue concerning the origins of life and the scientific problems inherent with Darwinism.

    I don’t believe you. You describe your response as a counterpoint, but you haven’t addressed anything I said. You’re not talking about science, you’re blaming atheism and “Darwinism” for certain historical events. You’re attempting to smear science by association. I explained to you why evolution is like any other scientific idea and why you can’t blame it for the evils you’re describing. You then restated your position. You build strawman after strawman to try and knock down, showing you haven’t even done the basic research about this topic, aside from uncritically accepting stale creationist talking points. Evolution is taught as if there were eyewitnesses? Scientists say there’s no chance that life was created by a god? You can’t have a discussion when you can’t even characterize your opponents’ positions in a recognizable fashion. You can’t expect a debate about science when you say one scientific position is evil incarnate.

    This is why I question your intellect. You aren’t able to go beyond creationist talking points. I pointed out that evolution is a description of the world and that you need an ethical philosophy to make determinations about meaning and morality. I pointed out that the idea of selective breeding predates Darwin. So does the idea of “survival of the fittest,” by the way. You’re taking issue with treating the outcome of natural processes as determining the moral worth of human beings. Fantastic, I agree with you. That’s a specific world view (or aspect of a larger one) that almost no one who accepts evolution actually believes in. It’s a separate idea. It’s saddening that it took hold of people and allowed Nazism (though National Socialism is far more complicated than that) and Eugenics to become as popular as they did. But this has nothing to do with whether evolution is true or not and is not implied in any form whatsoever by the theory.

    If you want to have a discussion about that, fine. You haven’t acted as if you’re interested in anything other than repeating old anti-science canards.

  10. May 4, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    Why then havent any of the points I mentioned earlier been addressed? Here’s another one. If dating methods are so reliable, then why have the lava flows from Mt. St. Helens been dated between 2 and 3 million years, when we know they have only been formed in the past three decades?

    If radioisotope dating methods dont work on rocks of which we know the age, how then can we assume it worls on rock of unknown age?

  11. May 4, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Again, exactly what I mean. Instead of having a conversation, you bring up another debunked creationist claim (hint: maybe creationists shouldn’t date rocks with methods that we know and expect not to work on certain age rocks). Can you really not go beyond regurgitating creationist pablum?

    Like I said, you don’t seem to be interested in a discussion. Discussions don’t start by spouting a list of creationist claims, ignoring the responses made to some of them, then complaining that some things haven’t been addressed. I’m not here to answer old creationist talking points for you. That’s why we have Talk Origins.

    If you want to take issue with something I wrote or a response I have written to you, do so. I’m not going to indulge your inability to research creationist talking points.

  12. May 5, 2008 at 6:10 am

    Once again, why dont you address the retrograde rotation of venus and other planetary objects? why dont you address how gravity and fluid dynamics came about in the universe? how come I hear no explanation as to why genetic mutations only alter existing structures without imparting new genetic information that the species can then pass on to its offspring? the fact that evolution says things go from no state to a disorganized state to an organized state defies every law known to man! How come I havent heard an explanation for that? In all of the responses, I have heard how I am unintelligent and uninformed because I believe in a Creator instead of the preposterous notion that aliens seeded life here on earth.

    Irreducible complexity is the knockout blow for evolution. If a fish grows lungs instead of gills – he doesnt move up the evolutionary chain, instead he drowns. Organisms cannot evolve piecemeal. They have to change wholesale into another creature via mutation (something that doesnt happen) or they go extinct. Animals that reproduce sexually would have had to wait for evolution to get it right not once, but twice, while waiting for a mate of the opposite gender. What then would have happened to the incipient creature? He or she would have died waiting for evolution to get it right.

    I know full well what evolution teaches, at least now. Of course, its always changing. In the end, why dont you guys at least come out and say that what you have is a theory at best unsubstantiated by many difficulties instead of boldy proclaiming as though you saw it all happen. Go ahead and believe in your space aliens. I choose to believe in an Intellignet Designer. His name is Jesus, an omniscient and infinitely good God Who formed all things in six literal twenty four hour periods for a distinct reason and purpose.

    In the end, as TD Jakes so aptly said, “I would rather go through life believing there is a God and after death find out that there was none, than to got through life believing there is no God, only to wake and find that there is.”

  13. May 5, 2008 at 10:47 am

    I believe in a Creator instead of the preposterous notion that aliens seeded life here on earth

    Yes, because an invisible omnipotent, omnipresent man living in the sky is FAR less ridiculous than carbon-based lifeforms living elsewhere in the universe.

    Also: Nobody claimed that aliens seeded life on earth. The point is that if anyone is going to accept something as unlikely as a “creator”, the only logical explanation would be extra-terrestrials.

    “I would rather go through life believing there is a God and after death find out that there was none, than to got through life believing there is no God, only to wake and find that there is.”

    I’d much rather live honestly the only life that I surely have, than live according to the insurance policy of “oh shit, God might beat me up if I don’t believe in him.”

  14. May 5, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    *sigh* Fine, since we’re not getting anywhere with me trying to get you to actually care what I write, we’ll try it this way.

    Once again, why dont you address the retrograde rotation of venus and other planetary objects?

    Reality is messy. Rocks bounce off other rocks, causing them to spin. Note that they don’t have retrograde orbits, but rotation, which would hardly take a lot to cause.

    why dont you address how gravity and fluid dynamics came about in the universe?

    I don’t know. There are interesting ideas about symmetry breaking, but we don’t know everything about the universe. General Relativity says gravity is the result of the bending of space.

    I’ll take this moment to disagree with your general line of questioning. Trying to poke holes in modern science (not just evolution) is half of what you need to do to rationally justify your position. The other half is provide evidence for your position. Creationists are even worse at that part of these discussions. “God of the gaps” is a bad argument. It seems to me that we don’t need a god to explain a lot of things that used to be explained in that way. And we haven’t yet come up with something that needs that explanation. So I think it’s pretty prudent to assume that trend will continue.

    how come I hear no explanation as to why genetic mutations only alter existing structures without imparting new genetic information that the species can then pass on to its offspring?

    Genetic mutation includes duplication.

    the fact that evolution says things go from no state to a disorganized state to an organized state defies every law known to man!

    So, procreation defies every law of nature? That’s simple to complex. Things go from simple to complex all the time. Your confusion is that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics applies to closed systems like the Universe and that it’s a general rule. Decreases in entropy can be balanced by increases in entropy elsewhere.

    In all of the responses, I have heard how I am unintelligent and uninformed because I believe in a Creator instead of the preposterous notion that aliens seeded life here on earth.

    I think we have a couple of misunderstandings here. I think you’re uninformed because of specific claims you’re making, not your overall belief in a creator. I think that’s wrong, too, but I’m not going to mock anyone for believing it, unless their specific belief involves believing things that are obviously wrong. So, being a YEC is preposterous and silly, but a deist who believes in a creator is simply wrong. Also, I don’t believe aliens had anything to do with life on Earth. That’s part of intelligent design, which I said I disagree with.

    Irreducible complexity is the knockout blow for evolution. If a fish grows lungs instead of gills – he doesnt move up the evolutionary chain, instead he drowns.

    Sounds like natural selection to me. Also, saying things like “move up the evolutionary chain” is another reason why I don’t think you actually understand evolution. There’s no moving up a chain. There’s no next rung an organism is striving for. Changes occur. Organisms with helpful changes survive at a higher rate, organisms with non-helpful ones survive at the same or a lower rate.

    Organisms cannot evolve piecemeal. They have to change wholesale into another creature via mutation (something that doesnt happen) or they go extinct. Animals that reproduce sexually would have had to wait for evolution to get it right not once, but twice, while waiting for a mate of the opposite gender. What then would have happened to the incipient creature? He or she would have died waiting for evolution to get it right.

    I don’t think you understand speciation very well. Species isn’t a hard category. It’s pretty fuzzy and change is pretty gradual. A good example is two populations splitting apart geographically. Each population changes gradually and differently, due to changes in selection pressures in the different environments. The small changes accumulate and eventually the organisms are different enough between each population that they can’t reproduce anymore. None of the individual changes within a population happened fast enough to disrupt reproduction, but their accumulation does.

    I know full well what evolution teaches, at least now. Of course, its always changing.

    Good science means looking at the evidence and modifying a theory as necessary. Notably, the basics of evolutionary theory haven’t needed an overhaul since Darwin and have been further strengthened by genetics and the numerous transitional fossils we’ve found.

    In the end, why dont you guys at least come out and say that what you have is a theory at best unsubstantiated by many difficulties instead of boldy proclaiming as though you saw it all happen.

    All scientific theories are incomplete and scientists will be happy to tell you that – that’s why they have a job. No one acts as if they saw it happen. Other than creationists, I mean. You guys seem awfully sure.

    Go ahead and believe in your space aliens. I choose to believe in an Intellignet Designer.

    Space aliens would be an Intelligent Designer, funnily enough.

    His name is Jesus, an omniscient and infinitely good God Who formed all things in six literal twenty four hour periods for a distinct reason and purpose.

    And you have no evidence that this happened. Hey, isn’t Jesus just part of whatever god you believe in? A third of it or something? Maybe just the holy ghost created the world. Well, I guess Jesus could have done some of it and the father did the rest. Oh wait, aren’t they supposed to be all sort of one, even though there’s three of them? Well no, then you wouldn’t have given Jesus credit for creation, him being just one…facet.

    In the end, as TD Jakes so aptly said, “I would rather go through life believing there is a God and after death find out that there was none, than to got through life believing there is no God, only to wake and find that there is.”

    Oh. I thought we were supposed to believe what we could rationally conclude based on the evidence. I didn’t realize we could choose what we liked better. I’ll have to give that a try.

  15. May 6, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    However, even though changes do occur within the species, mutation doesnt effect changes to the degree that organisms become another species altogether. Take the bat, for instance. By the time bats occur in the fossil record, they are already fully formed. These gradual changes occur, but they are limited and dont turn birds into reptiles or amphibians into mammals. That simply doesnt happen.

    The biggest question is, Where did life begin? Are you willing to admit that living things can come from non-living things?

    Since your theory about the origin of life is not for certain, why are you so opposed to having an alternate view of origins explained that might explain things differently from evolution? I think the debate in the classroom would be good. Are you guys willing to have it, or are you going to slap on the separation of church and state label and silence all dissent?

  16. May 6, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    However, even though changes do occur within the species, mutation doesnt effect changes to the degree that organisms become another species altogether. Take the bat, for instance. By the time bats occur in the fossil record, they are already fully formed. These gradual changes occur, but they are limited and dont turn birds into reptiles or amphibians into mammals. That simply doesnt happen.

    That simply isn’t true. Your example is misleading, since bat skeletons are not particularly conducive to fossilization. We wouldn’t expect to have much of a record of them. However, what we do have isn’t simply a few specimens of “fully formed” bats. We have fossils that lack the ear structures necessary for echolocation and have bigger eyes and larger skulls, probably for hunting in the day time. The fact is we have numerous transitional forms illustrating changes greater than just species to species. Take hominids, for example. We have fossils like Australopithecus afarensis, moving through Homo Habilis, Homo Erectus, and modern humans. Amusingly, if you look at creationist works on hominid fossils, we see a nice transition. Most of them claim the earlier fossils are modern apes, then as we get more recent more of them claim the fossils are definitely moder humans. The fact is, there are lots of transitions in the fossil record. There’s a great book called Evolution, by Donald Prothero that goes through tons of them, explaining the transitions.

    Also, if you’re going to claim changes within species are limited, you need to explain the mechanism for this and provide some evidence. There’s no reason to assume that variation is capped from anything we’ve seen.

    The biggest question is, Where did life begin? Are you willing to admit that living things can come from non-living things?

    Um, yes? The divide between living and non-living isn’t as clear-cut as it seems.

    Since your theory about the origin of life is not for certain, why are you so opposed to having an alternate view of origins explained that might explain things differently from evolution? I think the debate in the classroom would be good. Are you guys willing to have it, or are you going to slap on the separation of church and state label and silence all dissent?

    I’m opposed to putting religion in a science class. High school science students should be taught the current scientific consensus and the scientific method (and some history might not be a bad idea). ID is not science, it’s religion. Come up with some hypotheses, predictions, anything. You act as if this is some new thing that’s being unfairly silenced. ID doesn’t have anything that creationism doesn’t have and all of it has been addressed. This is no different that excluding the point of view of those deny that germs cause disease or that the holocaust happened from classrooms. Come up with some ideas that don’t require your religion and do some actual science. You’ll find that things work a lot more smoothly. Scientific hypotheses about the origin of life have evidence and logic behind them, even if they’re far from complete. ID has no evidence, nothing we can actually evaluate. It’s nothing more than attempting to poke holes in modern science and declare itself the winner by default. It’s completely irrational.

    Unsurprisingly, you just sort of skipped most of my responses to your points, as you’ve done previously. Is there a reason for this? Am I to assume that you agree with me on those points?

  17. May 7, 2008 at 10:39 am

    So once again , in the face of scientific experiment, particularly those performed by Francesco Redi and Louis Pasteur, you still hold the position that given enough time, living things can emerge from non – living things. Where is the proof ? Who is being unscientific here? Unfortunately, this same line of thinking that silences all dissent is the same practiced by these global warming alarmists whose policies are now wrecking the US economy.

    As to the other points I didnt respond to, please dont at all think that I agree with you. I am not a proponent of ID. I am a literal 24 hour creationist. I think it is much more logical to believe in a God Who created everything than to believe that all this complexity just came about by accident and happenstance.

  18. Fate
    May 7, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    “I think it is much more logical to believe in a God Who created everything than to believe that all this complexity just came about by accident and happenstance.”

    Well.. theres your problem then.

  19. May 7, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    So once again , in the face of scientific experiment, particularly those performed by Francesco Redi and Louis Pasteur, you still hold the position that given enough time, living things can emerge from non – living things. Where is the proof ? Who is being unscientific here?

    You’d think I’d have caught on by now, but it completely didn’t click that you were going for that creationist talking point with your question. You do realize there’s a difference between spontaneous generation and modern abiogensis theories, right? I don’t believe non-living matter can generate living organisms fully formed. I’m talking about something more gradual, where we go from inorganic molecules to organic molecules to polymers, primitive replicators, protocells, etc. That’s the general process and nothing suggests it can’t be done. We have bits and pieces and interesting ideas about the other parts. “God did it” has the explanatory power of attributing gravity to tiny invisible leprechauns. It relies on numerous problematic assumptions and still leaves the question of why unanswered. Unless you want to bring in more unwarranted assumptions and say the BIble is the word of a god.

    Unfortunately, this same line of thinking that silences all dissent is the same practiced by these global warming alarmists whose policies are now wrecking the US economy.

    What the hell? That doesn’t even make sense. What line of thinking? That religion shouldn’t be in school or that abiogensis is possible?

    As to the other points I didnt respond to, please dont at all think that I agree with you. I am not a proponent of ID. I am a literal 24 hour creationist.

    I didn’t say agree with me overall, just the specific points you made. I mean, I read where you said you wanted a discussion and demanded that I reply to you. I did and you just dropped the issues. That’s not really a discussion. It’s more like you thought you could fling a bunch of shit at me and maybe I’d be overwhelmed and unable to answer. Sadly for you, I’ve heard all of this before.

    I think it is much more logical to believe in a God Who created everything than to believe that all this complexity just came about by accident and happenstance.

    Well, this is why we have science, so we can go gather evidence, make predictions, before experiments, etc and get close to the truth about the natural world in a rigorous, objective manner. We don’t have to rely on what you or I think is intuitively more likely. Of course, since the answer turned out to be something you don’t like, I can see why you’d regress to that statement.

    Also, one more for the uninformed list: evolution is not accident and happenstance. Natural selection is not random.

  20. May 7, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Yes , and I suppose that monkeys can type out at random “Mary had a little lamb.” The mathematical possibility that life can arise from non-living things is so infinitely small that it is 1:10 with 60 zeros behind it. The silencing of dissent is exactly what Expelled is all about. Kind of like this global warming garbage. Here we are in the throes of a recession because environmental extremists have dictated energy policy for the past several years. The science simply isnt there. Like evolution, if there are any out there not going along with the status quo they are silenced.

    Since your religion of atheism is in the schools and currently dooming another entire generation to living without any purpose and meaning, I think we should have equal time. What’s the matter, afraid the notion that there is a loving God Who created for a purpose every man and woman will ruin your new world order? I can prove creation just about as much as you guys can prove evolution. Why not equal time?

  21. May 7, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    Yes , and I suppose that monkeys can type out at random “Mary had a little lamb.” The mathematical possibility that life can arise from non-living things is so infinitely small that it is 1:10 with 60 zeros behind it.

    No, it’s not. Such a possibility is impossible to calculate. Creationists take their bizarre idea of what abiogenesis hypotheses say and do ridiculous calculations based on a single trial. Completely absurd. I suggest this article if you want to be disabused of this notion. But you don’t really care, so you won’t read it.

    The silencing of dissent is exactly what Expelled is all about. Kind of like this global warming garbage. Here we are in the throes of a recession because environmental extremists have dictated energy policy for the past several years. The science simply isnt there. Like evolution, if there are any out there not going along with the status quo they are silenced.

    Seriously? I’m even less impressed with your knowledge of economics than I am with your knowledge of science. You realize the housing market just collapsed, right? It’s nothing to do with environmentalists, who have hardly had control of energy policy at all. And as I pointed out, the people behind Expelled are essentially lying about the so-called expulsions in the movie.

    Since your religion of atheism is in the schools and currently dooming another entire generation to living without any purpose and meaning, I think we should have equal time.

    Aww, so cute. Atheism is a religion? Gee, never heard that one before. Seriously, if you don’t want to waste the effort, I can just write a script that will generate a random mishmash of creationist talking points. It’d be pretty straightforward, since you rarely respond to anything counter to them.

    Good heavens, my life has no meaning! I wonder why I don’t just go shoot myself. It’s almost as if I enjoy my life without living in fear of an irrational authority figure watching my every move. One wonders how I even made through college, how I hold down a respectable job, and how I’ve never been in even the slightest amount of trouble with the authorities (you know, the ones I can actually see).

    What’s the matter, afraid the notion that there is a loving God Who created for a purpose every man and woman will ruin your new world order? I can prove creation just about as much as you guys can prove evolution. Why not equal time?

    Ooh, now we’ve moved to high school debate tactics: trying to bully your opponent with false claims about fairness, claiming he’s afraid. I’m impressed Steve, you’ve moved beyond creationist talking points and onto schoolboy debate tactics. What new world order do I want to impose on you, Steve? I’d love to know. I thought I wanted people to stop trying to oppress others because they dislike their lifestyle or religion, for people to not have to live in fear and actually treat others with tolerance and respect. Still, I’m sure with your deep understanding of atheists and evolution, you can give us some penetrating insights into our master plan (hint: our real plan is to force you to renounce God and marry a guy).

    You’re also starting to repeat yourself. I answered this question once. Evolution has evidence to support it. Lots of good evidence, like genetics and transitional fossils. Creationism has a collection of old lies and half-truths disguising a fundamentalist religious agenda. You don’t get to put that in public school science classes. We have higher standards than that.

    So, are you going to admit that you were lying about wanting a dialogue or are you just going to slink off eventually?

  22. Jay Stevens
    May 8, 2008 at 9:44 am

    Nice smackdown!

    Isn’t one of the theories out there about rapid evolution, thanks to “island biospheres”? I read “Beak of the Finch” and “Song of the Dodo” years ago, but I can’t remember the details. Something like, evolution occurs rapidly on small, enclosed distinct ecosystems (like an island), and when rapid enviromental disaster occurs (a falling meteorite?), those species that have acclimated to the new conditions, thanks to resemblance to their specific niche, proliferate suddenly.

    As I recall, in “Beak of the Finch,” scientist saw new species of finch evolve on the Galapagos Islands in their lifetimes. And the conditions on the different islands caused species to emerge that were suited to the ecosystems of the islands they inhabited.

    Cool stuff. Great books for anyone actually interested in evolution.

  23. May 8, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Seems to me like abiogenesis is just old spontaneous generation repackaged. Of course, something tells me that even if God were to come to your living room and call something out of nothing, you would still hold to the view that relinquishes man from his accountablility to God.

    I hope you find this article helpful as we continue the discussion.

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v18/i2/abiogenesis.asp

    As far as economics are concerned, there are only four percent of mortgages currently in default (those facts are from Neil Cavuto, Fox News Business). The media has stirred the hype on this because they are totally committed to bringing down George Bush and the Republicans. As far as the energy policy goes, it has been the environmental wacko nut liberals that has blocked drilling in ANWAR, off the continental shelf in the Atlantic, as well as other places. If they began building another refinery, it would take ten years to get it online and running because of environmental lawsuits brought by dissatisfied old marxists who have found a home in the environmental movement.

  24. May 8, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Seems to me like abiogenesis is just old spontaneous generation repackaged.

    I’m not surprised. There’s a reason I keep calling you uninformed. No one believes maggots spontaneously form from rotting meat. What I’m talking about is a series of chemical reactions over a long period of time, given the right conditions.

    Of course, something tells me that even if God were to come to your living room and call something out of nothing, you would still hold to the view that relinquishes man from his accountablility to God.

    I suppose that’s the beauty of being a fundamentalist: you don’t actually have to know someone to judge them. You have your neat little ideology and you have to make people fit into it. You have to ignore the fact that I could believe in a judgmental God while still believing in evolution and that I’ve known Christians who were far more “sinful” than I am. I mean, accountability? All I’d have to do is ask for forgiveness. How hard is that?

    I hope you find this article helpful as we continue the discussion.

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v18/i2/abiogenesis.asp

    Nope, same old creationist attempts to discredit Miller-Urey. Never mind that the experiment has been replicated under a wide variety of atmospheric conditions and the early Earth’s atmosphere likely had very little oxygen. Modern theories of abiogenesis go far beyond Miller-Urey. You’ll have to do much better than that to discredit the whole of it.

    And of course, I’ve said before, we don’t know how all of this happened. The idea that a god did it has no evidence and no way to confirm or deny it. I can live with “I don’t know,” but I’m certainly not going to give any credence to ideas that have as many problems and gaps as an intelligent designer.

    As far as economics are concerned, there are only four percent of mortgages currently in default (those facts are from Neil Cavuto, Fox News Business). The media has stirred the hype on this because they are totally committed to bringing down George Bush and the Republicans.

    Um, not many are blaming Bush for the housing market, so far as I can tell. Besides, Republicans are doing a fine job bringing themselves down. Plus, the housing collapse isn’t simply about how many mortgages defaulted. It’s brought to the fore a lot of issues in our financial markets. Perception is a big factor in our economy. I’m not surprised at your comment, though. The world is much simpler when you can just blame a problem on environmentalists, atheists, liberals, gays, etc (and I’m only two of those, by the way), rather than grappling with the complexities of our society.

    As far as the energy policy goes, it has been the environmental wacko nut liberals that has blocked drilling in ANWAR, off the continental shelf in the Atlantic, as well as other places. If they began building another refinery, it would take ten years to get it online and running because of environmental lawsuits brought by dissatisfied old marxists who have found a home in the environmental movement.

    The Energy Department stated that ANWR would affect oil prices by less than a dollar a barrel and we’d only depending on foreign oil 4% less than we are now. That’s your economic savior? I think not. Our economy is in much more trouble than we can fix by simply drilling in more places.

  25. May 9, 2008 at 5:35 am

    Your response is always ” nope, same old creationist blah , blah, blah.”

    Just proves Stein’s point totally.

    No sense wasting any more time on this liberal blog. The closemindedness is appalling.

  26. May 9, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    nah nah nah nah
    nah nah nah nah
    hey hey hey
    goodbye…

    Nice work Jeff!

  27. May 9, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Nice to know that some poor 6th grader has to put up with that guy every week in Nebraska…

  28. Jay Stevens
    May 9, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    It’s funny when *sshats like that call you “close minded.” To them, “closeminded” means you refuse to have faith that everything they say is the gospel truth, despite the lack of reason or evidence behind their views.

  29. May 10, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    it has been the environmental wacko nut liberals that has blocked drilling in ANWAR

    I don’t why, but it still amazes me that certain Christians only love those brothers who vote like thine selves.

    And when do we get to stop hearing every fundamentalist copycat Rick Warren? Everyone has a “purpose” (gag); it’s whatever they want to accomplish on a specific day in their lives.

  30. Devind77
    May 15, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    I read that whole discussion, Jeff, and I have to hand it to you, you managed to handle that guy pretty well. Whenever I run into someone like that, I just freeze up at the onslaught of stupidity. I’ve been wondering for a while now why the creationists are so feverish and panicked in their debating style, and as I was reading Steve’s many responses and how they became more and more vague and vicious I began to think it’s because they are afraid.

    I mean afraid of everything. Of their god, of their government, of the possibility that they might be wrong, of everything. It really kind of made me feel sorry for the guy.

  1. May 7, 2008 at 11:03 pm
  2. May 9, 2008 at 11:20 am

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