Monday, July 07, 2008



For a bit of the ol' "good news, bad news" meme, there is this review by Scott McKeen in the Edmonton Journal of our favorite cinematic speed bag:

It is aptly titled. But only because you have to check your intelligence at the door to buy this one.

Expelled, a propaganda piece by the religious right, fails to argue justly for a place in science for the divine. Instead, it insults the intelligence by blaming Darwin and evolution for Hitler, Nazis, the Holocaust, eugenics and pretty much every other evil concocted by humankind.

Darwin should be ashamed. But only because the asinine creators of this movie were naturally selected ahead of other possible sperm-egg combinations.

Neatly skewered. But then there is the other half of the equation:

The flaw in Charles Darwin's pre-eminent theory is its failure to explain why some humans de-evolve to infant primates when debating the existence of God.

Put atheists in the same room as the devout and, well, it's back to the sandbox. (There is a God; no there isn't -- is/isn't, is/isn't, is/isn't.)

The combatants are so entrenched in their world views that if God were to arrive one day in the town square, two things would happen: The pious would go "Na-Na Na Na-Na," and the atheists would punch them in the face, then go to hell. ...

[U]ber atheist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins -- he wrote The God Delusion -- is so dead-set against the idea of a God-soaked universe that he prefers the idea of aliens seeding the Earth with life. ...

Dawkins argues that he's only citing aliens to make a point. But his lack of respect for people of faith is both arrogant and galling.

As an Apathetic Agnostic ("We don't know and we don't care.") myself, I have, on occasion, been moved to remonstrate some of the more outré attacks on religion by atheists. But it seems to me that anyone wielding such an acid pen as McKeen's would be well advised to refrain from charges of arrogance and name-calling.

But, hey! What do I know?

Dave S. said...

I don't get it. Don't the ID advocates themselves posit aliens (or time travellers) as potential candidates for The Designer(s)? They don't mean it of course, but they need some way of indicating that ID isn't just another name for God. They have to pretend it needn't necessarily be the Big Kahuna. So why chide Dawkins for taking the very same notion? Besides, unlike Heaven, we at least have empirical evidence that other planets exist.
When you don't have an actual theory (other than "Goddidit") there is no incentive to avoid the easy ad hoc response. Claim that ID is religion and they can respond that "the Designer" could be an alien. If a scientist discusses the possibility of aliens designing life on Earth, they can ridicule him because the Designer being an alien is not part of their "theory." Claim that much of the apparent "design" in nature is bad, more consistent with cobbled-together solutions by the trial and error of variation and selection, and they can argue that even bad design is design, because the actual nature of the design is not part of their "theory." They are merely presenting reasons for the faithful to reject particular arguments for evolution, not trying to present a coherent argument in favor of their position (which the faithful already hold to). It literally does not matter to them if their arguments make rational sense, since they don't hold their beliefs based on reason in the first place.
Dave S. said...

Or as my dad used to say, you can't talk a feller out of a corner with reason when he didn't talk himself in there using it.
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