Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

Movie Information

The Story: Ben Stein drones his way around the world to make a case for intelligent design. The Lowdown: An interminable, shockingly bad and completely irresponsible slab of propaganda masquerading as fact.
Score:

Genre: Faux-Documentary Propaganda
Director: Nathan Frankowski
Starring: Ben Stein
Rated: PG

Junk science meets even junkier filmmaking in Nathan Frankowski’s Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed—a no more shameless, stupid and loathsome piece of propaganda has ever skulked its way into the theater. Frankowski really should have chosen a different subtitle for the film (my vote is for Win Ben Stein’s Brain Cell), since he seems to have succumbed to the “no intelligence allowed” credo in attempting to make his point.

Former Nixon speechwriter, droning movie personality, game-show host and eyewash shill Ben Stein—who cowrote the film—schlepps his way through this undertaking like the lead in some bargain-basement 1930s serial, which is to say that the man wears the same clothes throughout the entire film. He must have been as aromatic as the film by the end of the shoot. And what is Stein’s quest? Why, to find out the “truth” about why intelligent design isn’t being taught in classrooms and to expose why it isn’t taken seriously by the scientific community. At least, that’s the tenuous claim Expelled makes in an effort to attain some stature as a documentary.

The reality is that the film is as phony as Stein’s “just folks” posturing. This is nothing but stacked-deck religious-right propaganda palmed off as a serious debate on intelligent design—a concept that the film itself never actually explains. There’s a good reason for that, since any explanation of the concept immediately proves that intelligent design isn’t science, but a philosophical or religious proposition, the very basis of which rests on the existence of a supreme being. As a friend of mine noted, intelligent design isn’t anything but creationism “in a cheap tuxedo.” Frankowski and Stein both realize this, and rather than deal with the issue, they trot out the smoke-and-mirrors legacy handed down to them by Spiro Agnew with his “liberal media” and the standard right-wing outcry of oppression. (Anyone care to explain how it’s possible to be the “silent majority” and an oppressed minority at the same time?)

One of the problems with this film is that the filmmakers can’t even stick to their own dubious agenda. They spend the first part of the film trying to paint intelligent design as a scientific theory, only to spend the last third of the film railing about atheists—and falsely presenting all Darwinists as atheistic, while making no distinction between scientific Darwinism and social Darwinism. True, all documentaries and documentarians have some kind of agenda, and they all make decisions that support that point of view, but Expelled uses tactics that would make even Michael Moore cringe. In fact, the film attempts to use the Michael Moore approach. Alas, Stein lacks Moore’s intelligence, wit and—God save us—acting ability. (Well, we are talking about a guy who essentially parlayed saying, “Anyone? Anyone?” into some kind of career.)

But really what’s so base and corrupt about the film lies in its dazzling intellectual leaps. These start with linking the scientific community and the media to Stalin and Khrushchev—insert stock footage and create unfounded, historically spurious connection. A little more stock footage of bullies and some shots of the Berlin Wall represents the scientific community of Darwinists keeping out (or in) those freedom-loving intelligent-design folks—more guilt by filmmaking association. (The irony is that this is all grounded in Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein’s theory of montage.) This sort of thing is interspersed with interview footage of intelligent-design martyrs—whose martyrdom becomes sketchier and sketchier the more you check into their actual histories. (I never really did figure out the identity of the über-effete—think Rex Reed times 10—expert in Paris who spent most of his interview reclining.)

All this builds to the film going completely nutzoid as it proceeds to link eugenics to modern-day Planned Parenthood and the theory of evolution to Hitler, the Nazis and the Holocaust. Stein—who at this point is making an issue of his Jewishness—is determined to equate genocide to Darwinism, despite the fact that genocide predates Charles Darwin by some considerable time. In fact, the Old Testament has its fair share of the practice. This may be the most morally vile exploitation of the Holocaust on record. Not content with the inserted horrific clips, we’re also treated to Stein pretending he’s just heard about Dachau for the first time and burying his face in his hands after the fashion of a 19th-century manual of dramatic gestures. It’s one of the most stomach-churning moments in the history of film. By the end of this thing, Stein is being intercut with footage of a Reagan speech to apparently make some kind of equation between the two. Funny thing is, you could replace the Reagan footage with, say, Mussolini footage and make a very different impression, but that would be dishonest, wouldn’t it? And the filmmakers would never want that. Rated PG for thematic material, some disturbing images and brief smoking.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

88 thoughts on “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

  1. One of my employees told me that this film is in hot water for using John Lennon’s “Imagine” without permission. I wouldn’t want to piss Yoko off. She’ll take what little the film has earned.

  2. Zigopolis

    Here’s some info on the potential lawsuit:

    http://richarddawkins.net/article,2477,Yoko-Ono-Filmmakers-Caught-in-Expelled-Flap,Ethan-Smith

    Here’s how stupid these guys are:

    “In a written statement, the film’s three producers — Walt Ruloff, John Sullivan and Logan Craft — acknowledged that they did not seek permission, but they called the use “momentary.” “After seeking the opinion of legal counsel it was seen as a First Amendment issue and protected under the fair use doctrine of free speech,” the statement said. A spokeswoman said under 25 seconds of the song are used in the movie.”

    Yeah, whoever heard of someone getting sued for using 25 seconds of a song…

  3. Ken Hanke

    “Yeah, whoever heard of someone getting sued for using 25 seconds of a song…”

    When that bit appeared in the film, Justin Souther leaned over and whispered, “I guess they could only afford one verse.” Guess they couldn’t even afford that.

  4. Dawkins is really pissed over this film, but I doubt it will change any minds either way.

    I bet that this “Imagine” issue will not go away. If they can win their case then it would legitimize anyone lifting songs for anything. Imagine using the Carpenters for a porno.

  5. Ken Hanke

    “Dawkins is really pissed over this film, but I doubt it will change any minds either way.”

    Oh, I think that’s very true, though I do find it disturbing to see people in very earnest discussion after the film, apparently thinking they’ve seen something profound and grounded in fact without questioning those facts and the manner in which they’re presented.

    As for the “Imagine” business, it probably will stick. The whole “fair use” concept is tricky, but it does make a different level of protection based on the length of the work. In other words, if “fair use” currently consists of, say, quoting 150 words (I don’t know; that’s an arbitrary figure) of printed material, it doesn’t follow that you can use 150 words of a piece that’s 155 words long. Similarly, using 25 seconds of a three minute song would probably not be fair use under any definition.

  6. I seem to remember NWA getting sued for sampling *less than a second* of a guitar solo from an old Funkadelic record. But anyway…

    The Fair Use doctrine specifically states that one of the factors to be considered in determining fair use is “the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.” Using music in a film’s soundtrack implies permission, and I’m sure that if this case goes to court Ono’s lawyers will be able to successfully argue that this is a clear case of infringement.

    If a case goes forward, Ben Stein’s Money won’t save this film from being yanked out of theaters.

  7. Ken Hanke

    “this review freaking rocks”

    Thank you.

    “Using music in a film’s soundtrack implies permission”

    Interestingly — though I’m sure it makes no difference to the filmmakers’ case (or lack thereof) — I looked at the ending credits and the usual “used by permission of” is not on the screen.

    “the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work”

    A case can certainly be made that this is a use that clearly isn’t friendly to the content of the song. Indeed, the song is used to further illustrate the Evils of Atheism — once again making hash out of the claim that intelligent design isn’t religion-based.

  8. ncain

    Excellent review, which gets right to the heart of the problem of the whole “intelligent design” movement with a minimum of fuss.

  9. Andrew Leal

    I’m a Christian, almost in spite of the fact that I attended private school (one from kinder through 9th grade, a different church school for the rest). Even the A Beka science books, while certainly fairly God heavy, never made the claims this “documentary” does, covered evolution in a reasonable fashion, and while disagreeing with Charles Darwin, never tried to vilify him or blame evolution for *genocide* (indeed, the books I had actively approved of what they called Darwin’s keen observations as a naturalist, and instead attacked the theory by claiming that in later life, Darwin admitted that without a belief in God life seemed dreary, or some such; I can’t verify the exact quote or its accuracy right now). The book did mock the “missing link” a bit and what they termed circular reasoning as far as determining precisely how old dinosaur bones were based on the soil or rocks, but it generally had a “more to be pitied than censored” condescending attitude than “this is evil and must be eradicated.”

    The movie, from the sound of it (I don’t plan to actually see it) more closely resembles the second school’s history book, which in a multiple choice question, asked who was the true founder of Communism: Marx, Lenin, or Satan (no points for guessing the “right” answer.) Ben Stein should stick to shilling for Clear-Eyes (which seems almost ironic given the distorted perspective of this movie).

  10. Dylan

    “Ben Stein should stick to shilling for Clear-Eyes (which seems almost ironic given the distorted perspective of this movie).”

    So brilliant, it hurts my eyes.

  11. Ken Hanke

    I’m decidedly not a Christian, but I should note that I don’t have an actual problem with the basic concept of intelligent design as a belief. In fact, my own belief tends toward the feeling that creation was not random, but that’s strictly a feeling. My problem stems from trying to label it as science, since it puts forth a basic need for anyone subscribing to it to make a leap into the acceptance of God — even if not by name — in order to work. It doesn’t really matter if you call it God or Yahweh or Phil Rizzuto — there’s some hairy cosmic thunderer, the existence of which (or whom) has to be taken on faith. Since no one seems able to prove the existence of the intelligent designer, we’re really talking faith, not science.

    I was interested to find that someone who had seen the film and thought it a fine piece of work asked Matt Mittan to ask me about my review on the radio today, specifically wanting to know how I reviewed Michael Moore’s films. The answer, of course, is that it kinda depends on which Michael Moore films we’re talking about. At the same time, the implication was that a left-leaning liberal like me would be biased against this film, though it could as easily be assumed that a right-leaning conservative would be biased in favor of it. As a result, it’s kind of a wash in the bias department. Regardless, that’s the pitfall of any film with an agenda. It does help, however, if the film in question can back up at least some of its facts and stick to the point it’s apparently trying to make. Simply equating scientists who put stock in evolution with Stalin, Kruschev, Hitler and schoolyard bullies — while ignoring the existence of Christian scientists who also believe in evolution (not included, according to the producers, because it would “confuse the issue”) — is dubious at best. But to go from intelligent design not being about religion to a series of rants that Darwinism causes atheism is simply shooting yourself in the foot.

  12. Vince Lugo

    It is a sad but true fact that movies like this seem to be critic-proof. If you like it, good for you. If you don’t, the problem is with you, not the movie. It’s win-win. I’m a Wiccan and personally, I’ve got no beef with Christians in general. I do take issue with those who feel that their POV is the only correct one and it appears that this film falls into the latter catagory. What could have been an excellent opportunity to examine the debate rationally turns out to be wasted. That’s a shame.

    Re: Michael Moore: I enjoy the man’s work, but I’ll admit that as much as Sicko was a real eye opener (and I have recommended it to many because of that), parts of it are obviously exaggerated and I fear that he’s losing his marbles (taking a boat down to gitmo was a stunt, pure and simple. he had to have known that it wouldn’t accomplish anything).

  13. Zeno

    The laid-back philosopher in Paris was David Berlinski. He claims to be an agnostic, but his major occupation these days is shilling for the Discovery Institute and attacking atheists. He frequently poses as a mathematician (he has a master’s degree in it), but his Ph.D. is in philosophy. Berlinski is very good at unselfconsciously denouncing other people as arrogant.

    Halfway There
    http://zenoferox.blogspot.com/

  14. Ken Hanke

    “It is a sad but true fact that movies like this seem to be critic-proof. If you like it, good for you. If you don’t, the problem is with you, not the movie. It’s win-win.”

    This kind of comes under the heading of movies that are made for people who don’t care about movies — and probably don’t see very many. They’re strictly made to appeal to folks with a specific interest, and as long as the film panders to that interest, it’s automatically “good.”

  15. moontime

    While I would agree with most of your review, the part where you say it gets “nutzoid” is actually true. You could have easily learned that by typing “margaret sanger”+”eugenics quotes” into your search engine.
    Unfortunately, many of the people we think are doing good for society have another agenda that involves population control. I discovered this to my dismay about a year ago. Even the global warming movement is about making us the enemy so we will accept population culling.

  16. moontime

    Margaret Sanger quotes
    Founder of Planned Parenthood

    “The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”
    Margaret Sanger (editor). The Woman Rebel, Volume I, Number 1. Reprinted in Woman and the New Race. New York: Brentanos Publishers, 1922.

    “Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race.”
    Margaret Sanger. Woman, Morality, and Birth Control. New York: New York Publishing Company, 1922. Page 12.

    “We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population. and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”
    Margaret Sanger’s December 19, 1939 letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, 255 Adams Street, Milton, Massachusetts. Original source: Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, North Hampton, Massachusetts. Also described in Linda Gordon’s Woman’s Body, Woman’s Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America. New York: Grossman Publishers, 1976.

    “Eugenic sterilization is an urgent need … We must prevent multiplication of this bad stock.”
    Margaret Sanger, April 1933 Birth Control Review.

  17. moontime

    Here’s one on Global Warming making us the enemy:
    “In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill … All these dangers are caused by human intervention and it is only through changed attitudes and behaviour that they can be overcome. The real enemy, then, is humanity itself.”

    — in The First Global Revolution, pp.104-105 by Alexander King, founder of the Club of Rome and Bertrand Schneider, secretary of the Club of Rome

    I know the easy thing for folks to do when they see my posts will be to attack my political views instead of do research. I am a former liberal who broke out of the false left-right paradigm when I saw that both sides, at the top, have the same agenda. The whole left-right hegelian dialectic keeps us divided so we don’t notice. And it is working beautifully.

  18. Ken Hanke

    “While I would agree with most of your review, the part where you say it gets “nutzoid” is actually true. You could have easily learned that by typing “margaret sanger”+”eugenics quotes” into your search engine.”

    While I’m not about to get into your whole argument, which goes pretty far afield from the topic at hand before you’re through (I have no idea what the Global Warming quote has to do with any of this), but read again what I wrote –

    “All this builds to the film going completely nutzoid as it proceeds to link eugenics to modern-day Planned Parenthood and the theory of evolution to Hitler, the Nazis and the Holocaust. Stein—who at this point is making an issue of his Jewishness—is determined to equate genocide to Darwinism, despite the fact that genocide predates Charles Darwin by some considerable time.”

    I was aware of the connection between Margaret Sanger and eugenics, but you’re making the same leap that the film does by linking all this to modern day Planned Parenthood — unless you’re actually claiming that her long-discredited and appalling ideas quoted here are still the “real” agenda today.

  19. Calvin Lawson

    Great review; good job. Where’s the rss feed? :)

    I love the comments, too; like the guy explaining A Beka; oh, I wish I could get hands on my old anti “Darwinian” A Beka “Science” books. He’s right, though; those books also taught skepticism; just not when it came to religious faith. If it seems contradictory, well, it is.

    Still, ID is NO problem as a religious philosophy; it even attempts to use some very basic skeptic techniques, which is laudable. Similar to what the the Dalai Lama has to say about Buddhism and Science, only the Dalai is smart and educated enough to recognize the difference between religion and science.

    to moontime: Conservatives get angry when liberals say that the founding fathers were racist, and then they turn around and use the same tactics! This is why the science being attacked is called “evolution”, not “Darwinism”. Because founding fathers (or mothers) tend to be incorrect about some things and correct about others. This is more a sign of social progress than anything.

    Ken, Thank you for sitting through this thing so that we don’t have to! I’ve been writing about this “debate” on my blog as well; one piece at a time:
    http://calvinlawson.wordpress.com/answers-in-genesis/

  20. Ken Hanke

    “Great review; good job.”

    Thanks.

    “This is more a sign of social progress than anything.”

    Something it’s very hard to get people to grasp. It’s also hard to get people to understand the sleight of hand cherry-picking that often goes in to making a point — or misrepresenting a thing to make a not altogether founded point. The film in question goes out of its way to have Stein read part of a statement by Darwin. As presented, it makes Darwin out to be a four-square eugenics fan. However, if you read the full quote, an entirely different picture emerges.

    “Ken, Thank you for sitting through this thing so that we don’t have to!”

    Sometimes the job is pleasant, sometimes it’s not. Goes with the territory. Then again, I can’t imagine anyone sitting through this movie because they want to — at least anyone who isn’t already convinced of its message. I’m not at all sure, but I think I may be the only person posting here who has actually watched this thing.

  21. “Sometimes the job is pleasant, sometimes it’s not. Goes with the territory. Then again, I can’t imagine anyone sitting through this movie because they want to—at least anyone who isn’t already convinced of its message. I’m not at all sure, but I think I may be the only person posting here who has actually watched this thing.”

    I’m have a different opinion about this. If you have one point of view, then you NEED to read and watch all that you can about the opposing point of view. If you don’t then you’re no better than those people that fall back on the bible.

    I make it a habit to stock all I can on both sides of an issue. I have a slew of anti-Michael Moore dvds, they don’t rent, but I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t have them. I’m looking for a few anti-Hillary and Obama ones right now.

  22. Ken Hanke

    “I’m have a different opinion about this. If you have one point of view, then you NEED to read and watch all that you can about the opposing point of view. If you don’t then you’re no better than those people that fall back on the bible.”

    Up to a point, yes — and bear in mind that I said I couldn’t conceive of anyone wanting to sit through this, which is different from saying anyone who might feel they should. There’s also the simple fact that you can’t possibly watch or read everything and some things you don’t really need to. Believe me, the 20-30 minutes of Fox News I get every few months at the obviously mis-named 10 minute oil change place is enough of that for me.

    “I make it a habit to stock all I can on both sides of an issue. I have a slew of anti-Michael Moore dvds, they don’t rent, but I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t have them.”

    I could never do that for several reasons, not the least of which is I’m not going to enrich these people’s coffers by buying such things, and I wouldn’t feel right making money off them (though apparently that’s not a problem you face). Not putting money in the pockets of the makers of EXPELLED actually does seem to be a factor with people not going to see it.

  23. R Bernier

    Ref: No Intelligence Allowed

    All,

    I found this online today & I just cant a party here in Buncombe County is so closed minded & just rude.

    Read This: READ READ READ READ

    francois manavit says:

    April 28th, 2008 at 12:32 pm
    I was part of a small group to organize the County Democrat forum in Fairview last week .
    I had a tough job to keep the forum definition viable : from Lat : foris : Out of doors .

    ” We don’t want citizen participation ..” i was told when i suggested a question oriented on the subject in order to promote transparency ..or adding an email to the add in our town paper so the citizen could send their question for us, in advance , to study and prepare before , or even proposing a bipartisan forum .

    I had to insist for the matter of Citizen participation to be taken into consideration but was turn down by email after a member of the group who was supposed to take our drafted questions and rewrite them wrote to me that my question was not ” well written ”enough to be considered . I feel like i have been censored ,my questions pushed aside and that The Mountain spring community , is not represented as we have serious concerns about our water , wells and springs due to the arrival of the giant CLIFF golf Course and its five tons of chemicals a year in our watershed .

    Fairview is under a spell or a paralysis as no one wants to speak-up or act in order to sleep better to comfort each other and make no waves . Self -censorship is a common . With years of neglect and inattention we are starting to hear such incredible statements like “..We don’t want citizen participation ” and this is for me the sign that our local democracy and our party is in danger .

    Reducing Intentionally the citizen participation and use censorship at such a basic level of participatory Democracy is scandalous and is a reflection of our flakiness , wasting the time of our constituents , reinforcing the apathy and opening the pandora box : Scrutiny and questioning of the real intentions at every level of the system .

    We should not be able to muzzled citizen participation or dictate the destiny of a community that easily ,we should be their representative , conduct business in their name with integrity and devotion .

    Regards
    Francois Manavit
    Vice-Chair DEM 39.2
    francois@redherringpuppets.com

  24. Ken Hanke

    Ben Stein is no Leni Riefenstahl.

    True enough, but the idea of having that guy who went from Princeton to City College to a reclining chair in Paris (identified as David Berlinski by someone above) descend into the film from clouds a la Hitler’s plane in Triumph of the Will conjures an amusing image I wished they’d thought of.

  25. “I love watching propaganda and have a fine-tuned appreciation for the genre but this thing is just all around terrible film making.
    Ben Stein is no Leni Riefenstahl.”

    I love propaganda too, and try to watch as much as I possibly can, from old corporate ads to religious nutcases.

    Probably the jewel of my inventory is the recently acquired IF FOOTMEN TIRE YOU, WHAT WILL HORSES DO? Made by shlockmeister Ron Ormond after he survived a plane crash and went pentecostal, this film will melt your mind. He shows a Communist controlled America…

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=taYThk1FX2k

  26. n2physix

    With regard to the New York Times editorial on this film….Shakespeare said it best. The level of protest is grossly out of proportion. The fact is, the documentary is superbly done. The music is fantastic, and the debate needs to be addressed. What are people so afraid of, for Pete’s sake.

  27. Ken Hanke

    Afraid of? Well, simply the fact that the film is full of lies and half-truths and paints a wholly false picture of this so-called debate is a good starting point. Further, the film is not by any standard I’m aware of “superbly done,” and its own arguments keep tripping over their own inability to determine what “intelligent design” is. But, yeah, at least one part of the music is fantastic — that chunk of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Too bad they didn’t bother to clear the copyright on that.

  28. moontime

    While I’m not about to get into your whole argument, which goes pretty far afield from the topic at hand before you’re through (I have no idea what the Global Warming quote has to do with any of this), but read again what I wrote –

    “All this builds to the film going completely nutzoid as it proceeds to link eugenics to modern-day Planned Parenthood and the theory of evolution to Hitler, the Nazis and the Holocaust. Stein—who at this point is making an issue of his Jewishness—is determined to equate genocide to Darwinism, despite the fact that genocide predates Charles Darwin by some considerable time.”

    I was aware of the connection between Margaret Sanger and eugenics, but you’re making the same leap that the film does by linking all this to modern day Planned Parenthood—unless you’re actually claiming that her long-discredited and appalling ideas quoted here are still the “real” agenda today.

    —-
    Yes that is the point I am making. How have her quotes been discredited? There is a global elite who write openly about how they want to eliminate 90% of the earth’s population. There is very much a connection to the Nazis and modern day planned parenthood. The global warming quote was included to show another angle. I realize all this sounds ridiculous- until you research it, and read it straight from these people themselves. I support safe, legal abortions. But the political issue they become every election season is a waste of energy because they will never be made illegal in this country because they are part of a larger agenda.
    Sorry if this got off topic, I just wanted to make that one point. I don’t plan on seeing this film, it sounds awful and I’m sorry you had to sit through it.

  29. Still Learning

    Re: Intelligent Design in the movie

    Who Thought Up The Master Plan? Science shies away from how the universe and life began.

    The Christian point of view:

    The bottom line is that Christians believe that God created the universe and started life with a master plan and a purpose: that purpose is for him to share his love with others -particularly us as his children.

    Most Christians agree that there is clear evidence of adaptation of the species- an amazingly brilliant part of the plan that gave creatures the ability to change and survive major temperature and geographic changes.

    But to say this proves everything, and even life itself, came from nothing, by accident is a BIG stretch. Things do not create themselves from nothing. There had to be something or someone eternally already there. We believe God exists eternally in a timeless dimension. So did Eienstein. A favorite quote of his is, “There are two ways of looking at existence. Either nothing is a miracle, or everything is a miracle.”

    Regarding the Theory of evolution: There are still big missing links. Algae to land plants is one. Monkeys to man is another.

    Re: Macro Evolution: Not one transitional species has ever been found – only fraudulent ones, like Lucy, Piltdown Man, Nebraska Man, Flat Face Man, Sivapithecus, Ramapithecus, etc. Fakes.

    Strict Darwinism when taken to extremes (improving the human gene pool by assisting natural selection by eliminating some of the species including humans) really has influenced Hitler (executed retarded and handicapped people), Stalin, and even Margaret Sanger** (Planned Parenthood) (abortion is a means of eliminating members of the gene pool who are unwanted, or imperfect).

    Some Religious people are way too closed minded about creation and science and this is unfortunate, but they too are to be respected. To say that the world came into existence in a literal 7 days is one possible explanation (God can do anything He wants, and Science says the universe came into being in a Big Bang in less than a second). There are also verses in the Bible that remind us that God’s timing can be different than ours. “A thousand years is like a day in His sight.” So Christians don’t have or agree on the exact details, only on there being a loving, awesome Creator who created the heavens and the earth.

    Some Evolutionists are way too closed minded about the possibility of Intelligent Design or the existence of God. The reason is: Scientists like to measure and prove everything. We believe there are many things that are extremely important and real, like Love, and God, that cannot be measured or scientifically proven. Our proof of God only comes from experiences of praying, and seeing him in our lives, and also seeing His amazing handiwork in nature. He reveals himself clearly through his creation. The cars we drive obviously have a manufacturer. They did not fall together by accident. The Universe is far more complex, and works far better than our cars! When we pray and read about Him, and have dealings with Him, we often sense His presence, and see our lives affected by Him.

    Things Science has discovered clearly show a master plan. For instance: The DNA code is a digital, error correcting, redundant, self- replicating code that is neither random nor periodic. The chance of this coming into existence by random chance is impossible.

    For more information, consult the manufacturer’s owners manual.

  30. [b]Still learning[/b] “Strict Darwinism …” “has influenced Hitler (executed retarded and handicapped people), Stalin, and even Margaret Sanger (Planned Parenthood) …”

    Do you really want to play that game? Let’s leave aside the fact that this is factually inaccurate (or you can provide some evidence to back up this claim, directly linking these atrocities to scientific Darwinism, rather something you’ve inferred indirectly), and get to the heart of the discussion.

    Should I rebut by starting a list of the horrible, unthinkable atrocities which were directly ordered by religious leaders and their devoted political allies? How many wars, murders, rapes, genocides and acts of outright oppression have been done openly in the name of religion? Now, find me one that was done specifically in the name of evolution. Go on, I’ll wait.

    As far as the rest goes, you might want to live up to your Handle and seriously look into where you’re getting this information from. Does it come from a serious, neutral source, or does it come from someone with an agenda? Can it be proven, or at least verified? Would you be willing to accept a non-religious view as the accurate one, even if it implied that your personal religious beliefs might be unfounded and incorrect?

    If not, you might want to consider why this is the case, rather than simply pointing to random examples of Lucy, the australopithecus afarensis skeleton, which, although perhaps not a direct human ancestor (there’s still plenty of debate on that one) was anything but a hoax. To claim that “Not one transitional species has ever been found …” is not only untrue, but also shows a significant lack of knowledge on the subject. Are you aware of, say, the many Homo ergaster finds?

    My suggestion is to keep learning, and to try, as much as possible, to leave your religious prejudices at the door when you do so.

  31. Ken Hanke

    Steve pretty much said what I would have said, but what keeps getting lost in all this is that whatever intelligent design is, it is not science and it is not a scientific theory. Its very proponents don’t even attempt to prove or test the idea (not that I can imagine how they could).

    The result of all this is that this is a dishonest film and a dishonest “debate.” Stripped of all the pseudo-scientific babble and the codswallop about academic freedom, what this comes down to is a desire on the part of the intelligent design contingent to teach religion in school as if it was science.

  32. Still learning

    Steve and Ken’s comments are much appreicated.

    It would be interesting to hear a plausible theory of how the universe came into being, and how life began, if there is no creator.

    There is also a concern is that in school, science has been teaching it’s version of how everything began, and the concern is that this is like teaching science as if it were religion.

    Regarding the request for evidence to back up the claim that strict Darwinism, taken to extremes has influenced Hitler, Stalin, and Margaret Sanger, i regret bringing this up because it distracts from the main “nut” of the issue, that being how did life begin.

    My information on the extremes of Darwinian influence (assisting natural selection by selectively eliminating less perfect creatures)are based on quotes from Margaret Sanger Founder of Planned Parenthood:

    “The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”
    Margaret Sanger (editor). The Woman Rebel, Volume I, Number 1. Reprinted in Woman and the New Race. New York: Brentanos Publishers, 1922.

    “Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race.”
    Margaret Sanger. Woman, Morality, and Birth Control. New York: New York Publishing Company, 1922. Page 12.

    “We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population. and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”
    Margaret Sanger’s December 19, 1939 letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, 255 Adams Street, Milton, Massachusetts. Original source: Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, North Hampton, Massachusetts. Also described in Linda Gordon’s Woman’s Body, Woman’s Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America. New York: Grossman Publishers, 1976.

    “Eugenic sterilization is an urgent need … We must prevent multiplication of this bad stock.”
    Margaret Sanger, April 1933 Birth Control Review.

    This is not to say that everyone with a Darwinian tilt is a monster. Farbeit. i guess the reason this is brought up is as a concern that the belief that we are merely higher animals, descended from slime, has the potential of inhuman, less humane, (puns intended) behavior.

    Regarding Hitler’s influence from extreme Darwinism (note the word extreme), i took my information from this movie, Expelled. The movie is flawed and poorly made, but there is a memorable section where Ben Stein visits a Nazi gas chamber where handicapped and retarded people were told they would be taking a shower, were gassed, then disected for scientific research.i believe this interview and film portion is factual. Darwinian influence is quoted from Nazi files. This is not what Darwin had in mind for sure.

    Regarding the rebut by bringing up all the atrocities done in the name of religion, that’s an old one, and sidesteps the issue.

    But since it has been brought up, let’s go there.
    True, horrific things have been done in the name of religion, including Christianity. One of the most tragic of these was the torture, mutilation and crucifixion of Jesus Christ by religious people in the name of religion. Then there were the Crusades, the Inquisitions, and the witch trials. True enough, people used religion for their own power, greed and all. i would tender that these abberations and scandals were done not by people who were true to the true faith (Christianity for certain) but by people who were looking for excuses, or were grossly misinformed, or heretical to the true faith.

    For every historical atrocity done in the name of religion, there are many more good things that have happened to civilizations when the true faith (i’m referring to Christianity)was practiced. Europe is what it is today (peaceful and fairly united) due to Christianity. Universities and hospitals were invented by religious people and the Church.
    Universities were actually created to solely teach theology and the Bible. It was later on that the sciences were added to the curriculuum.
    Slavery was justified by wrong minded religious people, then ended by people with the true faith at heart rather than material greed.

    The Justinian Code of Law was developed in the mostly Christian Byzantine Empire, and is still the basis of our western legal system.

    So i guess my point is while there have been instances of horrible things done in the name of religion, the fact is that these were instances of misusing the name. Every system we have has been missused. The USA, our army, our government
    as well as the others of the world have made big mistakes in the name of their cause and nation.
    Schools have abused students, teachers, parents.
    People in the Church have gone astray and done the same. But the misconduct of some should not cause us to throw out the good true core of the system.

    Thank you for your thoughts. Lovingly received, and i am still learning for sure.

  33. I’ve been reading a lot of Richard Dawkins lately (and watching ROOT OF ALL EVIL), and he makes a great point. Scientists make theories to BE disproven. They want discussion, more tests, and the chance for someone to tell them that they are wrong. If they are wrong, they accept it. Religion, to their believers, is absolute and unchanging.

  34. Still learning

    A fair and a good contrast between Science and Religion here.
    Religion to believers has changed a lot considering the different sects and branches of Islam, the denominations, splits, and reformations of Christianity. However these proponents would hold that God does not change, that He is absolute and unchanging. It’s the core beliefs that do not change (or they are not supposed to) like the 10 commandments, and the 2 that sum them up, “Love God and Love your Neighbor.” i don’t see Religion saying Science is wrong until Science says the origin of the universe and the species is just random chance.
    Galileo, Newton, Eienstein were religious people to some extent, and believed in God as creator.

  35. Ken Hanke

    Scientists make theories to BE disproven. They want discussion, more tests, and the chance for someone to tell them that they are wrong. If they are wrong, they accept it.

    That’s kind of the whole idea behind it being a theory. You don’t hear much about the Theory of Christianity, do you?

  36. [b]Still learning:[/b] What do Sanger’s beliefs on population control have to do with evolution? She was talking about the societal impact of birth control, not about the science of how life works. The two are unrelated. It’s not like Sanger is was a respected scientist; she was an activist for birth control (in many forms) who also happened to be deeply racist. Her use of scientific language to further that agenda is no more or less sickening than Ben Stein’s to further his. The fact that something good came out of her efforts — Planned Parenthood — is more coincidence than anything else. After all, Hitler’s Germany gave us the American highway system.

    [b]It would be interesting to hear a plausible theory of how the universe came into being, and how life began, if there is no creator.[/b]

    Do you not see the religious prejudice in this statement? Why would there need to be a creator? And if there was one, as Dawkins often points out, how would that explain anything? After all, in order to serve as an element of a scientific model of the universe, there needs to be some kind of observable reason to think it’s there in the first place. The existence of the universe doesn’t prove anything behind the rather obvious point that the universe exists to be discussed. Why would a conscious, intelligent creator be needed to explain that anymore than one is needed to explain, say, the existence of wind? (Unless you are of the line of thought, somewhat dated these days, that there are also gods for this.) The trouble is that the existence of a “creator” only creates more questions than answers.

    A creator has to come from somewhere, right? If the universe exists, therefore it had to be created by something, wouldn’t that also imply that the creator had been created at some point? If there is a creator, wouldn’t it stand to reason that it has to follow some kind of physical rules (what does it eat, for instance) and would have to have some observable behaviors. And, even if there was a creator of the universe, what evidence do you have that it is involved in any way in the development of life on Earth? Why would is spend billions of years “guiding” evolution, when it was powerful enough to simply make it right in the first place? And where is the physical, examinable evidence for one — not anecdotal experiences or the Bible — to begin with?

    Do you see how having a creator in the model actually makes the whole thing far more complicated?

    For that matter, why would there just be one creator? Why not seven? Why not let every quark have some element of divinity, a product of its own creation? Aren’t these equally viable alternatives to “intelligent design”? Would you want each and every possible idea of the origin of the universe taught as fact in a public school? Or would you rather go with the one that can be tested, quantified, adapted and revised as new information comes in — one that doesn’t require anything other than what can be proven time and time again in experiments to be accurate?

  37. Quote from Einstein

    “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”

  38. Ken Hanke

    Regarding Hitler’s influence from extreme Darwinism (note the word extreme), i took my information from this movie, Expelled. The movie is flawed and poorly made, but there is a memorable section where Ben Stein visits a Nazi gas chamber where handicapped and retarded people were told they would be taking a shower, were gassed, then disected for scientific research.i believe this interview and film portion is factual. Darwinian influence is quoted from Nazi files.

    I do not recall any part of this that presents Nazi files that cite Darwin. Granted, it’s been a couple weeks since I saw the film, but I suspect you’re in reference to a cherry-picked quote that Ben Stein reads from Darwin about how no farmer would breed his inferior stock, etc. Not only does the quote drop several lines that — surprise — do not support Stein’s agenda, but it omits the ending of the passage he’s reading from. The concluding remarks Darwin made are these:

    “The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.”

    That paints a very different picture of what Darwin actually said, doesn’t it?

    This is but one of many reasons I call the film dishonest. There are plenty of others. What about the supposed audience of college students wildly applauding Stein’s bravery at standing up to the horrors of the scientific community? Those are largely paid extras hired because Stein and company couldn’t muster a crowd of real students — at a Christian college. The list goes on and on — the “peer reviewed” paper where the “peers” who reviewed it consisted of the guy who wrote it is another one.

  39. Still Learning

    Steve, Ken, Orbit,

    i am impressed with the knowledge exhibited here.
    The quote from Eienstein, the history of Margaret Sanger, very illuminating. Thank you. i especially appreciate the quote from Darwin. He clearly has a bent toward responsibility and care for the human species. Stein’s movie deals with the prejudice against the theory of Intelligent Design, and i think Darwin gets some collateral mud thrown on him.

    i do admit a prejudice to my question of how the universe and life began if not from a creator. My upbringing taught me from childhood, but i have certainly pondered things for myself. And i am not alone. 90% of Americans believe in a supreme being, and even in newly discovered prehistoric tribes, there is an inate belief in a supreme being. i think consistent inate belief suggests the strong possibility of truth.

    Regarding the statement:
    “A creator has to come from somewhere, right? If the universe exists, therefore it had to be created by something, wouldn’t that also imply that the creator had been created at some point?”

    Considering the deep study of Dawkins and knowledge of Darwin, and other details in this dialog, i would respectfully recommend some Christian theology, or even C.S. Lewis’s book “Mere Christianity”. i believe Lewis was an atheist who tried to prove God does not exist, and ended up convincing himself of the opposite.
    His book deals with the existence of God without using Bible verses, but from an intellectual, logical approach.

    A creator does not have to come from somewhere. A creator can be eternal, ever existing. This theology is consistent throughout the Judaeo-Christian experience. We believe God is eternal, ever existing. He is outside of the dimension of time. He created time. Eienstein advanced interesting theories on the relativity of time, and how it is different, relative to speed and mass and things i obviously don’t have a clue about.

    This is the only logical beginning point of existence it would seem. Something/Someone had to already be there, and has to be eternal. Otherwise the question would continue infinitely, “Then who/what created ________?”

    We believe every quark does have some element of divinity. We believe God is in all places and fills all things. DNA is a pretty good sign of an intelligent creator.

    Veering straight to faith here, one of the greatest proofs of God to us Christians is not our book, not our moral code, not our philosophy of life (all decent religions have these) but it’s based on a person. We believe God revealed himself and his plan to us by becoming man, living with us, doing miracles, teaching us, being killed by us, and still loving us, then rising from the dead. Far fetched. Yes. But proven by eye witnesses who saw him resurrected, proven by followers who saw him alive again, and were tortured to death (10 of the disciples were horribly put to death) for saying they saw him alive, and that this really was who he said he was, God. His crime was blasphemy in his trial when he said he was God. This is why they had him killed.

    We believe God still reveals himself through nature. The miracle that we are rational creatures sitting here with computers and heartbeats and memories, and feelings..

    Science is great to be sure. i am a big fan and a novice pupil. To me it all points to not only an intelligent creator, but a loving one. What we’ve done with what was handed us in the original paradise is another story. But it will be restored.

    A comment above on this page points out that we never hear of the “Theory of Christianity”. Brilliant comment i think. Jesus did not say, “I am the theory of Truth”. He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”.

    Thanks for teaching me new stuff from your point of view.
    Respectfully,
    Still Learning

  40. Your Tribe

    Re: everyone’s favorite brain: Eienstein and God
    It would also seem that Einstein was not an atheist, since he also complained about being put into that camp:

    “In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views.”

    “I’m not an atheist and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangements of the books, but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.”

    And on another note, why is Cranky Hanke Cranky?

  41. Ken Hanke

    But proven by eye witnesses who saw him resurrected, proven by followers who saw him alive again, and were tortured to death (10 of the disciples were horribly put to death) for saying they saw him alive, and that this really was who he said he was, God. His crime was blasphemy in his trial when he said he was God. This is why they had him killed.

    Personally, I question the eyewitness nature of all this, but I know better than to actually argue the point with anyone who doesn’t. However, it seems to me — in my fuzzy memory of some of this — that Jesus never actually said he was God when he was tried. (Of course, all of this leans heavily on whether or not you consider the Bible to be true.) At the same time, if Jesus doesn’t get killed, you don’t have a religion — or at least not the same one.

  42. Ken Hanke

    And on another note, why is Cranky Hanke Cranky?

    You ever have to sit through a Wayans Brothers movie or Gods and Generals? Truth to tell, the name probably dates back to Paul Schattel calling me that in a letter to the paper at the time of A.I.. When it was decided later on that the name of the column needed to be changed from Short Takes — especially since I tend to be rather more loquacious than that suggests — I suggested calling it An Elitist Bastard Goes to the Movies, but that was shot down as possibly giving offense, so Cranky Hanke — which has the benfit of rhyming — came into being.

    By the way, all this Einstein palaver is actually rather timely since a letter of his was sold at auction (for $400,000, no less) just this past week. In it he wrote, “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.”

    I’m not saying that this is the last word — or even a complete picture — on the topic of Einstein and religion, but it’s certainly relevant here. At the same time, it’s worth remembering that not everything that one writes down necessarily reflects his or her final assessment of any topic at all. Hell, I once gave Signs a good review — and it sits the archives online here, haunting me whenever anybody clicks on the link!

  43. Ken Hanke

    By the way, if anyone rushes out to read C.S. Lewis, I’d suggest they also pick up Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not a Christian for an alternate view on the matter.

  44. Still Learning

    Ken, you are amazing. Articulate, a maverick, a free thinker, and generous with your comment space!

    Regarding the comment: “However, it seems to me—in my fuzzy memory of some of this—that Jesus never actually said he was God when he was tried. (Of course, all of this leans heavily on whether or not you consider the Bible to be true.) At the same time, if Jesus doesn’t get killed, you don’t have a religion—or at least not the same one.”

    This is very important, and a common opinion. The key words in the trial are spoken by the High Priest when all the witnesses fail to come to any concrete accusation of Jesus. “The Christ, the Son of the Blessed, and Son of Man” are the high terms for God come to earth to save his people. These are all through the prophesies of the coming of the messiah in the Old Testament.

    It’s in Mark 14: 61-64. “But He [Jesus] kept silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, saying ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ Jesus said, I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Father, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy from his own lips! What do you think?’ And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.

    Being a Jewish or Christian scholar helps here,(all of these are poetic terms from prophesies hundreds of years before Christ) The accusation of blasphemy speaks for itself.

    Good point: if Jesus doesn’t get killed you don’t have the same religion. I would just add if he doesn’t get killed “and rise again” it would not be the same religion. Many are killed. Very few rise again. No other religious figure claimed to be God, (not Buddha, not Mohammed), revealed to us the meaning of life and how to live it, then was killed and rose again.

    There are other quotes from Jesus and from the other books of the Bible that describe him as being God and God’s Son (part of the Trinity i.e. God). “I and the Father are one. If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” is one.

    i hope to meet you someday, maybe over a beer, and we could talk about something less intense, like … politics. ha or movies!

  45. Elizabeth Crosby

    I just saw the movie yesterday May 18th. I thought it was great. My problem with all the comments I just read is that all of you come off as scared that intelligent design might have some merit. You have a right to believe whatever you want, just as anyone else has a right to believe what they want. Open and frank discussion is never wrong. What are you afraid of? People should have a right to choose. If your want to believe you came from apes, OK. I know people, whose actions might prove this to be true. History has and will prove that Darwin was a bigger nut case than Ben Stein.

  46. [b]We believe God is eternal, ever existing. He is outside of the dimension of time.[/b]

    Believe what you like, but if you’re going to present this as fact, you’ll need to meet the basic requirement of the burden of proof. Where is your evidence for this statement? Can you prove such a thing exists, or even create a viable model of the universe (which conforms to existing evidence) where such a being would explain the situation more accurately than the existing supernatural-free one used by science?

    [b]I believe Lewis was an atheist who tried to prove God does not exist, and ended up convincing himself of the opposite.[/b]

    Really? From what I’ve read by Lewis, he was a very smart man deeply conflicted by his need for reason and his early religious indoctrination. He appeared to spend a lot of time trying desperately to rationalize beliefs he already held for non-rational reasons. The end result was a semi-mystical series of thoughts that didn’t actually resolve anything, but were just clever enough to justify a reasonably smart person accepting Christianity, even with its rather obvious contradictions.

    [b]A comment above on this page points out that we never hear of the “Theory of Christianity”. Brilliant comment i think. Jesus did not say, “I am the theory of Truth”. He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”.[/b]

    And yet the “Theory of Christianity” is very much a part of the faith. How many different sects believe that they have the “real” version of the truth? How much have the basic tenets of the Christian faith changed over the last 2,000 years?

    Consider, for instance, the fact that early Christians were a branch of the Jewish faith, and that many of Jesus’ views seem to relate specifically to the situation of a Roman-occupied Judea with a Roman-controlled Jewish clergy. Consider that there were many bitter fights — and divisions — over the inclusion of non-Jewish peoples in the religion early on. Consider the differences between the Orthodox version of Christianity — perhaps the least altered version of the belief system from its early roots — from, say, the beliefs and practices of the Unitarian branch. For all intents and purposes, they are totally different faiths with very different religious values.

    My point is that each of these faiths cling to a “Theory of Christianity,” but since there’s no means by which anyone can actually prove anything — they can believe what they like, evidence to the contrary being willfully ignored or viewed as a “test of faith” — faith becomes the ONLY thing they can believe in. It’s a trap, because even if it can be conclusively demonstrated, as it has been time-and-time-again, that there’s no need for a deity of any sort in science, there is no method by which people who put their faith before their reason can make use of this knowledge. All they have, in fact, is the “Theory of Christianity.”

    And, again, no one is saying that you shouldn’t have faith. If you believe that an apocalyptic rabbi from the age of Augustus had it right, by all means carry on with that.

    But the minute you start trying to teach “intelligent design” as anything other than a Judeo-Christian monotheism in a cheap Darwin mask — and on my dime, no less — be prepared to fight for it on scientific turf. And, since it’s not actually based on science, and since scientists aren’t the ones promoting the message, but are instead the biggest critics of the theory, I’d ask that you reconsider why you want to spread the message in the first place.

  47. [b]No other religious figure claimed to be God, (not Buddha, not Mohammed), revealed to us the meaning of life and how to live it, then was killed and rose again.[/b]

    Actually, Jesus wasn’t the first or the only. You could make the same argument for Heracles (son of a god destined for greatness, worked miracles, betrayed by those closest to him and deified after death), Osiris and — in some versions of the story where he is killed and brought back to life by Jehovah as a reward for faith — Isaac. And there are plenty of others from cultures around the globe.

    Jesus is actually a late arrival on the truth-through-resurrection front, and the resurrection concept wasn’t always a component of the faith. There were a number of early divisions in the religion about just this point. Again, it has nothing to do with evolution. Jesus could still be great guy with a lot of interesting and meaningful things to say, even without a supernatural father-figure to back his views.

  48. [b]My problem with all the comments I just read is that all of you come off as scared that intelligent design might have some merit.[/b]

    I don’t think anyone here is worried about that. But I don’t want people using public schools to promote their religious views. And since intelligent design, by its very nature, requires a religious belief in a universe-crafting supernatural being with a distinct plan for the existence of all life (and non-life, for that matter), there’s no way it can be viewed as anything else.

    Again, where is the proof FOR intelligent design? Where is the proof FOR the existence of said intelligence doing said design, and by what observable means can it be demonstrated to be designing anything? In other words, where is the science behind the theory? These are basic scientific questions, and until there is some hard proof to back them up, there’s no reason to teach them as science.

  49. “Actually, Jesus wasn’t the first or the only. You could make the same argument for Heracles (son of a god destined for greatness, worked miracles, betrayed by those closest to him and deified after death), Osiris and — in some versions of the story where he is killed and brought back to life by Jehovah as a reward for faith — Isaac. And there are plenty of others from cultures around the globe.”

    There’s now some suggests that Jesus didn’t exist at all. There’s one Babylonian myth that mirrors Jesus.

    At this juncture, people of faith cannot prove that God exists, and atheists cannot prove that God doesn’t exist. So I hope that everyone does what I do and keep your mind open. Read and discuss everything.

  50. Ken Hanke

    Ken, you are amazing. Articulate, a maverick, a free thinker, and generous with your comment space!

    Thank you, but it’s not really my comment space. The rest, however, I’ll concede — with a degree of mild embarassment.

    Good point: if Jesus doesn’t get killed you don’t have the same religion. I would just add if he doesn’t get killed “and rise again” it would not be the same religion.

    I realized after I’d posted that I should have been clear on that point, since that’s clearly part and parcel of the whole thing. As for very few rising again, that idea dates back at least to Osiris. Myth isn’t stingy with fantastic occurrences. That makes me want to address a remark you made some posts back — “i do admit a prejudice to my question of how the universe and life began if not from a creator. My upbringing taught me from childhood, but i have certainly pondered things for myself.” Does this not raise a question in your own mind — the “taught from childhood” bit — that a great deal of this is socialization or indoctrination? I mean, if we were living in ancient Greece isn’t it more than likely that we’d be arguing whether or not Apollo really drives a flaming chariot across the sky every day? Sure, that idea seems pretty quaint to us now, but are we sure that today’s beliefs won’t seem equally quaint one day? One of humankind’s most common failings is the belief in its own absolute modernity — at any point in history.

    i hope to meet you someday, maybe over a beer, and we could talk about something less intense, like … politics. ha or movies!

    I’m pretty easily accessible. As for discussing movies, I haven’t found that to be particularly less intense than politics or religion. (That may not be that surprising, since both topics will have bearing on one’s taste in movies.) I’m currently embroiled in a ridiculous survivor game on the Scarlet Street message boards — the goal is to see which Universal horror picture (thru 1945) is the last movie standing. Now, if you want to see a bunch of largely middle-aged folks battle it out as to whether The Wolf Man is actually any good with absurd passion, there’s your reading material. (I warn anyone who wants to look that there’s no profanity filter.)

  51. [b]I mean, if we were living in ancient Greece isn’t it more than likely that we’d be arguing whether or not Apollo really drives a flaming chariot across the sky every day?[/b]

    Your masterful turn of phrase fills me with envy, Hanke.

  52. Ken Hanke

    My problem with all the comments I just read is that all of you come off as scared that intelligent design might have some merit.

    Oh, no, that’s a pretty baseless canard in this case, especially since the film in question never even attempts to make case that intelligent design has any merit — other than a vague sort of “because I say so” tone, which is pretty lame. I’m not even especially worried about the film that much because, let’s face it, its entire audience is made up of people who already believe in intelligent design. (The few people I’ve seen go to it without knowing what it was, wanted their money back within 15 minutes.) Then too, the movie’s taken in a scant $7.2 million at last count and by Thursday will have fallen off the face of the earth to make way for Indiana Jones, so it’s a pretty big flop box-office-wise.

    That said, what does bother me is that the film is demonstrably a collection of falsified testimony, the creation of guilt by association (via methods created in the Soviet Union, which is pretty darn ironic), and outright lies. Not calling the film on this would be utterly irresponsible. And, frankly, endorsing the film does nothing to help the case for intelligent design.

  53. Ken Hanke

    Your masterful turn of phrase fills me with envy, Hanke.

    I’ve told you before that flattery will get you — oh, all kinds of places.

  54. Still Learning and Listening

    Re:
    “if you’re going to present this as fact, you’ll need to meet the basic requirement of the burden of proof. Where is your evidence for this statement? Can you prove such a thing exists, or even create a viable model of the universe (which conforms to existing evidence) where such a being would explain the situation more accurately than the existing supernatural-free one used by science?”

    i guess we don’t try to present this as fact. That implies proof. We present this as Truth which has to be believed eventually no matter how much or little is proveable. i believe it is true that there is a country called India. i have not been there. i can only rely on others to show me pictures and tell me it is real. i believe my car was made by a manufacturer. My watch too. i didn’t see them made. i can just look at them and know they did not fall together by accident from nothing. i don’t need proof to believe this to be true. It’s obvious.

    We believe all this stuff because (i am ready for your laughter) God said so. We believe the Bible is His words to us. Genesis goes back to Moses (inspired by God), and if it were not true, it would not fit “the existing supernatural-free one [explanation of the beginning of the universe and life] used by science.”

    Rather, it would read something like, “A great turtle stepped out of his cave and was hit by a stone and that became the moon.” Interesting that this ancient book, whether it is believed or not to be true, is not refuted by modern science. In the first chapter, even the order of creation from light to simple life forms to more complex is right in line with modern science’s history of the universe. Science’s best theory on the beginning of the universe is instant and cataclysmic. Bang. If there is a God, and He said, “Let there be Light”, Bang seems to fit fine.

    Strange, i suppose, that we believe God told us He is real, and created the universe. But it would be stranger if there is a God, that He would not tell us somehow about Himself, and reveal Himself to us somehow.

    Lots of people beleive this is what happened. Some of them are quite brilliant. Pascal, Solzhenitsyn, Bach, Handel, Abraham Lincoln, Tolkein, etc.

    Re:
    ““Actually, Jesus wasn’t the first or the only. You could make the same argument for Heracles (son of a god destined for greatness, worked miracles, betrayed by those closest to him and deified after death), Osiris and — in some versions of the story where he is killed and brought back to life by Jehovah as a reward for faith — ”

    i still say he is the only actual proveable historical human being that claimed to be God, proved it with miracles, died and rose again. Heracles and Osiris were gods and myth, and do not show up as having an actual human genealogy if i am not mistaken. The first chapter of the New Testament in Matthew is a genealogy of Jesus who we believe fulfilled all the many prophecies in the Old Testament by being born of a virgin, and conceived by the Holy Spirit (far fetched, sure! But how else does God take on human flesh?) Christian theology holds that Jesus was fully human and fully God at the same time without any loss in either department.

    Roman and Jewish historians of the time record Jesus as being a real person, not a myth.

    Sure, other stories mirror this one. E.T., the movie is pretty darn close. But this one, for us has enough historical proof, and plenty of experiential proof (Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened -Jesus)for billions of people to believe.

    Re: C.S. Lewis
    and this comment:
    “From what I’ve read by Lewis, he was a very smart man deeply conflicted by his need for reason and his early religious indoctrination. He appeared to spend a lot of time trying desperately to rationalize beliefs he already held for non-rational reasons. The end result was a semi-mystical series of thoughts that didn’t actually resolve anything, but were just clever enough to justify a reasonably smart person accepting Christianity, even with its rather obvious contradictions.”

    Several parts of this comment are unfortunately prejudiced. “Indoctrination”, “Obvious Contradictions”. Lewis is credited as being one of the clearest thinkers, communicators, and writers of the 20th Century on Christian matters.
    He is well loved across the board with all branches and denominations of the faith.

    Here’s the Wikipedia account:
    “Raised in a church-going family in the Church of Ireland, Lewis claimed he became an atheist at the age of 15, though in contradiction he later described his young self (in Surprised by Joy) as being “very angry with God for not existing”. He returned to his Christian beliefs at age 33.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._S._Lewis

    By the way, you probably know he studied and i believe taught at Oxford, and was good buddies with J.R.R. Tolkein.

    We obviously don’t see Christianity as having obvious contradictions. The only contradictions typically pointed out, make pretty good sense to us.

    These are my beliefs and thoughts on the matters at hand, and i’m not alone by any stretch. You have yours and you also, are not alone by any stretch.

    i’m glad that we can be civil and hear each other out, and even learn new stuff. I am anyway. There’s not much of that going on these days.

    Re: Orbit’s
    ” So I hope that everyone does what I do and keep your mind open. Read and discuss everything.”
    i say Amen.

  55. [b] i can just look at them and know they did not fall together by accident from nothing.[/b]

    Yes, but you could, if you wanted, go to the watch factory and see every part of the process. You could talk to the CEO, the floor supervisor or the marketing director. What’s more the watch wasn’t the work of random chance, nor was it a biological or evolutionary process. Watches, after all, aren’t alive and don’t have genetic selection as part of their workings. The watch came about as a technological process, which is actual, literal intelligent design on the part of an engineer (we can hope, or else it’ll probably keep rotten time).

    For what it’s worth, evolution isn’t just random chance. It’s a slow process of adaptation in which the creatures best suited for an environment tend to survive better than those less suited for that same environment. At the genetic level, there is a certain element of randomness (which can be demonstrated by a number of means, such as two children by the same parents having wildly different physical features — or more accurately through genetic examination), but the process does have a structure.

    As life gets more complex, there tend to be more traits that can vary, but there are also a set number of materials (that is, genes) from which it can change (a limited number of genes in the set). And since each of the genes are tied to a particular section of a chromosome, the element of chance in any particular reproduction is limited as well.

    So, there’s a lot of random chance going on, but the overall process isn’t really all that random. And there’s nothing supernatural about this either: It’s a basic series of chemical reactions that occur all the time, although in this particular situation it happens to create particles that reproduce. Again, there’s no need for a deity of any kind in this model.

    [b]Strange, i suppose, that we believe God told us He is real, and created the universe. But it would be stranger if there is a God, that He would not tell us somehow about Himself, and reveal Himself to us somehow.[/b]

    And what would you expect to find in a situation where there is no supernatural force at work at all? I’d expect to find a universe exactly like the one we have, and not like a miracle-filled, divine-intervention dependent one we don’t.

    [b]Heracles and Osiris were gods and myth, and do not show up as having an actual human genealogy if i am not mistaken. The first chapter of the New Testament in Matthew is a genealogy of Jesus who we believe fulfilled all the many prophecies in the Old Testament by being born of a virgin, and conceived by the Holy Spirit …[/b]

    Actually, there’s no significant evidence of Jesus’ genealogy outside of the New Testament. (Except, I suppose for the much-disputed account of Josephus, which is widely thought to be altered by later Christian revisionists). He is no more or less historically “real” than Osiris or Heracles, both of whom have genealogies at least as consistent, if not more so. Further, there’s a fairly active debate about the whole “virgin” thing, as it may well be the result of a mistranslation of the word “Almah,” as used by early Christian scholars to tie Jesus’ life to the prophecies in Isaiah, mistaking “maiden” for “virgin,” and giving the story even less credibility.

    [b]“Raised in a church-going family in the Church of Ireland, Lewis claimed he became an atheist at the age of 15 …”[/b]

    Which is exactly my point. He was a man with a considerable intelligence, which was unfortunately at war with his early religious indoctrination. The fact that he spent 15 years waffling between the two demonstrates this. Ultimately, he came up with a way of looking at the world — with huge and irrational leaps of logic — that allowed him to have both. He was so good at it, in fact, that he provided a lot of other intelligent people with similar concerns about their faith with an admittedly useful tool for simply not needing to look further for an explanation beyond the scope of their ingrained religious doctrines.

    That’s great, I guess, because it allows those same people to function in a world that doesn’t really follow the model presented in the Bible, but it’s still not proof of anything. To me, it’s little more than a clever workaround for people who have already decided to be believers, yet must come to terms with the reality that the world of the Bible — Adam and Eve included — simply doesn’t fit the facts.

    But in order to teach these ideas in school, there should be some proof FOR these them, just like there are mountains — or perhaps whole planets would be a better analogy — of proof for the rest of a supernatural-free science. We don’t teach that, say, televisions work because God wills them to, we teach that electrons can be proven to move through the wires in a particular, reliable, testable way that can be counted upon, under the right conditions and with the right materials, to receive and reproduce sight and sound.

    Why should the science of biology, which doesn’t have any more need for a deity to function than electronics does, be treated differently?

  56. Ken Hanke

    These are my beliefs and thoughts on the matters at hand, and i’m not alone by any stretch. You have yours and you also, are not alone by any stretch.

    I think way too much emphasis is placed on numbers — not just here, but in every area. They’re always trotted out as proof of something, but do they really prove anything? That a lot of people believe a thing obviously gives a sense of validation to the people who believe it (or disbelieve it), but it doesn’t make it demonstrably true (or untrue). A lot of people eat at McDonald’s, too, and that doesn’t make it a great restaurant. I may like the fact that I know at least a few people who are as unexcited as I am over the prospect of a new Indiana Jones picture, but they’re existence has little actual relevance on my own ennui, except that it’s always nice not to feel alone.

    Then too, you have to realize that while a lot of people may agree with you (the billions of Christians) in the broadest possible sense, you actually know the reasons behind that shared belief in no more than a handful of cases. How many of them just never thought to question what they were told as children? How many don’t so much believe as play the lip-service game of believing, because it’s easier to be in the majority (which in this country means espousing Christianity)? And this doesn’t even touch on the specifics of belief.

    Put it in another sense, I happen to think that Ken Russell’s The Devils (1971) is one of the great films — a truly important work about politics and religion, and, moreover, a truly devout work by a religious man, but one who is not blind to the abuses and failings of religion. OK? Now, when someone tells me how much they love The Devils, I’m hesitant to assume a kindred spirit connection with that person, since they might well love the film because they get off on scenes of torture and violence, or maybe the sight of bald-headed naked nuns. Do you see my point? I want to know the why of a thing before I assume I’m part of a group — any group.

    The essential problem with any argument/discussion of the sort we’re having here is grounded in the acceptance of the Bible as truth on one hand, and the rejection (or at least serious doubt) of it on the other. Citing the Bible will not budge an agnostic or atheist in argument. The fact that you find the less fanciful (or less detailed) story of creation as more believable than earlier myths isn’t persuasive outside that belief. The fact that the belief has been around for a long time (I don’t think you’ve cited that) isn’t especially more convincing when you consider that other religions lasted longer than this before they died out.

  57. Ken Hanke

    To me, it’s little more than a clever workaround for people who have already decided to be believers

    I don’t disagree with that, but it does bring to the forefront that interesting phrase “decided to be believers.” I’ve never gotten that. How exacty does one decide to believe something? I’ve certainly never succeeded at such a decision. I could, I suppose, decide to believe in Christ and the Bible, but would that mean I actually did believe it? I don’t think so. I might ultimately bamboozle myself into thinking it’s what I believe if I just repeated it enough, but is that the same thing as true belief?

  58. [b]“… but it does bring to the forefront that interesting phrase “decided to be believers.” I’ve never gotten that. How exacty does one decide to believe something?”[/b]

    Fair enough observation. We’re really talking about a post-indoctrination situation here, since choice is rarely an element of religious upbringing. It would probably be more accurate to say “To me, it’s little more than a clever workaround for those who were not willing to seriously question, revise or discard their existing beliefs.”

  59. Still Learning

    Re: “How exacty does one decide to believe something?”

    We believe stuff all the time. We believe if we turn on the light switch, the light will come on. We don’t understand everything about electricity. We take it on faith that it will do it’s job. We believe if we went to the watch factory, we could talk to the CEO, and see the process. That could all be faked. Ever watch Mission Impossible? Some people doubt that we landed on the moon.

    You believe “there’s no significant evidence of Jesus’ genealogy outside of the New Testament.” Historians and scholars, Christian and non, would strongly disagree. Roman history records stirrings in the empire by the stories of his death and resurrection. (See Josh McDowell’s “Evidence That Demands A Verdict”.) i doubt if the names B.C. and A.D. were just thrown in there just by the Church. There was no scholarly revolt when those terms to mark the calendars for the last 2000 years were instituted.

    Back to the point, we believe the sun will come up tomorrow. We set our alarm on faith that there will be a tomorrow.

    We all believe tons of things, many of them just on faith. “How exacty does one decide to believe something?” We choose to believe what we believe.
    Faith comes by hearing and reading and studying.
    If we read and study computers, we start to have more and more faith in them, and in dealings with them we start to have more faith. Same with God.

    If we read Dawkins, we start to have faith that there is no God. If we read the Bible, particularly the stories of Jesus in the New Testament, we start to have faith that there not only IS a God, but a loving, personally interested one.

    How do we decide to believe in something? Good question. i guess we follow our inclinations.
    i meet people all the time that have gone off and studied and gotten into some odd hobby or such. Now they really believe in it. Some are bumped toward God by knowing a true believer who loves and lives humbly, lovingly, laying down their life figuratively and sometimes actually for others. Some are bumped away from Him by seeing shallow hypocrites using the name to have their own personal power trip. We get bumped in different directions by teachers, friends, media, art, and nature…

    We decide to believe out of our own free will. I have no doubt that anyone that really wanted to study about God to try to get to a point of belief and faith could do it. Tertullian said that it is in the heart of every human being to want to be a Christian. Presumptuous? Maybe. But doesn’t everyone in the core of their being want to be loved consistently and unconditionally, and to love others – the heart of Christianity. Most of the great religions of the world all strive toward the things that are the hallmarks of Christianity.

    You believe what you have studied with desire. You were bumped in that direction by lots of factors. But you DO believe lots of things, and trust and have faith in lots of things. We make our choices every day.

  60. Still Learning

    Re:
    “So, there’s a lot of random chance going on, but the overall process isn’t really all that random. And there’s nothing supernatural about this either: It’s a basic series of chemical reactions that occur all the time, although in this particular situation it happens to create particles that reproduce. Again, there’s no need for a deity of any kind in this model.”

    I believe that there is an obvious need for a deity of some kind for this model. Chemical reactions don’t happen on their own suddenly out of nonexistence without someone or something being eternal and starting it. It had to have a beginning, and that beginning has to come from someone/something eternal. Then the fact that there is so much order in the universe, and incredible technology going on with even the simplest life form, to me, is as clear as the namebrand on my car or watch that there is design. If it is so obvious these inanimate objects were created, and did not fall together on their own in a soup of mud, how much more obvious can it be when we observe living things in nature so absolutely complex, and so absolutely working well?

    i haven’t heard a plausible explanation here as to how the universe and life began in the very first place. The answer needs to be plausible in respect to a cosmos and planet filled with incredibly advanced self-replicating engineering.

    Who/what made the model in the first place?

  61. [b]Historians and scholars, Christian and non, would strongly disagree. Roman history records stirrings in the empire by the stories of his death and resurrection.[/b]

    OK, present your evidence. I’m fairly well versed on this era of Roman history (not because of Christianity, but rather because of the political changes from Republic to Empire) and outside of Josephus, I can’t think of anything that fits this description. (Unless, that is, you’re talking about the propaganda of later Christians, which took place about 100 years after Jesus’ death. These should be viewed with great skepticism before accepting their accounts as fact, and for perspective you should also consider conflicting accounts, as well as reported supernatural events which have nothing to do with Jesus. I think you’ll find “stirrings” to be a common event throughout all eras of the ancient world. Keep in mind that we’re talking about cultures which were FILLED with superstitious beliefs of all kinds, and they rarely felt the need to verify their sources for accuracy.)

    [b]I doubt if the names B.C. and A.D. were just thrown in there just by the Church. There was no scholarly revolt when those terms to mark the calendars for the last 2000 years were instituted.[/b]

    That dating system dates to 6th century Christian Rome, and was specifically introduced for religious reasons by Christian scholars. It’s hardly surprising it took off.

    [b]We all believe tons of things, many of them just on faith. … If we read and study computers, we start to have more and more faith in them, and in dealings with them we start to have more faith.[/b]

    It’s not the same at all. It’s a false comparison on many fronts, and a good example of the clever, but ultimately misleading, kind of thinking C.S. Lewis and others have used to justify their pre-existing beliefs.

    When my computer breaks, I don’t pray for it to be healed. I know that there are mechanical or programming reasons for its failure, and that with the right steps — which will work, even if I don’t believe in them — I can fix the thing. (Or it’s bricked for understandable mechanical reasons, but not because God willed it so.)

    [b]But you DO believe lots of things, and trust and have faith in lots of things.[/b]

    Belief as a concept isn’t really the issue here. It’s whether or not you can accept something that doesn’t fit with the model you have already accepted, particularly when that model presents itself as the ONLY valid option.

    I believe that string theory is a clever attempt to explain the relationship of matter, energy and time on a unified scale. But if evidence was presented that clearly demonstrated that it wasn’t accurate, I wouldn’t have any problem accepting that. We’d learn from String Theory’s failure to come up with a new model that fit the proven facts better.

    [b]I believe that there is an obvious need for a deity of some kind for this model. Chemical reactions don’t happen on their own suddenly out of nonexistence without someone or something being eternal and starting it. It had to have a beginning, and that beginning has to come from someone/something eternal.[/b]

    Again, I would examine WHY you think this. Why is having an intelligent creator so important to you? Is it because one is required by the facts, or because you are unwilling to see a universe without one?

    Look at this this way: Some desert landscapes are beautiful. What’s easier for you to believe: that the stunning stone mountains have been shaped by the wind and sands for millions of years, a random, but stunning element of nature; or that it’s that way because an invisible, non-observable, all-powerful creature who is very similar to the primitive deities (Greek, Roman) that you don’t believe in created this for some secret reason that is part of his (hers?) secret plan for all things?

    Which one of these is more plausible given the known facts?

    [b]If it is so obvious these inanimate objects were created, and did not fall together on their own in a soup of mud, how much more obvious can it be when we observe living things in nature so absolutely complex, and so absolutely working well?[/b]

    But they don’t always work well. Living creatures are prone to sickness, cancer, birth defects, insanity, predation and old age. The reason they are as complex as they are and work as well as they do is because of hundreds of millions of years (at least) of constant trial and error.

    The process of adaptation is also demonstrable in the lab, unlike spontaneous divine creation (or supernaturally guided design, as the case may be), which isn’t. (As whatever happens for whatever reason is just part of God’s plan, no further investigation needed.)

    You can put a batch of bacteria in a petri dish, add in a toxic substance, and literally watch as those few bacterium with genetic resistance survive, adapt and flourish while their less-well-adapted kin die in droves. What’s the theologically acceptable, intelligent-design complaint rationale for this? Are the surviving few God’s “chosen bacterium,” picked for their loyalty and faith?

    What’s more, you can take the genes from the surviving bacteria and use what you’ve learned to alter the genes of other bacteria, making them resistant to such an environment, even if they’ve never encountered it before. It works the same every time, for reasons that we understand (which are also not included or alluded to in the Bible) and through means we can reproduce. Where is the need for any supernatural force — Zeus, Odin or Jehovah — in this model?

    And, if you were suffering from a drug-resistant bacterial infection, who would you rather have developing the drug that could save your life: a devoutly religious person educated in intelligent design, who isn’t much on research (since it’s not called for under the intelligent design model — it’s all God’s divine plan, after all), and believes that, if they pray hard enough, God will provide the answer through his “mysterious ways”; or a staunch atheist who knows genetics back-and-front and expects to use adaptable, reliable scientific methods to find a cure that will work for reasons that fit the body of existing biological model?

    I know one which I’d go with.

  62. Ken Hanke

    i haven’t heard a plausible explanation here as to how the universe and life began in the very first place.

    Neither have I, but, unfortunately, that also includes the idea that God passed a miracle.

    Don’t get me wrong, the jury’s still out on this as far as I’m concerned — at least in a kind of abstract sense. That’s to say I have a feeling (which is grounded in nothing material or demonstable) that there is indeed something beyond us, but I have no idea what it is and even less idea what it wants (if anything). And I’ve never seen, heard or read anything I found even slightly persuasive that offers an answer to that.

  63. Still Learning

    Hi Orbit,

    i don’t know how old the earth is. Much more brilliant, and scientifically schooled people would be better to ask that question. i think they are still figuring that out, as the dates have changed a couple of times.

    i do belive though that it had a definite beginning. i think science bears that out along with the universe itself actually having a definite beginning. Bang. You’re..alive.

  64. Still Learning

    Steve,

    Re: “who would you rather have developing the drug that could save your life:” i would rather have a devoutly religious person educated in intelligent design, who prays and who also
    knows genetics back-and-front and expects to use adaptable, reliable scientific methods to find a cure that will work for reasons that fit the body of existing biological models.

    i have 2 close doctor friends who fit this category exactly, who are top notch in their field, and they have both told me that they pray before every surgery.

    i profess ignorance on intelligent design as being promoted to be taught in general. So what you are telling me is news. i am under the impression from the film and books, there are experts in the fields of science that are proponents of intelligent design; that have not removed their brains to be this way. Have you not run across any of these in your studies? Are they all bumbling shallow zealots who were indoctrinated from youth with religious propaganda? i think i could find some smarties here.

    Speaking of the word “indoctrinated”, it seems a bit descriminatory to suggest every religious person was brainwashed and unable to think for themselves. Personally i questioned all along the way. i could not get past the need for an intelligent creator in the cosmos -big nature lover that i am. There is not one thing in nature that i can see that does not have supernatural technology stamped all over its design. Then reading the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, it smacks clearly to me of Truth. God coming to earth not as a Hercules, but humbly in a stable. Then being rejected by religious people and killed. Rising again. Then all of that turning out to be His plan to save the world from the mess it has become. i love it. It works for me.

    A theologian has said that we Christians should ask ourselves every day, “Is God real? We don’t want to be following a myth or a lie. We want the real thing. Truth.” Truth really does stand up to questioning. i do that. And every day the answer is yes – in my heart as a feeling like Ken says, and also to my mind when i look out my window at the wind moving through trees that were leafless a little while ago, and are now busting out with life.

  65. hmmmm

    Personally, I think ‘religions’ are social outlets for people who gave up thinking about ‘where, what, why?’… ie: ‘faith’. Religions are a problem in todays shrinking world.

    I think people are basically ‘afraid’ of ‘being’.

    I’ve enjoyed contemplating the universe since I can remember… even tho I sang in the church choir, member of ‘youth fellowship’, etc, … but have never really accepted ‘Jesus’ or the need to be a member of any religious group.

    The universe, ‘life’, beginnings and ends, ‘reality’ and these inherent questions are astounding! I love that! It’s a ‘grand science fiction novel’ come to life!

    (Try getting thru every page of Brian Green’s THE ELEGANT UNIVERSE!)

    Intelligent Design? Maybe. I certainly don’t ‘know’. Try to define ‘intelligent’… or ‘design’ for that matter.

    There’s obviously ‘something’ going on. We are all free to speculate ‘what’, but to make rules and profess ‘absolute religious knowledge’ is ridiculous, in my opinion.

    Speaking of ‘ridiculous’ and back to movies… I’ll be interested to see Bill Mahar’s RELIGILOUS this summer. I like him.

    -s

  66. [b]If we read Dawkins, we start to have faith that there is no God.[/b]

    Not to scrape at the scab here, but have you actually read any of Dawkins’ books? I’m not talking about cherry-picked quotes from [i]The God Delusion[/i] or [i]The Selfish Gene[/i]. I’m talking about actually reading his works, cover-to-cover, for the sake of understanding what he was getting at.

    (And, just to pre-empt the rebuttal question, I’ll readily admit that I’ve read most of the Bible — although I nearly gave up when I read the bit about Balaam’s talking donkey in [i]Numbers[/i] — and a fair amount of C.S. Lewis, as well as a smattering of other theologians.)

  67. [b]I would rather have a devoutly religious person educated in intelligent design, who prays and who also
    knows genetics back-and-front and expects to use adaptable, reliable scientific methods to find a cure that will work for reasons that fit the body of existing biological models.[/b]

    Again, another Lewis-inspired workaround that muddies the water with semantic games rather than grasping the actual point I was getting at.

    My point, and you answered it without meaning to, is that the part your counting on — the part you’re putting your “faith” in — has nothing to do with the “devoutly religious” bit. In this scenario, it doesn’t matter if the doctor is Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or Atheist. You might prefer someone who has a religious outlook, but the fact that you wanted science in the equation at all implies that it’s the science you’re really concerned about. You opted for a doctor that knows the science, and who isn’t relying on a completely hypothetical deity to solve the problem for them (except, perhaps to “guide” them through some equally hypothetical means). You and the doctor are counting on the scientific — that is proven, reliable, accurate, adaptable, not rooted in the Bible — knowledge, rather than faith, to address the problem. If that person has faith, it doesn’t really matter, because it’s the scientific training that will be informing their methods.

    Intelligent design’s basic premise — that a greater-than-human (and completely hypothetical) intelligence is guiding the growth and adaptation of all creatures (rather than the observable, if slightly random one of standard evolutionary theory) implies that, if someone were to get sick and die, the REAL reason it is happening is because it is because of the GUIDED DESIGN OF A DEITY. (After all, how is it guiding things? Through selective and intentional death, procreation and maladaptation. It’s just another way of saying “divine plan” using the bits from the language of evolutionary theory.)

    Follow that logic a bit. Every death, every sickness, every birth defect, every extinct species, every epidemic disease, every parasitic infection, every biological tragedy … they all happen because an invisible, intangible intelligence with cryptic motives wills it so. Think about this: AIDS is ravaging Africa — not really because it’s a virus being transmitted through sex and blood, something that evolution predicts because viruses adapt to find hosts and defeat their defenses, such as the immune system — but because an intelligent divine hand wants all those people to suffer and die before removing them from the gene pool. And since viruses also evolve, that means that the same force created and guided its evolution to inflict this exact kind of havok. And any informed precaution people might take — condoms, say — is actually interfering with this same divine plan. And that’s exactly what “Intelligent Design” is getting at.

    Does that sound like scientific thinking to you, or religious?

    [b]i have 2 close doctor friends who fit this category exactly, who are top notch in their field, and they have both told me that they pray before every surgery.[/b]

    And is it their belief that the surgery is thing helping the patients, or the prayer? (And, if prayer, why do the surgery at all?) Or, upon examination, does this smack more of a superstitious ritual — culturally ingrained since childhood — more than it does a working and reliable scientific method?

    What about the surgery done by an atheist? A Hindu? A Buddhist? Are these non-Christian doctors somehow less effective?

    I’m not trying to beat up on your beliefs here, I’m just saying that you’re injecting supernatural views and prejudices into something that can be clearly demonstrated by example to work just as easily by non-supernatural means.

    Adding the supernatural into the equation creates a model that just doesn’t fit the facts. Believe what you like, but please understand why I take issue with this stuff coming anywhere near a public school classroom.

  68. Still Learning

    This is short and pertains:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roRp4UQQbRk

    To believe and know God to any extent we have to have the faith of a child. That is hardest for brilliant intellects, but can be very liberating when it happens.

    Have i read Dawkins? No. i had never heard of Dawkins until Steve enlightened me. i don’t read much of anything. That’s why i’m Still Learning.
    i hope i did not mislead anyone about my knowledge base (limited at best), or science skills (ditto).

    Re: Doctors being religious, i put my faith first and last in God. i believe he gave us science and medicine as a gift for healing. But ultimately He does the healing. The surgeon sews the stitches, then God’s handiwork of skin being able to regenerate, and heal takes over. To me it’s like me working on my Toyota. i can buy the parts and put them where they belong, but the car then runs because Toyota engineered it to run. Every analogy limps. My car is nowhere near the complexity of skin cells regenerating. Someone much grander must have figured out how skin could heal.

    i had a kidney stone. i went to great doctors and the hospital. They identified it and told me it would pass in 2 weeks. It didn’t. Then the whole painful thing started up again. i was out of town and medical help was remote. An Orthodox priest prayed a prayer from the service book of the Early Church. In 3 hours from the prayer, i was fine. No stone ever passed. (The doctor assured me i would know it if it did. Ouch.)

    i have experienced and known friends who had miraculous things happen with and without medical help. Then some people die too of course. One of my best friends has stage 4 cancer right now. It may seem foolish to those who do not believe, but we simply trust that God knows what’s best. Even if He isn’t real, it’s a better way to live. If He is real, it’s also a better way to live.

    Someone recently did a study on patients getting better with and without prayer, along with modern medicine. Maybe you read this. i thought it was a silly premise too. The scientific results – simple testing with charts, and all – showed better results with prayer.

    Re: it doesn’t matter if the doctor is Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or Atheist. You might prefer someone who has a religious outlook, but the fact that you wanted science in the equation at all implies that it’s the science you’re really concerned about.

    It would not bother me to be worked on by any of these including the Atheist, because i believe i am ultimately in God’s hands no matter what.

    If God does the healing, why bother with the doctor? Because God also gives us stuff in this life that helps – like medicine. When i get a headache i pray, and i take aspirin. When there is no medicine, i just pray. You’d be surprised at the results. If there is no doctor, i would pray. We don’t have health insurance. Last night we prayed for one of my kids who had something in their eye. We almost went to emergency, but decided to wait till morning. This morning her eye is fine, not even red.

    i don’t understand it all. It just hits me as Truth over and over. i can’t comprehend it fully, or figure it out fully with discussions. It takes the faith of a child, and experiences. That’s been happening here for many years.

  69. [b]I put my faith first and last in God.[/b]

    Which is fine. It’s your Constitutional right, after all. And, to your credit, you appear to have at least examined your faith a little bit, even if I don’t happen to agree your conclusions.

    [b]When i get a headache i pray, and i take aspirin. When there is no medicine, i just pray. You’d be surprised at the results.[/b]

    I doubt that I would. Headaches go away, as do many sicknesses, because our bodies have evolved surprisingly effective immune systems to deal with them. I have headaches, colds and other minor maladies that go away unmedicated, and — as I’m sure you’ve gathered — I don’t pray for them to do so.

    If you pray and the problem goes away, and I don’t pray and the problem also goes away, can you see how it’s hard not to conclude that prayer wasn’t an element of the cure?

    And if the supernatural wasn’t at work, there must be some physical reason for the malady which can be found and treated, God or no God. That’s the basic idea behind the science of medicine, isn’t it?

    Adapting that to the argument at hand: If you say life evolves because a deity is making it do so, and I can show you a way that the same things can happen without the need for a deity of any kind, couldn’t you see why there’s reason to think that there’s not a need for a deity in the discussion?

    Can you see that the only reason to keep trying to put one in where it doesn’t fit is because of a decidedly non-scientific prejudice?

    Again, I’m not trying to chip away at your faith — not that it would matter if I did, as you seem to have made up your mind on the matter — but rather trying to hammer home my problem with [i]Expelled[/i].

    My only concern, which I’ve probably made absurdly clear at this point, is that “Intelligent Design” is a religious school of thought, and doesn’t belong in a science class anymore than an examination of the Bhagavad Gita does.

  70. Ken Hanke

    Even if He isn’t real, it’s a better way to live.

    I’ve heard that all my life and I have never bought it. Maybe I’m just too cynical, but the idea that one had a better life because they prayed and tithed to a God that turned out not to exist strikes me as the absolute height of rationalization.

  71. Ken Hanke

    I’m not trying to chip away at your faith — not that it would matter if I did, as you seem to have made up your mind on the matter

    Anyone whose faith can be severely shaken by anything said here had some pretty shaky faith to begin with.

    “Intelligent Design” is a religious school of thought, and doesn’t belong in a science class anymore than an examination of the Bhagavad Gita does.

    In a nutshell, yes.

  72. Still Learning

    Re: Even if He isn’t real, it’s a better way to live.

    i thought better of this opinion after i sent it. You’re right Ken. i agree with you. i was wrong. If He isn’t real it would be the sad epitomy of delusion. St. Paul says if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead (implying this proving He is divine) we [Christians] are the most to be pitied.

    Re: Religions are a problem in todays shrinking world. -Hmmmm

    i’m hearing this often and it troubles me. i don’t think it’s religions that are a problem but the malpractice of them. Al Queda is renounced by many Muslims as being a perversion of Islam. Protestants and Catholic combatants in Ireland were clearly not practicing their faith. Interesting that there was a religious catalyst that seems to have helped settle that feud for the better. The catalyst: Easter Sunday is the day they signed a truce. Maybe the reminder of a much higher power and calling humbled them into seeking peace for a change. When true religion (i’m referring to Christianity in this instance) is practiced, it tends to heal, bring peace, and forgiveness. Notice how quickly the USA (pretty much Christian at the time) got over the Civil War. The Crusades started out with noble advertisement but were abused by those who used them as an excuse. Malpractice again. The Muslim invasion of Africa and Eastern Europe, “converting” people at swordpoint – malpractice. The Roman Empire had religion, but when Christians refused to acknowledge the emperor as a god, their religion was outlawed and persecuted. Rome fell, moved East to Byzantium, became pretty much Christian -maybe one of the most Christian systems in history, and flourised for 1100 years. A long historical stretch by any empire’s standards. Funny that we spend about a paragraph in school on this civilization that was one of the longest in history. The role of women was elevated, the Justinian Code of Law developed which is still the foundation of our legal system.

    What’s the alternative to religion in the world?
    A world or country without religion?
    Countries and empires that have tried to do away with religion (which has to be forcibly done it seems) have been shown to be dismal societies at best. Stalinist Russia, Communist China, and North Korea are the best examples i can think of. All 3 are based on atheism, and all 3 tried to exterminate all religion forcibly and cruelly. Are there any other examples through history of doing away with religion? Any that worked well? i am sincerely curious, as my history is weak.

    Religion can be a very good thing if practiced as preached. (Again i am referring to Christianity in this instance, as my understanding of other religions is limited, and culturally biased. Buddhism when practiced has also led to healing and peace. It is another selfless philosophy – looking out for others. The Buddha never claimed to be God, but he did develop an admirable philosophy of how to live life.)

  73. [b]The Roman Empire had religion, but when Christians refused to acknowledge the emperor as a god, their religion was outlawed and persecuted.[/b]

    Well, kind of. Early Christians were viewed as dangerous Jewish radicals — they were the Islamic terrorists of their day, in a sense — but it was more complicated than not worshiping the Emperor. It had more to do with the uprising of anti-Roman movements in Judea (such as the Sicarii during Jesus’ time) which became increasingly difficult for the Romans to deal with. Romans didn’t oppress the Jewish faith in Judea, but did try to squeeze every last ounce of wealth out of the country. The Jews were politically oppressed at this point, not religiously so, but were inclined to rise up due to the teachings in their own holy writings (the whole “promised land” concept). No match for the Roman army, the Jews used guerilla tactics to strike back. And it went on like this — building and building — for hundreds of years.

    As a result of this constant fighting, the Jews — and the increasingly visible Christian sub-sect (with their tendency to martyr themselves rather than fight back) — became a favored target for the Romans. This is particularly true after the Great Fire of 64, which Nero claimed was caused by anti-Roman Christians. It only got worse.

    But, for a poor and disenfranchised populace, Christianity’s promise of a great life after death was more appealing than the Roman equivalent, which didn’t really promise much of anything. (It was more a loose collection of varying beliefs, many of which didn’t really relate to each other, rather than the decided-by-committee version of the Christian Bible.) It took a while, but eventually Christianity took root in Rome, ironically becoming increasingly anti-Jewish in the process.

    [b]Rome fell, moved East to Byzantium, became pretty much Christian -maybe one of the most Christian systems in history, and flourised for 1100 years. A long historical stretch by any empire’s standards.[/b]

    Keep in mind that it was in 314 — after hundreds of years of direct contact with Jews and Christians, and nearly 200 years after Hadrian forced most of the Jews to leave Judea, which had the unexpected effect of putting even more of them in Roman territories — that the Empire officially embraced Christianity.

    I’d also keep in mind that it was nearly 100 after that (410 CE) when the city of Rome fell to the Goths, and one could just as easily blame Christianity for that as credit it with the survival of Constantinople and the Eastern Empire.

    [b]Funny that we spend about a paragraph in school on this civilization that was one of the longest in history.[/b]

    Not that this is wholly inaccurate, but if you’re making the call that Byzantine Rome lasted because it was Christian, I’d feel compelled to point out that the decidedly non-Christian Empires in China started earlier and lasted much longer. (About 5000 years, depending on how you cut it.) We barely even consider this in the West, much less teach it in school.

    Byzantine Rome also had a lot going for it beyond a (mostly) unified state religion — unified language (Greek, more widely spoken than Latin in that part of the world), smaller territory (compared to Western Rome, which was eternally defending itself from invasion due to its huge size and increasingly weak infrastructure, something that embracing Christianity didn’t do much to help) and a better trade position (effectively impoverishing Western Rome, which no longer controlled trade from the East).

    [b]The role of women was elevated, the Justinian Code of Law developed which is still the foundation of our legal system.[/b]

    This is true to an extent, although Justinian was mostly compiling existing laws in one document. But, it’s a good place to mark a turning point in the Western legal system. Women did fare better, perhaps, but then again, it was hardly a fair set of laws in the modern sense: It specifically made Jews second-class citizens, for instance. (They were unable to testify in court against a Christian, couldn’t hold public offices and had their religious observances greatly limited.) And you were automatically considered a non-citizen of Rome if you were not Christian. Pretty rotten to be a Jewish woman under this system, if you ask me.

    What’s more, one could only wonder at how Jesus, the “King of the Jews,” would have reacted to this new and decidedly anti-Semitic religion that had formed from his clearly anti-Roman teachings. It’s hard to make the case that it’s what he was going for the whole time. I have a hard time understanding why people would look to this story for inspiration.

    I could go on forever about about this stuff, but unfortunately, it has nothing to do with Stein and his badly formed film.

  74. Still Learning

    Re: “the decidedly non-Christian Empires in China started earlier and lasted much longer. (About 5000 years, depending on how you cut it.) We barely even consider this in the West, much less teach it in school.”

    The Chinese did indeed have long lasting dynasties during the period you mention, but none of them lasted 1100 years like the one continuous Byzantine Empire. The 5000 years you refer to was a string of famous dynasties which were Empires plural as you said, and not continuous government from one to another. We may be comparing apples and oranges here to compare an empire with dynasties.

    I agree that we should be much more aware of Chines history. America is great, but we are a blip on the radar screen of history. We think we are hot stuff because we have lasted over 200 years. History can be humbling.

    Re: “Early Christians were viewed as dangerous Jewish radicals — they were the Islamic terrorists of their day, in a sense.” and “the Jews used guerilla tactics to strike back”.

    This is amazing to hear. Do you really mean to say that the markedly nonviolent Christians of the Roman Empire are to be compared to Islamic terrorists who set off bombs and themselves, killing innocent people, and behead their captors?
    Give us a break. That would be like saying the Jews in Germany who were taken off to the death camps were the Islamic terrorists of their day.

    The only guerilla action on the part of early Christians that I am aware of is that they would go out secretly at night to retrieve the bodies and parts of bodies of the martyrs that were left out as an example, and bury them.

    There were radical militant Jewish groups that did terrorist and guerilla missions against the Romans. These were not the early Christians who had just had their “Eye for and Eye” world turned upside down by the Prince of Peace who said that now we should love our enemies, and turn the other cheek.

    Re: “one could only wonder at how Jesus, the “King of the Jews,” would have reacted to this new and decidedly anti-Semitic religion that had formed from his clearly anti-Roman teachings. It’s hard to make the case that it’s what he was going for the whole time.”

    Agreed. This is not what he was going for the whole time.

    Jesus did react to it, affirming the verse from Leviticus “Love your neighbor as yourself.” His parables often purposely used examples of outcast people like the good Samaritan. And St. Paul who wrote most of the New Testament wrote that the Christian view is that of equality between Greek, Jew, male and female. This was radical teaching in its day, and transformed much of the world over the next 2000 years.

    I have been raised in a Christian community all my life, and it is decidedly loving and even pro-semitic. The Byzantine Empire may have had those descriminatory practices in the capitol, (I had never read these facts) but I doubt if that were the case in the rest of the Empire, particularly in Jerusalem which was one of the 5 main centers of the Church along with Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, and Rome. It was run by Jewish Christians.

    The first Christian martyr was stoned to death by the Jews. But he (Stephen) was a Jew himself. It was the Judaizers, and Pharisees, etc. who first persecuted their fellow Jews who were Christians.
    This, and the condemning of Jesus by the Jews first, then the Romans (Pilate), was the root of some misguided anti-semitism among Christians. There are definitely some dark pages of history when anti-semitism has showed up in Christian and nonchristian governments and movements. That’s undisputable, and unfortunate.

    Jesus would definitely not approve. He was radical in his equal treatment of non Jews and women. The famous “woman at the well” was a Samaritan; despised by Jews and not to be spoken to. Women were not to be spoken to in public by strangers either. Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman and she liked what she heard so much, she went and brought the whole town to hear him.

  75. Still Learning

    Re: Intelligent Design
    I took my kids to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. There was a booth entitled, “The Beginning of Life”. We went in there and watched a film explaining that life began as volcanoes cooled and left primordial soup. Then lightning bolts flashed and simple life forms began to emerge and multiply. Then on to fish, reptiles, mammals, birds, apes, humans.
    I was really offended that this was not presented as a theory, or one possible explanation, but rather that this is how it happened, case closed. And in such a prestigious museum visited by thousands of students a week. It bugged me.

    I think the whole Intelligent Design effort is a reaction to Science presenting this God-free model as fact and as proven Science. People who admit we don’t know, and those who believe in a Creator-God, have a problem with this being the only model presented when it is not good science to jump to theories of the beginning of life and the universe without proof.

    Where there is adaptation and evolution and non faked proof, great. Let it stand. Creationsists are not afraid of truth. We’ve seen Science only corroborate our story over and over again. The big bang theory took a while to take hold, but it stands now, and the correlation to the Genesis account is unavoidable.

  76. Still Learning

    Steve,

    Sorry i don’t have an email address to send this to directly.

    From the outset on Intelligent Design and as it turned to faith or believing in something, your knowledge base has amazed me, and troubled me at times too. History and Science are not fully true some of the time, and rewritten frequently. So what troubles me is the way your “facts” are presented as the final word, indisputable, and superior to any other points of view. Some of the history cited is very debateable and would be labeled “revisionist” or biased in many reputable circles.

    I guess I would respectfully suggest keeping an open mind about important things – about there being a God of course, but also smaller things like other possibilities in History and Science.
    We need to guard against biased indoctrination and propaganda whether put on us, or done to ourselves. That applies to us Christians and our upbringing, and it applies to those who choose to study anti-religious information. I think we all want the Truth to win out at the end of the day, and I hope we all love and accept it when we look it in the face.

  77. [b]This is amazing to hear. Do you really mean to say that the markedly nonviolent Christians of the Roman Empire are to be compared to Islamic terrorists who set off bombs and themselves, killing innocent people, and behead their captors?[/b]

    I’d suggest you read the history. Jewish insurgents in Rome — which Christians and other apocalypse cults were lumped in with — were viewed by the Romans very much like Fundamentalist Muslims are today by the West. And they weren’t always non-violent.

    But don’t take my word for it. I did a quick Wikipedia search on the Great Fire (just wanting to make sure I had my dates right), and noticed that there was a very telling quote from Tacitus about the Christians in it. This was the contemporary view of many in Rome.

    [i]“… Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.”[/i]

    Doesn’t exactly sound like Christians were viewed as non-violent activists, does it? They were hated, and for understandable reasons — namely acts of passive and active resistance to the Roman Empire.

    [b]There were radical militant Jewish groups that did terrorist and guerilla missions against the Romans. These were not the early Christians …[/b]

    Says who? Again, Nero blamed the Great Fire on [b]anti-Roman Christians[/b], and Tacitus tells us that Christians did confess to the crime. Those confessions may have been forced, or even been fictitious, but still, the perception of the sect at that time and the fact that Christians were chosen, rather than some other group, shows that they were viewed as dangerous radials.

    Given that one of the major reasons Jesus was crucified — that he attacked, unprovoked, peaceful money changers working at a temple because he found their legally condoned business to be insulting to his personal version of Judaism — such actions and protests by his followers were probably not uncommon.

    To this day, Christians do all kinds of religiously motivated activism — protesting abortion centers, for instance (not to mention blowing them up or killing doctors) — and such actions are an encouraged part of the evangelical branch of the faith.

    You could argue that they aren’t “real” Christians (whatever that means), but the fact that they claim to be Christians working with a Christian agenda is enough to cast doubt on the idea that Christianity is somehow a non-violent faith.

    [b]People who admit we don’t know, and those who believe in a Creator-God, have a problem with this being the only model presented when it is not good science to jump to theories of the beginning of life and the universe without proof.[/b]

    So why keep insisting on a deity being in the model, when there’s no proof for it? Generally speaking, science doesn’t address or include the idea of a deity because there’s no evidence FOR including it. We can demonstrate each step of the evolutionary process — we can date the fossils, show a line of adaptation, examine environmental factors in that evolution from geological data, show a relatively clear progression from one species to the next. Apart from religious belief, there’s no scientific reason to keep suggesting that a divine intelligence even exists, much less that it played a role in the creation of the universe, or in the guided evolution of all life, or in the existence of humanity from that life.

    It’s like the concept of aether — it once served a purpose, but now seems silly because we now know (thanks to gravitational theory) that there doesn’t have to be a universal medium for the planets to float on. No one is saying you can’t believe in your chosen supernatural being, we’re just saying that it would be really nice if you stopped trying to inject it into a scientific discussion that demonstrably doesn’t need it. It’s really distracting and ultimately useless, because science — and this is the really great thing about it — works whether or not you believe in Jehovah, Pan or Raiden.

    [b]The big bang theory took a while to take hold, but it stands now, and the correlation to the Genesis account is unavoidable.[/b]

    Really? Apart from the fact that the universe had a definite beginning, the two really have nothing in common. At least, no more so than any cultural/religious universe origin story and the Big Bang. Genesis explains the exact timeline of events — six days, the Spirit of God moving across the water and all — which doesn’t fit with the known model in any way.

    What’s more, the Big Bang theory implies that all of that energy came from somewhere else (that is, another dimension in our own universe/multiverse), or that this wasn’t the first time the universe the had come into existence (expanding out and contracting back, as it were). If either are true — or any other reasonable interpretation, for that matter — it doesn’t really fit with the divine creation model.

    And, again (and again, and again), Stein’s film presents no compelling reason why so-called “Intelligent Design” SHOULD be considered as science. We can debate Roman history and the many interpretations of the Christian faith all day, but it won’t change that.

  78. Ken Hanke

    Stein’s film presents no compelling reason why so-called “Intelligent Design” SHOULD be considered as science.

    Actually, it presents no reason at all. It just assumes that it is science. Apart from, “I can’t see how this came about by accident,” no reason is given. At best, it’s a guess.

  79. [b]The Chinese did indeed have long lasting dynasties during the period you mention, but none of them lasted 1100 years like the one continuous Byzantine Empire. The 5000 years you refer to was a string of famous dynasties which were Empires plural as you said, and not continuous government from one to another. We may be comparing apples and oranges here to compare an empire with dynasties.[/b]

    That’s a fair enough point, although one could argue that the various dynasties within the Byzantine Empire — it wasn’t a single, unbroken line, and there were many revolts, uprisings and changes in ruling families in the 1100 years you refer to — are really no different than their equivalents in China.

    Still, there’s not much of an argument that divine intervention played much of a part in eithers’ success, which is all I was getting at.

    [b]From the outset on Intelligent Design and as it turned to faith or believing in something, your knowledge base has amazed me, and troubled me at times too. History and Science are not fully true some of the time, and rewritten frequently. So what troubles me is the way your “facts” are presented as the final word, indisputable, and superior to any other points of view. Some of the history cited is very debateable and would be labeled “revisionist” or biased in many reputable circles.[/b]

    I’m not saying that I’m the final authority on this stuff — I’m a casual fan of history, and have a dilettante’s knowledge of physics and biology — but rather am aiming to clarify, rebut and amend statements that others, including you, have presented as serious fact, or at least depict as more mysterious or unsolvable than they actually are.

    That is, just because science can’t prove there isn’t a hypothetical universe-creating deity — anymore than it can’t prove there’s a hypothetical universe-creating galactic housecat named Ringo — that doesn’t mean that there’s any significant argument for it, either. If we’re going to talk about science on scientific terms — which is the goal of “intelligent design,” to present a valid, viable scientific argument for the existence of divinely guided evolution — then it really helps if we’re all familiar with the basic ideas behind scientific theory.

    So, I’m not the final authority here, and the sources I’ve referred to may well be proven wrong at some point, but the basic ideas behind them — the scientific process — is still fundamentally sound. Knowledge changes all the time, as you point out, but surely you can see that, when the point you are arguing is based on a 2000-year-old myth, I would be inclined to offer more recent versions of the same facts that fit with existing and confirmable knowledge?

    And I’m not trying to say that you shouldn’t have faith. It’s your life, and if you want to spend it trying to tie faith to science, I’m certainly not going to stop you.

    But, since you’re participating in this discussion, I’m assuming that you actually like having your beliefs challenged, and that you like debating and examining this stuff. Otherwise, the argument would likely have ended with “I’m just going to believe in God’s Word, and I hope you enjoy burning in Hell.”

  80. Ken Hanke

    History and Science are not fully true some of the time, and rewritten frequently.

    A fair enough point, but it should also be noted that the Bible has been edited, translated, retranslated and generally monkeyed with on several occasions, too.

    And, Steve, if there is indeed a hell, my guess is we’ll not spend it burning, but locked in a room with Oral Roberts, Garner Ted Armstrong and Benny Hinn for eternity while listening to Pat Boone singing heavy metal.

  81. Salmo

    “The surgeon sews the stitches, then God’s handiwork of skin being able to regenerate, and heal takes over.”

    Well, then your god designed ourselves in a much worse way that he actually designed a Plathelmintes (Flat worms) or any other animal with better ways of regenerating skins (and even entire organs!). Flat-worms can completely regenerate after being cutted in tiny little pieces…can we?…I wish we could but we cannot…Good design!!!

    We are very badly designed compared to so many other animal species, it’s not even funny. The only good thing we got compared to other vertebrates are opposed index and thumbs, which allowed us to use and make tools which little by little led our brains to get more complex and larger.

    That’s pretty much define why, as homo sapiens; have been so successful…the design in ourselves is pretty poor compared to any other species….EYES INCLUDED. Actually any engineer could design eyes far way better than the one we are stuck with…unfortunately.

    Salmo

  82. Cleo

    Your review was spot on. The film was so manipulative that it made me physically ill. The stock footage was intellectually dishonest to say the least. What a load of crap! Loved your review.

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