Monday, December 14, 2009

Ben Stein is a Moron (O'Reilly is too)

This has been done to death, but I've been wanting to write about this for a long time. (Excerpt from the O'Reilly Factor back in October 2007, 1 .)

O'REILLY: In the unresolved problems segment tonight, how did life begin? Religious people believe a higher power created the universe; secular progressives say all kinds of things, but God is not in the equation. And some believe, those who subscribe to intelligent design; that is a deity created life; are being persecuted in America. Joining us now from Washington Ben Stein, who has put together a new documentary called “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” The film set to open in theaters this February.

So, what's the issue in your mind?

STEIN: Well, the issue is that Darwinism, which was a brilliant theory and a great, great relic of the age of imperialism in the 19th century, basically said that mankind evolved from apes and monkeys and from cells and so forth. And that's a brilliant proposition; Darwin was a brilliant guy. But it didn't say how life began. It didn't say how the cell got to have hundreds of thousands of moving parts each of which has to work perfectly. It said maybe life was created by lightning striking a mud puddle. That has never struck me as convincing. And I thought there are a lot of gaps in Darwinism. Intelligent Design is an effort to try to fill in some of those gaps. It might be totally wrong, but at least it's an effort to try to fill in some very obvious gaps.

Amazingly, if you take half of O'Reilly's brain and half of Stein's brain and put them together, somehow, you end up with less than you started.

1. "how did life begin?" Evolution can not, does not, and will not explain how life began. Abiogenesis, a subfield of chemistry (not biology), is the study of how life on Earth could have arisen. Evolution is a mechanism of change. It does not explain the origins of life, it explains the diversity of life.

2. "those who subscribe to intelligent design; that is a deity created life" Intelligent design and creationism are not entirely interchangeable (actually they are, there are only semantic differences). Intelligent design holds that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection" (2). For whatever reason, they refuse to define or operationalize that "intelligent cause" (i.e., God) and they seem to lack the curiosity to want to discover how this "intelligent cause" operates.

3. There is no such thing as "Darwinism." That's a term used by creationist to demean those who believe in the theory of evolution. What Mr. Stein should have said is that "Evolution is a brilliant theory" and then end the interview.

4. "mankind evolved from apes and monkeys and from cells and so forth." Apes are monkeys. Humans are apes. Humans are also monkeys. Humans did not evolve from apes and monkeys, humans share a common ancestor with apes and monkeys.

5. "But it didn't say how life began." Of course it doesn't. That's called abiogenesis.

6. "It didn't say how the cell got to have hundreds of thousands of moving parts each of which has to work perfectly." Once the cell was there (the living organism), evolution explains the diversity of those moving parts and how they function so well.

7. "life was created by lightning striking a mud puddle." No scientific theory that attempts to explain the origin of life on Earth postulates this. And again, evolution has nothing to do with this.

8. "Intelligent Design is an effort to try to fill in some of those gaps." Mr. Stein identified no gaps in evolution. He conflated two distinct theories from two different fields of science (chemistry and biology).

1 comment:

Ragamuffin said...

excellent dissection.