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Saturday, May 03, 2008

A Few Words of Common Sense about Expelled and Evolution

The one thing that Ben Stein's Expelled and the Theory of Evolution have in common is that they get some things right but are guilty of sloppy overreaching claims.

There isn't much point in debating someone's belief system, whether it's evolution or intelligent design. Faith is at the heart of any belief system which fits a particular worldview, whether it be a Creator designed world or one that was produced as a result of a multi-billion year game of evolutionary solitaire.

Now there's no doubt that Expelled gets some things right and that animals adapt to their environment and that such adaptation can be favorable in the genetic lottery. But the Nazis were not the product of Darwin and life on earth and the full scope of earth's biological diversity was not produced as a result of a genetic lottery that is the equivalent of putting a billion monkeys in a room with a billion typewriters and waiting a billion years until they produce Shakespeare.

The problem at the heart of it all is a misconception of what science is. In its practical applications science can be a handy tool for systematizing knowledge and opening up new directions of exploration that yields techniques and technologies. In its grand theorizing science mainly reflects the current beliefs and attitudes of the time. Science is not an absolute, its grand theories are a reflection of its own scientific orthodoxy and of the dominant philosophies in the academic culture at the time.

In its naked form science is more a series of perspectives than an answer. Like all perspectives, it is sometimes right and it is sometimes wrong. But its perspectives reflect "Us" more than it reflects the universe. Which means that in the end any scientific answers can only be as absolute, as broad and as correct as we humans are.

Science is only the means people use to try and answer questions and the bigger the questions are, the more tenuous any such answer can be. We can use science to answer simple questions reliably, but the more we move beyond testable hypothesis and into the realm of philosophy, using science to try to answer questions about the origins of life, about events that took place long before any of us were around, becomes nothing more than arrogance.

Evolution and the Big Bang are answers to the big questions, but not absolute ones. They are creation stories that are as much the product of philosophy as they are of science. They are the origin stories that a portion of our society tells itself in order to understand where it came from without subscribing to a religious based answer. The only difference between Creationism and the Big Bang and Evolution theories is the percentage of the academic community that embraces them origin stories.

Most everyone will admit this. The only real division is that those who believe that their answers are provable. But what provable means to them is that the answers are consistent with existing theories and hypothesis. The grand theories of science are little more than a tall tower of cards rising into the sky. Each level of the tower is the product of one generation of scientific orthodoxy. The provable theories of the next generation are those which shore up the instabilities and gaps of the previous level.

Does your theory about the universe overestimate its mass? Just invent more mass. Call it invisible hidden undetectable mass that makes up most of the universe. Or as we popularly know it, Dark Matter.

No you needn't waste time actually proving its existence. It exists because it fills a hole in a popular scientific theory. And the big theories are full of "Dark Matter", full of handy placeholders that can never be proven and that serve no other function except to prop up another shaky level of the house of science. As a result theoretical physics has long ago passed Science Fiction and moved into the realm of the truly absurd. But that doesn't matter, the big theories are mostly placeholders themselves, pieces of "Dark Matter" that became embedded in the academic orthodoxy.

The Big Bang has as much credibility as "Dark Matter" or "Dark Energy" does, without which none of the numbers would add up. The Theory of Evolution is a typical human error of projecting observation of current behavior into an origin story. The difference between the Theory of Evolution and a Cargo Cult is that evolutionists have had a much larger scale on which to make their tribal error and much greater sophistication which to justify and perpetuate it.

Once upon a time both were theories placeholders until they became the islands around which the newer theories began to form and then they went from theory to fact. The Theory of Evolution itself has evolved toward greater complexity but all of that complexity has left it spread thin and it takes a great deal of "Dark Matter" to shore up the gaping holes in its superstructure. And in the Meme Wars, the ideological competition of human beliefs, the Theory of Evolution is already a dinosaur left over from when Queen Victoria sat on her throne, Jack the Ripper prowled the streets of London and the great debate over fairies and spirits had captured the imagination of the public. A dinosaur that must compete with the great behemoths that have dominated human beliefs for thousands of years.

As a human product, science is as fallible as human beings are. The standards of proof it bases itself on are internal to the field, rather than external. But the integrity of a belief system always depends on its internal consistency, not its external consistency. Which is why the debate over evolution is fated to go nowhere. It consists of two voices which overlap in the public sphere, a clash of cultures. Because Academic origin theories of life gain educational sanction, while religious ones do not.

Up until very recently most academics believed in the inferiority of certain races. Some still do, but most have stopped believing in that-- not because it has been disproven, but because it has become unpopular.

This isn't to say that academics are racists, just that they are a reflection of the rest of us. Their beliefs are a reflection of the society they live in. Their ideas are just as fallible as any human ideas can be. There are questions that human science can answer and there are questions it cannot. When scientists claim to have definitive answers about events that supposedly took place millions and billions of years before anyone with scientific training was around to observe them, they make a mockery of the premises of their own field. And in presuming to answer those questions, science passes from a servant to a master. And it is wise to beware of the sort of masters one chooses for oneself.

None of this however means that the path to Auschwitz was laid by science or by evolution.

The Nazis were led by sociopaths and frauds who packaged together a byzantine grab bag of philosophies and ideas in order to appeal to everyone bringing together Paganism, Science and Christianity, Socialism and Capitalism into one bundle. The Nazi leadership consisted of homosexuals and perverts who postured as the defenders of traditional morality, attempted to reconcile Aryan Pagan Nationalism with Christian Conservatism, appealed to the workers as Socialists and to the factory owners as Capitalists.

Darwinism was only another card in a large deck of beliefs that the Nazi leadership toyed with, dealt out and mixed together in this way-- extracting the ugliest part of it for their own purposes. Just as they had done with Christianity itself, sifting out everything but the rabid anti-semitism for their own exploitation. The Nazi use of Darwinism is as representative of Darwinism as their use of Christianity is representative of Christianity. The Nazis were Christians when it pleased them, Pagans when it didn't. They were Socialists when they wanted to be and Capitalists when they wanted to be. The only consistent Nazi belief was in their right to power and to create a master race in their own image and they used whatever ideology or creed came to hand in order to propagandize this agenda.

It is doubtless convenient to attack Evolutionary theory with the club of Nazi eugenics. Just as it is convenient for Atheists to batter Christians with the widespread German Church support of Nazism. Both can play at that cynical game and often do. I however rather wish they wouldn't. There is in any case plenty of guilt to go around it for those who want it.

German Science and German Christianity were nothing more than reflections of Germany and when Germans fell in line behind Hitler, both Church and University were harnessed to serve the Nazi aims. Those who dissented were driven out, exiled or killed. In the end it is not so much our beliefs that characterize us, but we who characterize our beliefs.

23 comments:

Keli Ata said...

Well-written and without all of the hsyteria surrounding the film--from both sides.

For me personally? I'd rather not probe into the creation of the universe, aside from standing in awe at G-d's...awesomeness. I want to stand before Him as one who is not haughty.

I don't want to look behind the curtain so to speak. I want the creation of the universe to remain a mystery. I don't feel the need to dissect G-d or His work.

(Very, very OT but--I'm sure the controversy over "Expelled" will die down now that R. Benjamin Blech's book about the secrets of the sistine chapel was highlighted by ABC with a special documentary about it. I didn't see the documentary, but I have read some reactions online. Ugly, anti-Semitic reactions.)

Shavua tov.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. I revere the mysteries of my faith. No dissecting for me.

Anonymous said...

Mostly true, but the architects of the Shoa were all university graduates, DOCTORS, philosophers, biologists, any soft science. I don't know of any mathematicians involved but I would not be surprised. They all studies Darwin and the "survival of the fittest" appealed to their pagan imagination. Please read Adin Steinzaltz lecture on Torah u Mada from his book "A dear son to me". The Rabbi is a genius.

Lemon said...

Very little pagan about nazis. The pope called Hitler a true son of the catholic church .. and that after his death!


I want to understand everything about the creation. How it was done and all the science behind it. I can't wait til I can talk it over with him. :)

Sultan Knish said...

Mostly true, but the architects of the Shoa were all university graduates, DOCTORS, philosophers, biologists, any soft science.

Hitler was a failed art school student who never graduated. Eichman who actually supervised the Holocaust was a high school dropout. Himmler intended to be a farmer and studied agronomy.

If you can see the common pattern here, the Nazi leadership consisted of failures.

There were plenty of German university graduates who were involved in the Holocaust, but they were involved as Germans and Nazis first, because all sectors of German society were involved in the Holocaust, from the common laborer to the priest to the scholar to the soldier.

Survival of the fittest motivated eugenic murders, but Jews weren't murdered in order to "improve" the German race, they were murdered out of anti-semitism.

Josh-please approve said...

Sultan, I must say, for all the hate and disagreement I have with you on all other things, you've been quite fair in this one about Nazis.

Thanks if you can approve this comment that I don't disagree with you on everything and for this post, I couldn't agree more.

Sultan Knish said...

I wouldn't call it fair about the Nazis, just accurate and a matter of historical record

BillyB said...

Well, I didn't see "expelled", and don't plan to.

However, I don't see any evidence for any of your claims.

I also don't see any understanding of what makes science different from faith. Or any understanding of what science IS.

You may be right that it ultimately comes down to belief (i.e. what you believe to be true); but for someone on the political right who will (rightly) criticize the left for having little concern for facts or evidence, your diatribe is a bit empty and hypocritical.

By the way, I thought the tying of a BELIEF in the THEORY of evolution to some explanation for the causes of NAZISM was a cute touch.

An asinine false association, ... but cute.

Anonymous said...

I came to this article by way of a link from some 2012 article and was really surprised to read that anti-science (could not find a better name) diatribe. I was disappointed because all I've read from Daniel Greenfield so far was based on logic (although very emotional).

There are so many empty statements, that I don't even know where to start. Dark Matter, for example. You write "No you needn't waste time actually proving its existence. It exists because it fills a hole in a popular scientific theory". But that is what the scientists do - they spent (not waste) a lot of time to understand what this thing they called Dark Matter is. And it appeared not as a hole in a theory but as a consequence of a theory that describes best all we know so far about the Universe. It's not a matter of belief, like 2+2=4 is not a matter of belief, but of everyday experience. The Dark Matter lies on the same line as 2+2=4 and if you think that this line breaks at some point to become belief instead of science, I'd be interested where you would locate this break.

Science of course is a system of beliefs, but contrary to religion science these beliefs are based on evidence, which in turn is based on human experience. And science is not afraid to say "I was wrong" when a new evidence appears, while religion obviously cannot afford it.

MMichlin

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

That's how it should work, but not really how it does.

Global Warming is a case in point.

Anonymous said...

So Daniel Greenfield, are you a believer in creationism or intelligent design? Forgive me for making an assumption, but I cannot understand why someone would write an article giving evolution and creationism/intelligent design equal legitimacy. So, which 'creation myth' do you believe in?

As for calling Nazi leadership homosexuals and perverts...I don't understand what you were trying to achieve here. Soviet leadership was full of heterosexuals and perverts. You just come across as anti-gay and it doesn't serve you well. You actually sound bigoted.

And don't try and pretend that Christianity was an innocent party in all this, exploited by the Nazi's. It is well known just how much the Catholic Church were in bed with the Nazi's. Trying to whitewash over it is just pathetic and if it is what you are trying to do, it shows your real colors.

I generally enjoy reading your articles (and other blogs like this), but every now and then I come across an article like this one, and I begin to doubt whether I can really call 'your side' an ally. It seems what you really believe has slipped through in this article and its extremely ugly.

If I'm going to place my 'belief' in science or religion to figure out how the material world functions, came about, and so on, I'm going to place it in science. It has actually taught us things, and unlike religious dogma, science does change and adapt.
Notice how God today has become that which is not possible to describe. Why? Because trying to describe it will mean it doesn't exist because the space in which God could of existed in a shrinking territory.
Back in the good ole' medieval days of Europe, people knew exactly what God was. And the sun went around the earth.


And to the first few commenters saying that they are happy not knowing the mysteries of the universe; if you wan't to roll around happily in your own self-imposed ignorance thats fine, but don't you dare try and stop others from seeking the truth behind the mysteries.


-Strahinja

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

I'm an Orthodox Jew

VA_Rancher said...

Strahinja,

God made Science too...

For MOST of History there was no conflict.

Your the one with blinders on, not Dan.

Anonymous said...

a brilliant article by the greatest social commentator that ever lived...and I mean that...truly captivating...and laying forth a beautiful confirmation of G-d...may His hand guide you...

Evolution? That's G-d answering the prayers and yearnings of His creatures...

Anonymous said...

to Michlin...

Adding 2+2 and making it 4 and you think you refuted this great article? You offer no real insight to Dark Matter...it remains just that after your arrogant response...

Anonymous said...

Strahinja

Your the one who shows his hatred...hypocrite...that's you...and you say don't you dare? He's not trying to stop anyone he's taking a side against the arrogance of the scientific, anti-G-d crowd...and you don't know the mysteries of the universe like you seem to claim you do...and religion has saved more people and created more charity in the world than any scientific endeavor...science is on a path to kill us all and G-d will get the blame...and hating the homosexuals behind the Nazi movement is his right.. who are you to force someone to turn his back on the counsel of G-d? the more I read your post the more I see your arrogance that you have the moral high ground...and your hatred is vicious and you don't deny that homosexuals were behind the holocaust you simply place your hatred on the now anti gay Russians...equal legitimacy? what arrogance!

Anonymous said...

So Daniel Greenfield?...what a pompous beginning by Strahijna...and it only gets more so the more you read...

Anonymous said...

While not strictly an Orthodox Jew...I lean heavily that way...and I can tell you the study of Torah is where the real genius lies...and Daniel is living proof...I dare anyone to come up with a better example...

Anonymous said...

Calling the Nazi's homosexuals and perverts is not trying to "achieve" anything other than enlightenment...religion haters, gays had an agenda against the Jews, the people who brought religion to the world...smudge their Jewish reputations or get rid of them and you legitimatize your perverted lifestyle...it is the greatness and fear of the chosen people and their G-d and the respect of the Bible has brought to the world that has caused the homosexual to be reviled and rightfully so.....the gays know this and are natural and mortal enemies of the Jews and G-d... but most Jews don't know it and are unaware of gay complicity in the holocaust...and are still unaware that the gay is behind the rising antisemitism today...tell me, does your beloved science teach you anything like that? Torah is the scientific study of morals...and the relentlessly moral G-d who invented them...

Anonymous said...

You say G-d is shrinking...and you glory in this understanding...G-d never wanted a readily verifiable, easily definable place for Himself on earth...He humbly hid Himself...He doesn't bang the table and say worship Me! it is up to you to bring Him to light...since you haven't found Him you arrogantly say He doesn't exist...wrong in front of so many people that's you...you try to write like an intellectual but all I see is stupid arrogance...typical of the atheist..and compare Daniel and Strahinja and consider...

Anonymous said...

To Billy B...you seem to didn't see ANYTHING when reading the article...that's the point when the pro science crowd takes on the religious...you don't want to see evidence of a moral G-d... Why do we have law and courts? Is that science? Has science done more to advance civilization than moral law? How come so many and I mean so many others have seen the evidence of G-d? Are the Jews mistaken? Do they remind you of a backward race? Why does it say In G-d we trust on our currency? Why did every student in this country at one time before the rise of the religion hating, deceitful and powerful homosexual recite one nation, under G-d before beginning their classes? The evidence is there about finding the secret of His Presence but YOU'RE the failure in not finding it, not religion itself...and it a great tribute to Him that He allows such divisive thought from atheists but closer examination of them and you find THEY ARE THE ONES WHO ARE NUTS...confusion and arrogance reigns among them for relying on science and not studying the book of morals...

And Nazism did not necessarily BELIEVE in evolution but since it was in direct conflict with Judaism and and the Nazi leaders were homosexual and banned by the Bible they needed a seemingly relevant theory so they could give some public meaning to their deceitful homosexual agenda of ridding themselves of hated Jew and his confounded book...Hitler was put forth by the powerful gays of the time (it was considered the German vice) precisely because he hated the Jews...and secretly Obama, with his Muslim background, owes his rise to the gays and their common enemies the Jews and Israel...and he is paying them off handsomely in confronting anti-gay Russia and promoting gay rights around the world and getting the bomb into Iran's hands and pressuring the Jews to release the killers of their women and children and getting a finger in the eye in return...and he has further stacked the system with homosexuals (mostly lesbians) in positions of power as a form of payment...if you do some research on the matter instead of calling it asinine you will find the Nazi's preferred the Hellenistic man boy relationship as the model of a higher form of being and tried to hide their dark side by deceitfully calling it Hitler youth but it was a well known secret of the time...Hitler quotes Hellenistic philosophy in a number of speeches..and more ever Hitler youth was based on the philosophy and the the deceitful homosexual preying notion that such relationships made for the best warriors..thus the pedophile was openly allowed leadership roles in the so called youth movement...the connection is there...and women hid their children from the recruiters when they came knocking...

If you want some comparison of a gay agenda then and today notice the evil attempts by the gay to infiltrate the Boy Scouts as LEADERS...Or the booing of the Biblical G-d at the Democratic National Convention...all inspired by the new found power of the gay and the battle for the minds of the children as evolution has replaced the one nation under G-d way of living...and gay history is now a required curriculum....and they just love technology and science...

Anonymous said...

For the science crowd...study the laws of Moses, read the writings of David...and tell me such men could have been mistaken...it is a case of moral studies versus the mathematical...both have their places but to deny the moral is to place yourself in the rising confusion of the anti-religious camp camp which confronts and confounds our society today..basing your belief system on the scientific will leave you unable to cope with societal problems...it is the Bible and the Talmud that sorts it out..eye for an eye...and you can readily see the arrogance and rising confusion we are under because the religion hating left has grabbed power in a soft, decadent society....both science and religion are studies of secrets but morality gives credit to where it belongs...the one G-d...and since we attribute this universe to such a moral and humbly powerful Being and you can see why the religious are the more humble of the two camps and why decadent societies falter and disappear....religion brings societal solutions but the science and religion hating people want to impose their beliefs where they don't belong...and this is the basis of this article in my opinion...

Anonymous said...

strahijna:

you arrogantly assume there are no answers to your statements attacking G-d and promoting science as the correct understanding of our world...you cannot understand for the life of you the equal legitimacy of religion to science?

First of all its obvious you are gay...and have issues with religion that bans your lifestyle but you don't say this is why you chose science...you take the deceitful route and promote science as the correct way of understanding in an attempt to ridicule religion and legitimize your lifestyle ...let's get that straight right off the bat...so because you are gay you deceitfully call creationism a myth not because you have investigated it or the presence of G-d fully but because you resent the Bible for calling you out as a perverted sinner...and its not your sexual habits at issue here so much but your deceit as you try to pervert away beliefs in creationism as a guiding principle...I call heaven and earth to witness and to judge this deceit and counsel caution in listening to sodomites...and since the rabbi's call the sodomite followers of false principals then take the time to consider their other beliefs...you will find that the homosexual is evil in his other habits and the book is right about banning homosexuality not only for their perverse and evil sexual practices but the deceitful way they militate against the knowledge of G-d's will for mankind... all the old values will be attacked and ridiculed...and as an extension the deceitful way they attack Israel for their supposed oppression of the Palestinians and any other dirt they can dig up on the Jewish people...all because they resent and are in a deceitful war against G-d and Judeo-Christian values because they were unveiled and outted as sinners by the book of G-d...So when noted homosexuals or lesbians take issue with Israel or the Jews and promote hatred of them or their policies as "fairness" remember the underlying cause of their stand...so Strahijna with your post you can attempt to deceive those who don't study G-d but if a man has learned to trust G-d and rejects your lifestyle and fights back in this supposed culture war your deceptions should be uncovered...and lets see what has happened since your ilk has grabbed power and perverted us..soon ten righteous men will be hard to find...upon analysis your "progressive" beliefs have actually dumbed us down and chaos reigns which is exactly your intention...everybody is dirty according to your agenda...politicians, cops, adulterous marriages, divorce, abortion, pedophilia, mass murderers, sports on our front pages of our dailies, witchcraft in our libraries, ..the real issue here is the deceitful way the sodomite seduces...and when you see the creation versus science argument raging gays will be at the forefront of them...not looking for truth but to deceive....you must not be pulled away from G-d by these arch deceivers...and if you say not all of them will be gay then examine the other beliefs of the anti religion crowd...you will see arrogance, stupidity and cruelty...the key is to look closely at the person who denies G-d...question him about marriage, abortion, etc...attack his beliefs using the good old values and you will find ugliness...

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