Vox Nova at the Movies: Expelled

Vox Nova at the Movies: Expelled April 21, 2008

Ben Stein’s Expelled. It sounds like it should be the latest college comedy, perhaps loosely based on Back to School or some such thing. What it really is, however, is the latest in the series of the new, “hip” documentaries started by Michael Moore’s Roger and Me dealing with the controversy between Darwinism and Intelligent Design from an unabashedly pro-ID standpoint.

Given the controversial nature of the topic (at least on some parts of the Internet), I suppose I should begin by giving my own views on ID. Obviously I believe that human beings were intelligently designed in some sense. I believe that God created the heavens and the earth, etc., though how exactly He went about doing this I don’t presume to dictate, and the best of scientific inquiry over the last 150 years seems to have pretty well established that all life on earth today arose through the processes of evolution. Intelligent Design – which, it should be noted, is a name (like the Holy Roman Empire), not a description – consists in rejecting some part of this standard scientific view in favor of a more direct intervention by some sort of intelligent personal force, though exactly how much of the standard picture is to be rejected and what is to replace it varies wildly among ID proponents.

Arguments against ID fall into two basic types: there is the a posteriori (the specific arguments put forth by ID against evolution are specious or unsound and the positive vision put forth to replace it is fatally flawed), and the a priori (whatever the evidence, ID is not science because it posits a supernatural cause, and science, by definition, doesn’t deal with supernatural causes). To the extent I’m competent to judge such matters I’ve found the a posteriori arguments against ID to be compelling (see, for example, chapters 2-5 of Ken Miller’s book Finding Darwin’s God), and to the extent I’m not competent to judge I’m incline to accept the standard view simply because it is the standard view, and most biologists are not idiots. The a priori argument I find to be historically inaccurate and philosophically weak (as are most arguments from definition). My view on ID, therefore, is that it is bad science, verging in some of its incarnations into outright pseudo-science, but that there is no reason in principle why something like ID couldn’t be right.

With that out of the way, I thought the film was rhetorically brilliant, and highly entertaining, which may count as a mark in favor of the film, or against it, depending on your point of view. The film starts with an examination of several cases where professors, scientists, and journalists have been harassed and/or fired for espousing ID views. I can’t speak to the accuracy of all the accounts, but if the case presented in the film are true, then the ID folks really have been subject to some shabby treatment.

The film then tries to get into the merits of the ID vs. Darwinism controversy. Unfortunately, one realizes pretty quickly that a movie is not really the best vehicle for such a debate, and it pretty quickly devolves into sloganeering and a series of charges and counter-charges (“Darwinists are ignoring the evidence!” “No, ID ignores the evidence!”). Interspersed through the film are quick cuts to footage from old movies and instructional videos depicting Darwinists as close-minded louts and crypto-totalitarians which, while it does keep the film interesting, are not even close to being fair.

At about an hour in, the film veers off into dangerous ground, talking about how the main popularizers and proponents of Darwinism see it as a vehicle for destroying religious belief (which is true, they admit as much in the film, but belief in evolution need not lead to a decline of faith), and about the historical connections between Darwinism, Eugenics, and the Nazis (again, true, but still more than a little unfair). The film also talks about Margaret Sanger and the eugenic origins of Planned Parenthood, and draws a connection between Darwinism and support for abortion and euthanasia that is gutsy, to say the least. Ironically, given how far the film was willing to go in this direction, I was surprised that it never delivered the coup de grace, never mentioning Dawkins’ own views on the matter. The fatal flaw with this section (and therefore to some extent with the film as a whole) was the fact that no religious proponents of evolution were ever interviewed. Giving someone like Ken Miller or Francis Collins a chance to explain why they thought religious belief was perfectly compatible with Darwinian theory would have improved the film greatly, but it also would have prevented the film makers from presenting the straightforward believers vs. atheists message that was the basis of the film.

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  • Intelligent Design is the polite version of Creationism 🙂 I find it scary that some states teach ‘science’ based on Bible accounts that weren’t even meant to be scientific/literal to begin with.

  • Intelligent Design is the polite version of Creationism 🙂 I find it scary that some states teach ‘science’ based on Bible accounts that weren’t even meant to be scientific/literal to begin with.

  • Blackadder

    Be not afraid, Gerald. States don’t actually do this anymore (nor could they, given the state of the law).

  • Blackadder

    Be not afraid, Gerald. States don’t actually do this anymore (nor could they, given the state of the law).

  • Pingback: Southern Appeal » Blackadder on Expelled()

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  • Jason

    The thing that’s getting me about this debate and about this film is that it continues to reinforce some perceived dichotomy between atheistic Darwinists and God-fearing creationists. (And I agree that Intelligent Design, with it’s belief in divine intervention in the evolutionary process, is a form of creationism.) It presumes that God must act completely withing the framework of time, and while God certainly has intervened in our salvation history within our created reality of time, God does not need to create within it. This perceived dichotomy ignores the existence of a more Catholic understanding of the intersection of science and faith, which is simply that the description of an evolutionary universe is acceptable, but that the universe’s ultimate origin is in God, as in, before the Big Bang, there was only God, and that all of the physical laws and mechanics of evolution came from that origin in God.

    At least, that’s how it seems to me.

  • Jason

    The thing that’s getting me about this debate and about this film is that it continues to reinforce some perceived dichotomy between atheistic Darwinists and God-fearing creationists. (And I agree that Intelligent Design, with it’s belief in divine intervention in the evolutionary process, is a form of creationism.) It presumes that God must act completely withing the framework of time, and while God certainly has intervened in our salvation history within our created reality of time, God does not need to create within it. This perceived dichotomy ignores the existence of a more Catholic understanding of the intersection of science and faith, which is simply that the description of an evolutionary universe is acceptable, but that the universe’s ultimate origin is in God, as in, before the Big Bang, there was only God, and that all of the physical laws and mechanics of evolution came from that origin in God.

    At least, that’s how it seems to me.

  • jonathanjones02

    I like Stein, and have met him on a couple of occasions. Yet this movie bothers me (I’ve only read about it and hope to see it soon). If creationists and ID’ers want a place in the scientific conversation about the origins of life, they HAVE to practive science. Speculation and projection about the motives of others is not enough. Take the evidence, apply methods, and reach conclusions about theory. It seems to me creationists and ID’ers do not do this.

  • jonathanjones02

    I like Stein, and have met him on a couple of occasions. Yet this movie bothers me (I’ve only read about it and hope to see it soon). If creationists and ID’ers want a place in the scientific conversation about the origins of life, they HAVE to practive science. Speculation and projection about the motives of others is not enough. Take the evidence, apply methods, and reach conclusions about theory. It seems to me creationists and ID’ers do not do this.

  • I’m not a fan of the Roger & Me style. I have vascilated between holding the film in utter contempt and appreciating it as sort of an abstract art. For example, the film really hit upon the friction present in skill transferability. The ‘free market’ had an answer for the auto worker, but it wasn’t a job making the anywere near the amount of money they were making at GM. These political propoganda pieces do well when they bring the abstract into clear vision.

    If “Expelled” is going to do well, I hope it exposes the lie that modern day biology is thoroughly dependent upon Darwinism. I cringe every time I see a claim that we wouldn’t have genetics without the Theory of Evolution. I imagine it confirms that academia is largely incestuous. I wish it would address how much evolution is dependent upon an old earth theory and geology isn’t really dependent on old earth theory. I wish a lot of things.

    As to my own views, I am a skeptic of evolution being the model for explaining the origin of species. I don’t have much interest in ID. If I had to choose, call me a 7-day Creationist, because I like fantastic claims that affirm the pre-eminance of God over those that don’t. I am open to evolution being true, and I wouldn’t have a crisis of faith over it, nor would it cause me to claim Genesis was false.

  • I’m not a fan of the Roger & Me style. I have vascilated between holding the film in utter contempt and appreciating it as sort of an abstract art. For example, the film really hit upon the friction present in skill transferability. The ‘free market’ had an answer for the auto worker, but it wasn’t a job making the anywere near the amount of money they were making at GM. These political propoganda pieces do well when they bring the abstract into clear vision.

    If “Expelled” is going to do well, I hope it exposes the lie that modern day biology is thoroughly dependent upon Darwinism. I cringe every time I see a claim that we wouldn’t have genetics without the Theory of Evolution. I imagine it confirms that academia is largely incestuous. I wish it would address how much evolution is dependent upon an old earth theory and geology isn’t really dependent on old earth theory. I wish a lot of things.

    As to my own views, I am a skeptic of evolution being the model for explaining the origin of species. I don’t have much interest in ID. If I had to choose, call me a 7-day Creationist, because I like fantastic claims that affirm the pre-eminance of God over those that don’t. I am open to evolution being true, and I wouldn’t have a crisis of faith over it, nor would it cause me to claim Genesis was false.

  • I meant to say ‘in some states’.. .don’t some school districts teach creationism or did all such efforts fail ?

  • I meant to say ‘in some states’.. .don’t some school districts teach creationism or did all such efforts fail ?

  • Blackadder

    Gerald,

    There are currently no public schools teaching creationism (or intelligent design) in the U.S. Every once and a while a school district or state somewhere will make noise about doing this, but it rarely goes anywhere and when it has the courts have put an end to it.

    Whether schools should be allowed to teach about ID is a separate question from whether or not the theory has merit, of course. But that is probably a subject for another day.

  • Blackadder

    Gerald,

    There are currently no public schools teaching creationism (or intelligent design) in the U.S. Every once and a while a school district or state somewhere will make noise about doing this, but it rarely goes anywhere and when it has the courts have put an end to it.

    Whether schools should be allowed to teach about ID is a separate question from whether or not the theory has merit, of course. But that is probably a subject for another day.

  • ben

    ” I like fantastic claims that affirm the pre-eminance of God over those that don’t”

    Well that just about sums it up for me.

  • ben

    ” I like fantastic claims that affirm the pre-eminance of God over those that don’t”

    Well that just about sums it up for me.

  • I think it is interesting that Dawkins is Stein’s biggest target in the film. Dawkins is to the pro-Darwin side of the debate what Rush Limbaugh is to the Republican party. Discrediting him doesn’t really do much to discredit the larger group of ideas he espouses.

    I’m a fan of ID. But If I give Michael Moore hell for distorting things, I guess I can’t let Stein off the hook either. Am I crazy or was his “You can’t be a Nazi without Darwin” argument just plain old dumb?

    http://www.companionofjesus.com

  • I think it is interesting that Dawkins is Stein’s biggest target in the film. Dawkins is to the pro-Darwin side of the debate what Rush Limbaugh is to the Republican party. Discrediting him doesn’t really do much to discredit the larger group of ideas he espouses.

    I’m a fan of ID. But If I give Michael Moore hell for distorting things, I guess I can’t let Stein off the hook either. Am I crazy or was his “You can’t be a Nazi without Darwin” argument just plain old dumb?

    http://www.companionofjesus.com

  • ben

    I just wish that we could get a democratic presidential nominee today as good as William Jennings Bryan.

  • ben

    I just wish that we could get a democratic presidential nominee today as good as William Jennings Bryan.

  • Call me stupid, but I think Michael Behe’s book Darwin’s Black Box is great. I’d be interested to see someone with a takedown of it that actually makes sense. If you’re bored, I have a basic summary of his argument and lame comments on his book here.

  • Call me stupid, but I think Michael Behe’s book Darwin’s Black Box is great. I’d be interested to see someone with a takedown of it that actually makes sense. If you’re bored, I have a basic summary of his argument and lame comments on his book here.

  • Morning’s Minion

    I just don’t understand why this stuff seems to matter only in the USA (actually, I do understand it– it’s the inffluence of the fundamentalists). In the Catholic world at large, this only becomes an issue when somebody like Dawkins pushes science far beyond the boundaries of science. But in the US, there is a concerted effort to actually challege the science itself, which really should not concern us Catholics. And it shocks me when Catholic bookstores publish Behe’s books.

  • Morning’s Minion

    I just don’t understand why this stuff seems to matter only in the USA (actually, I do understand it– it’s the inffluence of the fundamentalists). In the Catholic world at large, this only becomes an issue when somebody like Dawkins pushes science far beyond the boundaries of science. But in the US, there is a concerted effort to actually challege the science itself, which really should not concern us Catholics. And it shocks me when Catholic bookstores publish Behe’s books.

  • Morning’s Minion

    As Pope John Paul pointed out in his discussion of evolution, truth cannot contradict truth, and evolution was indeed “more than a hypothesis”. The issue is that “physics” and “metaphysics” should not encroach on each other’s turf. It is ludicrous for Richard Dawkins to claim that evolution demonstates the absence of an intelligent creator, just as it is ludicrous for ID-adherants to argue against “macroevolution” (large scale changes, leading to new levels of complexity.) As Cardinal Dulles notes: “Science should not try to become religion, nor should religion seek to take the place of science. Science can purify religion from error and superstition, while religion purifies science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each discipline should therefore retain its integrity and yet be open to the insights and discoveries of the other.”

    Turning to the matter at hand, Behe’s “irreducibly complex” hypothesis has been quite clearly refuted by the scientists (I remember a long Jerry Coyne piece in the New Republic a few years back). Quite frankly, I find the ID crowd border on the heresy of fideism, the notion that faith is irrational– a heresy condemned by Vatican I. And here is what Cardinal Avery Dulles has to say on the “irreducibly complex” argument: “As a matter of policy, it is imprudent to build one’s case for faith on what science has not yet explained, because tomorrow it may be able to explain what it cannot explain today. History teaches us that the “God of the gaps” often proves to be an illusion.”

  • Morning’s Minion

    As Pope John Paul pointed out in his discussion of evolution, truth cannot contradict truth, and evolution was indeed “more than a hypothesis”. The issue is that “physics” and “metaphysics” should not encroach on each other’s turf. It is ludicrous for Richard Dawkins to claim that evolution demonstates the absence of an intelligent creator, just as it is ludicrous for ID-adherants to argue against “macroevolution” (large scale changes, leading to new levels of complexity.) As Cardinal Dulles notes: “Science should not try to become religion, nor should religion seek to take the place of science. Science can purify religion from error and superstition, while religion purifies science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each discipline should therefore retain its integrity and yet be open to the insights and discoveries of the other.”

    Turning to the matter at hand, Behe’s “irreducibly complex” hypothesis has been quite clearly refuted by the scientists (I remember a long Jerry Coyne piece in the New Republic a few years back). Quite frankly, I find the ID crowd border on the heresy of fideism, the notion that faith is irrational– a heresy condemned by Vatican I. And here is what Cardinal Avery Dulles has to say on the “irreducibly complex” argument: “As a matter of policy, it is imprudent to build one’s case for faith on what science has not yet explained, because tomorrow it may be able to explain what it cannot explain today. History teaches us that the “God of the gaps” often proves to be an illusion.”

  • Blackadder

    Morning’s Minion,

    Accusing the ID crowd of fideism is a little like accusing George W. Bush of pacifism.

  • Blackadder

    Morning’s Minion,

    Accusing the ID crowd of fideism is a little like accusing George W. Bush of pacifism.

  • Blackadder

    Zach,

    I would recommend Ken Miller’s book Finding Darwin’s God (Behe’s views are critiqued in chapter 5, I think).

    And I would never call you stupid. I think Behe is wrong, but he’s not a dummy, and I would readily admit that there are many good and bright people who question parts of the standard account (belittling the intelligence of one’s opponents is, sadly, an all too common feature of these debates, and one that I think does more harm than good).

  • Blackadder

    Zach,

    I would recommend Ken Miller’s book Finding Darwin’s God (Behe’s views are critiqued in chapter 5, I think).

    And I would never call you stupid. I think Behe is wrong, but he’s not a dummy, and I would readily admit that there are many good and bright people who question parts of the standard account (belittling the intelligence of one’s opponents is, sadly, an all too common feature of these debates, and one that I think does more harm than good).

  • Zach,

    I’d second Blackadder’s recommendatin of Ken Miller’s book, though by this point it’s getting a bit old. Ken Miller and Michael Behe’s websites also have a number of their dueling articles. If you really want to wade into the thick of it (and there are a lot of very non-Christian types there) there’s also Panda’s Thumb and Talk Origins.

    One of the issues with irreducible complexity is that Behe has eventually worked around to having to admit that irreducibly complex systems _can_ evolve through certain mechanisms. So at this point, he’s arguing that while it’s possible for some irreducibly complex systems to evolve, there’s not currently evidence that all of them came about via one of the mechanisms that produces the appearance of irreducible complexity. To my mind, that’s getting pretty tenuous.

    MM,

    I’m not sure where your faith/reason thing is coming from. Although I certainly agree that ID is incorrect, far from having faith/reason issues, one of the problems with it from my point of view is that it’s basically a “something we don’t fully understand happened here” detection method. In other words, it in no ways points to a divine creator. (Indeed, it’s advocates, in order to sound more “scientific” often profess agnosticism as to whether the designer was God or super intelligent aliens or what have you.)

    Of course, at that point, we have the issue of why so many people who are basically old earth creationists are enamoured of ID. And the answer basically appears to be at a pragmatic level that once they feel they’ve proved design, they can turn around and say that obviously it was God.

    Charges of fideism might well be flung at some young earth creationists, in the face of today’s scientific evidence, but I don’t think it would stick when hurled at IDers.

    As for it being strictly American — generally yes, though Austrian Cardinal Schoenborn shows clear signs (at least in his use of terminology) of having read and taken seriously ID literature, though he does not himself endorse ID.

  • Zach,

    I’d second Blackadder’s recommendatin of Ken Miller’s book, though by this point it’s getting a bit old. Ken Miller and Michael Behe’s websites also have a number of their dueling articles. If you really want to wade into the thick of it (and there are a lot of very non-Christian types there) there’s also Panda’s Thumb and Talk Origins.

    One of the issues with irreducible complexity is that Behe has eventually worked around to having to admit that irreducibly complex systems _can_ evolve through certain mechanisms. So at this point, he’s arguing that while it’s possible for some irreducibly complex systems to evolve, there’s not currently evidence that all of them came about via one of the mechanisms that produces the appearance of irreducible complexity. To my mind, that’s getting pretty tenuous.

    MM,

    I’m not sure where your faith/reason thing is coming from. Although I certainly agree that ID is incorrect, far from having faith/reason issues, one of the problems with it from my point of view is that it’s basically a “something we don’t fully understand happened here” detection method. In other words, it in no ways points to a divine creator. (Indeed, it’s advocates, in order to sound more “scientific” often profess agnosticism as to whether the designer was God or super intelligent aliens or what have you.)

    Of course, at that point, we have the issue of why so many people who are basically old earth creationists are enamoured of ID. And the answer basically appears to be at a pragmatic level that once they feel they’ve proved design, they can turn around and say that obviously it was God.

    Charges of fideism might well be flung at some young earth creationists, in the face of today’s scientific evidence, but I don’t think it would stick when hurled at IDers.

    As for it being strictly American — generally yes, though Austrian Cardinal Schoenborn shows clear signs (at least in his use of terminology) of having read and taken seriously ID literature, though he does not himself endorse ID.

  • Donald R. McClarey

    An excellent and entertaining film. I highly recommend it. Intellectual freedom was the core point of the film. As the father of an autistic son I greatly appreciated Stein’s remark, while looking at a disection table where German doctors disected some of the mentally challenged individuals they had murdered, that maybe the sane people were the ones on the table, and the insane people were the ones doing the disection. In a moral sense, Mr. Stein was 100% correct.

  • Donald R. McClarey

    An excellent and entertaining film. I highly recommend it. Intellectual freedom was the core point of the film. As the father of an autistic son I greatly appreciated Stein’s remark, while looking at a disection table where German doctors disected some of the mentally challenged individuals they had murdered, that maybe the sane people were the ones on the table, and the insane people were the ones doing the disection. In a moral sense, Mr. Stein was 100% correct.

  • Blackadder

    As I recall, Pope Benedict also made some surprisingly critical comments about Darwinism early in his pontificate, though he later backtracked a bit after attending a conference on the matter.

    Not to get off on a tangent, but the way in which the ID and pro-evolution forces have drawn up their battle lines has long struck me as odd. Behe, for example, is willing to accept the standard Darwinian account once you have the cell. It’s only in the formation of the cell that he thinks one needs to posit direct intervention. Miller, by contrast, thinks that God directed the entire process of evolution by manipulating quantum fluctuations. If anything, I’d say Miller has God playing a more direct role in the creation of man than does Behe (and he also explicitly says that it’s God, not some amorphous “designer” that is behind it all). Yet the pro-evolution folks see Miller as a great ally and Behe as the enemy, while for the ID people (including many young earthers), it is just the opposite. It’s weird.

  • Blackadder

    As I recall, Pope Benedict also made some surprisingly critical comments about Darwinism early in his pontificate, though he later backtracked a bit after attending a conference on the matter.

    Not to get off on a tangent, but the way in which the ID and pro-evolution forces have drawn up their battle lines has long struck me as odd. Behe, for example, is willing to accept the standard Darwinian account once you have the cell. It’s only in the formation of the cell that he thinks one needs to posit direct intervention. Miller, by contrast, thinks that God directed the entire process of evolution by manipulating quantum fluctuations. If anything, I’d say Miller has God playing a more direct role in the creation of man than does Behe (and he also explicitly says that it’s God, not some amorphous “designer” that is behind it all). Yet the pro-evolution folks see Miller as a great ally and Behe as the enemy, while for the ID people (including many young earthers), it is just the opposite. It’s weird.

  • Evolution is basically a given. But – how does one explain Augustine’s concept of Original Sin in the absence of Adam & Eve ? Not to mention that it’d seem a product recall would have been warranted, with the first two prototypes being lemons 🙂

  • Evolution is basically a given. But – how does one explain Augustine’s concept of Original Sin in the absence of Adam & Eve ? Not to mention that it’d seem a product recall would have been warranted, with the first two prototypes being lemons 🙂

  • jonathanjones02

    America’s third best independent journalist and critic (after Christopher Hitchens and Tom Wolfe), Steve Sailer, has informative pieces on Darwin and politics here:

    http://www.isteve.com/Darwin-EnemiesonRight.htm

    http://www.isteve.com/Darwin-EnemiesonLeft.htm

  • jonathanjones02

    America’s third best independent journalist and critic (after Christopher Hitchens and Tom Wolfe), Steve Sailer, has informative pieces on Darwin and politics here:

    http://www.isteve.com/Darwin-EnemiesonRight.htm

    http://www.isteve.com/Darwin-EnemiesonLeft.htm

  • Donald R. McClarey

    A good book discussing the impact of Darwin’s work on the shaping of eugenics policies in Gemany under the Second Reich, the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany is mentioned at the link below. I don’t doubt that Darwin would have been horrified by the Nazis, but ideas have consequences and it is very disturbing that much of what the Nazis stood for in regard to ‘improving humanity” by getting rid of ‘unnutze Esser’ (useless eaters), was already quite popular in the Weimar Republic.

    http://web.csustan.edu/History/Faculty/Weikart/FromDarwintoHitler.htm

    Nat Hentoff, my favorite atheist leftist, wrote an excellent column on this subject in the wake of the judicial civil execution of Terry Schiavo.

    http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?page=hentoff_25_5&section=library

  • Donald R. McClarey

    A good book discussing the impact of Darwin’s work on the shaping of eugenics policies in Gemany under the Second Reich, the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany is mentioned at the link below. I don’t doubt that Darwin would have been horrified by the Nazis, but ideas have consequences and it is very disturbing that much of what the Nazis stood for in regard to ‘improving humanity” by getting rid of ‘unnutze Esser’ (useless eaters), was already quite popular in the Weimar Republic.

    http://web.csustan.edu/History/Faculty/Weikart/FromDarwintoHitler.htm

    Nat Hentoff, my favorite atheist leftist, wrote an excellent column on this subject in the wake of the judicial civil execution of Terry Schiavo.

    http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?page=hentoff_25_5&section=library

  • Blackadder

    Evolution or no, there had to have been a first human being at some point. So I don’t think evolution need trouble an Augustinian much on the point.

  • Blackadder

    Evolution or no, there had to have been a first human being at some point. So I don’t think evolution need trouble an Augustinian much on the point.

  • Morning’s Minion

    The problem is one of terminology (and this is what got Cardinal Schoenborn into trouble): one some level, every Catholic believes in an “intelligent designer” and this is fully in accord with reason. But the ID movement hides something more sinister behind this title — they basically deny macroevolution and come up with some pseude-scientiftic quackery called “irreducible complexity” to cover for it. This is why I believe they are divorcing faith from reason, whether they realize it or not. It goes bacl to my basic point: both ID people and neo-Darwinists (Dawkins) are wrong to say evolution challenges faith, for faith and reason are totally compatible– this was the esential point made by John Paul more than a decade ago.

  • Morning’s Minion

    The problem is one of terminology (and this is what got Cardinal Schoenborn into trouble): one some level, every Catholic believes in an “intelligent designer” and this is fully in accord with reason. But the ID movement hides something more sinister behind this title — they basically deny macroevolution and come up with some pseude-scientiftic quackery called “irreducible complexity” to cover for it. This is why I believe they are divorcing faith from reason, whether they realize it or not. It goes bacl to my basic point: both ID people and neo-Darwinists (Dawkins) are wrong to say evolution challenges faith, for faith and reason are totally compatible– this was the esential point made by John Paul more than a decade ago.

  • SB

    Irreducible complexity, as I understand it, is just the simple notion that some things exist that are too complex to have arisen at once, but of such a nature that they couldn’t have been built by a step-by-step process. Maybe that claim is wrong in some or all instances, but I don’t see how it’s at the level of “quackery” or of “divorcing faith from reason.” Indeed, it’s just common sense in many areas of life (if one finds an edition of Shakespeare on what one thinks is a desert island, there’s nothing wrong with pausing to consider explanations other than a naturalistic step-by-step process.)

    An attempt to reason doesn’t transform into “faith” merely by being factually mistaken.

  • SB

    Irreducible complexity, as I understand it, is just the simple notion that some things exist that are too complex to have arisen at once, but of such a nature that they couldn’t have been built by a step-by-step process. Maybe that claim is wrong in some or all instances, but I don’t see how it’s at the level of “quackery” or of “divorcing faith from reason.” Indeed, it’s just common sense in many areas of life (if one finds an edition of Shakespeare on what one thinks is a desert island, there’s nothing wrong with pausing to consider explanations other than a naturalistic step-by-step process.)

    An attempt to reason doesn’t transform into “faith” merely by being factually mistaken.

  • Hmm

    Blackadder and Darwin, thank you for your comments and book suggestion, I’m going to check it out – but I think that I am largely in agreement with you. I’ve never thought of ID as science but rather a philosophical analysis of scientific data, and so it’s nothing to be dogmatic about – certainly nothing on which to ground your faith(that wouldn’t make sense anyways).

    I would like to read a good criticism though – I have however read that Jerry Coyne piece that MM mentions and found that Coyne did not understand Behe’s argument.

    I had always thought Behe allowed for the possibility that his irreducibly complex systems could have evolved through natural processes, but that the probability of something like that happening was extremely small.

    Also, it’s kind of a who-cares thing because, as MM pointed out, truth cannot contradict truth.

    I have a lot to say about some of the other comments and no easy way to condense them so I think I’ll let it stand there. Thanks!

  • Hmm

    Blackadder and Darwin, thank you for your comments and book suggestion, I’m going to check it out – but I think that I am largely in agreement with you. I’ve never thought of ID as science but rather a philosophical analysis of scientific data, and so it’s nothing to be dogmatic about – certainly nothing on which to ground your faith(that wouldn’t make sense anyways).

    I would like to read a good criticism though – I have however read that Jerry Coyne piece that MM mentions and found that Coyne did not understand Behe’s argument.

    I had always thought Behe allowed for the possibility that his irreducibly complex systems could have evolved through natural processes, but that the probability of something like that happening was extremely small.

    Also, it’s kind of a who-cares thing because, as MM pointed out, truth cannot contradict truth.

    I have a lot to say about some of the other comments and no easy way to condense them so I think I’ll let it stand there. Thanks!

  • Blackadder

    A further thought, if there’s anyone who is flirting with fideism here, it’s Cardinal Dulles. If it’s a bad idea to base one’s faith on scientific reasoning because that reasoning might be proven wrong, then it would also be a bad idea to base faith on any other sort of reasoning, since that too could be proven wrong. From which it follows that faith should not be based on anything but faith itself.

  • Blackadder

    A further thought, if there’s anyone who is flirting with fideism here, it’s Cardinal Dulles. If it’s a bad idea to base one’s faith on scientific reasoning because that reasoning might be proven wrong, then it would also be a bad idea to base faith on any other sort of reasoning, since that too could be proven wrong. From which it follows that faith should not be based on anything but faith itself.

  • FWIW, I thought Miller’s book and arguments were just awful.

  • FWIW, I thought Miller’s book and arguments were just awful.

  • Blackadder – that way one can believe in pretty much anything. Justifying a thing by itself ? ‘Why is the Bible God’s word ?’ – Answer: ‘because the Bible says so’. That’s not saying much really. I do see why Christians have been opposed to evolution – no Adam & Eve – no original sin – no need for a redeemer. The only recourse Christians have is to say, well, there was evolution and then a miracle happened, Adam and Eve were on the scene, and shortly thereafter blew it for everyone. It’d be interesting to hear convincing arguments as to how original sin is maintainable in light of evolution. It would seem that ‘the fall’ is contrary to evolutionary principles.

  • Blackadder – that way one can believe in pretty much anything. Justifying a thing by itself ? ‘Why is the Bible God’s word ?’ – Answer: ‘because the Bible says so’. That’s not saying much really. I do see why Christians have been opposed to evolution – no Adam & Eve – no original sin – no need for a redeemer. The only recourse Christians have is to say, well, there was evolution and then a miracle happened, Adam and Eve were on the scene, and shortly thereafter blew it for everyone. It’d be interesting to hear convincing arguments as to how original sin is maintainable in light of evolution. It would seem that ‘the fall’ is contrary to evolutionary principles.

  • Maybe something for the theologians in residence to tackle? 🙂 ‘Evolution & Original Sin’

  • Maybe something for the theologians in residence to tackle? 🙂 ‘Evolution & Original Sin’

  • lutheran-Missouri Synod

    Pope Benedict seems to backtrack all the time, he backtracked on Islam.

  • lutheran-Missouri Synod

    Pope Benedict seems to backtrack all the time, he backtracked on Islam.

  • Blackadder

    “I thought Miller’s book and arguments were just awful.”

    Distinguo. The second half of the book, when Miller tries his hand at philosophical and theological speculation, is pretty bad. The first half, where he is on his home turf (science and biology) critiquing various anti-Darwin theories, is pretty good.

  • Blackadder

    “I thought Miller’s book and arguments were just awful.”

    Distinguo. The second half of the book, when Miller tries his hand at philosophical and theological speculation, is pretty bad. The first half, where he is on his home turf (science and biology) critiquing various anti-Darwin theories, is pretty good.

  • Well, I didn’t think much of Professor Miller’s biology arguments either (which for the most part are metaphysical assumptions disguised as biology arguments, IIRC). He’s in good company — almost all of what goes under the rubric ‘evolution’ is really metaphysics attempting to dress up in the credibility-attire (in modern culture) of science. Back when I was taking graduate level molecular biology and bioinformatics, before I became utterly bored with the subject of evolution, I wrote this post addressing the general subject matter.

  • Well, I didn’t think much of Professor Miller’s biology arguments either (which for the most part are metaphysical assumptions disguised as biology arguments, IIRC). He’s in good company — almost all of what goes under the rubric ‘evolution’ is really metaphysics attempting to dress up in the credibility-attire (in modern culture) of science. Back when I was taking graduate level molecular biology and bioinformatics, before I became utterly bored with the subject of evolution, I wrote this post addressing the general subject matter.

  • Policraticus

    It’d be interesting to hear convincing arguments as to how original sin is maintainable in light of evolution. It would seem that ‘the fall’ is contrary to evolutionary principles.

    I’m not sure I follow this reasoning. Why would original sin be problematic within the scope of evolution if the sin did not occur until a species reached a particular ontic status?

  • Policraticus

    It’d be interesting to hear convincing arguments as to how original sin is maintainable in light of evolution. It would seem that ‘the fall’ is contrary to evolutionary principles.

    I’m not sure I follow this reasoning. Why would original sin be problematic within the scope of evolution if the sin did not occur until a species reached a particular ontic status?

  • Jason

    GA–at the risk of being heretical because I really don’t know Augustine, but it seems to me that it’s okay to say that Augustine’s understanding of original sin wasn’t perfectly accurate or complete, and that it’s fair to say that we may understand it somewhat better now than before, with our understanding continuing to be refined the more we understand about science and and through our study of theology.

    Original Sin is the reality of our broken relationship with God through our imperfect humanity, and it is beautifully described in Genesis in a way that was as recognizable to people a few millenia ago as it is today. Adam and Eve acted out of selfish motivation, and in their egotism their relationship with God was damaged, and they experienced a seperation from Paradise. It’s true for the characters in the story because we recognize the truth of it in our own lives. At least I do. The characters don’t have to exist in history for this to be so, the story still describes the reality of our condition.

  • Jason

    GA–at the risk of being heretical because I really don’t know Augustine, but it seems to me that it’s okay to say that Augustine’s understanding of original sin wasn’t perfectly accurate or complete, and that it’s fair to say that we may understand it somewhat better now than before, with our understanding continuing to be refined the more we understand about science and and through our study of theology.

    Original Sin is the reality of our broken relationship with God through our imperfect humanity, and it is beautifully described in Genesis in a way that was as recognizable to people a few millenia ago as it is today. Adam and Eve acted out of selfish motivation, and in their egotism their relationship with God was damaged, and they experienced a seperation from Paradise. It’s true for the characters in the story because we recognize the truth of it in our own lives. At least I do. The characters don’t have to exist in history for this to be so, the story still describes the reality of our condition.

  • Jason

    If you need a point in history to describe when “the fall” happened, then consider that other lifeforms, as far as we can ascertain, don’t have the same consciousness of self that humans do. Once early humans developed a sense of ego, then we were capable of prioritizing ourselves over our creator.

  • Jason

    If you need a point in history to describe when “the fall” happened, then consider that other lifeforms, as far as we can ascertain, don’t have the same consciousness of self that humans do. Once early humans developed a sense of ego, then we were capable of prioritizing ourselves over our creator.

  • What does seem problematic is the notion that death did not enter the picture until the first sin; when according to evolution, lots of dying had to precede the rise of homo sapien to the proper ontic state to commit that sin. Unless we say that death was not a reality for homo sapien only until the Fall…

    Parsing Genesis strikes me as the hardest exegetical game to play.

    Pax Christi,

  • What does seem problematic is the notion that death did not enter the picture until the first sin; when according to evolution, lots of dying had to precede the rise of homo sapien to the proper ontic state to commit that sin. Unless we say that death was not a reality for homo sapien only until the Fall…

    Parsing Genesis strikes me as the hardest exegetical game to play.

    Pax Christi,

  • BA,

    That is an excellent analysis and review of the film. Spot on.

    Wow.

    Tito

  • BA,

    That is an excellent analysis and review of the film. Spot on.

    Wow.

    Tito

  • ben

    Be careful Jason.

    I you do not believe that that the sin of Adam was transfused into all by propagation, not by imitation, you are anathematized by the Council of Trent.

    We must accept on faith that we are all the descendednts of Adam and Eve, a particular man and a particular woman, and that original sin was passed down to all of us by Adam.

    If you do not believe there was an Adam, and that he sinned and that his original sin was passed on to all of his descendants then you are at odds with the revealed tradition of the church.

  • ben

    Be careful Jason.

    I you do not believe that that the sin of Adam was transfused into all by propagation, not by imitation, you are anathematized by the Council of Trent.

    We must accept on faith that we are all the descendednts of Adam and Eve, a particular man and a particular woman, and that original sin was passed down to all of us by Adam.

    If you do not believe there was an Adam, and that he sinned and that his original sin was passed on to all of his descendants then you are at odds with the revealed tradition of the church.

  • Jason

    Ben, I may be anathematized by Trent, but in trying to think about the possiblities which would reconcile evolution with Genesis, I think I’d be in good company. Blogger Jimmy Akin noted the following, for example (I’ve seen similar comments elsewhere, but his one sums up what I’ve read):

    “Pius XII strongly discouraged this interpretation [that Adam and Eve may not be literally historical] in his enecyclical Humani Generis, but did not altogether preclude the possibility that the Magisterium might be open to it in the future, and some members of the Magisterium (such as the German bishops’ conference) have been explicitly open to it in recent years.”

  • Jason

    Ben, I may be anathematized by Trent, but in trying to think about the possiblities which would reconcile evolution with Genesis, I think I’d be in good company. Blogger Jimmy Akin noted the following, for example (I’ve seen similar comments elsewhere, but his one sums up what I’ve read):

    “Pius XII strongly discouraged this interpretation [that Adam and Eve may not be literally historical] in his enecyclical Humani Generis, but did not altogether preclude the possibility that the Magisterium might be open to it in the future, and some members of the Magisterium (such as the German bishops’ conference) have been explicitly open to it in recent years.”

  • Blackadder

    What the Catechism says on the matter is that “[t]he account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.” CCC 390.

  • Blackadder

    What the Catechism says on the matter is that “[t]he account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.” CCC 390.

  • ben

    Humani Generis says:

    “The faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.”

    We are bound to accept on faith that there is One Adam and that all sinned in him.

    Your soul is more precious than any scientific explanation for anything. You have no duty to reconcile various scientific points of intrest with the revealed tradition of the Church. Your duty is to believe what the Church teaches.

  • ben

    Humani Generis says:

    “The faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.”

    We are bound to accept on faith that there is One Adam and that all sinned in him.

    Your soul is more precious than any scientific explanation for anything. You have no duty to reconcile various scientific points of intrest with the revealed tradition of the Church. Your duty is to believe what the Church teaches.

  • I really find the evolution/creationism debate very boring…just lack of any real curiosity. But from what I’ve read most scientists would reject a notion of evolution that evolves one set of human parents from which the rest of humanity directly descended. As ben points out, this seems a little at odds with Catholic teaching. Sure, the Church allows for evolution, but with a pretty big stipulation that it seems to me most scientists would reject. How does this all square up?

  • I really find the evolution/creationism debate very boring…just lack of any real curiosity. But from what I’ve read most scientists would reject a notion of evolution that evolves one set of human parents from which the rest of humanity directly descended. As ben points out, this seems a little at odds with Catholic teaching. Sure, the Church allows for evolution, but with a pretty big stipulation that it seems to me most scientists would reject. How does this all square up?

  • “involves one set of parents” not “evolves”

  • “involves one set of parents” not “evolves”

  • Taking the Adam and Eve story literally would take quite a suspension of one’s faculties.

  • Taking the Adam and Eve story literally would take quite a suspension of one’s faculties.

  • Alyosha

    I for one do not think that the eternal state of my soul is at risk over the issue of affirming that original sin occurred solely in one historic man “and that all sinned in him.”

  • Alyosha

    I for one do not think that the eternal state of my soul is at risk over the issue of affirming that original sin occurred solely in one historic man “and that all sinned in him.”

  • ben

    GA,

    Quie the contrary, failure to take certain elements of the Adam and Eve story literaly, namley that all are descendant from one set of human parents, could lead to the suspension of one’s faculties.

  • ben

    GA,

    Quie the contrary, failure to take certain elements of the Adam and Eve story literaly, namley that all are descendant from one set of human parents, could lead to the suspension of one’s faculties.

  • Alyosha

    The Adam and Eve myth in the Bible was not taken as an aetiological account for sin’s entrance and transmission in the world until St. Augustine. In the Jewish faith, the figure of Adam does not play centrally at all like he does whenever NT commentator’s read into Paul’s reintroduction of him.

    And transmision through proprogation is NOT a doctrine of the faith.

  • Alyosha

    The Adam and Eve myth in the Bible was not taken as an aetiological account for sin’s entrance and transmission in the world until St. Augustine. In the Jewish faith, the figure of Adam does not play centrally at all like he does whenever NT commentator’s read into Paul’s reintroduction of him.

    And transmision through proprogation is NOT a doctrine of the faith.

  • Guy goes into the Confessional…’Bless me Father, for I have sinned…I looked with lust at women, I stole my neighbor’s newspaper and missed Mass last Sunday’
    Priest sighs to himself, ‘If only someone would come with an original sin.’

  • Guy goes into the Confessional…’Bless me Father, for I have sinned…I looked with lust at women, I stole my neighbor’s newspaper and missed Mass last Sunday’
    Priest sighs to himself, ‘If only someone would come with an original sin.’

  • Blackadder

    Eddie Izzard is a funny man.

  • Blackadder

    Eddie Izzard is a funny man.

  • I only remembered the punchline 🙂 I listened to all Izzard standups on the flight to Paris and now I’m watching The Riches on my ipod touch :o)

    Surely you also know ‘Cake or death’ and ‘Pavlov’s cats’ 🙂

  • I only remembered the punchline 🙂 I listened to all Izzard standups on the flight to Paris and now I’m watching The Riches on my ipod touch :o)

    Surely you also know ‘Cake or death’ and ‘Pavlov’s cats’ 🙂

  • Michael

    Here’s a rather brief and interesting read by a Thomist who is not a huge fan of Intelligent Design:
    http://guweb2.gonzaga.edu/faculty/calhoun/socratic/Tkacz_AquinasvsID.html

  • Michael

    Here’s a rather brief and interesting read by a Thomist who is not a huge fan of Intelligent Design:
    http://guweb2.gonzaga.edu/faculty/calhoun/socratic/Tkacz_AquinasvsID.html

  • Rod

    Ok, based on my understanding of IDism, God kept a disarray of ledgers, notes and black board where he spent most of eternity pondering how each life and thing has to be made. And there was not a few nights that he jumped out of bed to make some modifications to his plans. Nobody can dispute that belief.

    I have have my own belief that I guess nobody can dispute, too. That God, because he is God, simply flicked things into space and we see everything today. And he gave us scientists to unravel and explain to us the laws that He put into each thing that makes them tick…how they were created by him…so man does not grope in ignorance. Survival of the fittest. Something will get to the Finish line first – incidentally that’s us. And I’m happy about that and can say no more. Is there somebody who can dispute that with something indisputable?

  • Rod

    Ok, based on my understanding of IDism, God kept a disarray of ledgers, notes and black board where he spent most of eternity pondering how each life and thing has to be made. And there was not a few nights that he jumped out of bed to make some modifications to his plans. Nobody can dispute that belief.

    I have have my own belief that I guess nobody can dispute, too. That God, because he is God, simply flicked things into space and we see everything today. And he gave us scientists to unravel and explain to us the laws that He put into each thing that makes them tick…how they were created by him…so man does not grope in ignorance. Survival of the fittest. Something will get to the Finish line first – incidentally that’s us. And I’m happy about that and can say no more. Is there somebody who can dispute that with something indisputable?

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  • Ben(jamin) Stein is under heavy artillery for ‘exaggerating’ or ‘going easy’ on the influence of evolutionism behind Nazism and Stalinism (super evolution of Lysenkoism in the Soviet Russia). But the monstrous Haeckelian type of vulgar evolutionism drove not only the ‘Politics-is-applied-biology’ Nazi takeover in the continental Europe, but even the nationalistic collision at the World War I. It was Charles Darwin himself, who praised and raised the monstrous German Ernst Haeckel with his still recycled embryo drawing frauds etc. in the spotlight as the greatest authority in the field of human evolution, even in the preface to his Descent of man in 1871. If Thomas Henry Huxley with his concept of ‘agnostism’ was Darwins bulldog in England, Haeckel was his Rotweiler in Germany.

    ‘Kampf’ was a direct translation of ‘struggle’ from On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859). Seinen Kampf. His application.

    Catch 22: Haeckel’s 140 years old fake embryo drawings have been mindlessly recycled for the ‘public understanding of science’ (PUS) in most biology text books until this millennium. Despite factum est that Haeckel’s crackpot raging Recapitulation/Biogenetic Law and functioning gill slits of human embryos have been at the ethical tangent race hygiene/eugenics/genocide, infanticide, and Freudian psychoanalysis (subconscious atavisms). Dawkins is the Oxford professor for PUS – and should gather the courage of Stephen Jay Gould who could feel ashamed about it.

    Some edited quotes from my conference posters and articles defended and published in the field of bioethics and history of biology (and underline/edit them a ‘bit’):
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Asian_Bioethics.pdf
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Haeckelianlegacy_ABC5.pdf

    The marriage laws were once erected not only in the Nazi Germany but also in the multicultural states of America upon the speculation that the mulatto was a relatively sterile and shortlived hybrid. The absence of blood transfusion between “white” and “colored races” was self evident (Hailer 1963, p. 52).

    The first law on sterilization in US had been established in 1907 in Indiana, and 23 similar laws had been passed in 15 States and sterilization was practiced in 124 institutions in 1921 (Mattila 1996; Hietala 1985 p. 133; these were the times of IQ-tests under Gould’s scrutiny in his Mismeasure of Man 1981). By 1931 thirty states had passed sterization laws in the US (Reilly 1991, p. 87). Typically, the operations hit blacks the most in the US, poor women in the Europe, and often the victims were never even told they had been sterilized.

    Mendelism outweighed recapitulation (embryos climbing up their evolutionary tree through fish-, amphibian- and reptilian stages), but that merely smoothened the way for the brutal 1930’s biolegislation – that quickly penetrated practically all Western countries. The laws were copied from country to country. The A-B-O blood groups, haemophilia, eye colours etc. were found to be inherited in a Mendelian fashion by 1910. So also the complex traits and social (mis)behaviour such as alcoholism, schizophrenia, manic depression, criminality, rebelliousness, artistic sense, pauperism, racial differences, inherited scholarship (and its converse, feeble-mindedness) were all thought to be determined by one or two genes. Mendelism was “experimental” and quantitative, and its exaggeration outweighed the more cautious biometry operating on smaller variations, not discontinuous leaps. Its advocates boldly claimed that these problems could be done away within a few generations through selection, persisted (although most biologists must have known that defective genes could not be eliminated, even with the most intense forced sterilizations and marriage restrictions due to recessive genes and synergism. Nevertheless, these laws were held until 1970’s and were typically changed only when the abortion legislation were released (1973).

    So the American laws were pioneering endeavours. In Europe Denmark passed the first sterilization legislation in Europe (1929). Denmark was followed by Switzerland, Germany that had felt to the hands of Hitler and Gobineu, and other Nordic countries: Norway (1934), Sweden (1935), Finland (1935), and Iceland (1938 ) (Haller 1963, pp 21-57; 135-9; Proctor 1988, p. 97; Reilly 1991, p. 109). Seldom is it mentioned in the popular media, that the first outright race biological institution in the world was not established in Germany but in 1921 in Uppsala, Sweden (Hietala 1985, pp. 109). (I am not aware of the ethymology of the ‘Up’ of the ancient city from Plinius’ Ultima Thule, however.) In 1907 the Society for Racial Hygiene in Germany had changed its name to the Internationale Gesellschaft für Rassenhygiene, and in 1910 Swedish Society for Eugenics (Sällskap för Rashygien) had become its first foreign affiliate (Proctor 1988, p. 17). Today, Swedish state church is definitely the most liberal in the face of the world.

    Hitler’s formulation of the differences between the human races was affected by the brilliant sky-blue eyed Ernst Haeckel (Gasman 1971, p. xxii), praised and raised by Darwin. At the top of the unilinear progression were usually the “Nordics”, a tall race of blue-eyed blonds. Haeckel’s position on the ‘Judenfrage’ was assimilation and Expelled-command from their university chairs, not yet an open elimination. But was it different only in degree, rather than kind?

    In 1917 the immigration of “defective” groups was forbidden even in the United States by a law. In 1921 the European immigration was diminished to 3% based on the 1910 census. Eventually, in the strategical year of 1924 the finest hour of eugenics had come and the fatal law was passed by Congress. It diminished immigration to 2% of the foreign-born from each country based on the 1890 census in order to preserve the “nordic” balance in population, and was hold through World War II until 1965 (Hietala 1985, p. 132).

    Richard Lewontin writes:“The leading American idealogue of the innate mental inferiority of the working class was, however, H.H. Goddard, a pioneer of the mental testing movement, the discoverer of the Kallikak family,
    and the administrant of IQ-tests to immigrants that found 83 % of the Jews, 80% of the Hungarians, 79% of the Italians, and 87% of the the Russians to be feebleminded.” (1977, p. 13.) Regarding us Finns, Finnish emmigrants put the cross on the box reserved for the “yellow” group (Kemiläinen 1993, p. 1930), until 1965.

    Germany was the most scientifically and culturally advanced nation of the world upon opening the riddles at the close of the nineteenth century. And she went Full Monty.

    Today, developmental biologists are anticipating legislation of laws that would define the do’s and dont’s. In England, they are fertilizing human embryos for research purposes and pipetting chimera embryos of humans and monkeys, ‘legally’. The legislation should not distract individual researchers from their personal awareness of responsibility. A permissive law merely defines the ethical minimum. The lesson is that a law is no substitute for morals and that dissidents should not be intimidated.

    I am suspicious over the burial of the Kampf (Struggle). The idea of competition is innate in the modern society. It is the the opposite view in a 180 degree angle to the Judaeo-Christian ideal of agapee (contra epithumia, eros, filia & storge) (ahava in Hebrew), that I personally cheriss. The latter sees free giving, altruism, benevolence and self sacrificing love as the beginning, motivation, and sustainer of the reality.

    pauli.ojala@gmail.com
    Biochemist, drop-out (Master of Sciing)
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Expelled-ID.htm

  • Ben(jamin) Stein is under heavy artillery for ‘exaggerating’ or ‘going easy’ on the influence of evolutionism behind Nazism and Stalinism (super evolution of Lysenkoism in the Soviet Russia). But the monstrous Haeckelian type of vulgar evolutionism drove not only the ‘Politics-is-applied-biology’ Nazi takeover in the continental Europe, but even the nationalistic collision at the World War I. It was Charles Darwin himself, who praised and raised the monstrous German Ernst Haeckel with his still recycled embryo drawing frauds etc. in the spotlight as the greatest authority in the field of human evolution, even in the preface to his Descent of man in 1871. If Thomas Henry Huxley with his concept of ‘agnostism’ was Darwins bulldog in England, Haeckel was his Rotweiler in Germany.

    ‘Kampf’ was a direct translation of ‘struggle’ from On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859). Seinen Kampf. His application.

    Catch 22: Haeckel’s 140 years old fake embryo drawings have been mindlessly recycled for the ‘public understanding of science’ (PUS) in most biology text books until this millennium. Despite factum est that Haeckel’s crackpot raging Recapitulation/Biogenetic Law and functioning gill slits of human embryos have been at the ethical tangent race hygiene/eugenics/genocide, infanticide, and Freudian psychoanalysis (subconscious atavisms). Dawkins is the Oxford professor for PUS – and should gather the courage of Stephen Jay Gould who could feel ashamed about it.

    Some edited quotes from my conference posters and articles defended and published in the field of bioethics and history of biology (and underline/edit them a ‘bit’):
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Asian_Bioethics.pdf
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Haeckelianlegacy_ABC5.pdf

    The marriage laws were once erected not only in the Nazi Germany but also in the multicultural states of America upon the speculation that the mulatto was a relatively sterile and shortlived hybrid. The absence of blood transfusion between “white” and “colored races” was self evident (Hailer 1963, p. 52).

    The first law on sterilization in US had been established in 1907 in Indiana, and 23 similar laws had been passed in 15 States and sterilization was practiced in 124 institutions in 1921 (Mattila 1996; Hietala 1985 p. 133; these were the times of IQ-tests under Gould’s scrutiny in his Mismeasure of Man 1981). By 1931 thirty states had passed sterization laws in the US (Reilly 1991, p. 87). Typically, the operations hit blacks the most in the US, poor women in the Europe, and often the victims were never even told they had been sterilized.

    Mendelism outweighed recapitulation (embryos climbing up their evolutionary tree through fish-, amphibian- and reptilian stages), but that merely smoothened the way for the brutal 1930’s biolegislation – that quickly penetrated practically all Western countries. The laws were copied from country to country. The A-B-O blood groups, haemophilia, eye colours etc. were found to be inherited in a Mendelian fashion by 1910. So also the complex traits and social (mis)behaviour such as alcoholism, schizophrenia, manic depression, criminality, rebelliousness, artistic sense, pauperism, racial differences, inherited scholarship (and its converse, feeble-mindedness) were all thought to be determined by one or two genes. Mendelism was “experimental” and quantitative, and its exaggeration outweighed the more cautious biometry operating on smaller variations, not discontinuous leaps. Its advocates boldly claimed that these problems could be done away within a few generations through selection, persisted (although most biologists must have known that defective genes could not be eliminated, even with the most intense forced sterilizations and marriage restrictions due to recessive genes and synergism. Nevertheless, these laws were held until 1970’s and were typically changed only when the abortion legislation were released (1973).

    So the American laws were pioneering endeavours. In Europe Denmark passed the first sterilization legislation in Europe (1929). Denmark was followed by Switzerland, Germany that had felt to the hands of Hitler and Gobineu, and other Nordic countries: Norway (1934), Sweden (1935), Finland (1935), and Iceland (1938 ) (Haller 1963, pp 21-57; 135-9; Proctor 1988, p. 97; Reilly 1991, p. 109). Seldom is it mentioned in the popular media, that the first outright race biological institution in the world was not established in Germany but in 1921 in Uppsala, Sweden (Hietala 1985, pp. 109). (I am not aware of the ethymology of the ‘Up’ of the ancient city from Plinius’ Ultima Thule, however.) In 1907 the Society for Racial Hygiene in Germany had changed its name to the Internationale Gesellschaft für Rassenhygiene, and in 1910 Swedish Society for Eugenics (Sällskap för Rashygien) had become its first foreign affiliate (Proctor 1988, p. 17). Today, Swedish state church is definitely the most liberal in the face of the world.

    Hitler’s formulation of the differences between the human races was affected by the brilliant sky-blue eyed Ernst Haeckel (Gasman 1971, p. xxii), praised and raised by Darwin. At the top of the unilinear progression were usually the “Nordics”, a tall race of blue-eyed blonds. Haeckel’s position on the ‘Judenfrage’ was assimilation and Expelled-command from their university chairs, not yet an open elimination. But was it different only in degree, rather than kind?

    In 1917 the immigration of “defective” groups was forbidden even in the United States by a law. In 1921 the European immigration was diminished to 3% based on the 1910 census. Eventually, in the strategical year of 1924 the finest hour of eugenics had come and the fatal law was passed by Congress. It diminished immigration to 2% of the foreign-born from each country based on the 1890 census in order to preserve the “nordic” balance in population, and was hold through World War II until 1965 (Hietala 1985, p. 132).

    Richard Lewontin writes:“The leading American idealogue of the innate mental inferiority of the working class was, however, H.H. Goddard, a pioneer of the mental testing movement, the discoverer of the Kallikak family,
    and the administrant of IQ-tests to immigrants that found 83 % of the Jews, 80% of the Hungarians, 79% of the Italians, and 87% of the the Russians to be feebleminded.” (1977, p. 13.) Regarding us Finns, Finnish emmigrants put the cross on the box reserved for the “yellow” group (Kemiläinen 1993, p. 1930), until 1965.

    Germany was the most scientifically and culturally advanced nation of the world upon opening the riddles at the close of the nineteenth century. And she went Full Monty.

    Today, developmental biologists are anticipating legislation of laws that would define the do’s and dont’s. In England, they are fertilizing human embryos for research purposes and pipetting chimera embryos of humans and monkeys, ‘legally’. The legislation should not distract individual researchers from their personal awareness of responsibility. A permissive law merely defines the ethical minimum. The lesson is that a law is no substitute for morals and that dissidents should not be intimidated.

    I am suspicious over the burial of the Kampf (Struggle). The idea of competition is innate in the modern society. It is the the opposite view in a 180 degree angle to the Judaeo-Christian ideal of agapee (contra epithumia, eros, filia & storge) (ahava in Hebrew), that I personally cheriss. The latter sees free giving, altruism, benevolence and self sacrificing love as the beginning, motivation, and sustainer of the reality.

    pauli.ojala@gmail.com
    Biochemist, drop-out (Master of Sciing)
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Expelled-ID.htm