Saturday, January 9, 2010
Ben Stein isn't Very Bright
I was working out this morning (it's a new year, right?) and, since the children have lost/hidden my remote, I was passively forced to watch Ben Stein's documentary "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." I actually only saw the last 30 minutes of it, but that was enough to fuel this latest entry of gold.
So, if you're unaware, the film is a defense of Intelligent Design, the concept that life on earth was designed by some unseen hand and not the random happenings of evolution. And while many of its proponents claim it has nothing to do with religion, that's a farce. It's like a guy telling a woman her really nice ass has nothing to do with him wanting to grab it. In my opinion, and apparently the rest of the scientific world, Intelligent Design is the religious community's way of shoehorning God into our textbooks.
And, just so we're clear. I'm not 100% sold on evolution in the sense that there was a time when all scientists agreed the earth was flat or that Sandra Bullock was a reason to go to movies. Point being: what is fact one day is false the next. Ask the brontosaurus. That said, I put my FAITH in the science of evolution as a good answer to how life on this planet happens. If for nothing else, scientists don't fuck up my weekends by knocking on my doors and forcing me to hide behind my couch.
Anyway, when I turn the movie on Ben Stein (the first evangelical Jew I've ever heard of) is touring a Nazi concentration camp. Why? Because apparently Hitler believed in Darwinism and therefore exterminated millions of "inferior" people. So, there you have it, following Darwin leads to you becoming an ethnic-cleansing lunatic so evil that the sight of your mustache alone makes people pause. And with science out of the way, the only example to follow will be religion and we all know no one ever got killed or harmed in the name of faith.
(ironic dramatic pause)
But Stein's just getting warmed up. His REAL argument is that denying the discussion of intelligent design in academia is akin to the evils of the Berlin Wall. And sure enough, the movie starts flashing black and white images of people secreting over the barrier so they too can learn about Intelligent Design. One incredulous ID researcher says (I'm paraphrasing, but not much): "They've pretty much said that religion and science will always be separate. This is what the Academy of Science is saying. So that sort of ends the debate before it gets started doesn't it?!?" Yes, it does. Thank you. Religion is not science. Just like puppies aren't cookies. Maybe you like both of them, but one is for petting and one is for eating (unless you're in China).
This all builds up the climax of the film -- a rousing speech by Stein to a room full of, what looks like to me, the same defiantly-happy crowds you see at a Christian Rock concerts (their zeal is almost violent). The imagery suddenly becomes very Michael Bay-ish -- saturated colors, slow motion waving flags, Megan Fox leaning on motorcycles -- as Stein's call for freedom is, I shit you not, intercut with a speech from Ronald Reagan about the Berlin Wall. Seriously, it was like right-wing porn. It could only have been topped if Billy Ray Cyrus rode in on a deer and then shot that deer with a Miller Lite rifle. But I digress.
At the end of the day, neither science or religion do a good job of answering the question: how did it all start. I throw in with science because at least they allow for themselves being wrong. Believers are not as flexible. You cannot question things. It is, by definition, the opposite of science.
I don't know how to end this post, so I'll just stop typing.