Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

April 14, 2008

Dawkins on Real Time With Bill Maher

Filed under: film, media, politics, science — Tags: , , , — codesmithy @ 6:19 am

Richard Dawkins was on Real Time With Bill Maher.  One thing that sort of amazes me is Dawkins’ surprise at people who believe the myths of the Bible.  He seems to be of the opinion that scientists tend to be of more of the Einsteinian persuasion.  God is a euphemism for the awe and wonder of the universe, instead of a figure in ancient fiction.

My only guess at why the revelations of Bible thumping scientists surprise Dawkins is because he is unfamiliar with the amount of compartmentalization, lack of reflection, and inconsistency the majority of people are willing to endure, especially intelligent people.  While “The God Delusion” remains on the New York Times best-sellers list at the 16th spot, “90 Minutes in Heaven” is holding strong at 8th spot.  So while 1.5 million copies seems like an achievement, “90 Minutes in Heaven” has sold about as many (1.4 million in print according to their website Book Info).

“90 Minutes in Heaven” remains unreviewed by the New York Times despite being on the list 76 weeks now.  In another example of how the mainstream media coddles religious believers, Time reviewed Ben Stein’s film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.  Titled “Ben Stein Dukes it Out with Darwin” which is unsound on its face because evolution is more than just Darwin, discoveries from DNA to Tiktaalik have reinforced evolutionary theory beyond any evidence Darwin presented.  In fact, it is more like fundamentalist religion versus modern biology.

Given that the article was published April 10th, I’m disappointed the article states:

It’s impossible to know from the handful of examples he cites how widespread the problem is, but if there’s anything to it at all, it’s a matter well worth exposing.

Michael Shermer in Scientific American does a much better job deconstructing the claims of expulsion.  No need to conjecture about how widespread the problem is: it doesn’t exist.  It serves as an example of how lies get spread through the media.  Jeffrey Kluger isn’t a reporter, he is a stenographer.  Time and its reporter are too intellectually lazy to look into Stein’s claims to discover they are baseless.  It doesn’t seem to occur to the organization that the intellectual dishonesty displayed in other aspects of the movie also permeate this aspect to it and thus consider the claims skeptically.  Instead, it is given the benefit of the doubt.

The reason for this is apparent in the final paragraph.

In fairness to Stein, his opponents have hardly covered themselves in glory. Evolutionary biologists and social commentators have lately taken to answering the claims of intelligent-design boosters not with clear-eyed scientific empiricism but with sneering, finger-in-the-eye atheism. Biologist P.Z. Myers, for example, tells Stein that religion ought to be seen as little more than a soothing pastime, a bit like knitting. Books such as Christopher Hitchens’ God Is Not Great and Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion often read like pure taunting, as when Hitchens pettily and pointedly types God as lowercase god. Tautology as typography is not the stuff of deep thought. Neither, alas, is Expelled.

It’s those damn holier-than-thou taunting atheists.  How dare Hitchens not capitalize god?! (Not an evolutionary biologist you say, not in the movie, no matter). And well, obviously, that excuses Stein then.  He is allowed to lie, misrepresent and slander because he made the film in a fit of rage!

Seriously, out of a review that consists of five paragraphs, one is dedicated to apologizing for Stein because three semi-prominent atheists (one of which is not even a scientists) have repeated stated Intelligent Design is not science (which it obviously is not).  They do so unequivocally and unapologetically.  Why do they do so?  Because unlike Kluger and Time, they have a basic respect for the truth, they go looking for answers, they just won’t repeat what someone told them without doing some basic research first, and when someone says something they know to be untrue, they will call them on it.  Properties sorely missing from Kluger’s “reporting.”



  1. just saw Expelled; the fact that Ben Stein isn’t trying to win any popularity contests helps to validate his message… i gather that his goal is to promote free thought, especially more thinking about worldviews that drive American academia

    Comment by patrick — April 23, 2008 @ 9:05 am

  2. just saw Expelled;

    I’m sorry.

    the fact that Ben Stein isn’t trying to win any popularity contests helps to validate his message…

    I’m always surprised by the amount of credence some people apparently give to their appeals to motivation. Do you honestly think this is the least bit convincing? An alternative premise is that Ben Stein is pandering to the prejudices of his audience. Does that help validate his message?

    i gather that his goal is to promote free thought, especially more thinking about worldviews that drive American academia

    Just watch this:

    Asking for positive evidence for positive assertions is not a form of oppression. The abandonment of this principle is not “free thought” it is special pleading. The funny thing is that in science, it doesn’t matter what your worldview is, as long as you can back your case up with logic and evidence. Something Intelligent Design fails miserably at, which is why Ben Stein is left attacking “Darwinism.” The fact that Ben Stein cannot draw a distinction between evolution and abiogenesis and hovels his audience in his intentional and stubborn ignorance shows the nature of his intellectual dishonesty. His goal is not to enlighten, it is to delude.

    Comment by codesmithy — April 23, 2008 @ 5:57 pm

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