Intelligent Design

Should the Expelled movie have addressed the Holocaust?

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Many of us have heard a wearisome amount of commentary about whether the Expelled film should have – or should not have – dwelt on the Darwin-driven Nazi extermination of “inferior” peoples.

Scholar Richard Weikart, who knows more than anyone alive about the  Nazis and Darwin, writes to say,

The point about showing the social and ethical impact of Darwinism is not to *disprove* Darwinism. However, many people fail to understand that Darwinism necessarily has ethical implications, in ways that other sciences do not, because it makes claims about the origins of morality (at least Darwin in Descent of Man made such claims, as have myriads of Darwinists thereafter).

However, while not disproving Darwinism, pointing out the ethical implications and impacts of Darwinism is nonetheless important, as I have learned from reactions to my book, From Darwin to Hitler, and to lectures I have given. Some individuals have told me that before learning about my work on the intersection of Darwinism and bioethics, they didn’t think Darwinism was all that important—they saw it as irrelevant, a mere intellectual curiosity. Darwinism, however, makes claims about life and death issues—indeed, about the very meaning of life and death (in addition to its claims about the origins of morality). Granted, there are various ways philosophically to try to meet these challenges, but knowing the directions that Darwinism has taken historically can help clarify the philosophical issues, it seems to me. For those who think that the social implications have only been felt by Nazi Germany, get John West’s excellent book, _Darwin Day in America_, where he shows the way that Darwinism has impacted many diverse fields in the US.

I do not disbelieve in Darwinism because of its ethical and social consequences. I disbelieve in Darwinism because it is inconsistent with the available evidence. It simply is not true. Showing that people have been (and are being!!) killed in the name of Darwinism, however, lends poignancy and urgency to exposing the falsehood.

If I did not have any other reason to believe Weikart, I need only look at the rubbish at Wikipedia on the subject.

Surely no one sends their students there? It is nothing but a whitewash of Darwin’s racism and the inevitable consequences of same. It will be instructive to see Barack Obama’s campaign get hold of this stuff and turn it into something really slick.

Meanwhile, key news from the north:

Killer insects and intelligent design

Intellectual freedom in Canada: Friends fear the comics won’t dare be funny in ways that matter

Louisiana Academic Freedom Bill: White lab coats to take refuge behind black law robes?

Was the bison’s peculiar chest a design feature … to help Native North Americans survive?

Intellectual freedom in Canada: … Look out, PC bigots! The True North strong and free is shaking off your chains …

What happens if Darwinism is subjected to natural selection in the Louisiana bayou?

Darwin’s co-founder Wallace accepted intelligent design?

Canadian comics rally for freedom: Let’s
LAUGH Canada’s “human rights” commissions out of existence!

What I think about common descent – answer to a reader’s question

38 Replies to “Should the Expelled movie have addressed the Holocaust?

  1. 1
    FtK says:

    Oh, lordy, let’s not go there again.

    Sigh…

  2. 2
    nullasalus says:

    That’s a very good point about insects, Denyse – one I’ve been long considering. Darwin made hey about those evil wasps with their evil methods of reproduction, but no one points out that the evidence indicates insects feel no pain. Even fish (from what I read) lack the brain material to experience such.

    Which puts an interesting spin on the argument of evil issue with regards to nature. Just how much evolution was had before pain was introduced? And was the introduction of pain itself a bad thing?

  3. 3
    bFast says:

    nullasalus, “Even fish (from what I read) lack the brain material to experience such.”

    I once was fishing in a small river. I could see a few small fish swimming around, so I figued I’d watch how they responded to my fly. I stuck my fly down there, and lo and behold the biggest of the bunch bit. It was still only 6″ long so I let it go. It went right back to the hole it had been hold up in. I put my fly down again. As a littler fish went for my fly, the first fish shoed it away.

    Maybe fish are underestimated.

    BTW, I have similar anecdotal evidence that fish see color.

  4. 4
    bFast says:

    Over at Telic Thoughts, Mike Gene has presented this link: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/f.....A9659C8B63

    It points to an article defending decency in the context of a Darwinian philosopher who is suggesting that we practice infanticide. Bringing out the holocaust in “Evidence” was totally realistic. Holocaust 1 was Hitler’s. Holocaust 2 is abortion. Holocaust 3 is allowing women, or men, to choose well after the baby is born.

    Even if evolution were true, it would be better for society to conclude that it is not.

  5. 5
    vpr says:

    Guess its time someone send Judge Jones a signed copy 🙂

  6. 6
    Avonwatches says:

    @3.

    I agree that this could be considered anecdotal evidence for fish feeling pain.

    However, pain is not necessary for such a response. The ‘flight’ response for prey species is deeply wired into the genes, as prey species survive by fleeing predators (usually by running, but most animals will fight if there’s no escape).

    A similar observation is seen in cows (and most other prey species). Unless a cow has been brought up pretty much inside a person’s house (constant, consistent contact with humans from an early age), cows will always try to avoid getting caught. When they are trapped by a cattle crush, though it does not inflict pain on them, they thrash and strain against it, wanting to escape from being ‘caught’. They then also tend to avoid the device if they see it again (but fortunately for dairy/beef industry are cowed into it easily enough by beating them on the backside with a polypipe, excuse the pun).

    The behavior of prey animals (and predators) are deeply hardwired into their genes (or wherever), such that there are certain behaviors that are default and hard to erase (‘static’ behaviors, common to all members of that species). Making fish at ease with being caught is an example of this, as is making cows comfortable close to humans rather than running away.

    Certainly you can have cows (and perhaps fish?) that are ‘at ease’ with humans patting them (I have seen a few), but the prey/flee behavior is deeply wired into them and alot of training/handling is needed to overcome this instinctive response.

  7. 7
    Larry Fafarman says:

    One reason why it was appropriate to present the Darwin-to-Hitler connection is that this connection — indirect if not direct — is historical fact.

    Another reason is that Darwinists have shown that they regard Darwinism as a philosophy of life rather than merely science — they shamelessly celebrate Darwin Day, use “I love Darwin” items, confer “Friend of Darwin” certificates, celebrate the Lincoln-Darwin birthdate coincidence, etc.. So it is very hypocritical of the Darwinists to complain when some logical consequences of such a philosophy of life are pointed out.

    I wrote on my blog,

    Like a mad scientist in a horror movie, many Darwinists seem to have morbid, sadistic and Strangelovian fascinations with the pernicious social effects of Darwinism. These Darwinists don’t just regard Darwinism as a necessary evil but shamelessly worship Darwin — there are Darwin Day celebrations, “I love Darwin” knick-knacks, “Friend of Darwin” certificates handed out at a reunion of the Dover plaintiffs, etc.. Though I don’t think that being descended from monkeys is anything to be ashamed of, I don’t think that it is cause for celebration, either.

    O the following facts need to be recognized in any discussion of the Darwin-Hitler connection:

    (1) Nazi anti-semitism targeted fit Jews as well as unfit Jews and so was not a true eugenics program. IMO the primary influence of Nazism on the holocaust was to create the idea that it is morally OK to get rid of undesirables.

    (2) A “systematic” holocaust was impossible because the Nazis had no objective and reliable ways of identifying Jews and non-Jews.

    Denyse O’Leary said in the original post,

    Surely no one sends their students there (Wikipedia)?

    A lot of schools and teachers do not allow students to use Wikipedia as a primary reference. At least one school even blocked access to Wickedpedia on all of the school’s computers.

    My blog has several articles about the Darwin-to-Hitler connection in the following two post-label groups (there are two groups because my blogging software allows only a maximum of 20 articles per group) —

    http://im-from-missouri.blogsp.....-to-Hitler

    http://im-from-missouri.blogsp.....%20%231%29

  8. 8
    O'Leary says:

    Interesting re cows and fish, bFast.

    An experience of pain requires some sort of unitary consciousness, that is, a consciousness of a self that is the subject of experience.

    Otherwise, the question is, when pain is experienced, what exactly is experiencing the pain?

    While I don’t doubt that most mammals have such a consciousness, I just don’t know about fish.

    I doubt it would be true of insects – or at least their behaviour often seems to suggest that it isn’t.

    This unitary consciousness is not, strictly speaking, the same thing as intelligence or the ability to react to an injury. A creature could be intelligent and reactive, I suppose, without having a sense of a self that is the subject of experience.

    Now, bFast, you also make the point hat even if evolution be true, it is better to conclude it is not.

    But are the supposed implications of evolution (common descent?) not largely a matter of social choice?

    What if you and I discovered we were both descendants of Adolph Hitler?

    What follows? A life of mass murder? Surely not.

    When people point to common descent as a justification for, say, abortion, they are offering a culturally palatable holiday from thinking. The notion seems to be “We are just animals, and so … ”

    Now, let’s do a thought experiment: What if common descent were falsified? Wouldn’t those same people find another culturally palatable excuse for abortion? Something like, “Alone of all creation, we have the power to choose death … “? Hey, I’ve done half their work for them already!

    Actually, I suspect that most people who treat common descent as an article of materialist religious faith could not give a credible argument for it.

    They believe it because they hope it justifies such practices as abortion – when it is in fact irrelevant to them.

  9. 9
    soplo caseosa says:

    The Anti-Defamation League decries the connection that you and Wiekart are trying to make, Denyse. Why do you suppose that is? Do they depend on Darwinist funding like the rest of the intelligentsia?

  10. 10
    DaveScot says:

    Denyse

    If you could, what would you change in the Wikipedia entry on Weikart so that it was no longer “rubbish”?

    Please don’t offer an answer like “everything”. To change a wikipedia article one has to at least first have specific and supportable claims of what needs to change.

    I read the wiki article carefully but I’m no expert on Weikart or his work so I can’t say specifically what is not accurate. I presume you have read Weikart’s book and have enough background information to be able to offer usable argument to support the rubbish claim.

    Offhand, it looks like the “academic reception” section is not balanced as there are no positive reviews of the controversial book by scholars qualified to review it. Are there any positive reviews by qualified historians? I don’t think wikipedia can successfully support not including positive reviews by qualified historians and if you (or anyone for that matter) can provide me with references to them I will attempt to have them incorporated into the article. Even though I don’t personally agree that Darwin’s theory was a necessary factor in the holocaust, fair is fair and balance demands that positive reviews by qualified scholars, if they exist, must be included with the negative.

  11. 11
    vjtorley says:

    Denyse, bFast and nullasalus:

    Insects and fish are certainly capable of learning. Indeed, honeybees (which appear to be capable of abstracting simple rules) and fish (which have excellent memories and can recognize up to 100 individuals) are quite smart. Nevertheless, the available scientific evidence indicates pretty strongly that these creatures do not feel pain.

    I did a Ph.D. thesis on this, which you can read online at

    http://www.angelfire.com/linux.....natomy.pdf or at

    http://www.angelfire.com/linux.....natomy.doc .

    The short answer to the question of which animals feel pain is that it is highly likely that at least some mammals can feel pain, and a good case can be made for some species of birds having this capacity too. A few researchers think reptiles and cephalopods (e.g. octopuses) may possess this ability as well, but this appears rather unlikely, from what we know of their brains.

    As to the question of how pain in the animal world can be reconciled with the goodness of God, you might like to have a look at this three-part article by Glenn Miller:

    http://www.christian-thinktank.com/pred1.html (parts 2 and 3 are much better than part 1, in my opinion).

  12. 12
    O'Leary says:

    VJTorley, thanks for helpful info!

    Re Richard Weikart’s encyclopedia entry, quoting a figure like Hector Avalos whitewashing Darwin’s racism speaks for itself.

    In my review of From Darwin to Hitler, I took the opportunity of asking Weikart about the reception of his book, and he had this to say:

    “The reviews by historians have been a mixed bag. The anonymous referees who reviewed it for the publisher praised it and gave it high marks, which led Palgrave Macmillan to publish it in the first place (so, yes, it is peer-reviewed). The historians Richard J. Evans of Cambridge Univ., Ian Dowbiggin of Univ. of Prince Edward Island, and Alfred Kelly all provided glowing dustjacket blurbs (see my website). I received a very positive review in German Studies Review, a review that was largely positive but also contained some criticisms on H-Ideas (available on-line), a review that tilted toward the negative, but also contained some positive comments, in Central European History, and some rather vicious reviews in American Historical Review (where readers were told that I was advancing a “theocratic agenda”) and in Journal of Modern History (where the reviewer ridiculously claimed I was arguing that Darwinism leads logically and inevitably to the Holocaust).

    All the reviewers admitted that my writing and research were good and none pointed out any significant errors of fact. Most of the criticisms I have addressed in a response posted to my website. (Scroll down to Response to critics.)”

    Weikart is precisely the sort of real scholar universities need more of, in my view.

    Re the Anti-Defamation League’s opinions, I do not know their origin.

    A Jewish friend refers to certain Jewish groups in Canada as “Jews for a living” and that is conceivably true of some American ones as well. Such a situation wouldn’t inspire confidence in their judgement on my part.

  13. 13
    DLH says:

    Dave at 10
    See Weikart’s original criticism of this “Biography”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Richard_Weikart

    Adding/restoring Reikart’s publications would help.

    Following are some balancing comments systematically removed by the thought police:

    Weikert generally responded to critics saying: “not only did I not make these arguments in my book, but I overtly denied them.”{{cite web|Author=Richard Weikart | title=General Response to Critics |url=http://www.csustan.edu/History/Faculty/Weikart/response-to-critics.htm }}

    Weikart wrote Arnhart: “you totally misrepresent my argument from the very start” citing his p. 4 that “Darwinism does not lead inevitably to Nazism . . .”{{cite web | url=http://www.csustan.edu/history/faculty/weikart/Response-Arnhart.htm | title=Response to Larry Arnhart’s Misinterpretation of From Darwin to Hitler | author = Richard Weikart }}

  14. 14
    BarryA says:

    Sopla writes: “The Anti-Defamation League decries the connection that you and Wiekart are trying to make, Denyse. Why do you suppose that is?”

    Anyone with any direct experience with the ADL knows that one is easy. The ADL wants people to think its purpose is to act as a bastion against anti-Semitism, when in fact if left its founding principles behind long ago, and the vast majority of its activities no longer have anything to do with those principles. Sadly, the ADL has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the liberal propaganda machine and has lost much of its credibility as a consequence.

  15. 15
    BarryA says:

    Regarding my comment in 14, here is an example from the ADL’s website:

    ADL Welcomes California Supreme Court Decision In Support Of Same-Sex Marriage: See

    http://www.adl.org/PresRele/CvlRt_32/5283_32.htm

    Whether one supports or opposes same sex marriage, it clearly has nothing to do with anti-Semitism.

  16. 16
    Apollos says:

    In Expelled, I think that promoting the Darwin/Nazi connection came at the expense of putting forward the evidence for design. Twelve seconds (or whatever it was) of intra-cellular machinery animation didn’t come close to satisfying.

    While the movie did a decent job exposing the ideological motivations of academia (and their tactics in silencing dissent) anyone who didn’t know about ID already was left with very little explanation about what it really is, and its scientific context.

    In a nation skeptical of Darwin’s claims, the movie missed a great opportunity to introduce the country to the real Intelligent Design, and instead sought poignancy by stressing the “scientific” justifications for Nazism.

  17. 17
    soplo caseosa says:

    A Jewish friend refers to certain Jewish groups in Canada as “Jews for a living” and that is conceivably true of some American ones as well. Such a situation wouldn’t inspire confidence in their judgement on my part.

    Denyse, if your implication is that the ADL is not to be believed because they are trafficking in offense, then you might wish to reconsider your position in the Eucharist Affair ™. Bill Donohue seems to make his living by being offended at anything that can be construed as anti-Catholic, yet you have no problem lining up with him. So, by supporting PZ Myers you could reiterate your strong stance on academic freedom and say no to organizations that are professionally offended.

  18. 18
    soplo caseosa says:

    For the record, I am in no way supporting PZ. I think it was juvenile in the extreme.

  19. 19
    StephenB says:

    —–soplo caseosa: “So, by supporting PZ Myers you could reiterate your strong stance on academic freedom and say no to organizations that are professionally offended.”

    —-“For the record, I am in no way supporting PZ. I think it was juvenile in the extreme.”

    I am having difficulty reconciling the latter statement with the former.

  20. 20
    soplo caseosa says:

    Stephen, let me spell it out more specifically for you. I think what he did was juvenile, but was not a firing offense.

  21. 21
    O'Leary says:

    Soplo Caseosa: Where did I offer an opinion on the Myers cracker controversy?

    For the record, I think Myers an unpleasant crackpot, and I am glad that he has gone to the trouble of attempting to demonstrate my view …

    It wasn’t something I could ever have done as easily as he can.

    I don’t believe the Catholic Church is at risk. It is probably the largest and oldest organization on the planet, so I must assume that any circumstance that puts it at risk is well beyond the provenance of the local sock puppet show to which you kindly draw our attention.

    (I am glad that no sox have been harmed in the making of the show.)

    I do not know what asininity is brayed at high levels at U M Morris, but I certainly hope they do not fire or discipline the Pharyngulite over this lapse in taste. His use of U servers for his private causes may be a matter for reprimand, but that depends on local rules, of course, and is no business of mine.

  22. 22
    soplo caseosa says:

    Denyse, I just assumed wishes for ill-favor on PZ were part of the stock and trade here. My sincere apologies for assuming what was not in evidence.

  23. 23
    StephenB says:

    —–Apollos: “In Expelled, I think that promoting the Darwin/Nazi connection came at the expense of putting forward the evidence for design. Twelve seconds (or whatever it was) of intra-cellular machine.”

    One of the problems of deviating from a theme is that focus is lost and the impact of the main message is compromised. You can literally sell an idea and then talk yourslef (and your audience) right out of it by adding too much information.

    The theme of Expelled is persecusion, and its strategy is to persuade, meaning that all the information provided is to serve that purpose. The point of the message is to explain how the tyrants mentality can lead to academic persecution, and when unchecked, a holocaust. To launch into a technical discussion on intelligent design would be a distraction, because the information does support the main theme, at least not directly.

    Here’s an analogy. Consider Martin Luther King’s speech, “I have a dream.” It is a seamless masterpiece about the truth of human dignity and a call for freedom, artfully designed to persuade and inspire. Now imagine what would have happened if he had broken away from his rhetorical momentum and said….”and now for my second point.”

  24. 24
    StephenB says:

    —-soplo: “Stephen, let me spell it out more specifically for you. I think what he did was juvenile, but was not a firing offense.”

    OK. Fair enough.

  25. 25
    Apollos says:

    StephenB, (at #24)

    I can understand the goal of the movie, and the direction it took — it just didn’t fit my preference. I feel that a lot of time (and patience) was wasted on discussing the implications of Darwinism instead of its scientific weaknesses, and the fitness of contrasting ideas.

    The movie revolved around persecution of a specific group — scientists — within the scientific arena, and their persecution due to a particular idea. It would not have been a change of subject to further explore the strengths of this idea and contrast it better with the prevailing ideology in academia. After all, Ben Stein didn’t ask Dawkins and Ruse about Hitler, he asked them about origins.

    Even a treatment of the history of design-oriented thinkers in science and philosophy would have been a welcome substitution.

    Certainly my opinion is subjective, but not unique I believe. Again, I understand what the movie’s producers were trying to accomplish, I just think it could have been a more effective 90 minutes if the movie didn’t take the road to Berlin. I wouldn’t doubt for a moment that many disagree with my position for good reasons.

  26. 26
    Rude says:

    I find it interesting the way that the Darwin – Holocaust connection discombobulates. Why should that be? It’s an indisputable fact, as Weikart shows. So why should this wrankle?

    Maybe it’s because we’ve been “sold a bill of goods” in regard to Science. Physics is Science, theology is not, biology is Science, history is not. Science is in, history is out. If you speak in the name of “Science” you can say anything no matter how absurd. But quote Scripture (as America’s founders did in everything they said!) and you could be in serious trouble. “Only in America” are we protected, and that may not be for long.

    The time is way past due that we dispose of this myth of “Science”.

    The ose when materialism conquered the academy and God and the Bible were cast to the dogs. We needed a feel good way to exclude God from our knowledge (Rom 1:28), we called it Modernism, which meant redefining science (much as materialism now seeks a feel good way to redefine marriage).

    Science used to mean the pursuit of knowledge.

    So where is the boundary? Is it set by the laboratory? Then that puts mathematics outside science, which physics can’t function without, and physics (at least until recently) was the prototype “Science”. Is science theory driven as opposed to simple observation? That would exclude biology. Is science the study of what is—as opposed to history which looks at what has happened? Then cosmology and geology and paleontology lie outside science. No matter what the logical positivists or Popperians or their successors do to exclude God they wind up lopping off a good part of what they wish to define as “Science”.

    There is no discrete boundary between “Science” and other disciplines—this myth does great harm. Both biology and history are important disciplines, but history, I say, is the more important of the two. Why? Because it’s the study of how we got here, the source of our values, and ignorance of history—not learning its lessons—now threatens to shorten the life of our nation.

    Not for nothing did the insane Sixties demean history. Of all the disciplines history is the most loathed by the materialists. That alone ought to tell us something.

    Darwinism will not be defeated by “Science” because “Science” is a religion in the worst sense of the word. Sure, ID offers an empirical way to look at design, and it’s a strong tool in the Culture War. But any commoner—truck driver, logger, or Indian out on the rez where I work—knows design when he sees it (one has to be brainwashed in the U not to see it). What the commoner needs is to see the results of materialist philosophy—that it’s not just a harmless fantasy of fuddy-duddies—it has serious consequences—and therein lies the importance of the historian. Thus, in some ways, Richard Weikart’s job is more important than that of the ID theorist.

    The purpose of Expelled! was not to dazzle us with “Sce”—it was to shock us as to where present trends might lead. It did that for me. Would that more ordinary folks had gone to see it. They don’t need a lot of convincing that Darwin was a fool. What they need is to be jolted as to where their materialist betters are taking them.

  27. 27
    Rude says:

    Don’t know what I did wrong (always something, I know), but paragraph 4 in Rude above should read (hoping I get it right now):

    The Demarcation Problem arose when materialism conquered the academy and God and the Bible were cast to the dogs. We needed a feel good way to exclude God from our knowledge (Rom 1:28), we called it Modernism, which meant redefining science (much as materialism now seeks a feel good way to redefine marriage).

  28. 28
    kairosfocus says:

    Rude:

    Well said.

    I believe Dr Meyer has a useful set of discussions of the demarcation problem here, here, and here; which underscore the point that there is no simplistic line between science asnd non-science, and that there is consequently no special authority to be conferred by attaching the label “Science.”

    Indeed, too often what is going on is little more than worldview-level question-begging [i.e. what I have descriptively called selective hyper-skepticism], as the second just linked underscores:

    Biologists, and scientists generally, assume the rules of science prohibit any deviation from a strictly materialistic mode of analysis. Even most physicists sympathetic to design would quickly label their intuitions “religious” or “philosophical” rather than “scientific.” Science, it is assumed, must look for exclusively natural causes. Since the postulation of an intelligent Designer or Creator clearly violates this methodological norm, such a postulation cannot qualify as a part of a scientific theory. Thus Stephen J. Gould refers to “scientific creationism” not just as factually mistaken but as “self-contradictory nonsense.” As Basil Willey put it, “Science must be provisionally atheistic, or cease to be itself.”

    Most scientists who are theists also accept this same conception of science . . . .

    While philosophical arguments about what does or does not constitute science have generally been discredited within philosophy of science, they nevertheless continue to play a vital role in persuading biologists that alternative scientific explanations do not, and in the case of nonnaturalistic theories cannot, exist for biological origins. Indeed, various demarcation criteria are often cited by scientists as reasons for rejecting the very possibility of intelligent design . . . .

    [But] Several of the criteria said to distinguish the scientific status of naturalistic evolutionary theories (hereafter “descent”) from admittedly nonnaturalistic theories of creation or design (hereafter “design”) will be examined. It will be argued that a priori attempts to make distinctions of scientific status on methodological grounds inevitably fail and, instead, that a general equivalence of method exists between these two competing approaches to origins . . .

    Food for thought . . .

    GEM of TKI

  29. 29
    Larry Fafarman says:

    Barry A said,

    The ADL wants people to think its purpose is to act as a bastion against anti-Semitism, when in fact if left its founding principles behind long ago, and the vast majority of its activities no longer have anything to do with those principles. (comment #14)

    Regarding my comment in 14, here is an example from the ADL’s website:

    ADL Welcomes California Supreme Court Decision In Support Of Same-Sex Marriage: See

    http://www.adl.org/PresRele/CvlRt_32/5283_32.htm

    Whether one supports or opposes same sex marriage, it clearly has nothing to do with anti-Semitism.(comment #15)

    Here are my explanations for the Anti-Defamation League’s positions:

    Support of gay marriage:
    The ADL regards itself as a champion of all victims of discrimination. To the ADL, gays who want to marry but cannot are victims of discrimination, even if nearly equivalent civil unions or domestic partnerships (California) are available to them.

    Opposition to criticisms of evolution in public schools:
    The ADL considers such criticisms to be attempts to sneak Christianity into public schools.

    Opposition to the idea of a link between Darwin and Hitler:
    The ADL wants Christianity to take all of the blame for anti-semitism and the holocaust. Also, the ADL’s opposition to criticisms of evolution in the public schools is a factor in the ADL’s opposition to the Darwin-to-Hitler idea.

    So there is a little reason behind the ADL’s seeming madness.

    The ADL does not speak for all Jews. Some Jews — especially orthodox Jews — oppose the ADL on the above issues.

  30. 30
    Larry Fafarman says:

    Oops — my own reply was included in the blockquote in the preceding comment — I don’t know how that happened. Anyway, it is fairly obvious where my reply begins.

  31. 31
    CJYman says:

    “Science, it is assumed, must look for exclusively natural causes. Since the postulation of an intelligent Designer or Creator clearly violates this methodological norm, such a postulation cannot qualify as a part of a scientific theory.”

    The quote above has seriously confused me more than anything. It has no meaning, yet it is used on both sides of the debate.

    One side says that we can’t invoke anything not-natural into “science” and the other side states that “science” isn’t limited to that which is natural. However, can anyone on either side of the debate define “natural?” Is it not true that in order to define “natural” one would have to be able to define its negative in order for it to carry any meaning. If that is the case, what is “not-natural?”

    If “not-natural” things can be defined and do indeed exist or can at least logically exist, then what’s the problem? However, if “natural” is defined as “that which exists within our universe” then multiverse theories or that which caused our universe are “not-natural.” Or, if “natural” is stated as meaning that which does exist, as opposed to arbitrarily defining “supernatural” as that which does not exist, then it carries no meaning in the debate. However, even if we run with this definition, we see that intelligence does exist, so it is natural. Again, what’s the problem?

    Or we could say that “natural” is defined as “law + chance.” However, it is immediately evident that patterns do exist that are not only the product of law and chance, since intelligent foresight must be a part of their causal chain. An essay requires foresight and a clear purpose of communication. Law and chance have neither foresight nor purpose we are told. Intelligence does exist (as per the human type, at least) and some patterns do not exist unless “run through this filter” of intelligence. So, it is immediately evident that there do exist “not-natural” patterns if we are indeed using the definition of “natural” proposed at the top of this paragraph. In this case, an essay would be “not-natural” yet it still exists in nature.

    But, who cares?!?!?! Semantic games can be played all day and at the end of the day essays and intelligence both do exist, so have it whichever way you want. Define natural however you want and you find that you either neglect a whole element of that which does exist (intelligence and its “existing not-natural” patterns) and arbitrarily cordon off a whole subset of that which does exist in nature OR you include a study of intelligence and its effects into the natural philosophy of science since intelligence and its effects do indeed exist as elements within our natural universe.

    I guess my main question is “how can you say that science is or is not limited to that which is ‘natural?'” Intelligence and its effects exist around us in nature, so why is it not “natural?” I ask these questions of both sides of the debate.

  32. 32
    Rude says:

    Kairosfocus, thanks for the links. I’d forgotten about them.

  33. 33
    Larry Fafarman says:

    CJYman said (#31) —

    One side says that we can’t invoke anything not-natural into “science” and the other side states that “science” isn’t limited to that which is natural. However, can anyone on either side of the debate define “natural?”

    ne “natural” as being that which we have actually observed. A lot of what we have observed we would consider to be “supernatural” or “miraculous” if we had not observed it. We would consider “front-loaded evolution” (called “prescribed evolution” by John A. Davison), the idea that organisms were pre-programmed to evolve, to be “natural” if we had actually observed it.

    IMO the criticisms of evolution — Intelligent Design and Non-ID criticisms (e.g., criticisms concerning co-evolution and the propagation of beneficial mutations in sexual reproduction) — are attempts to determine the likelihood that evolution occurred by what we consider to be “natural” means. A big problem in determining such likelihood is the difficulty in quantifying such likelihood. Some likelihoods in biology can be quantified — e.g., DNA testing laboratories, in reporting that two DNA samples appear to be from the same person, say that there is one chance in a few billion (they usually give a figure of how many billion) that the samples actually came from two unrelated people. However, Michael Behe is unable to quantify irreducible complexity — he just says, “I know it when I see it.” It is because of this subjectivity of ID that I have preferred non-ID criticisms of evolution. Non-ID criticisms of evolution also tend to be subjective but often appear to me to be stronger barriers to evolution than ID. For example, in the co-evolution of obligate mutualism (total co-dependence of two different kinds of organisms), unlike in evolutionary adaptation to widespread fixed physical features of the environment, e.g., air, land in its different forms, and water in its different forms, there may be nothing to adapt to, and the reason why there may be nothing to adapt to is that the corresponding co-dependent trait in the other organism is likely to be locally absent. Thus, the problems of co-evolution would be a barrier to “natural” evolution even if ID were not. Co-evolution presents problems even for front-loaded evolution — evolutionary changes would have to occur simultaneously in both organisms in mutualism if there is total (i.e., obligate) co-dependence.

    I think that ID has become less subjective. For example, it appears to me that Michael Behe shows in “The Edge of Evolution” that evolution is especially unlikely in situations that are highly unfavorable to evolution (complex organisms, long generational times, small populations, and huge changes) because evolution has shown only limited ability to produce change in situations that are highly favorable to evolution (simple organisms, short generational times, huge populations, and small changes).

  34. 34
    Larry Fafarman says:

    My first sentence in my preceding comment (#33) was cut off. It should read, “I would define ‘natural’ as being that which we have actually observed.”

    The blockquote function seems to be causing me problems here and I may stop using it.

  35. 35
    jjcassidy says:

    Quite simply, Hitler is a universal floor of morality. Even a person who has little idea of what morality might be may invoke that they “are not as bad as Hitler”.

    Hitler, the NAZIs, and the Holocaust are empirical definitions of a concept that skeptics had thought was no longer valid: Evil. And it does so without direct reference to God or even Providence. To a large extent we define “The Good” as the absence of Evil.

    And to another degree, we might not even know what “The Good” is, but by making Hitler the baseline, we know what Evil is.

    My goodness. You had Bill Provine argue that because of blind evolution there is no right or wrong or even meaning to life. As such, as is inevitably the case–Godwin’s “Law” notwithstanding–Hitler’s deeds come into view. Working from Provine’s conclusion, these become without a solid, objective opposition–apart from that we don’t enjoy being gassed.

    I think Expelled stayed to their main point. The part on the historical development of NAZI-ism in introduced only after Myers talked about the social aspect of Darwinism/Science gradually doing away with religion. Thus Myers’ claim was Darwinism as Science is positive for society. Wiekart’s response is the counter, by addressing the baseline of inter-paridigm morality.

  36. 36
    jjcassidy says:

    I would define ‘natural’ as being that which we have actually observed.

    Then that would make naturalism atomically self-contradictory, as it is often given as the principle that all events are natural, unless it also contends that all events have been observed.

    However, I think naturalism is simply incoherent defining “natural” anyway it needs to for the task at hand.

  37. 37
    jjcassidy says:

    Okay, that last post swallowed my well-defined (and double-checked) <blockquote></blockquote>. So there is something up with this site.

    Anyway I just wanted to say that I will not interrupt this thread again for a fiver–actually that the first sentence is Larry Fafarman’s. (I just get this picture of Eric Idle in a beret whenever people have to butt back in to clarify something the posting software mangled.)

  38. 38
    ari-freedom says:

    Post 16 expressed my opinion perfectly.
    We have to stick to the science and not get sidetracked with politics, philosophy and run into Godwin’s Law.

    It also bothers me that IDists spend too much time in court battles and making enemies with the public schools instead of just speaking directly to the people. ID would be better off if it minimized antagonism with other groups.

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