Is Ben Stein dangerously brainwashed or just drawn that way?

In this comment, Kim linked to a story over on friendlyatheist which links to a video on a Christian broadcasting site showing an interview with Ben Stein, who’s film on so-called Intelligent Design is the latest attempt to legitimise “teach the controversy”, in the war against reason and truth in our classrooms.

I did intend to screen-rip the video so I could post it in a more accessible format to YouTube or Google video, but I got 5 minutes into the interview and had to walk away for a moment, so as not to inflict some serious damage on my computer.

These people are frightening. I’ve never seen such blatant lies dressed up as serious debate in my life. What on Earth are we going to do to help these strangers in our midst wake up?

Truth be told, I was considering walking away from posting any heavy duty blog entries for a while, because – well – summer is upon us here in the North of England and Satan only knows it’ll only last a couple of short weeks, so I had planned on spending as much of that time as possible with Lucy, mine hotty, rather than stuck in front of the computer.

But, the other day, I was up at my son’s school and while I was waiting in reception I noticed that the school magazine was riddled with references to doing things “the Christian way” and it sent a shiver down my spine.

Without going into the whole long and complicated reasons as to why I’d never realised his school had a leaning in this direction before, it did sit on my mind for a day or two and bring home the frightening fact that this isn’t just one of those wacky yank things we Europeans find strangely endearing about you guys across the pond; it’s happening everywhere and it is really super scary.

In the opening remarks of the Stein interview, he asserts that the scientific method rules out the possibility of understand how life on Earth originated from a supernatural perspective; the complexity of the cell and how the planets stay in their orbit. You can’t make this stuff up, but – seriously – the guy interviewing him, actually nodded in agreement. Someone really should buy these people some grade school science books that haven’t been written in the body of Christ (up his sacred arse hole presumably).

Of course, Stein knows full well that these are in fact exactly the very subjects which science is interested in. He knows that by simply making up his argument as he goes along (rather like Joseph Smith) he’ll raise enough hackles in the real world, so as to appear vindicated in concluding his film’s overarching theme, that no one is allowed to challenge Darwin’s fact of evolution through natural selection, without being branded dangerous and either fired from their job or shunned in some other way because of it.

We normal folk, who wouldn’t dream of clinging to a belief that has been proven false, should recoil in horror every time we encounter someone who forces themselves, or is being forced by others, to act opposite to the entirely human instinct to trust what we can prove truthful. The very ability to think logically and reasonably like this, requires a great deal of faith in oneself; that being on your own (metaphorically speaking) is no bad thing.

Because there are no other voices in your head, unless you’re a paranoid schizophrenic, engaging in that internal dialogue between what we want to say and what we feel, we can be sure that our thoughts are our own. But what about the terminally Christian? I wonder how their brains divide, from a numerate functioning point of view, between what they know to be true and what they’re telling themselves is true, despite the many contradictions which ordinary people see so clearly?

Unfortunately, an answer to that is probably very difficult to definitively find; since the vocabulary of religious indoctrination pre-programs theists to see their own will as the will of an exterior supervisor and not, in fact, from their own head. Dan Dennett, in his book ‘breaking the spell’ suggest that certain people are more likely to actually physically and emotionally need religion for some very good evolutionary reasons.

I’ve written before about the idea of Cro-Magnon man instinctively knowing not to go into the cave after dark; there are bears and wolves. And professor Dawkins’ book ‘The ancestors tale’ was hugely insightful in this area in comparing it to other possible explanations for how we developed the instinct to trust certain of our senses more than others, millions of years before we were even remotely capable of forming complex thoughts about our origins through verbally handed down creation myth and folklore.

But I’ve yet to find anything (which I’d appreciate links and comments for) on the study into the religious brain and how so many billions of devoutly mislead people, manage to live a relatively normal life, despite having no higher functioning mind of their own.

Perhaps they’re the Ben Stein’s of this world? Perfectly capable of chewing and walking at the same time; even managing to string sentences together with fairly complicated words in them, not just for their own lips to form, but for the lips of others as well. And yet utterly incapable at the same time, of having any real perspective on anything at all, even for a single second – which is all it would take if they gave themselves that second, to have a hand to forehead moment at the utter shite that comes out when they speak without thinking.

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6 comments on “Is Ben Stein dangerously brainwashed or just drawn that way?

  1. A little of column A, a little of Column B. I can’t help but feel that Stein is manipulating sympathy for the holocaust into his own personal ‘fight darwin’ campaign. This seems like a common trick — use an emotional subject that triggers sympathy, pit it against the person/thing/argument you don’t like, and voila — instant bad guy! It’s very unfair but folks fall for it all the time.

    As to how people insist on believing falsehoods, even when the evidence is in their faces, that’s programming. Though I avoid bringing up religion at all costs with my parents, there’s certain times when it can’t be avoided. Sometimes I simply can’t help myself and I have to ask the dreaded word, “Why?” As in, why do you think this would happen, as opposed to this (contradictory) statement that’s also in the faith?

    I get smarmy answers like I should know better, or I should go check out my catechism, but its nothing but a knee-jerk defense mechanism reflex to hide behind. My boyfriend has commented in retrospect that youth groups and sermons were nothing but “Here’s what to say when secular people challenge your faith”. It’s true. People spend lifetimes hearing and practicing the same knee-jerk reactions. When somebody manages to make them *think* beyond those emotional gutchecks, they feel stupid and ignorant, (because they are), but then they don’t want to listen to you because they’re too busy self-wallowing in how they couldn’t defend their precious faith. But don’t worry: they’ll go to church next week and get it straight with the pastor, and then they’ll be ready.

    Sad. Ridiculous. Cyclic. Depressing.

  2. Very well said, Kimberly. The other argument that drives me nuts is when someone says (soulfully, with wide and maybe tear-filled eyes)is that “people need something to believe in…people need hope…churches give a sense of community”. An emotional/spiritual nightlight. But when I ask why not fill that need with humanism, I get a blank stare.

  3. You mean people want to do good for each other, without having a magical mystical mysterious floaty spirit entity living in them?

  4. “Isn’t the human mind floaty and magical enough, without having to believe someone else is in control of it?”

    Well. That’s enough to get me through the day.

    Now, would you post this to make us dance?

  5. No. Because that song (or it’s writer) is up there with Rick Astley in my top 10 of people to punch really really hard if I ever spot them in the street!

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