Filmmaker Ben Stein has painted himself into a corner, with his latest attempt to explain the difference between Intelligent Design and Darwin’s theory of Evolution through natural selection, by insinuating that Darwin’s book, The Decent of Man, gives authority to Eugenics – the non-science of Nazi Germany which attempted to show that “lower orders” of human should be taken out of the gene pool for the betterment of the fittest (the fictitious arian race).
By removing certain passages from Darwin’s book, which explicitly show that Darwin’s theory accounts for why humans do not behave in such a way towards other humans, Ben Stein has done more to undo his own non-argument than any of his more observant and well educated opponents possibly could.
The producers of the film did not mention the very next sentences in the book:
The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.
Darwin explicitly rejected the idea of eliminating the “weak” as dehumanizing and evil. Those words falsify Expelled’s argument. The filmmakers had to be aware of the full Darwin passage, but they chose to quote only the sections that suited their purposes.
I wish we could say with certainty that point by point debunking from reliable sources of these kinds of hack job, pro-Creationist people would eventually, given the passage of time, allow the people who give them credence a chance to turn around and realise the error of their ways, but I rather think the opposite is happening.
For as long as the so-called Intelligent Design crowd are given a platform on national television, to insinuate that because they have been proven wrong, time and time again, this is therefore evidence of the fact that they are being discriminated against, there’s just no hope of a win in favour of empirical evidence and clear thinking.
Mr. Stein. It is perfectly simple. Place a tennis ball on a sloping surface. Does it roll away because you believe it will, or because it is being acted upon by the force of gravity? Similarly, we did not evolve from simple bacteria hundreds of millions of years ago, because that is what Darwin believed had happened. We know that we came from the primeval soup because that is what Darwin’s mechanism has proved must happen, for any complex organism to survive. There is no other explanation for the emergence of complex life on Earth, which holds water, any more than there is an alternative explanation for why the tennis ball rolls away.
That is not to say that Newton got everything he set his mind to right, any more than it is to say that Hitler was wrong to green light the development of the VW Beetle, but sometimes, Mister Stein, there is no second side to a story, there is only the truth. If you can not grasp that, it is not the concern of those who do understand it, to prove your supernatural superstitions correct; it is your responsibility to do that – and on the evidence of this film, you still have all your explaining to do, and then some.