Sunday, May 04, 2008


I am sooooo freakin' tired of listening to creationists (and fundamentalists) who claim that Expelled proves that believing in Darwin leads to genocide. Inevitably, they grasp onto the scenes in Expelled wherein the Holocaust is said to have been the result of Darwinism. Excuse my French, but that's some deep bullshit. I'm going to strap on my mud boots and try to wade through it.

1. Darwin's theory of evolution dealt with natural selection. "Natural" being the key word. What Hitler did was genocide. Genocide is artificial selection. These are very, very different schools of thought. Hitler was trying to exterminate an entire culture of people and, in a bizarre twist which bucks any application of Darwinian theory, he actually spent a great deal of money and effort to keep those with severe deformities or handicaps alive so he could have his doctors run tests on them. Hitler was fascinated by the deformities found in gypsy populations. He was also obsessed with twins. It's really the antithesis of what Darwin was talking about because Darwin would've argued that the disabilities might lead to the removal of the defects from the gene pool due to their ability to adapt. Hitler sent perfectly healthy people to do while keeping the oddities to study. That anyone could know that and still claim Hitler's atrocities are attributable to Darwin betrays an enormous amount of stupidity on the claimant.
2. I've read a few apologist websites who try to manipulate the above thought by saying, "Well... Hitler knew the Jews had inferior DNA and proved that putting Jews in confined space would lead to disease and death." Newsflash! If I stuck thousands of people into unheated, poorly ventilated, unhygienic cattle cars on a train, and then denied them proper nutrition and food, then I could kill ANY group of humans. People with Jewish roots are no more susceptible than any other religion. This argument is crap!
3. Charles Darwin was born in 1809. He published his findings regarding evolution in 1842. Supporters of Expelled (and ID/Creationism) point to genocide by people like Hitler, Polpot, and the Soviet Union as "results" of Darwin's theory put into practice. Not only is that wrong, but it's incredibly short-sighted. Genocide has been a blemish on history since the beginnings of humanity and civilization. How could Darwin's theory be responsible for: the Spanish Inquisition, the extermination of Australian Aborigines by British colonist, the Peloponessian War in fifth century BCE, and/or the Biblical genocide, described in the Bible, of Amalekites and Midianites? There are many, many more examples of pre-evolution theory genocide. If evolution promotes genocide, then how does the ID-er, or Creationist, explain how evolution is responsible. It's sort of like blaming Newton for all the people who died because gravity pulled them towards the earth (from, for the purposes of this example, high places)? It doesn't make any sense.
4. There are examples of (almost) entire populations being obliterated because of incidents that, with hindsight, can be explained by evolutionary principles. One prime example being the manner in which native Americans were unable to adapt to the artificially introduced plagues brought from Europe by explorers and settlers. Or, how about the fact that entire cities in antiquity died due to environmental causes? Pompeii, anyone? Humans aren't able to adapt to breathing poisonous gasses and red hot ash and magma being rained upon them. Or, how about the evidence suggesting that there were other populations of hominids who couldn't adapt fast enough to survive the brutal environments they encountered? Had any of these been mentioned in the film, it might be worthy of listening to. The attribution of these atrocities to Darwin would still be like blaming Newton for deaths because he defined gravity, but it may show that they (the people who made Expelled) understand/understood the difference between natural selection and artificial selection.
5. For the religious to be pointing fingers at Darwin for genocide is an example of selective amnesia. The Christian god and believe system has led to more genocidal acts than you can calculate. Focusing time and energy on fixing poverty, disease, and politics would've been a far more effective strategy. But, the truth is that they really don't care about the scores of people who've been killed and the cultures that are no longer around. They care about pushing a religious agenda. When Dave Berlinski (the movie's "expert" on the Holocaust), Ben Stein, and Mathis pony up the money they made off this movie to improve the lives of people in Darfur, Croatia/Serbia/Albania, or any other land where genocide is the name of the game, then I'll consider that they may be concerned about humanity. Until then, they're profiting off devaluing the lives of those killed by misrepresenting the true causes of the atrocity. For that, they deserved to be "expelled" from Integrity101.


Jim Royal said...

The reaction around the science (an atheism) blogosphere is to point out the stupidity of these creationists. How laughable are their arguments! How poorly do they grasp facts!

The fact is, these people are terrified. Reality impinges more and more upon their world-view every day. Their only recourse is to deliberately immunize their children against fact, and to instill reflexive hysterical emotional reactions to keep them from thinking.

Modern science has provided an astonishing view of the world -- astonishing not just in terms of what we can see, but in the degree of certainty we have in the truth of that view. For the first time in human history, we have a pretty good idea of what we are, where we come from, and how we got here.

The view from this hilltop is awe-inspiring. It makes one giddy.

And it's a view that was never hinted at in any religious text ever written. It's a view that renders all religious stories trivial by comparison.

And that's what they fear most.

Julie said...

When Dave Berlinski (the movie's "expert" on the Holocaust), Ben Stein, and Mathis pony up the money they made off this movie to improve the lives of people in Darfur, Croatia/Serbia/Albania, or any other land where genocide is the name of the game, then I'll consider that they may be concerned about humanity.

I don't think six dollars will help the Sudanese very much... ^_^

Seriously though...when you have to pay people to see your movie...the returns must be abysmal. Or so I hope.

ZugTheMegasaurus said...

Don't forget that these people are probably the same ones who claim that the Inquisition had nothing to do with Christians either. They couldn't care less what comes out of their mouths if their hands feel clean.

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

I think there is more evidence that Christianity was responsible for the holocaust. Particularly the Lutheran form of it -Luther had a bee in his bonnet about the Jews(Hitler was a fan obviously) and the majority of Germans were Christian.

PS Not arguing this point but it holds more water than the expelled point of view.

Bill said...

Found some week old statistics at The Sensuous Curmudgeon:
Receipts for Monday (April 28th)...
The film grossed a total of $157,191 from 1,041 theaters, which is only $151 for each. We can’t imagine that a theater owner would continue to exhibit such a poorly-grossing film for much longer.
If so, and if the theaters keep half the gross (as we understand is common with documentaries) then the film needs to take in $7 million just to break even. So far the film has grossed only $5,455,051.

So, it is looking like the film will come very close to the break even point. Whether it actually reaches it or not is anybodies guess.
I certainly won't be wasting my time watching it.

Tonette said...

Well, I think the title/sub-title says it all…Ben Stein Expelled No Intelligence Allowed…but that is just me. ;o)

S. Brown said...

Howdy! Not to be pedantic, (and this makes your argument somewhat stronger anyway) but Darwin didn't publish Origin of Species until 1859 -- I'm not sure what you were referring to with the 1842 date.

He wouldn't have even published it that early, but Wallace was independently about to publish on natural selection, and Lyell urged him to get a move on his book.

Darwin had spent decades since the Beagle voyage organizing his work, continuing his research, and developing his theory before he was ready to publish. Would that the IDers spend that much time on science!

2009 is the Year of Darwin -- celebrating the 200th anniversary of his birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

I was referring to Darwin in 1842 because we know that's when he presented the idea to Lyell. Darwin wrote a book on coral, I can't remember the Title, in or near this year and made some preliminary observations about natural selection. He also wrote a draft of the theory to Joseph Hooker in 1842, which reads:
"I have been now ever since my return [from the Beagle voyage] engaged in a very presumptuous work & which I know no one individual who would not say a very foolish one ... I determined to collect ... every sort of fact, which could bear any way on what are species ... I have read heaps of agricultural & horticultural books, & have not ceased collecting facts ... At last gleams of light have come, & I am almost convinced (quite contrary to opinion I started with) that species are not (it is like confessing to a murder) immutable ... I think I have found out (here's presumption!) the simple way by which species become exquisitely adapted to various ends ... You will now groan, & think to yourself 'on what a man have I been wasting my time in writing to.'
Because we know he wrote and circulated a concise draft of his beliefs on the origin of the species, I tend to give him credit for the work a bit earlier than most. ;)

S. Brown said...

I agree with you, but the theory wasn't really in the public consciousness that early, and thus could not wreak its evil damage on the world.

Of course, benstein would just say that the distribution of that knowledge among even a small group causes pogroms, holocausts, teen pregnancy, homosexuality, terrorism and cannibalism.

Yikes, I'm starting to think like them -- it's so easy -- I must be sleepy or something!