Sunday, May 04, 2008

Pop Quiz: Which remark is more stupid? Stein's or Dawkins'?

L. Ron Brown at "The Frame Problem" takes Ben Stein to task for making careless remarks about science on the Glenn Beck show. Of course Brown employs the usual array of hyperbolic terms favored by Darwinists in such cases to describe Stein's remarks, in which he seems to blame "science" for historical atrocities. Were Stein's remarks careless? Sure they were. Shame on him. Were they examples of "Ignorance, deceit, and stupidity"? I don't think so.

I've been on plenty of television and radio interviews and I don't know if there is single one I didn't walk out of thinking, "I shouldn't have said it that way." But for every instance of hyperbole, there seems to be an equal and opposite incidence of hyperbole, and that is what we are getting from the Darwinists.

But let's face it, Stein's remarks were careless. Bad boy! An afternoon's detention I say.

But let's just remind the hyperreactive critics of Intelligent Design about their own record of stupid remarks made, not in the midst of a television interviews in which there is no editing option, statements made in carefully written statements in which they did have plenty of opportunity to make sure it said exactly what they wanted it to say.

Of this species of remark, my personal favorite is this one, by Richard Dawkins:
Odious as the physical abuse of children by priests undoubtedly is, I suspect that it may do them less lasting damage than the mental abuse of bringing them up Catholic in the first place.
If Stein's remarks deserve afternoon detention, Dawkins gets a week's suspension.


Anonymous said...

Stein's remarks absolutely were stupid, ignorant and deceitful.

*Misrepresentation of Dawkins' view: All Dawkins says with regard to the matter of ID's plausibility is that for all we know, yes, there is a designer, but there is no evidence for it. Secondly, if there is a designer, it need not be a God. It could be an alien for all we know. There is absolutely no rational ground for saying that there is a designer and to specify who that designer is. All that we can say is that there may be a designer, but there is no evidence to suggest - to the exclusion of other possibilities - that there is, and that it is the God of the Bible or any other religious text.
* Calling it Darwinism - a propaganda technique designed to create the impression that evolution is some sort of a cult to Darwin, that all ideas on evolution are traceable back to some perceived infallible demi-God, and that Darwin had any relevance to Social Darwinism.
* Saying it's not about science, it's about being against God. No. God is inherently anti-science until the day there is actually evidence for God's existence. Until that day, God is nothing more than a glorified brand of fairy tale and the ultimate intellectual white flag.

Utter Stupidity and Ignorance:
*Stating that "Darwinism" doesn't explain the origin of life or gravity or a number of other things that it has never been said to explain. This is absolutely incredible ignorance. Stein spends a year making his crocumentary and he clearly doesn't know even the very basics of evolution. How can you criticize evolution for something it was never intended to explain?
*Calling those who follow the evidence closed-minded for not respecting views for which the evidence is non-existent, and not even acknowledging how well this label applies to them.
*Saying these scientists are afraid of judgment. This is absurd. How are they afraid of something that they don't believe in? Stein is accusing them of self-deception. Well how about this: Maybe there is a God and that God values rationality and will burn irrational and ignorant theists (irrationality and ignorance are pre-requisites for theism, by the way, as there is no good case to be made for the beliefs on rational grounds) and all other irrational people upon their death. Or maybe God is Allah, and Allah is as jealous as Islamic fundamentalists make him out to be, and every Christian will die for not being Islamic. Why not argue that Christians are only denying these other Gods because they are afraid of judgment?
* Next, he claims that atheist scientists cannot admit of the possibility of sin. This is also profoundly ignorant. Of course they can. But they can also admit of the possibility of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Possibility does not imply probability.
* "If man is just a speck of dust turned into a human being" - what the heck was that?! That was not oversimplication. That was just bold-faced deceit and/or incredible ignorance.
* Saying that without God, there is no basis for morality. How about empathy? We have the ability to empathize with others. Is this not good enough reason to act considerately? For many of us it is. And sometimes we act inconsiderately - whether we are theists or atheists or whatever (in fact, evidence suggests that atheists are actually far better behaved than theists, on average). We're not perfect moral agents, but we have no need for a God to justify morality. And that we have a moral sense independent of God is pretty obvious given that no one follows their religious scriptures to a tee - every theist cherry-picks. And why are atheists remarkably under-represented in the US prison system? And why is the US, the most religious Western nation, boasting one of the most horrible crime records in the West, while largely atheistic nations like Sweden have relatively sparkling records with respect to criminality, citizen well-ness, etc.?

Anonymous said...

Lastly, regarding Dawkins' quote. There absolutely is good reason to suggest that raising a child Catholic (or of any other faith) can produce lasting negative consequences:
1. You are indoctrinating them into a belief system that after thousands of years still cannot be defended rationally. By indoctrinating them early on, one impedes their later ability to think honestly about the validity of the beliefs.
2. You are inculcating in them a set of socially divisive beliefs that increase their likelihood and the likelihood of society of experiencing difficult-to-resolve conflicts because once a person is dogmatized they become highly resistant to honest discussion. And when they're dogmatized with regard to religion, they can come to view their perceived to be infallible beliefs on morality and the universe as being of greater importance than other people.
3. What if they turn out to be gay? To want to have an abortion? To want to marry someone of another faith but are a part of a strict family and community? Their lives are being limited not by the bounds of rationality with respect to human rights and well-being, but based on irrational dogma.

Anonymous said...

I'll add, though, that Dawkins' given statement was hyperbolic. However, there was surely an element of truth to it.

Anonymous said...

If Dawkins says something stupid, then it is ok for Stein to also say something stupid? I keep searching the used book stores for a copy of your "logic" textbook.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I should look in the humor section.

Martin Cothran said...


I chided Stein too. Reading the post would help (that might be your problem finding my book too).

Lee said...

Dawkins has actually gone further than that. He thinks bringing children up as Christians is child abuse...

> "I am persuaded that the phrase 'child abuse' is no exaggeration where used to describe what teachers and priests are doing to children whom they encourage to believe in something like the punishment of unshriven mortal sins in an eternal hell." (The God Delusion, p. 318)"

And then Dawkins approvingly quotes Nicholas Humphries, saying that the state should step in and prevent such an education:

> "So we should no more allow parents to teach their children to believe, for example, in the literal truth of the Bible or that the planets rule their lives than we should allow parents to knock their children's teeth out or lock them in a dungeon"

Perhaps the first step would be to forcibly take children away from such parents and put them in an orphanage. What's the next step? Locking such parents up in jail, or in a re-education camp?

One of the more persistent criticisms of Christians is that they want to impose their morality on others who don't share it. Seems to me that if that were true, Christians would not differ greatly from their harshest critics.