08 December 2008

Strong Religious Beliefs Make People Stupid

Exhibit A: Ben Stein.

Clearly, this guy was once very smart. But as Roger Ebert testifies , his attempt to make the case for Creationism doesn't even pass the laugh test. If Stein had attempted to make an intellectual case for what he calls "Intelligent Design" (aka "Creationism in new drag"), his film would probably have been seen by more than just the chorus and a few unlucky critics. But inasmuch as there is no intellectual case that can be made, Stein resorts to grade-school tactics like linking Hitler to Darwinism (that's right, the guy who thought God had chosen him to make the Aryan race pure was apparently a Darwinist!) and portraying "evolutionists" with unflattering images and ID supporters with flattering images. A talented 9-year-old girl could have made a similar film about how boys are icky and gross, and apparently Stein's mind has regressed at least that far.

Still, in one sense I am glad that Stein made his film: first, because it has failed on its own (lack of) merits. Secondly, because it shows clearly that a worrying number of people use religion as a way to stop thinking (which is not encouraged, even within most religions). Finally, because the existence of this film points out the real problem -- a fundamental (heh, sorry) lack of logical reasoning. If we don't address this in our schools starting yesterday, we can expect more Ben Steins and Sarah Palins and Michelle Bachmans coming to power as the population gets stupider and stupider.

You should read the entire (albeit long) review of Stein's Expelled, particularly the update featuring a clearer example of the logical problem with Stein's premise. But for those who remain unconvinced:

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