Ben Stein equates Evolution with Imperialism and Racism
Ben Stein, former Nixon speech writer, game show host and actor (Bueller, Bueller…) is quickly becoming one of Intelligent Designs loudest and most fervent voices. His latest project is Expelled, a movie with the mission to “expose the suppression by science’s anti-theist elite, and unveil new scientific facts that may suggest evidence of intelligent design in the universe.” From reading the movie’s website and watching the trailer it appears that Expelled is another case of Creationists wondering aloud why the scientific elite won’t discuss the other side of the argument while missing the point that there is no argument. Debating Creationism or ID versus Evolution is like debating whether Santa Claus brings presents or your Parents bought them for you. One is scientific fact the other is a fairy tale.
The movie offers nothing new but what did strike me as amazingly bizarre is Stein’s equating Evolution (or as he likes to call it Darwinism) to Imperialism in a post last October on the movie’s blog. This is an excellent example of Ad Hominem attacks as Stein lumps Evolution proponents in with Marxists, Imperialists and Racists all in one post. The centre piece of his argument is that all theories are heavily influenced, if not completely tied to, the era in which they were devised.
Marxism, especially its sharp attacks on capitalists as a class, was motivated by Karl Marx’s envy of the much wealthier industrialist/capitalist members of the Marx family.
Darwinism, the notion that the history of organisms was the story of the survival of the fittest and most hardy, and that organisms evolve because they are stronger and more dominant than others, is a perfect example of the age from which it came: the age of Imperialism. When Darwin wrote, it was received wisdom that the white, northern European man was destined to rule the world. This could have been rationalized as greed–i.e., Europeans simply taking the resources of nations and tribes less well organized than they were. It could have been worked out as a form of amusement of the upper classes and a place for them to realize their martial fantasies.
Based on Stein’s post one would think that Darwin was writing merely to justify British Imperialism. Now that is one giant leap. To assume that a Geologist and Naturalist would sit around and contemplate how he could devise a theory that could not only explain the variety and differences of creatures but also be a foundation of oppressive political ideologies is a bit much.
Another more subtle attack on Evolution is his (and many Creationists’) referring to it as Darwinism which not only reduces it to an ideology rather than science but disregards the almost 200 years of Biological science and research that has gone into improving and strengthening the theory of evolution since Darwin’s time. Modern evolutionary theory has come a long way from Darwin’s initial thoughts and theories.
Stein, who seems like an intelligent man, cannot understand why science institutions, academics and schools do not see any value in teaching Intelligent Design but it is quite clear that it is not because they are ignoring a valid alternative to evolution but an explanation based on folklore and superstition. PZ Myers has been objecting to Expelled very vocally on his Pharyngula blog and I recommend looking there for more details on the fallacies put forth by Mr. Stein and his cohorts.