I don’t know how I managed to miss this: via Pharyngula, I’ve learned that Expelled, Ben Stein’s vile dribbling of a movie, has slimed its way across the U.S. border and into my country. I’ve written about Expelled’s implosion in the States, but now he comes up here? The same man who thinks that being a scientist makes you a murderer? I feel like I should be rousing the alarm about this stealth attack on evolution like a modern day (male, obviously!) Laura Secord. Thankfully, I’m not the only one who feels this way: check out the Macleans review of the movie, which is gratifyingly harsh.
If you want to get an overview of Stein’s ridiculous claims, check out his interview on CBC’s The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos (the second time that I’ve linked to Stroumboulopoulos interviewing a nutjob – this is becoming a bit of a pattern, here). In less than ten minutes, he manages to imply that evolutionary biology is responsible for the Nazis, eugenics, and the mass eviction of harmless ID proponents who just want a fair shake from the academic community; this, while telling everyone that evolutionary biology somehow has to explain gravity, thermodynamics, and the beginning of life (the province of physics, physics / chemistry, and abiogenesis respectively). This last bit is a serious misunderstanding that even otherwise well-informed people are subject to. To complain that evolutionary biology doesn’t provide an explanation for the beginning of life is ludicrous, because the field has never tackled that question and has no need to. Quoting from ExpelledExposed:
Darwin wasn’t trying to explain the origin of life; you could just as easily complain that the theory of island biogeography doesn’t explain the origin of islands. Darwin himself says, in the Origin of Species, “It is no valid objection that science as yet throws no light on the far higher problem of the essence or origin of life” (Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species. 6th edition, 1882. p. 421).
I’ll also refer you to the talk.origins FAQ on the subject of evolution and abiogenesis. The fact that many of the people who have speculated on the beginning of life (or who have proposed theories of their own) have been connected with evolutionary biology is just because of the natural connection between the two fields, not because abiogenesis is a necessary question that evolutionary biology has to answer.
Then, after you’ve washed your hands, head over to ExpelledExposed.com and watch real science rip apart the trash that Stein spews from his ignorant word-hole.
Update: After clicking through at Pharyngula, I came upon the Canadian Cynic blog, which smacks the issue around a bit more in an appealing way (I just added this blog to my RSS feeds). I particularly like the National Post review that is linked to from CC, with its plum rating of “1” for the movie.
Update 2: Can you believe that I forgot to link to Stein’s interview? Fixed that…