Joined: Sep. 2006
|Let's make this short and sweet. It would be taken for granted by any serious historian that any ideology or worldview would partake of the culture in which it grew up and would also be largely influenced by the personality of the writer of the theory.|
Let me be short and sour because a dose of reality always is. Some professional historians actually hold nonacademic, for-profit jobs that require them to know history from their own ass and to apply it every day. I have worked for them. Ben Stein is no historian, academic or otherwise.
| No less a genius than the evil Karl Marx noted|
What an ignorant statement! "Evil," stuff and nonsense. Marx was no Marxist any more than Christ was a Christian. I observe that Marx is good enough for Stein to refer to, whereas he rarely if ever quotes Darwin and certainly never accurately represents him.
| In other words, major theories do not arise out of thin air.|
Duh, and children don't come from the stork. You don’t get away with this fluff in sophomore composition class, honey, so you shouldn’t get away with it now.
| 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. |
Oh, come on. This is Lamarckism! Individuals don't evolve, and evolution is not a ladder toward perfection or Aryan qualities or any of that rot. Those species that have an advantage from a mutation that happens to be beneficial in their particular environment and circumstance will produce more offspring than those that do not. Those that do not still produce offspring and still largely succeed. Even the strongest, best “fit” animal can die from a freak accident before reproducing. Everything dies – death is not the mechanism, differential reproduction is. Ben Stein, this is not rocket science.
|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. (Was it Shaw who called Imperialism "...outdoor relief for the upper classes?")|
Darwin loathed slavery and while on the HMS Beagle argued vehemently with Captain FitzRoy, a devout Christian, about it. FitzRoy was pro-slavery and racist.
It would be taken for granted by any serious historian that someone who purports to speak for the history of a theory should have at least a fucking clue about 1) that theory, and 2) its history. Stein does not.
| But it fell to a true Imperialist, from a wealthy British family on both sides, married to a wealthy British woman, writing at the height of Imperialism in the UK, when a huge hunk of Africa and Asia was "owned" (literally, owned, by Great Britain) to create a scientific theory that rationalized Imperialism. By explaining that Imperialism worked from the level of the most modest organic life up to man, and that in every organic situation, the strong dominated the weak and eventually wiped them out.|
Darwin offered the most compelling argument yet for Imperialism. It was neither good nor bad, neither Liberal nor Conservative, but simply a fact of nature. In dominating Africa and Asia, Britain was simply acting in accordance with the dictates of life itself. He was the ultimate pitchman for Imperialism.
Now, we know that Imperialism had a short life span. Imperialism was a system that took no account of the realities of the human condition. Human beings do not like to have their countries owned by people far away in ermine robes. They like to be in charge of themselves.
Imperialism had a short but hideous history - of repression and murder.
But its day is done.
Darwinism is still very much alive, utterly dominating biology. Despite the fact that no one has ever been able to prove the creation of a single distinct species by Darwinist means, Darwinism dominates the academy and the media. Darwinism also has not one meaningful word to say on the origins of organic life, a striking lacuna in a theory supposedly explaining life.
Alas, Darwinism has had a far bloodier life span than Imperialism. Darwinism, perhaps mixed with Imperialism, gave us Social Darwinism, a form of racism so vicious that it countenanced the Holocaust against the Jews and mass murder of many other groups in the name of speeding along the evolutionary process.
Now, a few scientists are questioning Darwinism on many fronts. I wonder how long Darwinism's life span will be. Marxism, another theory which, in true Victorian style, sought to explain everything, is dead everywhere but on university campuses and in the minds of psychotic dictators. Maybe Darwinism will be different. Maybe it will last. But it's difficult to believe it will. Theories that presume to explain everything without much evidence rarely do. Theories that outlive their era of conception and cannot be verified rarely last unless they are faith based. And Darwinism has been such a painful, bloody chapter in the history of ideologies, maybe we would be better off without it as a dominant force.
Maybe we would have a new theory: We are just pitiful humans. Life is unimaginably complex. We are still trying to figure it out. We need every bit of input we can get. Let's be humble about what we know and what we don't know, and maybe in time, some answers will come.
Such nonsense. Simple-minded, fallacious arguments following a weak premise. Evolution was around long before Darwin - he came up with natural selection. Why is Imperialism being laid at his door? Why not lay imperialism on FitzRoy, whose voyage was itself partly a racist mission? And was this not also the Victorian age, the steam age, etc.? My God, let's ban all mention of steam engines in front of the children, they might run out and become "imperialist," perhaps by invading Iraq. Twice. (You remember Iraq, right Ben?)
Ben Stein is a fine person to speak of “imperialism,” being that he only got to where he is on his own family’s money and privilege. If he had had to work his way up by walking in my shoes while writing garbage like this, he would have flunked high school.
Must be nice to be a preppy blowhard and get paid for churning out this low-brow e-mail hoax (containing all the elements - the hook, the threat, and the promise - of those silly mental viruses) that are forwarded by terrorized church ladies. "Let's be humble," indeed. But then, I figured out long ago that there will always be fools ready to argue with you – and they win at being fools because they have much more experience.
Oh, and what does this have to do with the [in]validity of intelligent design? Is ID the only "alternative" offered by this great intellect?
Ironically, Ben Stein has changed my mind about him. He cannot be this stupid. He is writing lies about Darwin and he knows it. But I do think there is something sincere lurking behind this and it is, as I said before, fear.
Stein invokes Hitler but it is not Hitler that he fears. Fascism is not, as I said earlier, America’s bugabear – apocalyptic thinking is, and that is what he engages in here. And the gullible will believe him – they’ll believe anyone who does not have the guts to tell them that the future is unknown, that life offers one mostly uncertainty, and that while science doesn’t have many answers yet there are some questions for which science may never have an answer, which means we can never know these answers, and you have to learn to live with that.
Which came first: the shimmy, or the hip?
AtBC Poet Laureate
"I happen to think that this prerequisite criterion of empirical evidence is itself not empirical." - Clive
"Damn you. This means a trip to the library. Again." -- fnxtr