My Spring Reading List!

After the heavier reading of Lent, I thought I'd like to continue some inspirational spiritual reading through the Easter season as well. 

Here's my book list!

Private and Pithy lessons from Scripture - Mother Angelica
Little Book of Life Lessons - Mother Angelica
Three to Get Married - Fulton Sheen
The Little Oratory
Diary Sister Faustina
Getting Past Perfect - Kate Wicker
The Words We Pray - Amy Welborn
Perfectly Yourself - Matthew Kelly 
Crossing the Threshold of Hope - Pope John Paul II

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Ben Stein's Expelled

Back in February, I blogged about two very important movies to come out this year. The first one was The Business of Being Born which I reviewed here and discussed more here

Friday night, I was able to see Ben Stein's documentary, Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed at the theater.

OK so let me fess up first. I am an unabashed Catholic theist! I believe in intelligent design, I am constantly amazed at how all of the stuff of life works so wonderfully well together and I am absolutely confounded that there are other people out there who think it was all dumb luck!

I should also say that in high school and college I was a straight A science student. I loved biology. In fact I would say that I left my Catholic High School with a much stronger background in science than I did in religious studies.

And lastly, I'm a homeschooler. One of the reasons I am a homeschooler is that I want the freedom to teach my kids what I think it's important for them to know, when I want them to know it, presented in the framework that I choose. I know the NEA hates me for this, because they want to teach my kids what THEY think is important for them to know, WHEN they want them to know it, and they want to present it in THEIR framework.

So that's the paradigm with which I went to go see this movie - I'm just being honest.

The movie starts with Ben Stein interviewing a number of professors, scientists and even a journalist who have had their careers negatively affected for even daring to mention ID. Amazingly Stein was also able to find Neo-Darwin proponants who were very candid in describing ID supporters in a surprisingly hostile manner. It is clear that many of these scientists and educators see the subject of ID as a dead issue, and thus it is not to be discussed or even tolerated. Those that continue to pursue this notion will face severe consequences.

But the real battle here is not about the careers of battling scientists. This is a battle for the hearts, minds and even lives of the children. Our children. Because if the neo-Darwin set have their way, kids in school will NEVER hear any possibility of intelligent design, at least if the National Center for Science Education has anything to say about it. And don't think that having a child in a parochial school will be a safeguard. The NCSE will have input into how achievement tests are put together, and if teachers are trying to have their students score well, there simply will not be enough time to give ID the same time and attention as evolution.

Ben Stein masterfully brought the idea of Darwin's natural selection to its natural conclusion, the elimination of less than perfect human beings. I've read a lot of reviews that rip Stein apart for showing footage from the holocaust, and one reporter mocked the film for equating the Nazi regime with a belief in evolution. Yet I think Stein makes his point and in many ways we are living it. Women all the time are asked to submit and even cajoled into having prenatal tests and exams so that a deformed or ill infant can be terminated prenatally. Abortion in these cases has become the norm. Isn't that exactly what Darwin was talking about? and if not it seems that this is how folks like Adolph Hitler and Margaret Sanger seemed to interpret it.

Stein also does a good job of making the analogy of how the shutting down and silencing of ID voices is very akin to the creation of the Berlin wall and the careful control of propoganda and information during the cold wall.

Many of the reviews I read that hate this movie spent most of their space criticizing the producer's tactics and process. But none of the ones I read really got to the heart of this debate.
1. Are ID teachers and scientists ultimately being punished for their views?
2. Is the true aim to keep ID out of schools?
3. Isn't this just another rung in the ladder to take God out of our culture and have a socialist, secular humanist society?

Ben Stein's movie says yes to all the above. Critics just avoid the questions.

Lastly, as a blogger, I was fascinated with how Ben Stein handled his debate with famous atheist Richard Dawkins. This scene is near the end of the film, but once Dr. Dawkins starts talking, Dr. Stein pretty much gets out of his way and lets him expose more and more of his true thoughts. Amusingly, although Dr. Dawkins says it is an absurd fantasy to believe that a good and loving God created the universe, he has no problems accepting the possibility that aliens from another planet came to earth and seeded life here. I kid you not. That scene is priceless.

High school and college students should definitely see this movie. Along with being a good lesson in history, social studies, science and history, I think it could be a great tool in actually teaching good debate and discussion techniques.

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  1. I'm all for religious freedom and for parents beign able to raise their kids as they believe is best (as long as that doesnt involve beating their children or marrying off their 13 year old to their 60 year old buddies), but ID is just Creationism repackaged, and being a religious belief it has no place in schools.

    If ID/Creationism is taught in public schools then that completely goes against separation of church and state. And if you let in one religion's belief, you have to cover all of them. So are you also going to teach the Indigenous Australian belief that great rivers were formed by giant snakes, that all animals were black until a bird pricked his toe and colours spurted out over everything? Or will you teach the Hindu belief that the world was created by a lotus flower? Or the Chinese story of how there were once 10 suns, and 9 were killed so the last one cried and created all the plants and animals?
    Teaching religion in public schools may sound logical and glorious when they are talking about your religion, but what about other religions? How would you like a public school teacher telling your kids that the Chinese creation story and the bible creation story are equally valid?

  2. additional comment- I would actually be fine if my kids were taught all the creation stories in school, because I think it is great to hear about other religions. But I think the people campaigning for ID in schools would be horrified at the idea of teaching all the creation stories.

  3. I take it you haven't seen the movie yet.

    The working definition in the film for intelligent design is:

    "a theory that attempts to empirically detect if the apparent design in nature acknowledged by virtually all biologists is genuine design or the product of an intelligent cause"

    The specific theology isn't even an issue.

    I do not see how public schools get around teaching the religious beliefs of different cultures and people when they are teaching geography and social studies! My high school student spent a great deal of time studying the old Aztec religion during his early American History course this year. It made the history of the people make more sense. Without understanding their religious beliefs it would have been difficult to understand their story.

    So to answer your question, YES - teach about the Australian belief of the giant snakes when you cove Australia and the Hindu beliefs when you study India, or even botany! That's what makes for a well-rounded education.

  4. (nope, haven't seen it. Don't think it is out here yet. This isn't a big issue here in Australia so I don't know if it will get any release here)
    Are you trying to say that ID has nothing to do with creationism?
    'product of an intelligent cause' What intelligent cause? God. How do we know God is the creator? The bible says so. Where does the bible say that? Genesis. ID is a hop, skip and a jump away from religious belief.

    The only way you could touch on ID in schools is to teach evolution as usual and then tell the kids that some people believe speciation hasn't come about by natural selection, that higher species have not evolved from earlier species as the fossil records suggest, but that all living things were created by some kind of creator with intelligence. If you take the discussion any further than that you are teaching religion in schools. If what you say about ID is true, that its supporters do not want it taught in a way that is theology-specific, you could add another sentence of "The following religions and cultures believe in creation stories consistent with ID: ..."
    Is that all ID supporters want? A couple of sentences acknowledging creation as a theory? (I ask that sincerely, not rhetorically). As a future teacher, I would have no problem with that. But I do know that some ID supporters in the US have lobbied for schools to have to give equal time to ID and evolution. And you just couldn't do that in science class. Teach about all the creation stories, but do it in social studies.

    Like I said, I would love to see basic overviews of religions being taught in public schools. I am only 6 months away from graduation from teaching college and would love to be able to teach kids about Ramadan, Passover, Easter. Break down some of those barriers.

  5. What the ID supporters in the movie want is to be able to go where the evidence takes them. I think that is fair and reasonable.

    Also, although I am a religious person I can think of several ways to teach ID without mentioning any specific religious point of view at all! but then I'm a homeschooler...

  6. such as the amino acid patterns on the DNA double helix. Each amino acid in its own unique space on the strand for proper structure and form. One can point out the elegance and yet complexity of this phenomenon and then put it into the context of evolution or a purposeful intelligent design - and let the student reach his/her own conclusion.

  7. Anonymous10:46 AM

    One thing to be fully aware of and to take into account - - this movie was done in much the same manner as Michael Moore's movies are done. Dawkins was "sold" on being part of a debate movie entitled “Crossroads - The Intersection of Science and Religion”. Only after the movie was done and prominent atheists and scientists got involved, did the name - and focus - of the movie change.

    Some interesting reading on the matter is here:

    I am not saying there aren't valid arguments in the movie. But, just as Michael Moore's films, there are deceits, half truths, manipulated conversations and involvement to be found.

    Taking the movie as fact an digging the grave of Dawkins for being an alien believer is taking many things out of context - just as the makers of the movie did.

  8. I think it's impossible to take Dawkins out of context. He started talking, they let the camera roll, and he just kept going. It was...amazing.

  9. But DNA often has mutations- substitution mutations, addition mutations, subtraction mututations. Most of us have mutations that are compensated by the 2nd set of DNA, but what about the people whose mutations cause serious problems?
    If you want to talk about the brilliance of DNA as being the creation of an intelligent being, you would have to acknowledge that in a strand of amino acids, the omission of just one amino acid has a domino effect on the entire chain that can make the genes incompatible with life. In many ways that's a pretty flimsy design, with millions of amino acids, each with a chance to screw up.
    And how do you then talk about people with serious genetic problems? God wasn't paying attention when he made them? He let his assistant handle those jobs?

  10. Well even Cadillacs break down- and most concede it was a good design!

    But see, interestingly you're wanting to stray into theology. And I, the theist, am perfectly willing to discuss DNA, mutations and all as a planned design, by some intelligent designer as a possibility along with evolution, (which has its own set of problems). And TEACH the students how to think and then let them do it.

  11. But the belief of evolution is that species will change over time as environmental factors allow for natural selection. The belief of creation is that we were all made exactly as we are today.
    Teaching DNA is compatible with the first theory, because the ability (and frequency) of DNA to mutate has been naturally selected for because while it can cause problems it can also cause mutations that offer an advantage, like longer legs or sharper eyesight. Those individuals within a species that had DNA that was more stable were outbred by those who could mutate, so now we have a model of DNA that allows for many many mutations.
    How do you teach that in ID? Why would an intelligent designer make a flimsy model unless it was meant to allow for evolution? Unless it was a mistake, but how can that be if the designer is infallible?

  12. The belief of creation is that we were all made exactly as we are today.

    That's one belief of creation. That's not the one the movie uses at all. And although that's the one some fundamentalists hold to, it's not a required Catholic belief.

    YOu really should see this when it comes out on DVD.

  13. Unfortunately, Mr. Stein relied on a lot of dishonesty to make it appear that people were suffering these negative consequences for talking about ID when, in fact, they did not. For example, one scientist claimed in the movie that he lost his position at a small science journal after allowing a pro-ID article to be published. In fact, his departure was his own choice and had already been planned for 6 months before the article was published. The journalist who says she was blackballed continued to be employed for her paper for 2 years after she began writing pro-id pieces and has continued to work steadily since leaving that paper, including writing a book and publishing in major magazines and papers. I could go on, but you get the point. It's such a massive red flag for me what such dishonesty is employed. At the very least, those of us who are Christians should understand that dishonesty is not God honoring, no matter what the good cause it is employed in.

    Also, the problem with the argument that Intelligent Design is not religious per se and is different from creationism, is that IDers use exactly the same materials as creationists. They literally simply replace the word "creationism" with "intelligent design" and "God" or "creator" with "intelligent agent". Otherwise the materials are often word-for-word copies. Most people don't really realize this because, let's face it, how many of us sit down with creationist texts and ID texts and compare the two. IMO, this is yet another example of the dishonesty that those who are making this argument seem to have taken on as their standard operating procedure.

    Also, I think it's inaccurate to say that evolution claims that everything happened on accident or by chance. Actually, according to evolution, it is the organization which is present in the universe that allows evolution to work. If it were a completely random process with no governing rules or predictable results, evolution wouldn't work. Right now, although scientists don't peddle in "first cause" issues (ie what caused the creation of the universe and what the source of the rules governing the universe is), there is a general understanding that the rules written into the working of the universe seem to be "front loaded" to produce life. IOW, the creation of life seems to be a normal result of the rules by which the universe operates. For those of us who believe in a creator, this is powerful evidence of intention and design on God's part. IMO, God stepping in at certain points to go "hocus-pocus" and make something happen would indicate a deficiancy in His plan and design for the function of the universe. If He planned it properly, it should be able to operate and bring about His desired results without further interference on His part.

  14. So Rebecca, have you seen the movie?

  15. Stein is under heavy attack for 'exaggerating' the influence of evolutionism behind Nazism and Stalinism (super evolution of Lysenkoism in the Soviet Russia). But the monstrous Haeckelian type of vulgar evolutionism drove not only the 'Politics-is-applied-biology' Nazi takeover in the continental Europe, but even the nationalistic collision at the World War I.

    I quote from my conference posters and articles defended and published in the field of bioethics and history of biology (and underline/edit them a 'bit'):

    It was Charles Darwin himself, who praised and raised the monstrous Haeckel with his still recycled embryo drawing frauds etc. in the spotlight as the greatest authority in the field of human evolution, even in the preface to his Descent of man in 1871.

    Darwin did not apply his revolutionary theory to the human beings until his Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex in 1871. This was after the ambitious Haeckel had firmly stepped in the print, and the old Darwin paid hommage in his introduction:
    "The conclusion that man is the co-descendant with other species… is not in any degree new… maintained by several eminent naturalists and philosophers… and especially by Häckel. This last naturalist, besides his great work
    'Generelle Morphologie' (1866), has recently (1868, with a second edit. in 1870), published his 'Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte,' in which he fully discusses the genealogy of man. If this work had appeared before my essay
    had been written, I should probably never have completed it. Almost all the conclusions at which I have arrived I find confirmed by this naturalist, whose knowledge on many points is much fuller than mine."

    Race biological reason was not only rhetoric, it was scientific. There is evidence, that In Ukraine and Baltic countries, the people wellcomed the German troops as redeemers. These illusions evaporated soon, when the SS (Schutzstaffel) and civilian administration followed the field-army. Hitler did not even try to separate the Russian people from the Soviet government. The Eastern Europeans Slavic people were born "slaves", indeed. For Hitler, they were "Untermenschen" (Bullock 1958 pp- 423-5). The ethymology for the Greek "barbaros" was in their uncomprehensible tongue, the word was onomatopoetic.

    BUT NOTE! The marriage laws were once erected not only in the Nazi Germany but also in the multicultural states of America upon the speculation that the mulatto was a relatively sterile and shortlived hybrid. The absence of blood transfusion between "white" and "colored races" was self evident (Hailer 1963, p. 52).

    The first law on sterilization in US had been established in 1907 in Indiana, and 23 similar laws had been passed in 15 States and sterilization was practiced in 124 institutions in 1921 (Mattila 1996; Hietala 1985 p. 133; these were the times of IQ-tests under Gould's scrutiny in his Mismeasure of Man 1981). By 1931 thirty states had passed sterization laws in the US (Reilly 1991, p. 87).

    So the American laws were pioneering endeavours. In Europe Denmark passed the first sterilization legislation in Europe (1929). Denmark was followed by Switzerland, Germany that had felt to the hands of Hitler and Gobineu, and other Nordic countries: Norway (1934), Sweden (1935), Finland (1935), and Iceland (1938) (Haller 1963, pp 21-57; 135-9; Proctor 1988, p. 97; Reilly 1991, p. 109). Seldom is it mentioned in the popular Finnish media, that the first outright race biological institution in the world was not established in Germany but in 1921 in Uppsala, Sweden (Hietala 1985, pp. 109). (I am not aware of the ethymology of the 'Up' of the ancient city from Plinius' Ultima Thule, however.) In 1907 the Society for Racial Hygiene in Germany had changed its name to the Internationale Gesellschaft für Rassenhygiene, and in 1910 Swedish Society for Eugenics (Sällskap för Rashygien) had become its first foreign affiliate (Proctor 1988, p. 17).

    Hitler's formulation of the differences between the human races was affected by the brilliant sky-blue eyed Ernst Haeckel (Gasman 1971, p. xxii), praised and raised by Darwin. At the top of the unilinear progression were usually the "Nordics", a tall race of blue-eyed blonds. Haeckel's position on the Jewish question was assimilation, not yet an open elimination. But was it different only in degree, rather than kind?

    In 1917 the immigration of "defective" groups was forbidden even in the United States by a law. In 1921 the European immigration was diminished to 3% based on the 1910 census.
    Eventually, in the strategical year of 1924 the finest hour of eugenics had come and the fatal law was passed by Congress. It diminished immigration to 2% of the foreign-born from each country based on the 1890 census in order to preserve the "nordic" balance in population, and was hold through World War II until 1965 (Hietala 1985, p. 132).

    Richard Lewontin writes:“The leading American idealogue of the innate mental inferiority of the working class was, however, H.H. Goddard, a pioneer of the mental testing movement, the discoverer of the Kallikak family,
    and the administrant of IQ-tests to immigrants that found 83 % of the Jews, 80% of the Hungarians, 79% of the Italians, and 87% of the the Russians to be feebleminded.” (1977, p. 13.) Finnish emmigrants put the cross on the box reserved for the "yellow" group (Kemiläinen 1993, p. 1930), until 1965.

    Germany was the most scientifically and culturally advanced nation of the world upon opening the riddles at the close of the nineteenth century, and in 1933 the German people had not lived normal life for twenty years. And so Adolf Hitler did not need his revolution. He did not have to break the laws in Haeckel's country, in principle, but to constitute them.

    Today, developmental biologists are anticipating legislation of laws that would define the do’s and dont’s. The legislation should not distract individual researchers from their personal awareness of responsibility. A permissive law merely defines the ethical minimum. The lesson is that a law is no substitute for morals and that dissidents should not be intimidated.

    I am suspicious over the burial of the Kampf (Struggle). The idea of competition is innate in the modern society. It is the the opposite view in a 180 degree angle to the Judaeo-Christian ideal of agapee, that I personally cheriss. The latter sees free giving, altruism, benevolence and self sacrificing love as the beginning, motivation, and sustainer of the reality.
    Biochemist, drop-out (Master of Sciing)

    PS. Here's the final chapter scanned from an evolutionist scholar D. Gasman from his The Scientific Origins of National Socialism: Social Darwinism in Ernst Haeckel and the German Monist League (chapter 7, Gasman 1971)
    I emphasize that Daniel Gasman is NOT an IDist or Idealist of any kind.

  16. ...So?
    Plenty of people take a concept and go nuts with it. People fight wars in the name of religion, does that make religion evil?
    If a schizophrenic man decides that Jesus is telling him to go postal, does that make Christianity evil?
    Hitler was an evil man who wanted to scapegoat the Jews, and he twisted Darwin's theories to suit his purpose. That makes Hitler the evil one, not Darwin.

  17. Read The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel. It is prefaced with his own story, of being raised in a family of faith only to become an atheist after all the 'proof' for evolution was taught in High School. So much for ideas not hurting anybody. Children are taught to respect and believe adult authorities, and the schools reinforce that standard.

    Years later (as an investigative journalist) Mr. Strobel was confronted with a great deal of evidence that revealed the foundation of Darwin's ideology as completely faulty, yet schools still use it (even in new text books). Each chapter of the book is an interview with a high-level scientist with a great deal of evidence from his own field which knocks the possibilities of evolution, spontaneous regenreration, and our accidental but exact cosmic alignment totally out of the picture.

    Evolution is part of the theology of secular humanism, and has no credible proof to back it up. Yet it is the prevalent curriculum in schools because people will hold onto whatever they can to avoid the alterntive.

    As an aside, mutations in DNA have never created a variation in species but merely a wider range of characteristics. The gene that mutated and allowed some people to survive the black plague did not create a different species of people, it was merely a dominant/recessive trait like brown eyes.

    Further, science STILL has yet to produce any evidence of the mid-species organism (the one in the process of change). The two finds that were believed to provide this proof turned out to be simply 'trash heaps' of bones, feathers, and skulls rather than the fossilized remains of a mid-evolution species. Another good read would be Buried Alive by Jack Cuozzo.

    Lastly, don't believe everything you hear. There is no more 'hard' evidence for evolution than there is intelligent design. Both require a decision of faith, and ultimately, what or who to place your faith in. Both are theories and should therefor be given equal presentation in the classroom.

  18. Evolutionism was politically and religiously driven. (By religion, I mean the old worship of nature akin naturalism.) Evolutionism was a revolution, and revolutions are violent. It is anachronism to mehasize the idea of selection since evolutionism was sold by much harder claims, especially constant spontaneous generation of life from mud (moneras), inheritance of acquired characteristics, mutationism in leaps (hopeful monsters), linear model of human races - and especially recapitulation.

    I mean, fertilizing human embryos for research purposes? Pipetting chimera embryos of humans and monkeys?!? Go, U Kingdom, go! Also the last round of eugenics started by cheapening the embryos.
    Biochemist, drop-out (M.Sci. Master of Sciing)


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