Ben Stein was the goofball host of the cable show â€œWin Ben Steinâ€™s Money.â€ A Christian University in southern California has just announced that it is honoring Stein for his upcoming movie that makes the case for taking intelligent design seriously. The press release, issued today, declares: â€œBen Stein Wins Money from Intelligent Design Community.â€
Stein is scheduled to receive from Biola University the Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth, named after a well-known creationist. â€œThe award,â€ according to the release,â€ recognizes Johnsonâ€™s pivotal role in advancing our understanding of design in the universe by opening up informed dissent to Darwinian and materialistic theories of evolution.â€
The release does not mention how much Ben Stein won, but it does cite Steinâ€™s upcoming movie â€œExpelled: No Intelligence Allowed:â€
â€œIn his new movie â€œExpelled,â€ Stein wonders whether humans were designed by an intelligent being or whether we were simply the result of an ancient natural accident. In his search for an answer, he discovers an elitist scientific establishment that punishes the scientific proponents of Intelligent Design because they reject some of the claims of Darwinâ€™s theory of evolution. â€˜Big science in this area of biology has lost its way,â€™ says Stein. â€˜Scientists are supposed to be allowed to follow the evidence wherever it may lead, no matter what the implications are. Freedom of inquiry has been greatly compromised, and this is not only anti-American, itâ€™s anti-science.â€™â€¨â€¨
â€œIn light of Steinâ€™s contribution to the pursuit of liberty and truth, particularly as it relates to the field of Intelligent Design, he is being honored with the 2008 Johnson Award. The award ceremony will feature premiere clips from the forthcoming movie, the personal appearance of scientists who were expelled from their jobs because they are sympathetic to Intelligent Design, and will include a brief address by Stein..â€
The movie is a potential setback to science educatorsâ€™ continuing efforts to set the record straight because Stein, the son of renowned economist Herbert Stein, lends a patina of respectability to neo-Creationist science as a result of his status as a minor celebrity. Perhaps more egregious than the movie is Steinâ€™s contention in his writing that "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."
What can only be hoped is that a trenchant critical response by journalistic and science publishing institutions (and, of course, the blogging community)--will suffice so that Ben Stein never gets funding to make an Expelled II. â€¨Please download the recent National Academy of Sciences report â€œScience, Evolution and Creationismâ€ to get the straight story.
The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Gary Stix is a senior editor at Scientific American. He writes the blog Talking Back at ScientificAmerican.com.