Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Ultimate Question

I recently watched the movie Expelled, which besides linking Nazism with evolutionary theory, might be a bit more balanced than other films on the subject “Science against Religion”. At least this guy is arguing for academic freedom. Plus, this film kind of made clear that intelligent design does not equal creationism. Good thing to know... He didn't have to attack Darwinism the way he did though.

I was pretty uncomfortable for the first half of the film but eventually warmed up to it. First of all it had the same flaws that similar films, like Root of all Evil and Religulous, have. There is a lot of throwing opinions around but no evidence. It is obvious that both sides have very strong feelings about their position, but what do feelings have to do with anything? At least in science… Oh yes, there is this little fact that science has always been part of something else and has always been biased. I refer those who disagree to these very important books: Thomas Kuhn’s, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and Michel Foucault’s, The Archaeology of Knowledge. That will get you started on how “facts” are constructed. Yes, the subject of the history of science is a fascinating one. So, none of these films provided any evidence to support their position. And until someone does that I am not taking any sides. It is pretty obvious that all these guys are very much limited by tunnel vision and only see their BS (as Robert Anton Wilson would say) and evidence has very little to do with all this.

The truth is that we don’t really know how it all started and we’ll probably never know the answer to the ultimate question about life the universe and everything, and all these guys need to have a drink and relax. Watching this film made me revisit Douglas Adams’ scenario of the earth and life on it having been created by aliens in the form of mice. It is as plausible a theory as any. Even Richard Dawkins admitted that it is plausible that some form of life form created life on earth, but that form of life must have been created by evolution (as long as this condition is satisfied then intelligent design does not clash with his BS).

Maybe it’s just me, but I always thought that similar matters belonged to the realm of philosophy and not science. And even though I am not religious myself I don’t think that religion in itself is responsible for everything bad in this world. The problem is the way religion has been used to manipulate. There is much more to this than equating religion to evil, and the sooner we get on it the better. As one of the people in the film very rightly said you cannot take religion away from people. He compared religion to knitting and taking it away to taking someone’s needles away. I have to say that this statement grabbed my attention, try to take my needles away and see if I don’t poke you in the eye (unfortunately I didn’t catch the guy’s name because I was knitting at the time)!

To summarize my view of this whole debate: I don’t see the point in it. Richard Dawkins is as stupid as a brick and needs to see a therapist. I mean you can see that he suffers deeply just by looking at him. He might need to channel all his energy into something more productive than trying to convince people that god doesn’t exist. Even though I agree with most of his ideas, he just annoys the hell out of me and honestly I think he does more damage than good. Same goes for Bill Maher. Clearly linking the 9/11 attacks to Islam is just ignorant and will not make the world a better place, which is supposedly what these guys strive for. I can’t help but point out that these guys think religion and science exist in a vacuum and do not take into account the historical and political context of anything (which is the only thing anthropology is good for). For the last time, we are all biased, scientists included, and no matter how opinionated one is, if I don’t see some evidence that will allow me to draw my own conclusions, both sides have lost me.

I have one last word for them: “Don’t panic. The answer is 42!”.

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