A cynical curmudgeon named Ben Stein has been making the rounds of talk shows, promoting a soon-to-be-released movie.
Judging from the trailer for the movie, it will be yet another rehash of Intelligent Design. The trailer shows a teacher at a chalkboard, talking to his class about evolution. Stein, at the rear of the class, interrupts to ask how life could arise from inanimate matter.
The teacher acts caught out. He mumbles and stutters. He says they have gone over this time and again. Stein responds that the teacher never answers the question. He brings up the possibility of ID, and the other students all nod approvingly.
Leave aside for the moment the fact that several hypotheses about the origin of life are presently being scientifically explored. (See, e.g., http://tinyurl.com/z2ylv.) Stein’s notion of ID demonstrates once again a fallacy that constantly shows up in ID claims. In fact, this fallacy has been pointed out so frequently that it has acquired a title: God of the Gaps.
Religion loves a mystery, meaning anything currently unexplainable. Theistic people can then “explain” the unknown by positing a god or gods who make it all happen.
An excellent article, “The Last Gasp for the God of the Gaps” by Greg Perkins is still available: (http://tinyurl.com/5ox38o)
When you already “know” — throughRevelaton — that God exists and created everything, you can safely ridicule any scientific teaching that contradicts your “knowledge.”
Stein, and ID proponents generally, already “know” how life got started; how the universe itself got started. God did it, and they “don’ need no steenking” scientific theories.
The focus of the ID movement is to ridicule the theory of evolution, which, they are correct in fearing, gives the lie to the notion of “creation ex nihilo.” The deeper purpose of ID is to more firmly embed religion into politics so that education and legislation will reflect the religionists’ views of the world and morality.
Of course, Stein’s movie is bent on deriding any idea of a universe with no God to make it go, so the focus (in the trailer) is the humiliation of the teacher who can’t answer it.