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Ben Stein on CNN 18 Apr 2008

Posted by Jessa in Non-Science, Science.
Tags: , , ,

I just got finished watching Wolf Blitzer interview Ben Stein. Of course, he is promoting Expelled, which opens today.

During the interview, he stressed several times that he believes in evolution. Well, some parts of it. Like “microevolution”, a creationist-coined term that allows them to avoid being tripped up by readily-observable examples of evolution such as the development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. “Macroevolution”? Not so much.

His big problem with evolution? It’s not the ultimate answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything:

Evolutionism, as taught by Darwinism, has nothing – nothing – to say about how life originated. Has nothing to say about how the governing principles in the universe – gravity, thermodynamics, motion, fluid motion – how any of those originated. It’s…it’s got some gigantic missing pieces.

So the theory of evolution is wrong because it doesn’t explain things that it was never meant to explain. Evolution is an attempt to explain how the diversity of life on Earth arose. Issues of how life began in the first place, how gravity works, or how the universe began are way outside the scope of the theory of evolution. Apparently Ben is unaware that these issues are being examined under other theories. You know, little-known theories like abiogenesis, the theory of relativity, and the Big Bang theory. Perhaps you’ve heard of them in passing, Mr. Stein?

Ben Stein’s statement shows that he clearly has little understanding about what the theory of evolution actually says, since he can’t even figure out exactly what it is supposed to explain. Which is really pathetic, considering that he just spent months working on a movie about it.

I guess Ben Stein doesn’t accept the explanation of why the grass is green either because it doesn’t explain how birds fly.

Side note: I noticed that one of the clips showing behind Ben during the interview was the animation that was allegedly plagiarized. Not the smartest move.

UPDATE:  I have received several e-mails accusing me of “quote mining“.  The transcript of the entire interview can be found here – you can judge for yourself if the quote was taken out of context.


1. rocky8979 - 18 Apr 2008

The terms micro- and macroevolution were coined by biologists, with the meaning used by creationists. Steven Stanley even wrote a book titled “Macroevolution” published 1980.

However, there is no bright line between micro- and macroevolution. The accumulation of microevolutionary changes adds up to macroevolution. The processes are one and the same, but looked at on different time scales. These are just terms of convenience.

2. Jessa - 18 Apr 2008

Fair enough. But what I’ve seen of the use of the different terms by non-biologists, it seems that they believe that microevolution and macroevoluton occur by different mechanisms – not that they’re the same mechanism on different timescales. It is, as you stated, a term of convenience. But it is important to understand what one means by the terms.

3. Matthew Abel - 19 Apr 2008

The whole argument drives me crazy. What most people I’ve discussed it with don’t seem to understand is that evolution and the theory of evolution are two different things. I mean, evolution is an observable phenomenon. Anyone could seriously observe the change in species over time.

The whole thing riles me.

4. Buck - 19 Apr 2008

I just got back from the movie and what I did like about it was that it discussed freedom of speech and inquiry within the sciences and academia.

Should creationism be taught in school? No. Should a tenured biologist be able to discuss intelligent design in the classroom or a peer reviewed journal? I believe they should. We need open and direct discourse.

Though the movie goes a little off the rails at times, I at least agreed that those who wish to investigate evolution (scientifically) from a ID outlook (whether God or Aliens or whatever) should be judged without political/anti-religious bias.

The Doc. just proved what I already thought. Some atheists are just as crazy, radical, and unmoving as some conservatives. What we need is open scientific debate that allows for all research based ideas.

5. Buck - 19 Apr 2008

Ohhh, though I standby my need for freedom of speech in academic discourse comment, I’m now reading the juicy stuff in Expelled Exposed.

Thanks for the link.

6. Ben - 01 May 2008


“Should a tenured biologist be able to discuss intelligent design in . . . a peer reviewed journal?”

No, because you’re missing the whole point of “peer review.” Peer Review means other scientists in the same field review the paper to determine its scientific validity, and determine if the experiments used to render its findings are solid enough for publication. How would you test ID? If someone were to publish a paper which had hypothesis’ and experiments worthy of publication, a journal would publish it.

Most leading scientific journals have a 30% acceptance rate. That means they only accept 30% of the papers submitted to them, for one reason or another. If 70% of the scientific literature, which provide testable hypothesis and rational arguments are rejected, why would a paper about ID which provides just speculation and doubt be published?

7. Green this week « Morgansolar’s Weblog - 19 Jun 2008

[…] everywhere and damn the environment. (On a personal note, Ben Stein has amazed me lately with his ability to be totally wrong about absolutely […]

8. Dwarakanath - 03 Jun 2009

//////////////Ben Stein’s statement shows that he clearly has little understanding about what the theory of evolution actually says, since he can’t even figure out exactly what it is supposed to explain. Which is really pathetic, considering that he just spent months working on a movie about it.///////////

It has been a trend these days it seems. So many people talking of stuff they dont know of.Take for example the “New atheists”.

Same comment flows towards the new atheists (the four horsemen and their shoes..). The books they write clearly show that they dont have an iota of understand regarding religion, mysticism, etc. which they are
1. not trained in.
2. not proficient in.
3. not accomplished in.

And yet, they write books and books (posing as scientists) regarding these and say that it is science!! How scientific is it to claim that mysticism or spirituality are nonsense, when one doesnt really see what it is??

It has proven many times over through out the ages (spirituality, mysticism, religion, etc.) in its OWN DOMAIN. One tries to comment on it from another domain and says its ‘nonsense’?

So much for the science of the new atheists.

Oh, by the way, i dont have anything against atheists. Only against the atheists who soil the name of intelligence and science by hurling their stones towards things they don’t know.

Regarding I-D, the Intelligence need not be ‘OUTSIDE’ this universe. Why cant it be ‘inherent’?? Universe designing itself intelligently. Why is it not a possibility??

‘life’ behaves in ‘goal oriented’ ways. Why cant the whole universe be ‘alive’? (Atleast as ‘alive’ (goal oriented) as a skin cell).



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