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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Intelligent design and popular culture: ID film's Ben Stein "Expels" Sarah Palin, riles some fans

Recently, Ben Stein, star of Expelled, the film about the intelligent design theorists, annoyed some ID folk by his comments about Republican veep choice Sarah Palin, believed friendly to ID,
"Ben Stein Repulsed By Sarah Palin, Thinks Henry Kissinger Should ‘Babysit’ Her" - says Wonkette, who adds, "He is not impressed with Sarah Palin. No matter what weird causes Ben Stein supports, he has never been very forgiving of total idiots."



Critically, he says "This most peculiar vice-presidential choice there has ever been." and "What we have now is back to, what you might call, this fundamentalist, born-again, backwoods values of the United States of America."

Stein professes to love those backwoods (or backwards?) values, but then some people love pickled 'possum innards, or anyway they profess to.

He also noted that he was probably the only person on CNN who believes in intelligent design - which, if true, says something not very complimentary about CNN's claims to be mainstream.

The many comments I've heard from ID folk, break out along these lines:

- Stein's tone and words were "dismissive and demeaning." "It is just like Obama -- in Scranton where the votes are, talking up the small-town folks, and then in San Francisco at the wine and cheese reception, sneering at the rubes."

- More people will see this Palin putdown free than pay to see Expelled.

- ID folk should stop promoting Expelled until Stein apologizes for the damage he is doing, implying that Palin supporters are yay-hoos and rubes.

- Chill out: A guy could be pro ID but anti-Christian. What if, for example, he were Jewish and held Christianity accountable for persecuting Jews?

- Chill out further: ID is not about being conservative, Republican or Christian, and it's okay if two people who agree with the perspective it offers on current science disagree about a lot of other things, including Sarah Palin.

In my view:

1. The flap blew up before this - and Ben, like many, may well be quietly revising his view:



2. It really has nothing to do with Expelled and will probably soon blow over. Stein thought Palin couldn't handle foreign affairs or the economy. Hmmm. Palin's state sits between Canada and Russia - I wonder how many American states have two foreign neighbours? As for the economy, it's not clear that the US Republicans spend less tax money than the Democrats anyway.

A note on Palin and creationism:

There is much squalling over Palin's presumed creationism, but Edward Sisson reminds me that "Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and John Kerry, Dems all, as well as McCain, back in 2001, all voted for the Santorum Amendment, which is a stronger "teach the controversy" position than Palin's comment at a debate" which is the basis for the anguished squalls. He discusses that here. (Obama was not then a senator, so he did not vote.)

Here's a pretty comprehensive look at Palin's actual views from Parablemania, as well as a clear and well-worded explanation of why Wikipedia is usually a worthless source on these issues and should not be consulted by anyone looking for information, as opposed to propaganda.

British columnist Melanie Phillips gets it right:

Palin is a Christian, which means she believes that the world had a Creator She shares that belief with other Christians along with Jews and Muslims the world over. Unless one takes the view that all religious belief is certifiable, there is nothing remotely odd about a person of faith believing in God. Indeed, one might say this is a prerequisite (unless one happens to belong to the Church of England).

Melanie, not to worry, I hear God survived a recent Church of England vote - with a razor-thin majority to be sure ...

Why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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