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Coral Ridge Ministries interviews Ben Stein

Be Sure to Spend Your Money on Ben Stein’s New Movie: My Recent Conversation with Ben Stein
By Jerry Newcombe, 4/3/08

[From email sent to me by Coral Ridge Ministries]

At this time, Ben Stein is unleashing his excellent film on the issue of origins—EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed. This motion picture (an entertaining documentary with theatrical release) could cause a sea change on this issue. Ben Stein shows repeatedly that well-qualified scientists are losing their jobs because of their views on origins. If they teach creationism, gone! If they introduce students to the concept that some people believe in Intelligent Design, next! But even if they just believe in Intelligent Design or creation and this becomes known, then these scientists or science teachers get expelled from the Academy. Furthermore, even if they question Darwinism, they can lose their jobs. I have seen a director’s cut of the film (Release: April 18, 2008), and I think it is excellent!

I had the privilege of sitting down with Ben and having a conversation for Coral Ridge Ministries-television. Please, look for him on upcoming editions of the Coral Ridge Hour. Here are some of the highlights or our conversation:

Jerry: What’s a nice Jewish boy like you doing in a nice Christian film like this?

Ben: What’s a nice Jewish boy like me doing in a “Christian” film like this? It’s a film for people who believe in freedom of speech. It’s a film for people who believe that worship of God and the worship of God as the author and creator of the universe is a legitimate belief and legitimately able to be spoken about. It’s a film for Muslims who believe in that. It’s a film for Hindus who believe in that. It’s a film for people who believe in God or believe in freedom of speech or believe in the idea that academic discourse in America’s colleges and universities should not be shut down. It’s a film for people who believe in what Thomas Jefferson thought of as his vision of America. It’s not a proselytizing film for Christians or Muslims or Jews or Hindus. It’s a film for people who want to believe and who do believe that there is a God, an Intelligent Designer, and you know something, it’s even a film for people who don’t believe in that, but they believe in freedom of speech for everyone anyway.

Jerry: Why did you personally agree to participate in the film?

Ben: Because I had always had very serious anger about Darwinism, because I think Darwinism led to the Holocaust. I think this belief that there are superior and inferior races, and that the superior races had a moral duty to eliminate the inferior races was one of the main building blocks of Nazism and the Holocaust, and I never thought that had gotten out enough. I had always thought there were enormous gaps in Darwinism, and I never realized quite how big those gaps were. But once we started talking to the scientists that we interviewed for this movie, I realized the gaps were enormous. How did the cell get so complicated? How did life begin? One day there was no life, the next day there was life, how did that start? How come nobody’s ever been able to replicate in the laboratory? How did the laws of physics get created? How come the planets don’t fall on top of each other? Where did gravity come from? Where did thermodynamics come from? Where did any of the basic governing principles of the universe come from? And Darwinism says nothing about those things, and we would like to say, open your mind to the possibility that there is an Intelligent Designer who created the governing principles of the universe, who created the incredibly complex cell, who created life where there was no life. The Darwinists say one day there was nothing (claps hands) bang, the next day there was something. Where’d that come from? Explain to us how you get something out of nothing. And if you can explain it to us, we’d like to hear about it. But let us talk too.

Jerry: One of the most amazing aspects of your film is that even the people who deny Intelligent Design or creation or whatever actually do in a sense affirm Intelligent Design, only it has nothing to do with God; it’s spacemen or something like that.

Ben: Right. It was amazing to interview Richard Dawkins, a huge power in the atheistic materialism movement, huge power, very successful author from a British university—Oxford. And he actually was much more forthcoming on the idea that maybe there was an Intelligent Designer. But his idea was that maybe people had visited earth from outer space and started earth going and started. But then, where did gravity come from? Where did thermodynamics come from? Where did the basic laws of physics come from? Where did those things come from? There has to have been some overall Intelligent Designer, some organizing force in the universe. Dawkins doesn’t know what it was. He thinks maybe there are a quadrillion bazillion parallel universes that don’t work, and we’re the only one that does work. That seems a bit far fetched. You know, it’s interesting, the anti-God, pro-Darwinist people ask us to believe things that are a heck of a lot more far fetched than what we ask people to believe in. And they ask us to believe that just by random chance we have this earth and all the incredible complexity of the universe. And we say, “Well, what if there was an organizing force?” And I don’t think our position is anywhere near as far fetched as theirs….[The universe is] so much more complex than the mind of man can understand that it’s like a dog trying to understand Newton. And you know who said that? Darwin. Darwin said it’s all so complex that for a human brain to try to understand it is like a dog trying to understand Newton’s physics.

Jerry: What would you say to Eugenie Scott [ardent evolutionist, Director of National Center for Science Education] types, who would basically say, Science is what the scientists say it is…the scientists say that Creation and Intelligent Design—that kind of idea is not scientific, and the people who believe that are akin to members of the flat earth society?

Ben: I would say to Eugenie Scott, Yes, you are right; in reality, science is what the scientists say it is. That is the reality of the situation, but it’s not a good reality. It’s not a reality that advances knowledge. It’s not a reality that advances the frontiers of man’s understanding of the universe or even of the human body. Eugenie Scott, you’re right, in the sense that you say, “We’re the boss, do what we say.” And that is usually how life operates; the boss gets to decide what’s right and what’s wrong. As Bob Dylan said, “The princes make the rules for the wise men and the fools.” And in this world, big science are the princes. We’re asking for a world where there aren’t princes and kings. We’re asking for Thomas Jefferson’s world, where there is freedom of speech for everyone, where people can say, “Look, you have no proof of this. You’ve never seen a single mammalian species evolve into a separate species. It’s never been seen. So why don’t you give us a chance to give our explanation? You’ve never seen how a cell got to have a million moving parts. Let us give our explanation. You’ve never seen how the laws of gravity got created. Let us give our explanation. You’re right, Eugenie Scott, you’ve got all the power right now. We agree, you’ve got the power. We’re just little dinky nothings, just asking for what Thomas Jefferson asked the King of England for—freedom of speech, freedom of representation, freedom to make our points. We’re just little dinky nothings, but we have truth on our side.” Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The arc of history is long, but it inclines towards truth.”

Jerry: Did it surprise you to learn as you got into this whole project how many credentialed, excellent scientists, well-published, etc. were being expelled because of their views and only their views?

Ben: It surprised me that so many scientists were being expelled, punished, having their grants taken away, humiliated, belittled, mocked, because they believed that there was an Intelligent Designer, or even the possibility of an Intelligent Designer. But what surprised me even more, as we traveled and made our journey all around the world, was that there were so many highly credentialed scientists who did believe in the possibility of Intelligent Design, and who did severely question Darwinism. We drove through hellacious traffic between Paris and Brussels to interview a very famous Polish geneticist, who was in Brussels with the European Parliament. He made a point so brilliant, I’ve never heard anyone even come close to repeating this point. He said, “In random mutation and natural selection, genetic material is destroyed. But to advance and make a more sophisticated human being, you have to add to genetic material. So, how can you both destroy genetic material by random mutation and natural selection and have a more advanced creature by the addition of DNA?” So, nobody’s ever answered that even remotely. And so what we say is, “Look, if we’ve got questions by intelligent, extremely well credentialed, well respected scientists like that, answer our questions. We’ll go away. You tell us the answers to those questions, we’ll go back to our holes somewhere. Tell us the answer to those questions. Tell us how life began, tell us how physics began, tell us how gravity began. We’ll go back to our holes back there in West Tennessee and you can keep running Harvard and Yale and Princeton. But you don’t have the answers. The truth is: Dr. [Richard] Dawkins,[1] Dr. [Daniel] Dennett,[2] Dr. Scott, you don’t have the answers and you know it, and that’s why you’re so defensive about it.”

This last point reminds me of an argument the late Dr. D. James Kennedy (founding president of Coral Ridge Ministries) once made on the same subject. He said the evolutionists are so vociferous in their opposition to anything that smacks of the creationist view because their own arguments are scientifically crumbling. Their shrillness was akin to the janitor finding a minister’s pulpit notes on Monday morning. The pastor had scribbled in the margin: “Argument weak—pound pulpit here!”

At the very end of our very pleasant discussion, Ben added (with a twinkle in his eye): “By the way, I’m not a nice Jewish boy.” Well, I think he is. So does everyone who has met him that I have talked to.

It has been said that when a boss gets fired, he gets fired by the people below him. The people above him just deliver the news. Using that generality as a model, perhaps the time will come soon—thanks in large part to Ben Stein’s new film—that the tables will be turned on the Darwinist bullies who keep down bonafide scientists and science teachers because they dare question Darwinian dogma. In short, perhaps the day will come soon when true academic freedom will extend to those who refuse to bow at the altar of Darwinism.

I highly recommend that everyone go out and see Ben Stein’s movie. We can help make it a big success if we pack the theatres, especially the opening weekend (scheduled: April 18, 2008). Hope to see you there!

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15 Responses to Coral Ridge Ministries interviews Ben Stein

  1. Wow.

  2. 2

    I have heard a lot of rumors that Ben Stein is Jewish, and this settles it — he says that he’s Jewish.

  3. It almost seems too good to be true that there would be a God.

  4. 4

    Dr. Dembski,

    Ben Stein says, “It’s a film for people who believe in freedom of speech.”

    IMHO, people who want freedom of speech should do all they can to grant it to others. Do you agree?

  5. austin-english, “IMHO, people who want freedom of speech should do all they can to grant it to others. Do you agree?”

    You seem to be implying that the ID community, Ben Stein or somebody on this side of the fence is trying to restrict somebody’s freedom of speach. Please clarify.

  6. Ben Stein did an excellent job in this interview. While he conflated God with ID a little more than id good for the theory, over all he did a profound job articulating the position for most of us on the ID side.

    This quote nailed it.

    “It’s not a proselytizing film for Christians or Muslims or Jews or Hindus. It’s a film for people who want to believe and who do believe that there is a God, an Intelligent Designer, and you know something, it’s even a film for people who don’t believe in that, but they believe in freedom of speech for everyone anyway.”

    That’s right.

  7. 7

    I took the first half of American history last fall. (It made my high school class look like propaganda.) I don’t remember it the way Stein seems to.

    Jefferson’s America gave all humans their inalienable rights. But a lot of Americans believed blacks were subhuman. Jefferson didn’t believe that. He kept slaves anyway. And he tried to make them invisible to visitors with his design of Monticello.

    Jefferson was in favor of elitism in American government. Plato’s Republic was a big influence on the founding fathers. The book tells how Greek democracies failed. And there is no form of the word “democracy” in the constitution.

    The Federalist Papers explained the constitution before it was ratified. Only white male landowners could vote. The idea was that they would vote responsibly. They were expected to elect outstanding leaders. Also, the elected were not expected to act according to the will of the voters. They were supposed to act in the best interest of the people. Jefferson’s America seems un-American now.

    Except for the limited suffrage, I think those were great ideas. But Ben Stein seems to think the mass of “dinky little nothings” should use their political power to hack down the scientific elite. Jefferson believed nothing like that.

    Scientists should govern science. If the elite scientists are out of control, the “ordinary” scientists should remedy that. It is not the place of a God-fearing voting block to repair science.

  8. Austin

    I doubt Jefferson would have said that the best course of action to make slavery go away is leave the matter in the hands of the slave owners. Jefferson wasn’t a moron. He knew you don’t let the fox guard the henhouse.

  9. Wait… the laws of physics don’t have anything to do with evolutionary theory. Saying evolution hasn’t explained the origin of the laws of physics is a non sequitur. Why is Ben Stein talking about them?

  10. Wesley:

    Wait… the laws of physics don’t have anything to do with evolutionary theory. Saying evolution hasn’t explained the origin of the laws of physics is a non sequitur. Why is Ben Stein talking about them?

    Read carefully. He didn’t say evolution hasn’t explained the laws of physics. He’s listing off cool things that he thinks the Creator did, including creating life, designing the laws of physics, and arranging the planets. He’s casting the ID net wider than bioevo.

  11. Wesley

    the laws of physics don’t have anything to do with evolutionary theory

    That’s really our whole point when it comes to evolutionary theory. It ignores the laws of physics.

  12. 12

    DaveScot said,

    I doubt Jefferson would have said that the best course of action to make slavery go away is leave the matter in the hands of the slave owners.

    Human rights are public policy. Science instruction in public schools is public policy. But science is not. Science has a long history of correcting itself. Ben Stein says,

    It surprised me that so many scientists were being expelled, punished, having their grants taken away, humiliated, belittled, mocked, because they believed that there was an Intelligent Designer, or even the possibility of an Intelligent Designer. But what surprised me even more, as we traveled and made our journey all around the world, was that there were so many highly credentialed scientists who did believe in the possibility of Intelligent Design, and who did severely question Darwinism.

    If there are so many of these excellent scientists, why not accept that they may bring change in science?

  13. Dave is right. How else do you think birds manage to fly?

  14. Ernst Haeckel first proposed the academic persecution of the Jews in Germany. This was early on I think even before the Weimar republic and World War One.

    We made a source discovery on Haeckel’s correspondence to Finland, I think. That article can’t be submitted to the internet freely but this one published in the ABC-series’ book Challenge for Bioethics from Asia is free of copyrights:
    http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojal.....y_ABC5.pdf

  15. You can’t expect biologists to figure out the laws of physics. Physicists figure out the laws of physics. Biologists figure out the way species change and life works. Though evolution rests upon the laws of physics, you can’t expect it to explain them.
    It seems to me that evolution is being treated as a religion capable of explaining everything when no scientist claims it to be. It’s a way of explaining how species change after life first originated and not a way of explaining the governing laws of the universe.

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