Home » Intelligent Design » Ben Stein on O’Reilly Factor tonight — 10.22.07

Ben Stein on O’Reilly Factor tonight — 10.22.07

Ben Stein will be on the O’Reilly Factor tonight talking about his upcoming movie/documentary EXPELLED: NO INTELLIGENCE ALLOWED.

Update: If you missed it on TV click me for the segment.

Further update: Or watch it here from YouTube:

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

32 Responses to Ben Stein on O’Reilly Factor tonight — 10.22.07

  1. I do hope that Expelled is going to be primarily focusing on the scientific issues. That is what the public really needs to understand.

    It’s important that they are aware of the censorship, etc. But, in the end, the science is what is going to draw supporters. Not the bitching.

  2. 2

    I just finished watching The Factor and was surprised on just how short the segment with Ben Stein was, though perhapse I should have known that important segments on news programs are usually very short. Overall I felt it was good, even though O’Reilly did call ID “creationism” a few times.

  3. DavidBrennan is no longer with us. His comments and responses to his comments were disappeared along with him.

  4. It wasn’t bad, I wish they had shown the image with Ben Stein spraying the x in expelled. Basically it seemed maybe under-hyped. I would be very interested to know what kind of impression it made with people who did not watch the show just to see the segment. (Did it grab peoples interest or just come and go before their eyes?)

  5. I noted that O’Reilly focused on the origin of life, and pointed out that scientists don’t have the faintest idea how this could have possibly occurred within a materialistic framework, but still insist that no challenge to a materialistic explanation might even be considered. These are my words, not O’Reilly’s, but that was the sense I got from his comments.

    I think that, for the general public, the origin of life (not necessarily the origin of species) represents the greatest Achilles heel of materialism/Darwinism. Darwinists have a seemingly plausible explanation for the increasing complexity of life once it started (even though it is transparently bogus when scrutinized), but hypotheses about the origin of life don’t have unfilled gaps, they are nothing but one giant gap from the outset. And the gap does not shrink, but increases in magnitude with each new discovery about the complexity, sophistication, and information content of living systems. Instead of converging on a purely materialistic explanation, science is diverging from one.

    I think that, for most people who think about the origin-of-life problem from even a basic common sense point of view, purely materialistic/mechanistic explanations represent the wrong explanatory category altogether. And they are correct.

  6. I wish I had seen the segment. A couple of years ago I caught O’Reilly’s “Radio Factor” and the topic was Intelligent Design. It was immediately obvious that O’Reilly didn’t have a clue what it was all about. He repeatedly complained that it “wasn’t science”, and that evolution was a “fact.” It appeared as though he wasn’t prepared to discuss that particular topic at all. It sounds as though in the intervening year or two, he still hasn’t learned a damned thing about the issue. For this reason, and several others, I rarely listen to his show.

  7. This was very disappointing. O’Reilley and Stein never differentiated between ID and creationism. This just adds fuel to those who intentionally confuse the terms. It seems that even those on cable news and talk radio (Except Michael Medved) who might be sympathetic to ID just don’t understand the issue well enough to help the cause at all.

  8. I updated Bill’s post with a link to the video.

  9. I didn’t care too much for the segment. O’Reilly does not seem to be versed at all on the topic. I think it’s all just atheism vs. theism to him. I was hoping Stein would better define the issue, but I guess time was very limited. The segment had the feel of “those wacky creationists, what are they up to now?” to me.

  10. Calling ID “creationism” isn’t technically inaccurate. ID does in fact propose that certain patterns in living things were not the result of chance but were in fact designed. In that context design and creation are fairly synonymous. The unfortunate part of that is that in general use “creationism” is synonymous with “biblical creationism”. This is reinforced by the fact that a large majority of ID proponents have a personal belief that the God of Abraham is the creator of life. ID itself does not propose that the patterns in nature are the result of biblical creation. Of course that linkage of ID to biblical creation is a genetic fallacy. A minority of ID “creationists” such as myself have no firm belief in any particular designer embodiment. For me the evidence of design is compelling and warrants a design inference but there is no empirical evidence available to characterize any designer(s) beyond a reasonable presumption that the designer(s) must have at least, but not neccessarily more than, some advanced (compared to present human technology) but still quite material skills in biochemistry. That minimum falls far short of an omnipotent, transcendent entity with the capacity to create our entire observable universe. I’m sure O’Reilly’s use of “creationist” is not intended to be misconstrued with “biblical creationist” but it certainly is intentional in many other cases with the intentional goal of leveraging the judicial system’s current stance that “biblical creationism” when taught in public schools is prohibited by the 1st amendment establishment clause.

  11. Quote of note:
    “The most important difference [between modern intelligent design theory and Paley's arguments] is that [intelligent design] is limited to design itself; I strongly emphasize that it is not an argument for the existence of a benevolent God, as Paley’s was. I hasten to add that I myself do believe in a benevolent God, and I recognize that philosophy and theology may be able to extend the argument. But a scientific argument for design in biology does not reach that far. This while I argue for design, the question of the identity of the designer is left open. Possible candidates for the role of designer include: the God of Christianity; an angel–fallen or not; Plato’s demi-urge; some mystical new age force; space aliens from Alpha Centauri; time travelers; or some utterly unknown intelligent being. Of course, some of these possibilities may seem more plausible than others based on information from fields other than science. Nonetheless, as regards the identity of the designer, modern ID theory happily echoes Isaac Newton’s phrase hypothesis non fingo. (Michael Behe, “The Modern Intelligent Design Hypothesis,” Philosophia Christi, Series 2, Vol. 3, No. 1 (2001), pg. 165, emphasis added)

    I would like to add to this sentiment of Behe’s that the designer is in fact inferred to be transcendent by the anthropic principle, but alas that is cosmology and not biology.

  12. Patrick, thanks for the link to the video clip.

    I’m glad to see DavidBrennan gone. He was a work of art. This site kicks people off more quickly that I would, but I’d have kicked Brennen off in a heartbeat.

    BornAgain77 (11), well said.

    Alas, I hope that once people watch “Expelled” they have a much better understanding of what the intelligent design hypothesis is than Bill O’Reilly currently has. If we could get past the “Creationist” whipeout, it would be great. The “theologians think” whipeout is just as uninformed. I recognized DaveScot’s point that ID can be considered to be a “creationist” philosophy. However, the label of “Creationist” (big C) carries with it a bunch of Young Earth and “the Bible says” baggage that is not in any way relevent to the ID debate.

  13. I also would have preferred Bill to discuss how ID is really science instead of talking about freedom of expression. The freedom of expression argument will never help ID science to be taught in schools. However, his show has the highest ratings because he seeks the greatest common denominator. He is trying to appeal to as many people as possible. Perhaps there is something we can learn from this. ID talks about the complexity of life but does not have an easily comprehensible explanation for life’s history. Perhaps if ID talked of life as a series of ‘big bangs,’ i.e. universe, Cambrian explosion, man; then it would be easier for people like Bill to communicate ID.

    On the positive side, his millions of viewers will no doubt help the box office for Expelled. The movie will hopefully discuss how ID is science and perhaps lead to more positive changes. I think ID is making good progress which I hope continues.

  14. Bill,

    Thanks for posting a video of the segment. I missed the first two airings and had to stay up until 3am to catch an O’Reilly repeat on Fox News. Being able to watch it on demand helps a lot in deciphering what exactly was said.

    Four minutes out of O’Reilly’s program isn’t bad at all. It’s actually about 10% of the program. The real damage done to the time and chance pundits by this doesn’t have anything to do with the scientific validity of ID but rather, as Stein points out, it portrays Darwinists as people with something to hide. If the evidence for evolution by time and chance is so overwhelming and ID so scientifically vacuous why do Darwinists resort to underhanded tactics to keep ID proponents and what they have to say out of academic settings? If ID is so preposterous and evolution by time and chance so well established then, as O’Reilly put it, putting all the academic cards on the table should be all that’s required. In point of fact Stein is absolutely correct that Darwinists DO have something to hide. Time and chance is the preposterous, scientifically vacuous explanation for life. Darwinists are desperate to keep their theory alive and will resort to anything at all in order to keep it alive at least long enough to come up with some plausible non-ingtelligent mechanism to explain life on earth. It’s getting rather amusing watching them clutch at straws as the inevitable exposition of the virtual impossibility of the Darwinian time and chance myth is exposed to the light of day.

  15. The scientific merits of ID and the deficiencies of evolution by time and chance are too complex to address in 4 minutes and in any case the vast majority of a political talk-show audience wouldn’t understand it.

    What can be communicated in 4 minutes is that Darwinists in academia are acting like people with something to hide when they resort to underhanded tactics of marginalizing critics. Stein’s movie documents the underhanded tactics and that IS something that the majority of O’Reilly’s audience understands. It isn’t intended to convince anyone that ID is true or Darwinian evolution false. It is intended to force the scientific establisment to cease the use of underhanded tactics and, as O’Reilly stated, “put all the cards on the academic table” and then let the facts speak for themselves. This can’t happen in academic environment where fear of ostracism and deprivation of means to earn a living is what happens to anyone who dares to say the Darwinian emperor has no clothes. Once that fear is removed the facts can be fairly presented and can then indeed speak for themselves. This is what the Darwinists fear the most and are willing to resort to any means to keep the critics out of the halls of academia. It’s an unfortunate situation because the Expelled expose is going to give science in general a huge black eye when it’s only choice few fields driven by liberal political agendas (evolution and global warming are the biggies) that deserve the black eye. I fear that when these coverups are exposed that anyone carrying the title “scientist” will be perceived by the general public as a liar who will use any means possible to persuade non-scientists that they are unbiased reseachers following the evidence wherever it may lead. I love science and I hate what is being done to it through the use of despicable tactics to suppress open dialogue.

  16. I’m sure O’Reilly’s use of “creationist” is not intended to be misconstrued with “biblical creationist”

    I suspect you are overestimating the sophistication of O’Reilly’s argument.

    This may be pessimistic, but I very much doubt ID will ever come close to disentangling itself from creationism and religion. By far the largest block of support for ID comes from the conservative Christian community, and they simply see no merit in pretending that they don’t necessarily mean God when they talk about an intelligent designer. In fact, many of them believe it to be disingenuous to do so.

    Even Philip Johnson himself is quite open about his religious motives for supporting ID when talking about it on Christian radio shows. While his lawyerly choice of words may allow him to continue claiming that the science of ID is silent on who the creator is, there is no mistaking the message he is sending to the Christian faithful–that ID enables Biblical creationism as a scientific theory.

    I just don’t see this changing. What happened in Dover will happen again and again as ID supporters who are Bible-believing Christians speak up for their beliefs and further damage claims of ID as “designer-neutral”. Worse, it makes those who do make those claims seem less than honest as opponents seek to divine the ulterior religious motives behind them.

    This has nothing to do with the merits of ID as a scientific hypothesis, but it is certainly contributing to the failure to gain traction amongst the more secular minded, and despite some virulent opposition, the wound is mostly self-inflicted—-a severe, and ongoing case of friendly fire.

  17. tyke

    Ben Stein is Jewish. How is that fact going to be reconciled with the belief that ID is a Christian conspiracy?

  18. re: comment #10

    “The fine-tuning of the universe, about which cosmologists make such a to-do, is both complex and specified and readily yields design. So too, Michael Behe’s irreducibly complex biochemical systems readily yield design. The complexity-specification criterion demonstrates that design pervades cosmology and biology. Moreover, it is a transcendent design, not reducible to the physical world. Indeed, no intelligent agent who is strictly physical could have presided over the origin of the universe or the origin of life.”

    –William Dembski

  19. In the field of communication, it is always important to keep your objective in mind. Part of that objective is to establish a theme that is clear enought and concise enough to generate conversations around a water cooler. To say too much is to say nothing. What you are after is the minimum amount of information needed to get the response that you want.

    We should not concern ourselves with nuances that will be forgotten in five minutes. O’reilly may be clueless, but he is not hostile. That will do for now. The purpose of Ben Stein’s correspondence was to make two points: ID scientists endure unjust oppression and there is a movie coming out. Mission Accomplished!

  20. More pertinently, Stein is part of the believing Judeo-Christian tradition of America.

    He spoke at the Values Voters Summit, plugging his movie, in front of a audience which was overwhelmingly conservative born-again Christian.

    He is under no illusions as to who the target audience is for “Expelled”, and it’s not secular scientists.

  21. DaveScot (15): “It’s an unfortunate situation because the Expelled expose is going to give science in general a huge black eye when it’s only choice few fields driven by liberal political agendas (evolution and global warming are the biggies) that deserve the black eye.”

    Unfortunately most all disciplines in science also deserve such a black eye, for closed-mindedly ignoring and denying anomalous evidence against prevailing paradigms in a number of fields such as psi (the “paranormal”) and cold fusion. The pattern in academia is similar in some ways to ID, where researchers are denied tenure, persecuted, eased out, etc. because they have the temerity to attempt research in the taboo field, speak out, publish books on the evidence. Dean Radin was forced out of the University of Nevada before tenure essentially because he wrote and published a popular and convincing book on the evidence for psi phenomena (The Conscious Universe). This is quite similar in pattern to Gonzalez and The Priviledged Planet.

  22. Dave Carlson you quoted Dr. Dembski:

    Indeed, no intelligent agent who is strictly physical could have presided over the origin of the universe or the origin of life.”

    Now I agree that for the physical universe this is clearly an obvious inference, since it is commonly known that time and space were created in the big bang: Plus, The energy of the big bang, by rule of the first law of thermodynamics, had to come from some other “timeless” (relativity) dimension: coupled with the fact that universal constants (truths)are proven to be unchanging during the life of the universe (thus the inference to a Creator with the authority to establish unchanging truths for universal constants); hence, the obvious inference that the big bang is the result of a Eternal, VERY Powerful, Transcendent Creator which was responsible for the big bang is obvious: Whereas Dr. Dembski loses me on the inference to the origin of life. Maybe it is much more subtle,,,such as in the nature of implanting information into the physical universe,,,so if you, or anyone, could please elaborate on how the origin of life is attributable directly to a transcendent Creator, I would appreciate it.

  23. How about Ockham’s razor? Why attribute life and the universe to separate designers when only one is needed? Not a deductive argument I guess but still…

    Also you mentioned earlier a list of candidates for the role of designer. I keep waiting for someone to say it could be “Q” from star trek, but as I haven’t come across it I thought I would throw that in there. (Although I don’t know the show well enough to know if Q originated in a dimension caused by the big bang or not, if so then still a Q-esk being is possible in a multiverse I guess.)

  24. tyke

    Google “genetic fallacy” and study it. In science things stand and fall based on impersonal facts not on who presents them. Approximately 90% of U.S. residents self-identify themselves as believers in the Judeo-Christian God. It shouldn’t be unexpected that ID proponents are 90% or more Judeo-Christian – if ID were unrelated to religion that’s exactly what you would expect.

    What’s out of line is that 60% of academic scientists self-identify as non-religious. They like to think they are irreligious because they’re smarter than everyone else. The truth is that they’re more dysfunctional than everyone else and have to live in a sheltered little world where they all think alike, act alike, and pat each other on the back constantly about how very smart they are.

  25. batman

    In an infinite multiverse “Q” is not just possible he’s mandatory. An infinite number of Q’s in an infinite number of universes in fact. An infinite multiverse is just about the silliest non-explanation I’ve ever heard. The Boltzmann Brain Paradox is amongst the most humorous IMO.

    The Boltzmann brains paradox is that it is more likely that a brain randomly forms out of the chaos with false memories of its life than that the universe around us would have billions of self-aware brains.

    Talk about a science stopper!

  26. Do believers in a multiverse more often subscribe to an infinite or a finite multiverse I wonder? I would think a finite one might be more palatable.

    I like to think the physically impossible imposes at least some limits on a multiverse,(like maybe Q or the origin of life without intelligent help are impossibilities for some reason.) or does quantum mechanics or probability theory get by that? I guess I might be getting a little off topic here…

  27. Google “genetic fallacy” and study it. In science things stand and fall based on impersonal facts not on who presents them. Approximately 90% of U.S. residents self-identify themselves as believers in the Judeo-Christian God. It shouldn’t be unexpected that ID proponents are 90% or more Judeo-Christian – if ID were unrelated to religion that’s exactly what you would expect.

    I agree that the facts should be allowed to speak for themselves, but that’s not the problem. The fundamentalist Christian community, by and large, have no patience for a serious and sober debate and inquiry into the merits of and evidence for ID. They believe they already know the answer, that God is obviously the designer.

    And given that, so far, the ID output is mostly PR and little science, the ID message is getting lost in the overtly religious overtones of those who would support ID but muddy the waters with overt theology. That’s what happened in Dover and in South Carolina, to name but two. (It also happened with the biology textbooks in Texas last time they were reviewed, thanks to the creationist, Terri Leo).

    If Christians were as serious about the science of ID as they are about educating lawyers, preachers, and public servants, then why don’t they start forking over some of the billions of dollars in the pockets of Christian businessmen and institutions with the goal of creating a fully funded ID university research program? The money needed would be a drop in the ocean for the likes of Pat Robertson, ORU, or Eric Prince. So why isn’t it happening?

    And the people I am talking about (the ones making it hard for ID to gain traction) are not the 90% who claim to be religious. The majority of those Christians do not really engage in the debate at all beyond agreeing with “teach the controversy” when asked. No, it’s the more militant 20% or so, those who are the hard-core creationists, those who are politically driven to support their Bible-believing beliefs.

    The truth is that they’re more dysfunctional than everyone else and have to live in a sheltered little world where they all think alike, act alike, and pat each other on the back constantly about how very smart they are.

    It’s ironic you should say that, because it can be equally applied to those creationists within the fundamentalist Christian community. I have seen plenty of sermons and speeches that mock the beliefs of old-Earthers in order get a good laugh and tell their congregation or audience how smart they are not to believe that stuff. These people are every bit as sheltered and coddled within their church communities as the scientists are in academia.

  28. Do believers in a multiverse more often subscribe to an infinite or a finite multiverse I wonder? I would think a finite one might be more palatable.

    I’m not a “believer in a multiverse” per se, but believe it can’t be ruled out (as yet, anyway).

    Either way, a finite anything is more palatable than the infinite alternative since it’s very hard to grasp what infinity means, by and large.

    I’m not sure, though, that an infinite number of universes requires that there be one “Q” let alone an infinite number.

    Most people define an infinite multiverse as having an infinite number of universes, not that those universes are infinitely variable. It could be that all the universes in the multiverse are restricted by parameters and limits we can only guess at.

    For example, there are an infinite number of integers, but that doesn’t mean that somewhere there is an integer that breaks all known mathematical laws.

  29. Maybe it is much more subtle,,,such as in the nature of implanting information into the physical universe,,,so if you, or anyone, could please elaborate on how the origin of life is attributable directly to a transcendent Creator, I would appreciate it.

    - “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5 (KJV)

    Doesn’t light have the ability to implant information into the physical universe?

    - “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” John 1:4 (KJV)

    More specifically, doesn’t light have the ability to implant life into the physical universe?

    In response to comment #16 above, ID will never be able to disentangle itself from religion. In fact, they will attract each other until they are united in a Science-Religion bond. It is the inevitable non-coincidental counterbalance to the unscience-unreligion convenience, which is otherwise known as Darwinism-Atheism.

  30. This is just an aside but isn’t one of the multiverse theories nothing more than that a new universe is created each time there is a quantum event that could go one way or the other?

    If so, don’t all these universes have similar natural laws based on the fine tuning of the various constants? As such are all fine tuned? Or are these constants supposed to have arisen because of the quantum events and eventually a chaotic universe will turn into an ordered one?

    I also understand that string theory implies a large number of universes. Are these necessarily random as far as basic constants?

    I always find the multiverse idea no more than an intellectual exercise driven by the embarrassment that the universe is fine tuned but if we are going to base it on something, what are the assumptions?

    This maybe for another thread at another time.

  31. I must say I was disappointed in the interview, because O’Reilly and Stein both blatantly conflated Intelligent Design with Creationism.

    Part of this is due to the two talking heads’ ignorance, and a huge part of it is due to the misinformation campaigns waged by the evolutionists. But perhaps part of this is the ID community’s collective fault..? I see yet again, the conflation of cosmological and biological design and the assumption of not only a transcendent creator – but that the same creator created both things – the universe, and the life in it.

    Bornagain hits the nail on the head:

    Whereas Dr. Dembski loses me on the inference to the origin of life. Maybe it is much more subtle,,,such as in the nature of implanting information into the physical universe,,,so if you, or anyone, could please elaborate on how the origin of life is attributable directly to a transcendent Creator, I would appreciate it.

    I do wish we could have a serious discussion on this issue here at UD, because it could be very productive for us. From the comments of his that I have read, I bet DaveScot would be the most willing to pose this question to the readers.

  32. “I must say I was disappointed in the interview, because O’Reilly and Stein both blatantly conflated Intelligent Design with Creationism.”
    That’s because anyone really interested in ID is already here. The Expelled isn’t aiming for the small few who cares about science. There are a lot more who cares about the Creator (thus creationism) as well as freedom of expression.
    If I want to bored my friends and relatives to sleep all I got to do is talk about science

Leave a Reply