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Davis, California

Friday, May 17, 2024

A most convenient lie

The sad thing is that I really used to like Ben Stein. I grew up watching him banter with Jimmy Kimmel while defending his cash from all comers, and I was invariably impressed with the breadth of his knowledge. Thus, when I heard about his new flick Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, I felt a bit betrayed.

Since I’m going to go ahead and assume anyone sage enough to read my column has more sense than to toss $10 at this monumental waste of film, I’ll explain the basic premise. In a lot of ways, Expelled is a lot like An Inconvenient Truth with some of the nouns changed Mad Libs style. The movie (Truth / Expelled) is a documentary about (global warming / Intelligent Design) narrated by (an incredibly dry and humorless man / essentially the same dude) and backed up with (a pretty sobering array of science / more or less nothing).

To be perfectly fair, I haven’t yet seen the film. It only opened last week and I was busy studying for an evolutionary biology midterm. I will, however, pledge to go toss away a few bucks and give my utmost effort to avoid scoffs, snorts or guffaws. If by some freak occurrence I’m struck down by lightening as I enter, falling onto a performing street surgeon’s table and undergoing the complete frontal lobotomy that would be required to enjoy myself, I will spend all next week composing a lengthy and repentant article apologizing to all six Intelligent Design proponents I’ve offended.

Really, it doesn’t particularly matter whether I’ve seen it or not. Even if Ben Stein had presented all his material brilliantly – and reviewers from both sides generally agree he hasn’t – no amount of discussion could ever lift Intelligent Design above the status of other quasi-scientific notions. Intelligent Design deserves the same respect I grant Pastafarianism. Even the Young Earth creationists have more science behind their claims that the planet’s just now celebrating its 10,000th birthday. At least they’ve got a falsifiable argument. Fish fossils can be found on mountaintops because of the Flood, dinosaurs are mentioned in Job 40:15 and carbon dating is clearly Satan-spawn. Simple.

The standard attack against Intelligent Design is that it can’t be disproved. Let’s not bandy words here: Intelligent Design pretty clearly asserts that life is too complicated to be random, and was created by an omnipotent God. So, to disprove it you’d effectively have to disprove God. Impossibility aside, why would anyone even want to try? The man who successfully and unequivocally disproved God would be the saddest man on Earth.

Fortunately, even without flogging the falsifiability horse I can think of a few reasons to strongly doubt Intelligent Design. All I’ve got to do is meander towards the arboretum to watch some wildly rampageous duck rape. Not even the Old Testament God would condone the feathered frenzy of fornication that awaits the ducks each spring, but evolution is a harsh mistress. Does anyone really think that sloths were designed on purpose? They’re so slow one of their defensive tactics is to grow mold! And call me a skeptic, but I strongly doubt that beings created intelligently in God’s own image would have genitalia so uncannily resembling a depressed anteater.

All vitriol aside, I’m ever-pragmatic. As long as we’re homogenizing religious dogma and scientific theory, I’d like to put forth a new natural law: Un-telligent Recline. As evidenced by several of the more obscure Dude Sea Scrolls, my time spent horizontally by the TV isn’t caused by procrastination and poor decision-making skills. Instead, it’s the work of an unseen omnipotent Un-telligent being, and anyone who suggests otherwise is an atheist heathen.


CADE GRUNST likes alliteration almost as much as he dislikes ID. Send praise for his prose to cade@ucdavis.edu, or send reactionist responses at ztcrockett@ucdavis.edu.XXX


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