Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ben Stein goes back to class

I'm looking forward to seeing this film. Not because I'm a fire-breathing proponent of any scientific theory, able to quote examples in detail and argue in-depth on the subject of the origins of humankind. Science is not my first subject, and I haven't formally studied anything evolution-related since junior high school. But I did study, and did OK. And I've watched a lot of PBS since then, and listened to discussions here and there on Christian radio. Most importantly, I learned how to think, and I'm aware of the importance of integrating my faith into my "real life"--and ongoing process.

In addition to a passing interest in science, I have a fascination with human nature, and how truth is communicated and propagated in a fallen world, or in some cases denied and squelched. Every believer has a responsibility to "be prepared to give an answer" when possible, and science is some people's way of pursuing God, though they may not be aware of it at the time. So it's important to keep the way as clear of obstructions as possible, for my own sake as much as anyone's.

What I'm interested in seeing in this film is its intended portrayal of how the human nature of scientists and educators has led them to resist opposition to alternate lines of scientific inquiry, thereby contradicting the principles of freedom of thought they would verbally support and inflicting the same persecution they've taken centuries to overcome. This contradiction is not unrelated to the trend of lawsuits against religious expression in the public square (such as on school grounds) in the name of civil liberty and "tolerance" (as opposed to, gee, I don't know, letting everyone say what they think and dealing with it).

I've thought for some time that evolution as an explanation for our origins has taken on mythical properties, where new evidence is interpreted to fit the theory rather than the theory adapted to fit the evidence. Which would make scientific community the priesthood of the religion of rationalism in which we ostensibly put our trust. But really, among the masses even that religion is merging with the mysticism of New Age thought and superstition, to form a pseudo-scientific viewpoint evidenced, in my mind, by sales of "The Secret" as well as the popularity of "The DaVinci Code" and that ghost-hunting show on TV.

Warning: Fairly obvious "Ferris Buehler" reference ahead

I gather the film takes a sort of Michael Moore approach, using satire and humor but with more class and less deception. I'm sure Ben Stein would not tolerate (oops, that word again) anything less than an aboveboard treatment of its subject. Though apparently he was game for anything on the advertising, given the short pants. Maybe someone could offer some fashion advice for the premiere...? Anyone? Anyone?

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