THE BLOG
04/22/2008 01:48 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Creationist Movie Expelled with Ben Stein: A Blasphemy to Nazi-Resister Teachers

There were many heroes who resisted Nazi occupation and practices during World War II. Some, like the Norwegian resister Max Manus, are the stuff of legend.

Teachers were among the major, but unsung heroes. When the Nazis occupied Norway, and installed the traitor Quisling as their puppet, they told the nation's teachers that they had to teach Nazi curriculum in the schools. A first-grade math problem asked this: "3 Jews and 2 Africans are in a room. How many inferior people are in the room?" [Note the origins of the rightwing push-pollsters?]

The teachers refused. They said they could only teach that part of the curriculum that was true. Nothing else was possible. The Nazi regime locked them out, and so the teachers went on strike. Civil disobedience in a Nazi state!

The standoff continued. Hitler could not abide it. The teachers' union (yes, Ben Stein, the union!) were imprisoned, and sent to a labor camp in frigid northern Norway. About a third of them died; but, they refused to buckle.

Eventually, Quisling relented. The children needed to be in school so their parents could perform slave labor, sending their products to Germany. The teachers signed a statement indicating that they would teach Nazi curriculum only if it were true.

Ben Stein's Expelled is a polemical film designed to insinuate creationism, aka "Intelligent Design", into science curriculum in the public schools. Stein manufactures a conspiracy theory in which Big Science, Big Media, and Big Government conspire to suppress academic freedom. Rejecting Intelligent Design curriculum is a denial of free inquiry; after all, he says, just teach "the controversy".

What "controversy"? There is not a single scientific experiment ever performed testing so-called intelligent design. There is not a single paper presenting scientific evidence supporting intelligent design. It is not a real controversy, it is manufactured---a manufactroversy ™.

If they can manufacture a controversy, why not manufacture a word to describe it?

Sure, there are questions and unresolved issues in evolution science. And, who knows, some day a revised theory of the universe may alter our understanding of how life evolved. I would be surprised if it did not.

Gaps in the evidence supporting our current understanding of evolution is hardly scientific proof of intelligent design, anymore than it is proof that an alien species arrived on earth, and copulated with apes or the horseshoe crab to produce homo sapiens. If there are gaps in the evidence supporting the science of evolution, why not teach that alternative in the schools as well?

Science classes in schools only teach concepts for which a mountain of evidence has accumulated, when the evidence far outweighs any contradictory information. Without that standard, we could spend the entire middle school and high school curricula teaching any fantasy about human development that had more than 2 parents who promulgated it. Does that not qualify as a "controversy" by Ben Stein's definition?

There is a simple distinction between science and ideology (or theology or philosophy) that students, and adults, should remember: science explains conditions of natural phenomena; ideology (or theology or philosophy) justifies preferences.

As the title of Al Gore's Oscar-winning film "An Inconvenient Truth" conveys, science is indifferent to our preferences, it is what it is. Humankind ignores that reality at its peril.

The Soviet Union decided that the facts of genetics provided "inconvenient" truths for its ideology. Denying the scientific facts of inheritance and expression of dominant genes, Soviet agriculture embarked on a nonsensical attempt to grow wheat on frozen tundra resulting in huge losses and the need to import grain just to feed their people.

Ben Stein's father was a famous economist and Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors. Would he want our high school students, already 29th in the world in high school science proficiency, to suffer further economic disadvantage by learning non-science propaganda, and thus not even understanding the difference between science and theology? Would he want to follow the communist Soviet Union and allow ideological preferences to trump reality?

That would be like the Norwegian teachers under Nazi rule teaching their students the 'scientific' inferiority of Jews.

Too many brave people, too many brave and principled teachers, sacrificed their lives and were subjected to torture to preserve the dignity of the truth.

Mr. Stein and his creationist funders blaspheme their sacrifice.