Last night I finally got a chance to go and see Ben Stein’s Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. This is a documentary that I had been wanting to see ever since I saw the trailer. For those unfamiliar with the movie, Expelled presents the story of how the scientific world of academia is leading people who have come to this conclusion that biological evolution might not be the only answer to the questions of biology and origins to be expelled from their jobs and places of influence. This new movement is called intelligent design (ID). ID is different from creationism in that ID only suggests that there is some form of intelligent force that was involved in the origins of the universe. A creationist would take the concept of ID one step further in stating that this intelligent force was God. Due to this focus on the expulsion of individuals who are opposing the status quo of darwinism, Expelled has a very political and sociological message. It does not deal with the scientific evidence or seek to answer the question of whether darwinism or ID is the true and factually based ideology. The movie just focuses on the suppression of the freedom of speech that the ID proponents are said to be experiencing.
There were some good points that the movie made, but overall, I was greatly disappointed. I was excited to see the interviews that had been seen in the previews with radical atheist, Dr. Richard Dawkins, and some prominent Christian apologists including Dr. John Lennox and Alister McGrath. The movie interviews presented the fact very clearly that this is not merely a discussion of scientific theories but that each side represents its own worldview. This was a good point to make in that all scientists no matter how “objective” and “open minded” they claim to be come to the table with certain biases and preconceived notions from their own personal worldviews. This helps to clear up the perspective that scientists so often seek to present that they are completely unbiased when they came to their own view of evolution while the ID proponents came to their decision in favor of ID only due to their own personal biases against evolution. This was a very good point made by the film.
Another interesting item presented in the film came from Ben Stein’s question of: If their is not an intelligent designing force that began the universe, then how do you suppose that the universe came into being? Two of the scientists responded to this question specifically with an answer besides the common one of having “no idea.” One of these proposed that life formed from a chemical reaction that took place on the back of a crystal that sparked life as we know it. The second, Dr. Richard Dawkins, attempted to explain his theory of origins. In this theory, he proposes that there is a possibility that life was brought to the earth from life that existed on another planet in our solar system. This is a theory that sounds very much like aliens but is presented in a very scientific sounding fashion that makes this odd theory seem more intellectually feasible. Ben Stein then presents these theories as absurd in comparison to the theory of ID. These theories were clearly minimized and not given much credence in the film, but personally, I do not believe that these theories are any more than creative attempts to avoid acknowledging the clear signs of an intelligent designer in the world around us.
The movie, despite these interesting interviews, present something that hurt the position of the movie in an attempt at an easy shot against the evolutionist camp. The perfect atrocity to blame on an opposing ideology is the holocaust. The horrible slaughter of many lives overseen by Hitler and the Nazi regime is the nail in the coffin to an opposing ideologies camp. This was the attempt made by Expelled – an attempt to blame Hitler’s motivation for the holocaust on the philosophy of darwinism. Human directed natural selection could be seen as an extreme result of this philosophy being fully embraced but the fact that this was the driving factor is hard to prove. It could also be said that Hitler used the religious convictions of the Christians to turn them against the Jews in the holocaust due to the fact that the Jews are the people who murdered Jesus. This argument was not appropriate due to the fact that the intentions of Hitler in his leadership of the Nazi regime cannot be specifically pinpointed to a specific ideology since many ideologies could be taken to extremes (in the case of darwinism) or out of context (in the case of Christianity) to attempt to justify the holocaust in the minds of the Nazi people. Expelled did not just present this idea as a possibility but desired to drive it home as fact through some random interviews along with a step-by-step journey down the halls to a gas chamber of a death camp. This was the primary argument that evolution needs to be stopped.
This movie that began arguing for a free exchange of ideas in the scientific community ended with a call to stop the spread of the darwinism due to the fact that it was the cause of the holocaust. I think that this is a step that is to far to take. This movie began with a worthy premise but ended with a cheap shot in order to take advantage of unthinking minds. All this to say, I am not a darwinist but rather a proponent of not only ID but of a Creator who spoke the world into existence and formed humans from the dust of the earth and breathed into them the very breath of life. I do not think that Expelled did an adequate job addressing the topic that it set out to address and ended up taking cheap shots in the process.
So if you saw the movie, what do you think?