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Some Thoughts on "Expelled"

April 23, 2008

My friend, Patrick, and I went to see Ben Stein’s documentary “Expelled” today. The film is Stein’s attempt to investigate the Intelligent Design (ID) vs. Evolution (primarily atheistic evolution) in American academia, with a particular focus on how ID is not given a legitimate voice at the table of free discussion. Below is a long trailer that fills in the details if you haven’t heard of it.

Here’s my off the top of my head reaction to the film:

A Few Likes:

I was glad that the film was able to show many of the brilliant men and women out there (who aren’t neccesarily religious) who don’t take neo-Darwinism as a given when it comes to both scientific inquiry and understanding the origin of life. The film does a good job of showing that it’s not as simple as intelligent people believe neo-Darwinism and the superstitious believe something else. When you see graduates of Cambridge, Oxford, etc. asking these questions, the debate cannot be as simple as intelligence vs. ignorance.

I thought the film did a good job of showing that American universities and academic communities are no longer a marketplace of free ideas. Many would respond that this is not the case and that ID simply is not legitimate enough to have a place in that marketplace. However, the film clearly shows that this is not a bunch of backwoods high school dropouts who are questioning modern scientific theory. Google someone like John Lennox – just reading his resume makes my head hurt.

One of the most criticized features in the film is the discussion of what happens when neo-Darwinism is taken to its logical conclusions (this was discussing Nazi Germany’s survival of the fittest/ethnic superiority theory that led to the murder of the “inferior” races”. Also included were the history of Eugenics (google this, not a very pretty picture) in relation to abortion and groups like Planned Parenthood). I am glad this was included. This is rarely understood in the American academic system. Also rarely taught is that this was not an isolated incident in history. Study Latin American history in the 20th century and you get many of the same sad stories.

A few dislikes:

I really wish they had used John Lennox more. Having just debated Richard Dawkins, he is emerging as one of the leading voices in this debate. I figure they decided to limit his time since he is a strong Christian, and the film tries to show more how non-religious scientists are questioning evolution.

My biggest dislike was that the film stooped too often to belittling those who are fundamentalist neo-Darwinians by interjecting a number of old movie clips after presenting the atheist-evolutionist argument. I don’t think we have to go to that level. Just let the two sides make their argument and let people decide on their own. I think that when the Christian argument (not that this was a Christian film) is presented responsibly and lovingly at the marketplace of ideas then it will be victorious. We do not have to take low-blows.

In conclusion, the film was good and I would recommend it. It’s certainly not perfect, but it does present the legitimate argument that evolution should no longer be assumed by the modern thinking person.

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