I just had the privilege of attending an advance screening of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, starring Ben Stein. The movie, which opens April 18, is a must-see for any American interested in freedom (that should be all of us!). Expelled uses the Berlin Wall as a metaphor for the wall that the academic and media establishments have erected to keep any intelligent explanation for origins out of the fortress of scientific respectability. Freedom is the victim of this wall: academic freedom and freedom of the press in particular.
The movie is not so much an investigation into the evidence for intelligent design as it is an expose into the suppression of anyone who says there’s evidence for intelligent design. Investigator Stein exposes the numerous instances of institutionalized bias against professors, scientists and journalists who dare to question Darwinian orthodoxy. Some who have questioned Darwin and merely mentioned that intelligent design may be a legitimate area of study have been summarily fired from their jobs and blacklisted in their career, hence the title Expelled. Why are the Darwinists doing this? What are they hiding? What are they afraid of?
If you follow the ID-Evolution controversy, you’ll recognize the players on both sides. Stein meets with ID proponents such as Bill Dembski, Jonathan Wells, Stephen Myer and Guillermo Gonzalez, as well as Darwinists Daniel Dennett, Eugenie Scott and even Richard Dawkins. In Stein’s disarming manner, he exposes the bias and vacuousness in the positions of the Darwinists, even getting Dawkins to admit at the end that he has no idea how the first life began but that intelligent aliens might be responsible. With that, Stein points out that Dawkins is actually a proponent of Intelligent Design (for Dawkins, ID is OK if it points to aliens, but not OK if it points to God).
But Expelled is not some dry documentary with a bunch of talking-head interviews strung together. Interlaced with vintage film clips (some quite funny) and a variety of music genres (the opening is a violin version of Pink Floyd’s The Wall), Expelled moves along at an entertaining pace. Yet, it takes quite a serious tone when Stein (who is Jewish) makes the connection between the ideas of Darwin and the ideas of Hitler. Ideas do have consequences, and the Darwinian notion of survival of the fittest led directly to Hitler’s quest to weed out undesirables in his plan to create the super race. Hitler even made the connection in his 1924 book Mein Kampf.
Several of the Darwinists interviewed expressed that they lost their faith in God because of Darwinism. Dawkins is famous for saying that Darwinism made him an “intellectually-fulfilled atheist.” However, as Stein points out, Darwin had nothing to say about the origin of life or the origin of the universe. Today, due to discoveries of the universe (it exploded into being out of nothing) and life (“simple” life is far more complex than anything Darwin suspected), those origin questions are even more difficult to answer for the Darwinists. There are a couple of spots where Stein lets the Darwinists hang themselves with their outlandish speculations of how life began. It’s so embarrassing that after watching Expelled, those thinking of leaving the faith because of Darwinism may want to reconsider.
My one criticism of the movie is that I wish it had just a bit more on the evidence for Intelligent Design. There is animation of the interior of a cell, but there is no explanation of what is actually going on. One key point that needs to be made is this: when we see something with the evidence of design (say Mount Rushmore), we don’t simply lack a natural explanation for it, we have positive, empirically-detectable evidence for an intelligent sculptor (see Chapters 5 and 6 of our book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist). However, due to time contraints, I understand why the movie could not go into much detail on the evidence. The main point of the movie is not scientific evidence but academic freedom.
There’s a lot more that could be said, but Expelled is better seen than said. This is exactly the kind of movie that Christians should support because it’s much more than entertainment. The movie communicates an important message without feeling preachy. You can take anyone to this– believer or not. If you’re like me, my wife and 15 year-old son, you will walk away feeling that there’s an injustice being done to us all. Freedom is being suppressed, and we need to speak up to restore the spirit of free inquiry that made this country great. Expelled is helping to break down “The Wall.” Will you help as well?