Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

I just returned from the movie theater where I watched Ben Stein’s documentary film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Though I’m a strong proponent of Intelligent Design ("ID") in science, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the film. I ended up really enjoying it, though not quite for the reasons I might have expected. My fresh-from-the-theater reactions boil down to three points: one big and two smaller.

The main reaction I have is that I’m pleased that Stein let supporters of Darwinism speak. The film doesn’t do a lot of cutting and splicing of interview segments to put interviewees in the worst possible light. Instead, Stein asks pretty simple questions and just lets Darwinists talk. And what they said more often than not was damning to their cause:

  • There was the Iowa State professor who called religious people "idiots," and said knowingly that "those people" are still out there. (Yes they are, and one of them has even figured out how to use a computer and blog! Amazing... :D )

  • There was scientist PZ Meyers who said that religion is like knitting: something meaningless that people do for fun and comfort, but which has no bearing on the real world.

  • There was the passionate and honest atheist Will Provine stating flatly that to accept Darwinism means to give up on any idea of right and wrong, and to abandon the notion that life means anything. I really found Provine's honesty refreshing – at least he admits the logical consequences of his worldview and lays them out for all to see. Good for him, even though I profoundly disagree with his worldview. (Correction: I had originally credited Michael Ruse with Provine's statements in this post.)

  • And of course there was that famous (infamous?) attacker of all things religious Richard Dawkins, smugly and freely stating his view that anyone who believes in God is terribly ignorant... at best.

And this was just the tip of the iceberg. It all struck me as the kind of thing these atheists actually believe, but more often than not won't say in public because they don’t want to offend the 80% or so of Americans who believe in some kind of God (mostly the God of the Bible). Instead, pronouncements from the scientific community are often spun for mass consumption by various groups who are more PR-savvy than your typical biochemist probably is. Expelled got more directly to the source, and that source showed its true colors more often than not.

Two other things I was pleased with. First, the pro-ID people interviewed were articulate, intelligent, explained their points clearly, and were obviously every bit as credentialed as their Darwinian counterparts. Anyone who is unsure of ID’s basic premise (which I would guess is many people, since ID is often not reported on accurately by mass media) will get a great summary from this film. The David Berlinski interview in Paris about half way through the film is worth the price of the movie ticket by itself.

Second, I’m pleased that the film was not overly comedic or mocking in its tone. Stein is a master of blunt one-liners and deadpan humor, but I was afraid going in that a comedy routine with put-downs or overdone cheap shots would undermine the film’s message. However, Stein was actually pretty reserved in this regard and didn’t make himself the center of attention, which allowed the film’s message to come through loud and clear – often by the lips of Darwinists themselves.

Overall I’m very pleased with Expelled and I strongly recommend seeing it. I think anyone (except perhaps staunchly committed Darwinists) will get a very clear picture of the state of science education in this country today, and will see why such a monopoly on thinking (in other words, being closed minded) is not good for faith, for science, or for education.


Jen said...

Matt!!! Strain the water, don't get guinea worm!!! Haha so I saw your blog on Melissa's blog, and had to say hi! To you & the family :) How are you all? Hope life is well!

Matt Guerino said...

Jen! Great to hear from you! But how am I supposed to explain to everyone else what guinea worms are!? Never mind, I won't try! But there is a funy story behind it.. do you still have that blue shirt?

Ken said...

Glad you enjoyed the movie. I won't go to in depth about my thoughts on Intelligent Design vs. Darwinism but I probably would have avoided the movie much like I avoid Michael Moore's films and Ann Coulter's books...and don't get me started on Fox News...

Matt Guerino said...

Ken, thanks for commenting! I appreciate your thoughts. It does seem difficult to find unbiased, or at least low-biased, sources of information in our tech-swamped era. That's part of why I liked Expelled - Stein's positon is clear, but he gives those with alternate views a wide margin to make their case. And he chose to include the "big guns" of the opposing-views camp, not straw man no-names.

Anyway, thanks for dropping by - I had wondered if your new job would soak up all your web time, so it's good to see you're still here!

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