Saturday, April 19, 2008

a rare positive review of Expelled

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed has been getting terrible, brutal reviews. Michael and I saw it last night and found it quite good, for its entertainment value as well as its substance. Ben Stein talks to scientists, academics and reporters, but the movie is much more fast-paced and lively than a talking-head documentary, partly due to heavy use of old movie/tv footage and animation. Ben Stein is funny, the scientists (on both sides) are interesting, and watching Stein investigate the ID/evolution controversy gives the documentary some narrative flow. The Berlin Wall is used with good effect as a metaphor for the exclusion of ID from the scientific academy and, more broadly, the science/religion divide that Darwinists insist upon.

I hadn't realized that Hitler's practice of "racial cleansing" was simply social Darwinian, but once stated the connection is obvious -- Hitler simply employed the idea of eugenics, fashionable in the early 20th c. and based on Darwin's writings. Stein reads a bit of Darwin's The Descent of Man that sounds as if it could have come from Hitler himself -- about how anyone would let only his best animals reproduce, yet man takes care of the weakest among him and allows them to propagate. Scary stuff.

The movie goes into some but not great specific detail about the limitations of evolution -- I would have liked to have heard more about that and the scientific evidence for ID -- but perhaps its main purpose is to introduce people to the issues. The complexity of the cell is addressed -- in Darwin's time, no one anticipated that, much less the reams of information contained in DNA. The proponents of evolution admit to Stein that they can't explain how life actually began. Perhaps the best scene is when Richard Dawkins conjectures that perhaps aliens "seeded" life on earth -- as if this is more likely than a divine Creator! He also reads from his book The God Delusion; I don't know whether it is sad or horrific or both to hear his blasphemous view of God. (A side note: if he and other atheistic scientists think that religion has no place in science, then why are they not agnostic? How can their science tell them anything about God's non-existence?? It can't, of course.)

I'm kind of surprised that movie reviewers are so uniformly, vehemently negative about this movie, and that the reviews I've read don't evaluate its worth as a movie at all, but merely bash the content. They trash Stein for "propaganda," and seem irate that he is challenging evolution's hold. But then again, Expelled calls out the media for their hostility to ID, so I shouldn't be surprised. (The exception is Yahoo's positive review.)

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