In­tel­li­gent De­sign

The Covington News - - Religion - John Don­ald­son

Would you like to watch a hu­mor­ous, in­tel­li­gent, thought pro­vok­ing movie this week­end? “Ex­pelled: No In­tel­li­gence Al­lowed” star­ring Ben Stein was just re­leased on DVD. I saw it yes­ter­day, thor­oughly en­joyed it, and rec­om­mend it highly. As the ti­tle sug­gests, the movie is about the dis­crim­i­na­tion that some sci­en­tists have re­ceived when they dared to sug­gest that the ap­par­ent de­signs and pat­terns in na­ture could be ex­plained by an in­tel­li­gent de­signer of na­ture. This the­ory is known by the ini­tials ID and is anath­ema to the of­fi­cial sci­ence com­mu­nity.

John Sul­li­van, pro­ducer of “Ex­pelled,” said, “In mak­ing the movie, we wanted to ex­plore this very im­por­tant sub­ject mat­ter...of where did we come from, why are we here, what are some of the an­swers? Un­for­tu­nately we found that a lot of peo­ple aren’t al­lowed to talk about it, par­tic­u­larly if you’re in the academy.”

In “Ex­pelled,” the cam­era fol­lows Ben Stein (fa­mous as the droll teacher in “Fer­ris Bueller’s Day Off,” and for­mer speech writer for Nixon and Ford) as he trav­els, in­ter­views peo­ple and nar­rates the story. The movie is sim­i­lar in style to the suc­cess­ful doc­u­men­taries made by Michael Moore. The dif­fer­ence is that Stein seems to be more even-handed than Moore was, with in­ter­views with peo­ple on both sides of the is­sue.

See­ing the qual­ity of peo­ple whose ca­reers have been dam­aged be­cause of their be­lief that ID has merit, one can only won­der if the po­lit­i­cally cor­rect move­ment has not cap­tured the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity. Caro­line Crocker (from Ge­orge Ma­son Uni­ver­sity), Rick Stern­berg (from the Smith­so­nian’s Na­tional Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory), Guillermo Gon­za­lez (Iowa State), and William Dem­b­ski (Bay­lor) all seem to be in­tel­li­gent, well spo­ken, open minded sci­en­tists. Which gives rise to the ques­tion, “When sci­ence is no longer open minded, is it still sci­ence?”

In­ter­spaced among the above were in­ter­views with prom­i­nent evo­lu­tion­ists like Ox­ford’s Richard Dawkins, William Provine of Cor­nell and P.Z. My­ers of the Uni­ver­sity of Min­nesota. The in­ter­view with Dawkins may well be the most in­ter­est­ing part of the movie. When asked, “Where did the first cell come from?” Dawkins said “I do not know. No one does.” But de­spite the lack of sci­en­tific proof, Dawkins was still cer­tain that the first cell just had to be the prod­uct of some evo­lu­tion­ary process. He said that he was an athe­ist, but his con­fi­dence without proof, seems to sug­gest that his re­li­gion was re­ally evo­lu­tion.

There is a dark side to “Ex­pelled.” There is a scene in which Stein walks through the ru­ins of a for­mer Nazi “hospi­tal” which has be­come a mu­seum, in­ter­view­ing the cu­ra­tor. It was a place where the Nazis had per­formed ex­per­i­ments on and then killed thou­sands of peo­ple whom the Nazis had deemed worth­less — peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, or hand­i­capped, or of the wrong eth­nic back­ground. The cu­ra­tor make it clear that the Nazi’s were Dar­win­ists, and that they were sim­ply ap­ply­ing “sur­vival of the fittest” to so­ci­ety at large, dis­pos­ing of peo­ple who were not fit, all log­i­cal from their point of view, ac­cord­ing to the cu­ra­tor, who seemed amaz­ing dis­pas­sion­ate. The point seems to be that what a so­ci­ety be­lieves about the cre­ation of life will in­flu­ence the value that a so­ci­ety gives to life. The footage here is why the movie gets a PG rat­ing.

The movie opens with footage of the Berlin Wall be­ing built and closes with the footage of the wall be­ing torn down. The un­stated mes­sage is that academia has built a wall against the free­dom of thought, par­tic­u­larly free­dom to be­lieve in ID, and this movie is seen as the film­maker’s ef­fort to pull down the wall. It is pow­er­ful. Check it out.

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