Expelled (RJS)

I (RJS) saw Ben Stein’s “documentary” movie EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed over Thanksgiving on DVD, or I saw parts of it anyway – some of the family saw the entire movie.  I have also been asked about this movie at church on occasion. I have to say, I found the movie very hard to watch because of the format, which is designed for sound bites, entertainment and sensationalism, rather than accuracy and information.

If you’ve seen this movie, I have a question.

Do you think the movie serves a useful purpose? If so why?

Certainly there is hostility toward Christian or faith based thinking and a knee-jerk reaction to Intelligent Design by some in the academy and the scientific establishment.  This movie, with it’s half truths, makes it worse. It gives rise to the same kind of indignation  that Christians feel over sensational documentaries on topics like the DaVinci Code, the Gospel of Judas, or the Jesus Ossuary.

There is also hostility in parts of the church toward the scientific establishment  and scientists in general.  This film serves to reinforce these stereotypes, intensifying the conflict.  Stein’s movie is a success (i.e. makes money) because of the conservative Christian market.

I must admit that I don’t think that it does any good to promote this “documentary” in a Christian setting. It seems to me that the half truths and the format only serve to make a bad situation much worse. But what do you think?

  • Josh

    My thoughts exactly. Interesting interviews, but sadly they were done without informing those interviewed what type of documentary this was going to be. This documentary was not done with integrity, and I can not give it my support (for whatever worth that is). Furthermore, it is unfortunate that so many are being deceived into thinking that this is such a great thing, a great leap for Intelligent Design or Creationism. It’s not! If anything, it takes credibility away from the Christian view of the origins of life (I know, that’s a very vague phrase…)

  • Ted M. Gossard

    I guess the only reason I wouldn’t mind seeing it is to see what is going on on this front. We need more people like Francis Collins out there to promote the truth. The way the climate is, I’m silly to bring this up to some Christians. But maybe that has a time and place to do so, towards promoting something of a real understanding in this.

  • Ted M. Gossard

    I want to add this. Best to my recollection I didn’t click twice and this site told me that my first click did not take for some reason that I can’t remember. At least my comment made it, even if twice.

  • Your Name

    I have to agree that baptizing this movie as Christian is counter-productive and wrong. Ben Stein is not Christian amd the movie is not Christian. But . . . does the movie serve a useful purpose? I would strongly say YES. The very last interview with Richard Dawkins said it all. There is an unthinking fundamentalism at work behind the extreme academic clique that Stein targeted that seldom gets exposed. When Dawkins acknowledges that it is indeed possible that an intelligence outside our cosmos may have had a hand in creating what is, but then insists that if that were so that that intelligence itself had to be the product of a darwinian mechanism, it became apparent that he had a plank in his eye as big as any shrill new earth creationist railing against differing hypotheses.

  • Your Name

    Sorry–my “Your name” expired with the captcha

  • Duane

    Did it again! Sorry

  • Rick

    RJS-
    I have not seen the movie, but I assume from your description it is similar to a Michael Moore type flick.
    The reason this movie may be appealing to many is because it is filling a vacuum. Many Christians are looking for answers to difficult scientific questions, and not easily seeing answers from the wider Christian scientific community. There is a deafening silence.
    Scientists (or those with science backgrounds) like yourself, Francis Collins, Alister McGrath, etc…could be an further assets to those seeking discussion on such topics. The people just don’t know where to look.

  • http://www.xanga.com/papua2001mk Kacie

    I agree. I haven’t actually seen the movie, but I’m sort of resisting seeing it because of the Christian PR it got, including grassroots support. I got emails that were forwarded from people in my Christian nonprofit job. The emails said that Christians had to support this movie since it flies in the face of the evolutionary establishment and supports the truth of creationism.
    From what I’ve heard of the movie, it isn’t so much about creationism as it is exposing the narrowness of the scientific and educational establishment.
    Despite that, I think it does contribute to the equal and opposite reaction given by Christians to the secular establishment, and supports their tendency to write off all “scientific” views and be unwilling to consider other perspectives.

  • Phil Niemi

    I enjoyed the movie, specifically in that it was not promoting a “Christian” YEC theory. I have yet to see a documentary that is remotely unbiased or balance for either side of the equation. The NOVA documentary on Intelligent Design in the Michigan School Board is similarly flawed and biased, linking the actions of those within the publishing world and the school board as being the behavior of most I.D. people.
    Personally, I would love for there to be a 2 hour documentary with intelligent discussion on origins from Christians who hold some of the dominant theories, from theistic evolution right to YEC. Let scientific understanding and biblical understanding come together for a genuine conversation.
    I know that there are many Christians that are old earth that would find Collins too hard to swallow (being theistic evolution), ID supporters like Dr. Dembski would be hard for some, and well, Dr. Dino’s behind bars:)!

  • Your Name

    Very curious what “half-truths” supposedly were there which the poster objects to. Seems to me that nothing could be more “sensational” than Carl Sagan’s absurdly arrogant statement that “the cosmos is all there was and all there ever will be”. What exactly should be the response to a Dan Brown who promulgates the notion that orthodox Christian doctrine is nothing more than a plot by patriarchal men to oppress women and silence rival versions of Christianity through the use of raw power? It seems to me a lot like the old retaliation rule-of-thumb for players in the NFL – it’s not the first guy who throws a punch that gets penalized, it’s usually the guy who hits back. I see a lot of effort to be nice to those who question the faith and a lot of energy dismissing those who respond as reactionary or sensationalist. Ben Stein pointed out very simply that Ph.D. level scientists are being dismissed from positions for simply suggesting that certain phenomena in nature might best be explained as a result of purposeful design. Yes it was entertaining. Yes, Richard Dawkins made a fool of himself. Yes the link between social Darwinism and Nazi death camps was “provocative”. So what? Why criticize Ben Stein? Why, if one is really interested in the truth of the gospel, would one not put more effort into exposing the sensationalism and half-truths of Dawkins, Dan Brown and the increasingly hostile secular acedemia than complaining about Ben Stein’s deadpan style? I have to be honest. It feels very much like the “conversation” on this blog is getting increasingly one-sided, bending over backward to be nice to every viewpoint but the conservative one.

  • Phil Niemi

    I agree with 11, what are some of the half truths so that we are not ignorant. What was blown out of proportion.
    Grace and Peace

  • Kyle

    I haven’t watched it and have no intention. Whereas I’m often interested in the intersection of science and faith (particularly for evangelicals), this type of flick isn’t my thing..
    I think a good place to find Christian perspectives on the film (pro and con) by believers who are scientists is at the American Scientific Affiliation website (www.asa3.org). The organization has thousands of members who are both professional scientists and confessional Christians.

  • http://www.tgdarkly.com/blog dopderbeck

    I didn’t see it, but heard lots about it. There are a wealth of resources about it, including some detailed reviews pro and con, on the American Scientific Affiliation website: http://www.asa3.org/ An exhaustive review by Jeff Schloss of Westmont College echoes many of RJS’ concerns: http://asa3.org/ASA/resources/Schloss200805.pdf
    I know I should watch the movie because I’m interested in this stuff, but OTOH I’m pretty sure it will just tick me off. I think I’m biased against any kind of culture war format, whether “left” or “right.”

  • http://www.mysticallimpet.blogspot.com Travis Greene

    #11,
    So, we shouldn’t “be nice to those who question the faith”? We should hit back like the football player? We should drop the whole enemy love thing? Forget Paul’s example at Mars Hill? Forget what Augustine said about Genesis?
    P.S. Richard Dawkins doesn’t need any help looking like a fool. He just quit his job so he could be Harry Potter’s newest adversary. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/3255972/Harry-Potter-fails-to-cast-spell-over-Professor-Richard-Dawkins.html

  • Your Name

    I haven’t seen the film; don’t know if I will. I will only echo what seems to be the deeper problem in this area, as evidenced in the comments: half-truths. By definition, when science purports to explain the physical universe in physical terms alone, we get half-truths. When people who believe that there are metaphysical actors in our universe make sloppy or over-reaching conclusions based on what their traditions or holy texts report, we get half-truths.
    Meanwhile, having our courts choose which “truths” children are permitted to be taught by state actors within the bounds of our first amendment only deepens this schism. This system is the main fuel to this fire. A step in the right direction would be to phase the state out of the business of owning and operating schools (picking the curriculum subject to the first amendment, managing and promoting educators as a government bureaucracy, disciplining children subject to due process, etc.) and into the business of giving scholarships to all children for accredited schools.

  • Your Name

    My husband is a scentist and is a creationist, not because of Scripture so much as philosophy and science. He thinks it is important to maintain a creationist perspective because of the implications socially, politically, etc.
    As to the question of the importance of the film, I believe that in a free country, where academic freedom should not just be tolerated, but encouraged, it is important to let all sides be heard. There could be stipulations on what creditials make for good argument. But, there should not be discrimination of the other side, either. I think that if this were the case in any subject, it would only enlarge the views, sharpern the discourse, and eliminate absolute claims to truth…which, in itself is an important endeavor, especially in climates of intolerance!

  • T

    Sorry, #16 is me.

  • Erik Leafblad

    I’m going to take a little different track, and it probably goes back to a post earlier about this kind of stuff not being discussed in our churches and then inquisitive students leaving. I’d check when that was, but I’m lazy this morning. Christmas party last night, and all.
    I have seen this movie promulgated as the “answer” to secular evolutionists, and that’s it. So, instead of conversation and dialogue about creation, evolution, origins, etc. it’s basically an authoritative stamp of approval. So, again, whether this movie is meritorious or not, it probably opened up a chance to for conversation about this topic, but I haven’t seen that seized all that well. This is, so to speak, “our” response to Sagan and others, and the culture war rumbles on. Where is the third way? Where is the way which detracts from this authoritarian wrangling? Choose this day who you will serve, Dawkins or Stein.
    Again, maybe I’m just a bit over dramatic and snarky this morning, but that’s my take.

  • Scott Eaton

    RJS,
    You assert that the film contains half-truths, but then you do not expound upon what these half-truths are. I am not interested in defending the film (although I saw it and enjoyed it). But I think you should defend and provide examples when you make such assertions.

  • Rick

    Dopderbeck and Kyle:
    Thanks for the info on the ASA.
    Now, how can some of the discussions there get and speak effectively to a wider audience?
    And I would have to echo those requesting more info regarding the problem with this film.

  • Phil Niemi

    I’m checking out the ASA stuff.

  • RJS

    Scott #20 (and others),
    All four of the discrimination examples that open the movie are half-true.
    But – if you read my post you will note that I am not denying that hostility exists.
    I am really asking if this format serves any useful purpose. If it opened opportunity for real conversation it would serve a useful purpose (as Erik #19 points out). But I don’t see any real conversation resulting…the boxing match continues…with emphasis on scoring points and victimhood.

  • http://www.tgdarkly.com/blog dopderbeck

    #17 — I’ve never understood this perspective, at least as you seem to be expressing it. I’ve heard a number of people defend “Expelled” and ID because of the historic link between Naziism and Darwinism (yes, Hitler drew from Darwin to justify eugenics). But just because a theory has some potentially troubling social consequences doesn’t mean it’s not true, right? Either biological evolution in some form or another is true description of natural history, or it’s not.
    Now, I would understand a perspective that says, “I don’t think Darwinism is true because I believe in other truths that I think are more fundamental, most importantly that human beings are more than biology.” Here you are saying not just “I don’t like what some horrible people have done with the facts of biological evolution, therefore I refuse to accept those facts.” Instead, you’re saying “biological evolution is only one aspect of a complete, truthful description of life and humanity.” And that, I think, is a fair critique of the hyper-Darwinism of people like Richard Dawkins.
    Hyper-Darwinism is reductionist — there is nothing but matter, energy, and time. Christians believe there is more to reality than matter, energy and time. Most fundamentally, there is God, who is other than matter, energy, or time, all of which God created and which are contingent on God’s sustaining will. With humanity, there is the “image of God” and a “spiritual” component — whether that is the classical dualist’s notion of the “soul” or some other non-reducible emergent property of “mind.” These are important metaphysical / ontological critiques, but they don’t in themselves require any denial of the basic facts of common descent.

  • ScottC

    I don’t think it served a very useful purpose; I think it had the potential to do so and failed — which is sad.
    I bothered to see the film because I was hoping to learn more about the charges that academic/intellectual freedom was being trampled upon by ousting persons who question the reigning paradigm. I also hoped to hear a good defense from proponents of ID that ID is science, and how adopting an ID paradigm vs. a more thoroughly Darwinist paradigm makes a difference to scientific research. This was how I understood the film to be advertised. But it didn’t deliver.
    I am left with a big question: What *is* the ID research project, anyway? Is ID about trying to prove that there is a Designer? Or is ID about trying to learn interesting things about the world from an ID perspective? The former seems like something one would do in a philosophy class; the latter seems like it could be science. I’m not a scientist, and I’m open to hearing ID make its case–if it has one to make, it wasn’t made in this film.
    (I agree that Dawkins embarrased himself in the final interview, but this was not worth the whole movie–Dawkins has embarrased himself in public before, IMO).

  • http://eleafblad.wordpress.com Erik Leafblad

    Dawkins embarrassing himself is not noteworthy. Its a fairly regular occurrence. He’s akin to TBN, just on the opposite pole.

  • eleanor

    I have to agree with 9 and 14 and others who are tired of the culture war approach.
    I avoid issue films by Michael Moore and his ilk like the plague. There is a huge bias against Christians; they look for the most ignorant and extreme among us and try to paint all of us with the same brush.
    At the same time, I also refuse to view films like this one on the other side of things, and for some of the reasons Kacie (9) noted. Whenever the Christian emails start flying that I MUST promote, show at my church, URGE others to view, etc. I run in the other direction.
    I see no difference between the tactics used by the two sides, and not just on ID vs evolution, but on other issues as well. Like others have already noted, it would serve every one better if there were less polarizing options instead.
    We can’t change the tactics of a Michael Moore, but as Christians we should have a higher standard for ourselves.

  • http://joeyspiegel.wordpress.com Joey

    This may not be helpful to the discussion and I have no idea where to stand on this issue, considering I’m not a scientist, but I like the quote and it is contextual so I thought I’d share.
    “If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents — the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts — i.e., of Materialism and Astronomy — are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents.”
    C. S. Lewis, “Answers to Questions on Christianity,” in God in the Dock, pages 52-53.

  • dopderbeck

    Joey (#28) — I love C.S. Lewis, but I’m not sure this particular argument is a good one. If the machinery of the human perception and the human mind arose via natural selection, it seems fair to expect that this machinery would be at least to some degree reliable. An organism with seriously faulty noetic equipment isn’t likely to survive long enough to pass on its genes. If a predator is about to eat you, you’d better be able to know that it’s a predator and not a potential mate!

  • http://nojrotsap.blogspot.com Jon Snyder

    In a movie that is an hour and a half long, how can anyone expect the discussion to be a complete one? It is no different than any documentary by anyone ever, whether mike moore, al gore, ben stein, or anyone else. I personally think the movie does an adequate job of showing one side of the debate and introducing the watcher to the topic. Is it perfect? no. Is it sensationalized? yes. Is it catered to a culture of ADD? Yes.

  • http://goodintentionsbook.com Bob Smietana

    Marilyn Robinson, author of Gilead, has some thoughts on this science versus religion debate in a long interview from the Paris Review (http://www.theparisreview.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/5863)
    INTERVIEWER
    Are religion and science simply two systems that don’t merge?
    ROBINSON
    The debate seems to be between a naive understanding of religion and a naive understanding of science. When people try to debunk religion, it seems to me they are referring to an eighteenth-century notion of what science is. I’m talking about Richard Dawkins here, who has a status that I can’t quite understand. He acts as if the physical world that is manifest to us describes reality exhaustively. On the other side, many of the people who articulate and form religious expression have not acted in good faith. The us-versus-them mentality is a terrible corruption of the whole culture.
    INTERVIEWER
    You’ve written critically about Dawkins and the other New Atheists. Is it their disdain for religion and championing of pure science that troubles you?
    ROBINSON
    No, I read as much pure science as I can take in. It’s a fact that their thinking does not feel scientific. The whole excitement of science is that it’s always pushing toward the discovery of something that it cannot account for or did not anticipate. The New Atheist types, like Dawkins, act as if science had revealed the world as a closed system. That simply is not what contemporary science is about. A lot of scientists are atheists, but they don’t talk about reality in the same way that Dawkins does. And they would not assume that there is a simple-as-that kind of response to everything in question. Certainly not on the grounds of anything that science has discovered in the last hundred years.
    The science that I prefer tends toward cosmology, theories of quantum reality, things that are finer-textured than classical physics in terms of their powers of description. Science is amazing. On a mote of celestial dust, we have figured out how to look to the edge of our universe. I feel instructed by everything I have read. Science has a lot of the satisfactions for me that good theology has.
    INTERVIEWER
    But doesn’t science address an objective notion of reality while religion addresses how we conceive of ourselves?
    ROBINSON
    As an achievement, science is itself a spectacular argument for the singularity of human beings among all things that exist. It has a prestige that comes with unambiguous changes in people’s experience—space travel, immunizations. It has an authority that’s based on its demonstrable power. But in discussions of human beings it tends to compare downwards: we’re intelligent because hyenas are intelligent and we just took a few more leaps.
    The first obligation of religion is to maintain the sense of the value of human beings. If you had to summarize the Old Testament, the summary would be: stop doing this to yourselves. But it is not in our nature to stop harming ourselves. We don’t behave consistently with our own dignity or with the dignity of other people. The Bible reiterates this endlessly.

  • stephen

    dopderbeck #29
    “If a predator is about to eat you, you’d better be able to know that it’s a predator and not a potential mate!”
    Which calls to mind the interesting example of the male preying mantis, which is eaten by the female after mating!
    Now I am not sure what that example tells us about Darwinism or creationism, but Somebody or something somewhere has a pretty weird sense of humor! :)

  • Your Name

    Travis #15
    Thanks for the link, most entertaining thing I’ve read all day lol.
    Look out Harry Potter, you might be the choosen one but Dawkins thinks your evil for messing up innocent little kids with your non materialist belief system.

  • Jayson

    I wonder why we spend so much energy talking and fighting over creation v intell design v evolution when Jesus never broached the topic and it was not a part of his focus?
    I am personally uncomfortable with trying to make religion (search for Truth) and science(search for facts) the same.

  • http://www.matthewmorine.com Matthew

    Typically I am not a fan of Moore, sometimes he seems to be starting a fight instead of establishing peace. This seems to be the same stuff from this guy.
    http://www.matthewmorine.com

  • George Smith

    The only sensational thing about the Jesu ossuary is how the real magnitude of this authentic find has been obfuscated and marginalized

  • http://www.mysticallimpet.blogspot.com Travis Greene

    Joey @28 and dopderbeck @ 29,
    It’s worth noting that evolution didn’t bother Lewis at all. He certainly didn’t hold to a literal reading of Genesis 1-3. He was concerned, as I think we all are, with scientism masquerading as science. That is, the oppressively materialist and ultimately nihilistic worldview that Dawkins represents in a lot of ways. You can accept evolution as an explanation for human development without rejecting God as Creator, and I think Lewis did.
    #33, you’re welcome.

  • Bennett

    I DID see the whole thing (seems like the poster and most comments claim to have only seen parts or none at all). I found it very informative. It was far from perfect. It was however a very well done piece. It gave a voice to a side of the discussion that is largely dismissed by mainstream journalism. The message I get from mainstream media is that, “yeah, some people still don’t agree with neo-darwinism, but they’re all idiots.”
    Stein shows that there are in fact, very intelligent people who question the popular view. Also, there are very important ramifications for what our society believes on this issue. Christians, among others, should care about the issue because their value system is at stake.

  • RJS

    Bennett,
    I should have sat through the whole thing – and perhaps I will. My problem was personal more than anything else – I find being caught in the middle of this argument painful. And – as I have a pretty good idea of the hostility level with in academia, the merits and limits of ID as a theory, and the hostility level within the church, the movie actually had nothing to teach me.
    I would love to foster a truly open and honest discussion in our secular universities where we claim to value academic freedom. We are open to the charge of hypocrisy here.
    Of course the most severe discrimination is not in secular universities – but at some Christian institutions. There is no such thing as academic freedom in such an institution – and at many job security is tied to toeing the party line (affirming the appropriate detailed creedal statement) not just affirming the Christian faith. There is no security even in tenure. Behe is tenured – and is still on faculty at Lehigh University despite the fact that most in his department disagree with him (quite strongly in fact).

  • http://thecreationofanevolutionist.blogspot.com Mike Beidler

    RJS,
    I viewed Expelled back in April and wrote this review on my blog. I even received a response from one of the Discovery Institute’s fellows, Ray Bohlin.
    In short, great piece of propaganda. But that’s all it ever will be. Seems as if the truth was expelled from the movie as well.

  • http://cramercomments.blogspot.com D C Cramer

    The most interesting part of the movie for me was the interviews with Dawkins, Dennett, et al. Their inability to offer sound arguments against ID–or religion in general–was telling. But these interviews combined with the format of the movie did serve to emphasize an unfortunate point: this issue is a culture war.

  • http://groansfromwithin.blogspot.com/ Kurt

    I saw the movie as part of a large church staff. Many tried to push this and they even wanted to encourage ‘the youth’ to watch this so that they understood what kind of a war we are in against atheism. I was reluctant to attend but did so out of a desire to know what I was up against in one sense; but also to know how to dialogue with people about it in a gentle way.
    After seeing the movie, I came out thinking exactly what Scot described. It is reinforcing stereotypes and causing the ‘war’ analogy to continue to prevail. As discussed here often, the whole false polarity paradigm is back in full swing. I am not excited about the wild-eyed Atheist agenda… but I am equally unexcited by the similar wild-eyed conservative/fundamentalist agenda. This is a waste of time and setting up students to give up on Christian faith when they sit in biology their freshman year of college and find out that science is pretty hard to deny. What a great disservice to the kingdom of God a film like this is!
    Also, I really felt like I was in a conservative version of a Michael Moore movie. When I was asked about what I thought is said, “It was one-sided and full of propaganda… connecting evolution and the holocaust is just ridiculous!” Anyway, what is it going to take for the church to get past these things? Perhaps these kinds of conversations are the way to implement change…
    Finally, I want to say something about how ID group… who are often Young Earth Theorists can be a part of another disservice to the kingdom and to the world itself. Consider this quote from John McArthur:
    The environmental movement is consumed with trying to preserve the planet forever. But we know that isn’t in God’s plan… The earth we inhabit is not a permanent planet. It is, frankly, a disposable planet—it is going to have a very short life. It’s been around about six thousand years or so—that’s all—and it may last a few thousand more. And then the Lord is going to destroy it…. I’ve told environmentalists that if they think humanity is wrecking the planet, wait until they see what Jesus does to it. Peter says God is going to literally turn it in an atomic implosion so that the whole universe goes out of existence. [http://www.gty.org/Resources/issues/594]
    This false view of science and theology have come together to make room for many Christians to not care about the planet. This kind of rhetoric continues to cause the church of Jesus to look hopeless in a culture that longs to embody something more!

  • http://www.virtuphill.blogspot.com phil_style

    Kurt, I couldn’t help but feel your pain over John McArthur’s quote. Even if we accept his view of the age of the earth, and it’s imminent demise, this guy seriously misinterprets environmentalism.
    Perhaps he should be exposed to the Rio Convention statement on sustainability: “providing the needs of today without compromising the needs to tomorrow”. Even someone with as short term a view a McArthur would agree with that principle. ..

  • RJS

    Ok – if anyone is still reading this post and the comments I have another question.
    What message did you take home from the movie?

  • Jon

    I took home the following message: academia no longer encourages free thinking, open debate, or dissent in the scientific disciplines.

  • http://christiandoubt.com Mark Lefers

    “Academia no longer encourages free thinking?” The problem is that creationism and ID is not supported by the wealth of data like evolution theory is. Sure there are a couple of mathematics and protein folding papers, but the differences in magnitude is over whelming. When any “theory” goes against the scientific consensus, it has to be first looked at with some amount of skepticism. Only when there is actually supporting data for a hypothesis can some credit be given to it. This is not the case for creationism or ID.

  • RJS

    Mark,
    I’ve commented a number of times on ID on earlier posts – and have a real problem with it for a number of reasons. I don’t see how it is a useful scientific proposal or a useful religious proposal.
    Best thing to come from it is that Behe’s proposal is pushing a more concerted look at how complex systems have developed. He asks questions that need answers – I just think that the answers will be “natural.”
    Much research these days is looking at complexity – and the idea that the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts … it may not always be appropriate to use a reductionist approach to understanding complex systems.
    One of the ironies in the movie is that I don’t think either McGrath or Polkinghorne support the ID theory – but the movie makes it appear as though they are sympathetic to the idea. They are scientists – or scientifically trained – and Christians.

  • http://www.jslweb.com/blog Stephen

    What message did I take home from the movie? That the director knew his audience and knew that if he threw together a bunch of nonsense they would buy it hook line and sinker. The overarching message of the film is summed up in this quote from Stein, said during an interview on TBN: “Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.” You don’t have to think hard to figure out why Stein made the movie.
    I liked Roger Ebert’s review:
    “Expelled” is not a bad film from the technical point of view. It is well photographed and edited, sometimes amusing, has well-chosen talking heads, gives an airing to evolutionists however truncated and interrupted with belittling images, and incorporates entertainingly unfair historical footage, as when it compares academia’s rejection of Creationism to the erection of the Berlin Wall.
    The more you know about evolution, or simple logic, the more you are likely to be appalled by the film. No one with an ability for critical thinking could watch more than three minutes without becoming aware of its tactics. It isn’t even subtle.
    This film is cheerfully ignorant, manipulative, slanted, cherry-picks quotations, draws unwarranted conclusions, makes outrageous juxtapositions (Soviet marching troops representing opponents of ID), pussy-foots around religion (not a single identified believer among the ID people), segues between quotes that are not about the same thing, tells bald-faced lies, and makes a completely baseless association between freedom of speech and freedom to teach religion in a university class that is not about religion.
    And there is worse, much worse.

  • Stephen

    (the rest of the above comment, after the link to Ebert’s review, is from his review.)

  • RJS

    Thanks Stephen – perhaps I should copy Ebert’s style… he has netted 310 comments and counting, whilst I am only ca. 50 (some of them my own).
    More seriously – the half truths are compounded by the manipulative tactics in the movie, which are annoying, provoke indignation, and force sides.
    We desperately need productive civil conversation in the church and this film does nothing to encourage it.

  • Mark

    RJS,
    I agree ID is not a useful scientific hypothesis or a useful religious proposal. I would lump Behe’s proposal in the same category as this movie. Worthless and damaging to both science and faith. It is damaging to faith because it links false teaching to faith, and it is damaging to science because it is misrepresenting it. I don’t think it has done any help for science, because science on its own is trying to figure out these complex machines. If anything it has given atheist an axe to grind, so an atheist might go out of his/her way to show how stupid Christians are. Movies and ideas like Behe also give the wrong impression that faith and belief in evolution are mutually exclusive.
    I agree that reductionistic approaches have their limits. Neurobiology is a fantastic example. However, reductionistic approaches still are extremely valuable in understanding complex systems.

  • Stephen

    I agree absolutely. When I first heard about this movie, I hoped it would be something that would help foster conversation. Instead, it did the exact opposite. I titled my review Expelled: No Grays Allowed, because of the unrealistic black-and-white picture Stein tried to present.

  • Jon

    Mark, I was simply stating what I thought the message of the movie was. I did not make a judgment on the argument’s merits. Evolutionists assume that theories of ID have the burden of proof, as you demonstrate in your response. However, I sincerely wonder on whom the burden of proof rests. Please notice that I did not and have not described my personal opinion in the debate (since my mind is not fully made up) before continuing to lambast my posts with criticism when I was simply answering a question given me. I was not trying to be defensive, or cause defensiveness but instead answered the question of what I thought the message of the movie was.

  • RJS

    Jon,
    I agree with you on the message of the movie. And – as I’ve said on several occasions, I think we need productive conversation. I don’t think that this movie does it.
    But I have another serious question (not directed solely to Jon)- if you are not a scientist what criteria do you use to evaluate information and make up your mind?
    Mark is trained in Biochemistry mostly I gather from an earlier comment on another post. I am trained in chemistry and work at the interface of chemistry, physics and biophysics. This training and information plays a significant role in our evaluation of this issue. But how does a nonscientist evaluate the data and reach a conclusion?
    My major concern with the movie is that it manipulates information to send home a message that serves to quash profitable discussion.

  • Mike Mangold

    RJS (#43): the take-home message I got was that Ben Stein is still writing speeches for Richard Nixon.
    RJS (#53): I can’t speak for non-scientists, but my take on information-processing and decision-making in this country is that it is generally at an 8th grade level. My take on 8th grade is that it was the worst time of my life!
    RJS (#63): Amen, sister! (That’s a joke for all you sensitive types)

  • RJS

    OK Mike, now we just need to keep the conversation going to get to #63.

  • http://christiandoubt.com Mark Lefers

    Jon,
    Sorry that my tone came off as attacking you. I don’t ever want to do that. It’s great that you are thinking about these things. I just want to caution Christians to think twice about pushing the ID/creationism agenda which goes against scientific consensus. What I see coming out of movies like these and out of the ID/creationism camps is very akin to conspiracy theories. Working in science, I am seeing Christian beliefs being viewed as nutty, because of its close ties to these pseudo sciences.
    Jon, regarding the burden of proof, the burden of proof in the scientific community is always on the new hypothesis that goes against the current hypothesis. When a hypothesis comes that explains the data better, it will take over as the current understanding. This is how science works. The hypothesis needs to explain the data. This just isn’t the case for ID and creationism. This doesn’t mean that God is not in control. It just means that evolutionary theory best explains the data.


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