Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed!

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed!

Movie Review

Don’t ever doubt that God has a sense of humor. In case you’ve ever doubted, this should settle any lingering uncertainties: God has used Ben Stein to offer what is quite probably the most significant contribution to the evolution/creation debate ever: a documentary entitled Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

I should probably clarify that a bit. By “most significant,” I don’t mean most exhaustive or well-reasoned or logically rigorous. What I mean is, “most likely to have a far-reaching impact.” Fast-paced, funny and wide-ranging, Expelled is a surprisingly engaging treatment of the current debate about the legitimacy of intelligent design theories in the classroom, the laboratory and in our culture.

Ben Stein is hardly the guy you would pick to do this. I’ve always found him a bit quirky. Intelligent – certainly. Quick-witted – to be sure. However, I’ve never pegged him as a particularly religious fellow and certainly not one to get caught up in what is commonly perceived to be a battle between the scientific establishment and Christian fundamentalists. Stein, as his name suggests, is Jewish, but I’ve never seen anything in his game-show hosting, news commentary, speech-writing or political activism to suggest that he is a practicing Jew. Still, Stein has definitely made an important contribution that people of faith will undoubtedly find themselves indebted to in coming days.

Essentially, Expelled documents the current climate of hostility and suppression that is faced by any scientist whose work leads him or her to contemplate the possibility that life on earth is the product of design rather than random chance. Through a wide range of interviews and amusing visual illustrations, Stein introduces viewers to an under-acknowledge fact: the scientific community in the United States has consistently and systematically censored, blacklisted and punished anyone who dares to question Darwinian evolution. Viewers unfamiliar with this debate will also be introduced to the surprising truth that such dissenters are far more common, and more impeccably credentialed, than we have been led to believe. Stein doesn’t interview pastors or apologists or seminary professors. He interviews world-class molecular biologists, physicists, mathematicians and medical doctors. These are not just people who got their degrees at prestigious schools, they are people who taught at some of the most respected scientific institutions on the planet: the Smithsonian, Oxford, Rutgers and Princeton to name but a few.

Note the past tense of the term however: they once taught at such institutions. This is no longer the case and the evidence points to the fact that they were dismissed because they had the courage to suggest that many empirical observations cannot be accounted for apart from the “design hypothesis.”

If there is a weakness in the film, it may be that Stein is a bit heavy-handed in his presentation, such that some of hard-core evolutionists look a bit silly. However, since his own commentary is fairly sparse and it is the words of the evolutionists themselves which are laid out for viewers to interact with, it’s difficult to find much fault with Stein at this point. Where the scientific establishment looks intolerant and even diabolic, it is their own statements, always presented in context so that no-one can cry foul, which are to blame for this fact.

And make no mistake about it, the Darwinian evolutionists are given at least their fair share of opportunities to tell their side of the story. Stein has done an impressive job of collecting interviews with some of the best minds in science on both sides of this issue. His interviews with Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, are particularly fascinating. In fact, an extended conversation with Dawkins is the last interview in the film, so the Darwinian evolutionists were even given what was essentially the last word, at least in terms of the technical discussion. Ironically, Dawkins is seen there to make an inadvertent argument in favor of the scientific legitimacy of intelligent design (which he vigorously opposes), though it is done in reference to the possibility of the pan-spermia theory. For those of you unfamiliar with it, this theory hypothesizes that life arose on earth after having been seeded here by intelligent beings from another world. While this may sound like science fiction, a fact Stein cannot resist commenting on, this is an accepted, respected scientific theory which is discussed, and even favored, by some of the world’s most respected scientific minds. This theory begs the question, of course, of how this “parent” alien life came to be in the first place. Dawkins’ answer? Something to the effect of: “it would have to have arisen by Darwinian  evolution…because something can’t just spring into existence from nothing.”

Wait…but isn’t that exactly what Darwinian evolution believes happened? It is. Yet Stein resists the urge to point out such glaring inconsistencies, leaving it to the viewer to catch and consider them for his or herself, another point in favor of this excellent documentary.

But back to Dawkins: so, while Darwinian evolution may be unable to explain life on this planet, which Dawkins seems to accept as a genuine – though unproven – possibility, it is assumed that it will be sufficient to explain life on some other, unobservable planet. Hmmm…and it’s the intelligent design theorists who are being Expelled! for being “unscientific”!

This is a movie worth seeing. It is one of the most interesting documentaries I’ve ever seen on any subject and the fact that it is playing in major theaters around the country is simply astounding. Whether you’re a six-day creationist, an atheistic materialist, or anything in between, the societal implications of the facts exposed in this  movie are both alarming and thought-provoking. Though I’m sure some will accuse it of being such, this film is not religious propaganda by any stretch of the imagination. It is simply good journalism: solid research, excellent interviewing and a top-notch production that keeps the viewer engaged from beginning to end.

See it!

by Craig Smith

Shepherd Project Ministries