Difference between revisions of "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed"

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The cherry-picked meta-review site [[Rotten Tomatoes]] lists an average rating of 3/10, or 9% "fresh," making one of the lowest-rated movies indexed on the site.  It summarizes the consensus of reviews as "a cynical political stunt disguised as a documentary."<ref>http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/expelled_no_intelligence_allowed/</ref>
The cherry-picked meta-review site [[Rotten Tomatoes]] lists an average rating of 3/10, or 9% "fresh," making one of the lowest-rated movies indexed on the site.  It summarizes the consensus of reviews as "a cynical political stunt disguised as a documentary."<ref>http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/expelled_no_intelligence_allowed/</ref>
John Derbyshire, a columnist at the [[conservative]] [[National Review|National Review Online]], wrote a surprisingly critical review, claiming that [[creationists]] have been "morally corrupted" and engage in "willful act[s] of deception."  He concludes that attacking science (by which he means [[evolution]]) is equivalent to attacking [[Western Civilization]].<ref>http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZGYwMzdjOWRmNGRhOWQ4MTQyZDMxNjNhYTU1YTE5Njk=</ref>
== Viewer Reception ==
== Viewer Reception ==

Revision as of 13:38, 2 May 2008

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is a controversial documentary charging Darwinists in America with suppressing and persecuting opponents in violation of that country's First Amendment[1] in order to avoid discussing the scientific challenges which Intelligent Design presents to the Origins of Species aspects of Theory of Evolution. The film's premise is that scientists have been expelled like naughty children from schools, universities and the scientific community, merely for daring to ask inconvenient questions.[2] The documentary is co-written and hosted by Ben Stein and was released in America on Friday, April 18, 2008.

The film is described in its online trailer as “a startling revelation that freedom of thought and freedom of inquiry have been expelled from publicly-funded high schools, universities and research institutions.” [3]

The film argues that scientists and educators who promote intelligent design are persecuted by the scientific establishment.[4] Examples given by the film include Richard Sternberg, a biologist, journal editor, and research associate at the National Museum of Natural History, and Guillermo Gonzalez, a pro-Intelligent design astrophysicist denied tenure at Iowa State University in 2007.[5]

In the film's trailer, Stein states that there are "people out there who want to keep science in a little box where it can’t possibly touch God" and that "freedom of thought and freedom of inquiry have been expelled from publicly-funded high schools, universities and research institutions."[5]


The film documents how some opponents of intelligent design have ulterior motives for suppressing any presentation of ID in classrooms or scientific journals, based on the theory's ideological implications. The implication being that if ID is true, naturalistic evolution as a causation for all life on the planet is false, which removes the ground on which one of the most successful arguments for atheism is built. The film documents why advocacy for atheism is one motive to suppress ID and raises awareness to those who do not understand the underlying philosophical culture war.

The film attempts to describe how the current status quo of the educational system is a de facto endorsement of atheism as a state religion. As a result of this state sponsored perspective, those teachers, professors and academics who speak publicly to oppose atheistic dogma are denied access to funding, tenure and other benefits of participation in academia. The film does not argue to replace the state religion of atheism with any religion or belief in God.

Rather, the film argues that all viewpoints should be included in discussion because of the intrinsic benefits of freedom. To describe the current situation, the film uses the metaphor of a wall erected between Darwinism and all other alternate explanations, similar to the Berlin Wall which the Communists erected to prevent communication and movement within the city. Rather than permit students to be exposed to weaknesses and flaws in evolutionary doctrine, the establishment suppresses alternate ideas and destroys the careers of academics and even journalists who openly question it.

The film shows how opposition to ID is chiefly based on fervent (almost rabid) support for atheism. ID says that a purely naturalistic explanation of the first appearance of life is not as likely as the idea that it was designed. This leads ideologically to questions about an Intelligent Designer with supernatural powers, just as surely as Darwinism's "survival of the fittest" leads to Social Darwinsm and Eugenics.

  • Those who are horrified at the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis condemn Darwinism for provided Hitler with ideological justification for his "Final Solution".


The movie describes Darwinism as a brilliant theory for the 19th century, but hints at some of the many holes in Darwin's work. For example, modern science has uncovered some aspects of the staggering complexity of the cellular and subcellular mechanisms. Armed with even a limited knowledge of the inner workings at the cellular level, the idea that this life randomly designed itself almost defies credulity. This is a material fact of which Darwin was wholly unaware.

But the film does not point to the problems with Darwin's work to prove that evolution is false. In fact, the film accepts that over time, species really do adapt or evolve as described by Darwin. The film pays tribute to the brilliance of Darwin, who correctly described adaptation, natural selection and some evolutionary processes.

The film's criticism is not so much with Darwin, but rather with the atheistic dogma that has become attached to Darwinism. The film points out that others have used Darwin's ideas as a panacea to neatly resolve the question of the origins of life and even the origin of species. Through brief examples, the film illustrates why the Theory of Evolution as an explanation for the origins of life requires a leap of faith in atheism that is at least as problematic as the leap required to believe the reverse. This sets up the main thrust of the film.

Academic Freedom

Another point the film makes is that science is never served by a strict adherence to dogma. No question in science should be off the table. Therefore, a scientific mind must allow for the possibility that anything not falsifiable is possible. Contrary to this thought, forces in our culture today are fully invested in an atheistic concept of the universe and thus their interpretation of the Theory of Evolution and the Origin of Species is above reproach. These forces are fully entrenched in academia and it is policy at many institutions of learning to brook no dissent when it comes to the idea of Intelligent Design.

The open mind begs the question: if we cannot establish with certainty whether the life was created or whether it appeared from sheer luck, then why are we forcing one of these two choices upon our academia?

Just as Einstein's Theory of Relativity obliterated and at the same time upheld Isaac Newton's work in Physics, the film implies that there is perhaps a great deal to learn by asking questions about the origins of life. The film shows why Darwin's work is important and in many respects valid. That said, Darwin's works should not be used as philosophical works to describe the nature of God or the origins of life.

About intelligent design itself

Ben Stein told Bill O'Reilly,

Intelligent design is an attempt to fill in the gaps; it might be totally wrong. [6]


The film shows the historical connection between the ideology of "survival of the fittest" and the Holocaust. By the 1920s, German textbooks were teaching evolutionary concepts including heredity and racial hygiene. The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics was founded in 1927; in 1933, Germany passed the Law for the Protection of Heredity Health. Josef Mengele studied anthropology and paleontology and received his Ph.D. for his thesis entitled "Racial Morphological Research on the Lower Jaw Section of Four Racial Groups." In 1937, Mengele was recommended for and received a position as a research assistant with the Third Reich Institute for Hereditary, Biology and Racial Purity at the University of Frankfort, and subsequently became the "Angel of Death" for directing the operation of gas chambers of the Holocaust and for conducting horrific medical experiments on inmates in pursuit of eugenics. Evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould admitted: "The Nazi racial hygiene program began with involuntary sterilizations and ended with genocide."[7]

  • One academic says in the film, "While I would never want to indict a theory for how someone misused it ... [yet] views of human nature that lower our estimation of what we are have consequences to how people treat each other." [8]
  • Steven C. Meyer said, "In Darwinism there's a denial of any intrinsic dignity for human persons. We are the result of undirected natural processes that did not have us in mind"[9]

While the film takes pains to point out that evolution is not directly responsible for the Holocaust, one Jewish group felt the movie went too far:

  • The film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed misappropriates the Holocaust and its imagery as a part of its political effort to discredit the scientific community which rejects so-called intelligent design theory.
  • Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people and Darwin and evolutionary theory cannot explain Hitler's genocidal madness.
  • Using the Holocaust in order to tarnish those who promote the theory of evolution is outrageous and trivializes the complex factors that led to the mass extermination of European Jewry.[10]

Filmmaker statements

"If you acknowledge this idea that design can be detected scientifically in the universe, then you open up the door to saying, 'Maybe this atheistic view isn't true,' [and] the entire worldview of people who are atheists crashes down around them," Mathis said. "This is a foundational concept for people who believe this way. So they defend it with incredible vigor."[11]

Negative Reception

Before the film opened, pro-evolution opponents of the film were heavily critical of its premise.

The pro-evolution magazine Scientific American criticized the film, calling it "intellectually dishonest," and detailed their objections with the film and intelligent design in a series of inflammatory articles.[12]

The pro-evolution magazine New Scientist ran a review which described the movie as follows: "Expelled is pure propaganda, its style reminiscent of a substandard Michael Moore flick complete with voice-over narration and lots of aimless wandering around". The review criticized the movie's treatment of Dawkins and even made claims of trying to "sneak ID into schools".[13]

NCSE used the film's release to launch a fresh attack on ID, repeatedly calling it "creationism" as part of their strategy to demonize scientific critiques of evolution. The gist of their defense of Caroline Crocker's dismissal was (1) she wasn't "fired" (because that means only immediate termination in their book) but merely let go at the end of the semester; and (2) each mention of intelligent design in class was an unauthorized addition to the curriculum. Apparently, only pro-evolution information is allowed in evolution class, and its weaknesses are not to be revealed if you want to get tenure. [14]

The cherry-picked meta-review site Rotten Tomatoes lists an average rating of 3/10, or 9% "fresh," making one of the lowest-rated movies indexed on the site. It summarizes the consensus of reviews as "a cynical political stunt disguised as a documentary."[15]

Viewer Reception

Expelled opened on April 18, 2008, on 1000 screens. It grossed $3.2 million US, or more than $3,000 per screen.[16]

Positive reception

In National Review, David Klinghoffer, a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, describes the Darwin-Hitler connection:

  • Expelled touches on Darwinism’s historical social costs, notably the unintended contribution to Nazi racial theories. That part packs an emotional wallop. It also happens to be based on impeccable scholarship. [17]
  • "The key elements in the ideology that produced Auschwitz are moral relativism aligned with a rejection of the sacredness of human life, a belief that violent competition in nature creates greater and lesser races, that the greater will inevitably exterminate the lesser, and finally that the lesser race most in need of extermination is the Jews. All but the last of these ideas may be found in Darwin’s writing."

Tom Bethell, a conservative journalist for the American Spectator, wrote:

The film, a documentary, is about scientists and researchers who acknowledge the scientific evidence for the intelligent design of life and who have been ostracized or denied tenure as a result. In a word, they have been "expelled" from the academy. [18]

Carl Wieland, the managing director for Creation Ministries International, wrote:

This powerful documentary is all about the persecution and censorship of any scientist who dares to oppose the Darwinist paradigm, by even suggesting the relatively modest hypothesis that the universe shows detectable evidence of design.[19]

Richard Dawkins "posits a creation theory of his own that fits the parameters of the film's working definition of intelligent design" in Expelled, but claims the movie is "dull, artless, amateurish, too long, poorly constructed, and utterly devoid of any style, wit, or subtlety."[20]

In his quest to attack Ben Stein, Kluger puts words in his mouth, and then commits the strawman fallacy:

"[Stein] makes all the usual mistakes nonscientists make whenever they try to take down evolution, asking, for example, how something as complex as a living cell could have possibly arisen whole from the earth's primordial soup. The answer is it couldn't--and it didn't...[21]
The movie does not criticize Darwinists for saying the cell "arose whole" but for arguing "that life arose from a primordial sea on a lifeless planet through a chance collision of chemicals". This is the typical pro-evolution device of pretending that critics don't understand what evolution is saying. But it backfires, because the movie comes with a leader's guide which shows that Kluger is the one in error.

See also

External links


  1. Stein told O'Reilly, "This whole problem is about violation of the First Amendment. There are many scientists - many - who have been expelled from their jobs, who have had their web sites shut down, who have been denied grants [or] tenure because they wanted to question the limits and boundaries of Darwinism ... that's not how society has progressed."
  2. Expelled the movie website
  3. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/27/science/27expelled.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2
  4. Lesley Burbridge-Bates (2007-08-22). Expelled Press Release. Premise Media. Retrieved on 2007-09-29.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Scientists Feel Miscast in Film on Life's Origin, New York Times, 27 September 2007
  6. Film trailer
  7. http://www.georgetown.edu/research/nrcbl/scopenotes/sn28.htm
  8. http://www.wingclips.com/cart.php?target=product&product_id=16681&category_id=778
  9. Meyer is alluding to a statement by Harvard paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson.
  10. Anti-Evolution Film Misappropriates the Holocaust
  11. Intelligent Design foes no match for Stein in 'Expelled' - Baptist Press
  12. http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=sciam-reviews-expelled
  13. Gefter, Amanda, Warning! They've Got Designs on You, 12 April 2008, New Scientist.
  14. http://www.expelledexposed.com/index.php/the-truth/crocker
  15. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/expelled_no_intelligence_allowed/
  16. "'Expelled' propelled to box office top 10." WorldNetDaily, April 21, 2008. Accessed April 21, 2008.
  17. [1]
  18. http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=12759
  19. Wieland, Carl, Cracking the wall in science 20th February, 2008, (Creation Ministries International).
  20. http://www2.nysun.com/article/74583
  21. Kluger, Jeffrey, Ben Stein Dukes it Out with Darwin, April 10th, 2008, Time