Christian Living

healthenews 04/25/08

Expelled: Persecution Fantasies? Holocaust Denial? I Don't Think So...

The movie Expelled, a documentary film about the conflict between intelligent design and evolution, opened last weekend. Expelled takes a hard look at the evolutionary worldview, including a focus on how the science establishment has badly treated ID advocates. Ben Stein, a man of several professions, stars in Expelled as narrator, interviewer, and guide.

Perhaps running scared, evolutionists in science and the media have roundly attacked the effort. Their message: Don't see this horrible movie! Perhaps that should give you all the more incentive to see the film - or to go see it a second time.

An example of this condemnation comes from bioethics expert Arthur Caplan at the University of Pennsylvania. He wrote a misguided opinion column for MSNBC, Intelligent Design Film Far Worse than Stupid. I looked over this article -- from one of the leading bioethicists in the country -- for a reality check.

CAPLAN: He says that in the film there is "not a shred of intelligence on display"

REALITY: Not a shred? Oh, come on, didn't he at least enjoy the intelligence of the evolutionists interviewed in the film? With oversimplification at the ready, he resorts way too much to name calling instead of well-reasoned arguments.

CAPLAN: "The movie seeks to explain why, as a matter of freedom of speech, intelligent design should be taught in America's science classrooms and presented in America's publicly funded science museums."

REALITY: Yes, the movie indirectly makes this argument. Yet it's much more than that. It's also a science argument, explaining the weaknesses of evolutionary theory and the advantages of intelligent design.

Caplan appears to expect a geeky science film, but this is an overview documentary with a Hollywood flair. Nobody would watch it if the movie was made in Caplan's image. Guess he'd be pleased at that.

Caplan thinks teaching ID would be very, very bad. Actually polls show most parents would like a counterweight to the "evolution has no faults" school of thought. Why should a current consensus of scientists dictate what parents' children learn? Scientific consensus has often proven wrong and evolution is in much more of an internal crisis than they are letting on.

CAPLAN: He calls the flick "a toxic mishmash of persecution fantasies"

REALITY: No, the movie's examples are people really persecuted. Numerous people have lost their jobs, been trashed, or are afraid to speak out. Expelled only shows a few of them. I personally know one scientist who won't speak a word about ID until he gains tenure -- and thus some protection from academic persecution and potential job loss.

And the "toxic" charge? The audience in the theater where I saw it seemed to be in no need of detox at the end of the film. They clapped.

CAPLAN: "To lay blame for the Holocaust upon Charles Darwin is to engage in a form of Holocaust denial that should forever make Ben Stein the subject of scorn … because in this contemptible movie he is willing to subvert the key reason why the Holocaust took place - racism."

REALITY: This is an incredibly poor argument. The movie in no way subverts racism as a source of the Holocaust. It merely explains one of the major intellectual roots of that very racism.

Charles Darwin was a racist regarding mankind. German history scholar Richard Weikart has written about the six features of Darwin's theory that contributed to the devaluing of life.

Caplan apparently is offended that Darwinism played a role in that racism. Why is he so committed to this theory? Is evolution his religion, his ultimate commitment?

CAPLAN: He also seems to argue that if we depose evolution in the classroom, our students will be harmed. That is, Europe and Asia will "clean our economic clocks by seeing us throw away our considerable lead in synthetic biology, genomics, agriculture and the biomedical, oceanographic, geological and energy sciences."

REALITY: Our science students are not doing well -- at the same time that evolution has ruled in academic circles. That sounds to me like a good reason to depose evolution and get on with intelligent design education. In fact, science students might well be spurred on by looking honestly into both sides.


--"This frighteningly immoral narrative"

--"This narrow, crimped mess of a movie"

--A movie which contains "a very repugnant form of Holocaust denial from the monotone big mouth Ben Stein"

--Uses the name "God" in lower case as "god"

--Calls the scholar and author David Berlinski -- who is a mathematician and scholar on Isaac Newton  -- "some monumentally pompous thinker"

--By purportedly asking outspoken atheist scientist Richard Dawkins too many questions about God, Stein is said to be acting like a zoo animal "kept caged up in small places for too long" who thus may have "mental health" problems.

With these kinds of comments, Caplan is actually supporting one of the points of the movie - that many Darwinists are mean-spirited and will take extreme action -- in this case extreme words -- to squelch criticism and dissent.

I applaud Stein for being willing to take the flak he knew would come from academic and media folks like Caplan. As far as clear thinking, I'll stick with Stein and the movie Expelled. There's more sanity there.

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