Thursday, May 8, 2008 Last Update: 2:26 p.m.
A Few Clouds: Currently 49° F
Dow: 12866.78 +52.43

The Great Debate…at a Theatre Near You!

The story of David and Goliath is playing at a theater near you. Only David doesn’t wear Biblical-style sandals. He wear sneakers, and a business suit.

David is played by actor-turned-activist Ben Stein. The part of Goliath is played by the scientific establishment of the United States. The movie, an excellent and entertaining documentary, is Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

The film takes a serious topic—the debate between Darwinists and those who subscribe to the idea of intelligent design—and treats it with wonderfully satirical humor. But the film is also deadly serious. Why? Because the suppression of honest inquiry and the twisting of ideas can lead to dangerous places, such as Dachau.

Let me explain.

The word “expelled” in the film’s title refers to accomplished scientists who have either been terminated or denied tenure for alluding to the possibility that the universe may have originated through the work of a designer. None of them lobbied to have intelligent design taught alongside evolution. They didn’t endorse creationism. They didn’t attribute the status of deity to the alleged designer. They merely expressed the idea, in one way or another, that in their scientific view the chance that the universe initially came about purely by accident is infinitesimally small and that evidence of a designing entity is compelling.

The film consists of interviews of “expelled” scientists interspersed with those of establishment scientists defending the prevailing view, which is Darwinism. Sounds dry, but it’s actually the dry humor of Ben Stein, the interviewer in sneakers and suit, that entertains. The interspersing of vintage film clips and the occasional cartoon, used mostly for satire, adds to the fun and gives the whole thing an underground, bootleg feel.

In 1633, Galileo was disciplined by the Roman Catholic Church for his scientific observations. It’s hugely ironic that the Inquisitors are now the scientists—the establishment ones, that is, persecuting their colleagues who question some aspects of Darwinism.

Oddly, the torment of dissenters goes on even at universities with religious roots, such as Baylor, a Baptist institution. This is allegedly because of the domination of science departments nationwide by members of an intolerant elite, what one writer calls an “atheistic mafia.”

Among the damned we meet is Guillermo Gonzalez, an astronomer at Iowa State University, who was denied tenure for his view that a cosmic designer of some sort is more credible than a cosmic accident in the initial formation of the universe—an idea he expressed outside of the classroom. Gonzalez’ credentials are sterling. Cambridge University Press published his astronomy textbook. He is the recipient of awards from both NASA and the National Science Foundation. He has published at least sixty-eight peer-reviewed articles, several times more than is required to achieve tenure at ISU. Yet his career was, in effect, ended with the denial of tenure.

On the other hand, Stein also interviews Richard Dawkins, atheist and author of The God Delusion. I have to admire Dawkins. Who was it who said they prefer an honest atheist to a phony Christian? I do. Yet under gentle pressure from Stein, Dawkins concedes that no one knows how the universe began.

Stein, born a Jew, takes the whole argument much farther. He leads us to Dachau for a tour of the deserted extermination “showers” to show how survival-of-the-fittest ideology can be twisted into pure evil.

It’s worth noting that the “expelled” scientists generally support the idea of evolution. They think it’s incomplete, though; that it doesn’t explain the very beginning of things. Some point out that after all, there was a lot that Darwin didn’t know that is now known.

Only once in the film does the satirization of a scientist’s words go too far, unfairly mocking what sounded to me like legitimate science—and what non-scientists can’t possibly know without study. It reminded me of Michael Moore in Roger and Me, Moore’s indictment on film of General Motors, following CEO wives around a golf course to harass them for the sins of their husbands and cast his argument in a favorable light. Not quite fair.

But no matter. If you think human beings are valuable even when weak and you decry the insidiousness of political correctness, see the movie. And tell everyone you know.


Marie T. Sullivan is the arts and culture editor of The Chicago Daily Observer



Miles says:

Creationism is not science and the intelligent design creationists have yet to propose anything that is scientific. "I think god must have done it" is not a scientific theory.

May 7, 2008 at 9:43 a.m.

Pat Hickey says:

Miles, the point - mind you - is academic honesty in form of debate and not the discipline.

May 7, 2008 at 9:59 a.m.

Brett says:

Who cares what Dawkins "concedes"? Of course we don't know how the universe started yet. What's the relevance? The study of the beginning of the cosmos has nothing to do with study of biological evolution, and attempting to conflate these two ideas is ignorant at best, dishonest and deceptive at work. Not knowing how the cosmos started doesn't mean that God must've have done it either, unless your god is content to live in the gaps that we've yet to explain. As far as academic honesty, science doesn't work by popularity contest. Show the evidence.
Academic honesty? Not in this movie....

May 7, 2008 at 10:39 a.m.

Pat Hickey says:

The inconvenient truth about Darwinism ( a theory mind you and therefore as unproven as the angels dancing on the head of pin)is the trail it led to eugenics and historically put into the death industry of Planned Parenthood and later the Third Reich.

Sorry, all atheist/science Inquisitors - wikpedia on Eugenics states:

'The modern field and term were first formulated by Sir Francis Galton in 1883,[2] drawing on the recent work of his cousin Charles Darwin. From its inception eugenics was supported by prominent people, including H.G. Wells, Emile Zola, George Bernard Shaw, William Keith Kellogg and Margaret Sanger.[3][4] G. K. Chesterton was an early critic of the philosophy of eugenics, expressing this opinion in his book, Eugenics and Other Evils. Eugenics became an academic discipline at many colleges and universities. Funding was provided by prestigious sources such as the Rockefeller Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation, the Carnegie Institution of Washington, and the Harriman family.[5] Three International Eugenics Conferences presented a global venue for eugenicists with meetings in 1912 in London, and in 1921 and 1932 in New York. Eugenics' scientific reputation started to tumble in the 1930s, a time when Ernst Rüdin began incorporating eugenic rhetoric into the racial policies of Nazi Germany.'

Progressives get all goose-bumpy over Planned Parenthood and Dr. Jack Kervorian yet.

May 7, 2008 at 11:03 a.m.

caerbannog says:

Evangelicals and eugenics:

Martin Luther and Jews:

Hitler and Christianity:

"MY LORD AND SAVIOR . . . IN THE BOUNDLESS LOVE AS A CHRISTIAN . . . HE HAD TO SHED HIS BLOOD UPON THE CROSS. My feelings as a Christian point me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them. This is God's truth! He was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice....

-- Hitler, in a speach delivered on April 12, 1922

May 7, 2008 at 11:10 a.m.

Alonzo Fyfe says:

Expelled has nothing to do with science.

If it were about science it would have presented the scientific evidence for the proposed conclusion, the way that a movie about Einstein's theory of relativity would have shown the predictions made by that theory and discussed the research that confirmed those predictions.

This is a propaganda piece. It's purpose is to sell hatred by linking the target group (atheists, evolutionists) with things that are bad (the Holocaust), the way that a car advertiser would use images of sex to sell a car.

Only, this movie does not sell cars. It sells hate.

May 7, 2008 at 11:19 a.m.

JoeyRamone63 says:

ID is not good science. Science starts with observations, hypotheses, and then seeks to substantiate the hypotheses with testable scenarios, predictions, and falsifiability.

Creationists have been trying for decades to get public schools and universities to give "equal time" to creationism. The most recent tact is to dress it up as "intelligent design" and it was shot down at the Dover trial when it was proven (by a Christian biologist, Ken Miller) to be nothing more than creationism without a direct reference to "god". In fact, the intelligent design manifesto "Of Pandas and People" was originally written with direct references to God, and then edited to replace God with Intelligent Designer; this evidence was also presented in the Dover trial.

Moreover, the "persecuted scientists" who were presented in Expelled have all been debunked. One of them completely side-stepped the peer review process in order to get his ID paper published! Another was an unpaid volunteer. More details can be found at

Stein's movie purports to be about academic freedom; but it fallaciously equates evolution with eugenics and implies that atheism leads to atrocity, which couldn't be further from the truth. Expelled is the worst example of misinformation, outright lies, and pandering propaganda.

May 7, 2008 at 11:25 a.m.

Alonzo Fyfe says:

Pat Hickey

Eugenics has to do with artificial selection, not natural selection.

Artificial selection has been known since the earliest days of agriculture and animal husbandry. It has been responsible for calls to sterilize or even kill those who are deformed in some way since the start of human history. This idea did not begin with Darwin. Darwin only took what was known about artificial selection and said that nature, also, has a way of selecting certain traits above others.

Christianity has been exploited by those seeking to do great violence as well. If we accepted the idea that a way of thinking must be condemned because somebody distorted it for evil purposes, Christianity itself would be near the top of the list of beliefs to be condemned.

Indeed, math itself has been used by people seeking to do great evil, as has chemistry, physics, and even medicine. Yet, this hardly counts as reason to condemn all chemists, physicists, and doctors.

This tendency towards overgeneralization - to blame whole groups of people for th transgressions of some - is the very essence of bigotry. Let each individual be judged by his or her own actions.

May 7, 2008 at 11:28 a.m.

Darron S says:

I find it curious that the producers of the movie didn't see fit to interview Evolutionary Biologist Ken Miller for this film. Seems like he would have been a prime candidate to offer up a fair and balanced view of ID, being that he's both a Christian and supporter of evolutionary theory, and was a witness in the Dover School District trial when the school board tried have ID implanted into school curriculum.

May 7, 2008 at 11:49 a.m.

JoeU says:

to view 3 "EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed"
movie trailers and a Bill O'Reilly interview.


May 7, 2008 at 12:25 p.m.

Erik John Bertel says:

This is the part of the Expelled and ID argument that is disingenuous. "It’s also true that the theory (evolution) lends itself to justify atheism, abortion, euthanasia, and eugenics” –as Stein points out. Here is another quote from Mr. Stein, “Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people."

Basically, Expelled tarnishes all Darwinist and evolutionists as maniacal murderers responsible for the worst atrocities of man. Linking Hitler and Darwinism is basically a specious argument, after all how many Christian Germans prayed to God that Hitler would triumph? Should we equate Christianity with the Nazis too? That's stupid and simplistic, right? Or do we just ignore the previous two thousand years of anti-Semitism in Europe and assume it had it had no impact on the holocaust or do we blame all Christians for the camps? Again, that's a simplistic answer.
To quote the Anti-Defamation League: “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.”

Erik John Bertel
Author of Flores Girl: The Children God Forgot and the Blog

May 7, 2008 at 2:36 p.m.

ERV says:

Actually, 'EXPELLED' is not 'at a theater near you'. Those fine, upstanding, persecuted Christians that made this movie stole a lot of stuff, and a judge has issued an injunction.

If its not at a theater near you now, it never will be.

May 7, 2008 at 6:16 p.m.

molly says:

Blaming Darwin for Nazi atrocities is like getting struck by lightning and blaming Ben Franklin.

People have been practicing various forms of eugenics for thousands of years—manipulating crops, selecting for better beasts of burden, crafting new breeds of dogs, etc. It’s called “artificial selection.” All Darwin did was point out that, hey, this stuff happens naturally, too—natural selection.

Darwin didn’t invent the artificial selection abused by the Nazis, nor did he promote selective breeding as a conscious effort to steer evolution. And just as Franklin alerted the world that lightning was really electricity, and invented the lightning rod to help protect people, Darwin showed us that steering evolution was a dangerous endeavor, and even warned against these practices in his book.

This movie is propaganda at its most dishonest.

May 8, 2008 at 10:38 a.m.

Zog says:

"Darwinists" huh.....I guess since gravity caused the twin towers to fall then Bin Laden must be a "Newtonist"!

May 8, 2008 at 6:15 p.m.

Zog says:

The movie claims that Darwin=Atheist=Hitler=Holocaust?

This reminds me of the christian claim that the "the US was founded as a christian nation" .

Does Hitler refer to Charles Darwin in Mein Kampf or any of his speeches? I don't think so. As one poster noted above, Hitler was a christian (roman catholic). Strap on your "Gott Mit Uns" nazi belt buckles...we're go'in for a ride.

I guess Hitler 'not' referring to Mr. Darwin is much like the US Constitution 'not' mentioning anything about jesus or christianity.

I grow weary of lying fundies...

But I suppose if someone believes in magic then one can believe in any made-up stuff even if said someone is the one making stuff up. Religion is moon-bat crazy &hit!

May 8, 2008 at 7:14 p.m.

Post a comment

Your name (required):


I am human: