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Lies, damned lies and "intelligent design'

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (PG)

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In garb like this, could anyone really take Ben Stein seriously?
  • In garb like this, could anyone really take Ben Stein seriously?
Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Nazis? It's all about Nazis?

In a parallel universe even crazier than our own, Ben Stein, former Nixon speechwriter turned ironic symbol of the anti-hip, may be making a documentary about how the Nazis used the "controversial" theory of gravity to make bombs fall to earth so, of course, the theory of gravity must be wrong. But we are here, and in this universe Ben Stein is actually telling us that because the Nazis thought it would be a good idea to breed people like animals, the theory of evolution must be wrong.

It's nuttiness right from the opening moments of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Images of Nazi atrocities and the terrors of life behind the Berlin Wall are smugly deployed in an attempt to editorialize away basic scientific fact. In a saner universe, you could scoff at Stein and not give his nonsense another thought. But we don't live in that universe. We live here, where the religious insecurity of a scientifically illiterate populace is being twisted by people who certainly know better.

We cannot dismiss this movie, because all those who care about public discourse in America and the ongoing war on scientific literacy need to see it in order to arm themselves against the idiocy. The film written by Stein, Kevin Miller and Walt Ruloff, and directed by Nathan Frankowski shows just how insidious the "intelligent design" proponents are.

Stein's thesis is that Big Science, academia, the media and the courts have been bullying the poor, brave mavericks who "dare" to question the theory of evolution. These heroic few instead believe that only an "intelligent designer" could have guided it.

Since Stein is unable to adequately critique evolutionary science, he resorts to a kind of name-calling that is purposely designed to mislead his audience. He constantly refers to those who accept evolution as "Darwinists," which is akin to referring to quantum physicists as "Newtonians" or "Copernicans." He does this even though one of his own ID proponents notes that biological science has moved on from Darwin just as physical science has moved on from Newton.

All pretense that the "competing theory" Stein champions is not Judeo-Christian Creationism is put to rest, too. The (supposed) scientists interviewed here who support intelligent design make no mention of who an "intelligent designer" might be. Yet Stein wastes no time in focusing on a particular and narrow idea of who that designer must be.

For instance, he dismisses the concept of "panspermia," which posits that perhaps life in its most basic form first arrived on planet Earth from space, spread from an asteroid or comet. "Aliens did it," Stein snarls in a tone of voice that suggests nothing could be more ridiculous. Still, wouldn't "aliens did it" be "intelligent design?"

Nope; wrong designer for Stein and his audience. If ID isn't about "God" as defined by Stein, then why does Stein believe he has impeached the honor and professionalism of scientist Richard Dawkins when Dawkins admits that he's an atheist (as if it were a secret)?

Expelled isn't about "intelligent design," about an alternative scientific theory, or even about academic freedom. It's about Stein believing he has proven that acceptance of evolution leads to atheism (and also, we're told, to such horrors as birth control). Hence, evolution cannot be allowed to be true. Even if it is.

scene@csindy.com

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