Friday, April 18, 2008

    Guest Blogger: Exploring the New Movie "EXPELLED"

    SPECIAL NOTE: Hey there, RYM readers, this is Barry, Brian's twin brother (or evil double, you take your pick). While he's away for a short bit to officiate at a friend's wedding he offered to let me try my hand at posting. By day I'm a Marketing Consultant, but for most of my adult life Brian has been plugging me into his ministry as either a youth group sponsor, Sunday school teacher or camp counselor. My involvement with this blog is usually as 1) a reader and 2) the guy who feeds Brian all his cool technology links, but I'll do my best to add some value in Brian's brief absence.

    In a country where roughly 50% of the population continues to hold a strong belief in creationism as the most compelling theory for the existence of...well, everything...its not surprising that the recently released documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is creating both strong interest and controversy (including from some of the scientists interviewed in the film who allege they were mislead by the producers). The film -- hosted by the endearingly droll actor/economist Ben Stein (of Ferris Bueller fame) -- apparently takes a position in favor of the proposition known as Intelligent Design and against what it sees as the persecution of ID true believers in US scientific and academic circles.

    In an interview on Beliefnet Stein explains that he got involved with the film because he sees the origins of evolutionary theory as something much darker than is commonly suggested:

    I decided to work on it because I've always had questions about Darwinism. I have always been very concerned that Darwinism gave the basic okay to terrible racism and to the idea of murder based upon race. And I think most people don't realize what a sinister role Darwinism has had in the history of the 20th century, and I guess part of the history of the 19th century too.

    Unfortunately for Stein (and the film's producers) Expelled has already been panned by most major critics, many of whom make a case similar to Beliefnet's Becky Garrison that the film simply falls far short of making a compelling case:

    While Expelled set its sights on disarming their enemy - the "neo-Darwinists" who have ostracized scientists who dare give credence to intelligent design - more often than not they ended up shooting biblical blanks. Unfortunately, the nuances of the evolution versus intelligent design debate were left on the cutting floor in favor of more provocative soundbites that one might expect from say an NBC Dateline "Catch an Evolutionist!"-type special.

    I haven't yet seen the film, but plan to despite the fact that I see no inherent contradiction between a belief in evolution and a belief in a biblical perspective of the world. And while I'm definitely more on the skeptical side of the ID debate, I think this is a fascinating debate that we should be eager to expose our young people to and invite them to engage in. These are the sorts of topics that I love bringing into a youth group meeting or into my high school Sunday School class because it allows you to challenge the youth to take a stand and then explain and defend that stand. And if they get passionate about it and argue a little, so much the better! To me it matters little which side of the controversy they come down on as long as they are gaining experience in taking ownership of what they believe and in articulating a reasoning for that belief.

    I've been looking for an outing for my Sunday School class to shake the students up a little -- maybe I'll take them to see this movie. What do you think?


    Laura Francabandera said...

    Hey Barry-

    I agree, I think any conversation is a good trend, and the best thing that we can do as an influence in young people lives is to give them the tools to think for themselves.

    But gosh, I just wish they had picked someone other than Ben Stein. Blah, and from what I've seen of the preview (I haven't seen the movie yet) it seems that they're too intent on completely delineating the two views, and not exploring any avenues where strict science (maybe micro-evolution, as opposed to macro-evolution) works in tandem with Christianity.

    I'm a lover of all science, and it's hard sometimes to see Christians treat it with such disdain.

    [ tyler curtain ] said...

    I think that Stein's next movie is where it's at, actually:

    Barry K said...

    Laura, thanks for the comment. I just read your own post about the movie on your blog and found it very interesting. Its sort of ironic that I don't believe in ID and yet plan to see the movie, and you do believe in it and don't have any desire to see it -- it just shows you that we are all coming from such different vantage points that dialogue without preconceived assumptions about what's in people's heads is vital. I also appreciate your statement on your blog that its too important a topic to sensationalize (i.e. with a movie that is seems to equate Darwinism with Hitler).

    Laura Francabandera said...


    That is really funny. That's why I love the conversations that these blogs induce. Whatever we leave believing, or not believing, the important thing is that we're talking about the topic.

    That is, unfortunately, more than most people can say for themselves. :)

    Ojalanpoika said...

    This conference poster of mine shows how profoundly the continental, Haeckelian type of vulgar evolutionism drived not only the 'Politics-is-applied-biology' Nazi takeover but also the nationalistic collapse of the World War I. It was Charles Darwin himself, who raised the monstrous Haeckel in the spotlight as the greatest authority in the field of human evolution, even in the preface to his Descent of man in 1871:
    Biochemist, drop-out (Master of Sciing)