Sunday, August 10, 2014

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (2008)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

I’ve never seen a reason why Intelligent Design should be taken seriously.  For those that don’t know, Intelligent Design is the belief that some creator, be it God or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, created all of creation by some divine will.  The main proof is that things are so complex that they couldn’t be the result of chance.  It’s Hoyle’s tornado assembling a 747, except that the tornado has had several billion years and produced a lot of things that weren’t planes.  (A more accurate analogy of evolution is the thousand monkeys typing for a thousand years.)

Ben Stein sets out to figure out exactly why Intelligent Design is dismissed by many academics.  He presents several people that were dismissed or otherwise harassed for the mere mention of ID in any sort of credible sense.  He also casts an unfavorable light on Darwin and atheism, associating them with communism and Nazis.  (After all, if you believe in natural selection, eugenics can’t be far behind.)

Yes, it does bother me that Darwin is the only person to put forth a theory of the mechanics of evolution, at least that got any attention.  Yes, I’m all for gathering evidence.  And yes, I do realize that this puts us between a rock and a hard place.  Do we dismiss something because there’s no hard proof or do we give it equal time because it's the only other thing that's trying to get attention?  Part of science is looking at a new theory, but there has to be some method of disproving it.  You have to accept that you might be wrong.

Part of my problem with ID is that it basically passes the buck.  We can’t have something so complex as life, so there has to be a creator.  Where did that creator come from?  If it was aliens, did they evolve on another planet or were they seeded by yet another creator?  If God created us, where did God come from?  This whole thing about God being eternal and not needing a cause is a bit too convenient for me.  Either way, all you’re doing is pushing back the moment of creation at least one step.

I tend to be very skeptical of anyone that presents truth as absolute.  I came into the documentary expecting Stein to present ID as correct, but I found that it was more a way of bringing attention to it.  I don’t mind this so much.  I did find the Communist/Nazi card to be heavy handed.  Images of the Berlin Wall and Nazi symbols were shown repeatedly.

The movie comes off as less of an attack than Religulous, but was just as strange in some parts.  The movie seems to equate belief in Darwinian evolution with atheism.  This was regard where I feel the documentary overreached.  Darwin is held responsible for Nazis’ eugenics programs, for instance.

There seem to be three main aspects to the film.  One is that an attack on ID is an attack on freedom of speech.  Another is that ID should be allowed to be considered.  The third is that Darwin was flat-out wrong.  I’ll admit that just as Einstein followed up on Newton’s work, there should be someone to follow up on Darwin’s work.  However, I think to call Darwin wrong or to say that ID is the answer is going to raise a few eyebrows.  I have a hard time taking the documentary totally seriously.

IMDb page

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