This movie did not live up to the criticisms thrown at it by the media.
From other reviews I expected a “Michael Moore” type of documentary; one that had a few more shenanigans’s and staged events. The trailers portrayed the film as such with Stein in a school boy’s outfit writing “do not question authority” on a chalkboard. Honestly, I was a little concerned about how the movie would portray people of faith.
However, the trailers turned out to be more sensationalistic than the movie.
Expelled is a documentary where Stein interviews scholars on various planes of the human origin’s discussion crystal. Unlike Moore’s films, where he uses hand-picked stooges to support his point, almost everyone interviewed in this film have earned Phd’s. It just so happens they disagree about evolutionary theory and the question of origins.
Although there were some sensationalisms using flashbacks to Nazi Germany and using a clip from the Wizard of Oz, these were not the emphasis of the film. I did feel that the Nazi connection was a little overdone. But, the point was made that under the Third Reich people on the wrong side of Darwinian Theory: the weak, mentally retarded, and diseased were killed. The approach to Nazism though was oversimplified. Most people know there were many, many factors other than Ayaran domination (a Darwinian idea) that led to Hitler’s evils.
The main focus of the movie is the question of academic freedom. By interviewing scholars who have been discriminated against because of their ID or faith views, Stein shows a form of bigotry in academia. Critics say these people had other issues affecting their job performance and scholarship. Of course that is the approach each institution representative took. How could they say anything else?
Iowa State University though actually admitted that eliminating a professor for his ID views was a part of their intent. Being an alumnus, I’m duly glad they were honest, and disappointed with their treatment of Gonzalez: a physics professor. One reason they may have been so honest is the existence of emails documenting the concern over his ID views. Whether or not there were other issues with his tenure, ID was certainly one of them.
Another string of interviews focused on authors and professors who are not only against ID, but antagonistic toward God and faith. The more visible ones were Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers. Although Dawkins and Myer’s have complained they were duped into the interviews, nothing they said was more extreme than what they’ve said in print or on the web.
Dawkins has written a book called the, “God Delusion,” and states his purpose is to show that belief in God is on par with believing in fairies and hobgoblins. He sells T-shirts on his website with the scarlet letter “A” standing for atheist.
P.Z. Myers claims to be a mild-mannered professor and ambivalent towards those of faith. However, his website has over 500 posts under the category “godlessness.”
Both Dawkins and Myers are at the forefront of this controversy. I’m not sure why they would be upset giving an interview against something they’ve already been vocal about. If they were duped, then of course that is wrong. They should have been invited to participate fully knowing what the film was about.
Ben also interviewed scientists who believe in ID and discuss the reason it challenges evolution. This was a necessary discussion but not the point of the movie. The point was still academic freedom and the suppressing of ideas by the biased scientific community.
At the end of the movie there was some sensationalism of walking through a museum dedicated to Charles Darwin and walking through a termination station for the invalid and mentally retarded during Hitler’s reign.
The nature this move was very “non-Michael-Moorish” regardless of the criticism. Stein uses his patented humor and sarcasm to make a point. Of course I’m biased, but this is still far from “Bowling for Columbine.” The critics are now claiming plagerism, using unlicensed media, trickery, and outright dishonesty. These are all taking away from the real issue: can a scientist today hold the view that there’s design in nature and thus a designer. Can he believe in God and science at the same time?
I hope this movie will expose any bias in the scientific world and also uphold the scientific method we so rely upon for advancement in the quality of human life.