I had the opportunity last night to see the new movie “Expelled” with Ben Stein (see here for information). I did not enjoy the movie. The documentary is not meant to be enjoyed.
This movie outlines a problem facing scientists who speak up for the set of theories referred to as “Intelligent Design” (ID). The interviews tell several scientists’ stories, and their stories were devastating to me. I have always thought of science as the unbiased search for truth based on observation and deduction. (For an article on ID that shows some evidence of the treatment the movement gets from mainstream scientists, go here.)
I knew that some of the books I have read by leading atheists showed considerable bias against theism (see the search labels Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins on the sidebar), but it seems even the mainstream scientific establishment is not immune. If the ID theory is wrong, why is it attacked in this fashion? It can’t be the only theory out there that is disagreed with. Why target it at this level? Other people put forth contrarian arguments without loosing their jobs.
Time is also taken to interview scientists from the Discovery Institute, a research group promoting ID (see here). The Discovery Institute scientists are approaching this topic by essentially trying to dodge the theological implications of their research. It seems they want to stress the scientific evidence for their positions to the exclusion of theology, perhaps in an effort to enhance credibility.
In some ways, I do not blame them. I have found that arguments drawn from philosophy without appeal to specific revelation to be powerful influences on my thinking. I have also found the same with scientific evidence.
The movie ends with a segment designed to force people to face some of the historical movements that have embraced evolutionary thinking. This is the part of the movie that was most distressing to me. Ben Stein, a Jew, focused attention on a part of history that explicitly shows the barbarism of the human species. Evolutionary thinking is named as a “necessary condition” for this barbarism, but not a “sufficient condition.” In other words, not all evolutionists travel the path described, but many who have embraced this barbarism have based their thinking on a form of evolution or advancement of the species / race. Flawed human beings practice religion, and this is evident. However, it seems that not all of the dark chapters of human history are a result of religious wars and bigotry.
Expelled is a fine example of a documentary, and I hope you will see it. I also hope that the documentary will have as devastating an effect on you as it has had on me.
In a side note: R. C. Sproul interviewed Ben Stein for his radio show. The interview is a good commentary on the issues, and audio can be found here. Sproul is his usual self, and he interspaces some of his formal philosophical arguments in the discussion.