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Scheduled to be released in theaters in February 2008, Ben Stein’s movie EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed will surely add more fuel to the fire of the creation/evolution controversy. The tagline for the movie summarizes it well, “Big Science has expelled smart new ideas from the classroom. What they forgot is that every generation has its Rebel!” The Big Science that Stein is referring to consists of academic institutions and people from around the world (particularly the U.S.) who have suppressed, discriminated, and “expelled” those who dare to question Darwinism and naturalism by suggesting that design in nature is the result of an intelligence. (Stein, of course, is the rebel who plans to expose this).
The movie consists of multiple interviews of those in Big Science such as Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett and the “expelled” such as Richard Sternberg and Michael Behe. (It does not appear that any biblical creationists were interviewed but rather many people in the Intelligent Design Movement). In one of the trailers for the movie (available on the website), Stein shares his personal view on the topic. He states he had questions such as how did we get here and was there meaning and purpose in life and that he felt the answer was that God had created everything from rocks to humans. Stein says he was aware that others believed in evolution and that since we live in a free society, everyone was allowed to follow their own beliefs (even carrying this to the extreme by showing pictures of Hitler and Nazi Germany). He then states that he realizes he was wrong.
Stein was apparently unaware of the prejudice and harsh criticism that scientists and others face for questioning evolution. He soon discovers that many of these individuals are “expelled” from Big Science, resulting in loss of job security, denial of tenure, and banishment from publication in scientific journals to name a few.
During interviews with secular media, I am often asked if I have published any of my creation-related research in mainstream scientific journals. The answer is unfortunately “no.” I then follow with the explanation that it’s not that I and other creation scientists don’t do good science, but rather that our presuppositions (based on God’s Word) clash with the presuppositions (based on human reason) of the journals’ editors and reviewers. (Fortunately, creation scientists do have several resources for publishing within the creation science community: e.g., Creation Research Science Quarterly and another soon-to-be announced AiG resource as well).
I was surprised, when viewing the website for the movie, about the emphasis on getting involved in telling the message of suppression and discrimination in the classroom. There are resources for students and leaders to “Let your voice be heard!” For example under “Student Resources”:
EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed is sure to stir up a lot of controversy and bring up a lot of important questions. It’s critical that we take a stand to fight for the truth. In EXPELLED Ben questions why all the Neo-Darwinists are so nervous right now. What are they so afraid of? That’s what I’d like to know, too. What are they hiding? Wherever you are on the spectrum of belief, it’s critical that all students have as much information as possible in order to make the most informed decisions they can. This fight is about making sure we all have access to the truth.
In some ways this sounds similar to the “Big Tent” approach taken by the Intelligent Design Movement (IDM). They also welcome a “spectrum of belief” from agnostic to Muslim to born-again Christian as long as an “intelligent designer” is acknowledged. There is a major problem with this approach, though: what is the source for determining the truth that Ben Stein wants everyone to have access to? Does it have its basis in human reason (agnostic), the Koran (Muslim) or the Bible (born-again Christian)? Each will lead to very different truths concerning our origins and morals.
I admire Ben Stein for his efforts and look forward to seeing the movie. The movie website seems to indicate that EXPELLED may take a presuppositional (this term is used several times on the website) approach to the question of origins. The movie trailer supports this idea by positing the question of how we got here as two choices: God created or evolution. Hopefully EXPELLED will further highlight the importance of presuppositions in interpreting the evidence in the world around us.