Alyssa and I watched Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed for the first time last night. If you aren’t familiar with the movie, watch the trailer here. The movie paints a compelling picture of the hatred that evolutionary scientists have for Intelligent Design and creationism. Particularly telling to me was the laughter of Eugenie Scott from the National Center for Science Education over Richard Sturnberg’s firing from the Smithsonian Institute. The visceral reactions that came out over and over again against a possible shift in thinking over evolutionary theory was alarming, to me.
I wished Stein would have devoted the entire movie to showing generally level-headed scientists get red in the face when you mention ID. Let them continue to make the false claim that ID is creationism, push them to use design language, as they must, and ask them to explain the language. Then offer a corrective, ask for open dialog, and see what the response is.
I also wished Stein hadn’t spent so much time trying to draw a link between eugenics and Darwinism. I believe there is a link, but it was an era of bad science, much like there is an undeniable link between Christianity and the crusades and inquisition, which were the result of bad Christianity. As eugenics is to Darwinism, so the crusades and inquisition are to Christianity. You can’t judge a worldview on the worst possible manifestation of that worldview. I always win my arguments when I’m able to link my opponent to Hitler…I’m constantly waiting for Alyssa to unwittingly quote Mein Kampf.
The critiques of the movie, also rather vicious in their attacks (here is a more even-keeled one run by the NCSE), point out that the debate that Stein wants to have is a debate over origins, not over much of evolutionary theory. The movie breezes past the idea of irreducible complexity with two cartoons, and no good explanations of the cartoons. The argument for irreducible complexity and the question of origins, is where this debate will find its end. Until those who demand that chance and time are responsible for all life can explain bacterial flagella, the debate has a very viable front for the intelligent design side, but it might be a front on the question of origins, which many Darwinian scientists only care about politically, not scientifically.
In short, I would recommend the movie. It’s interesting. Regardless of what side you line up on, it will probably make you mad. That’s the sure sign of a quality cinematic experience.