Director: Nathan Frankowsi
Writers: Ben Stein, Kevin Miller, Walt Ruloff
Host: Ben Stein
Rating: PG (thematic material, some disturbing images)
Running Time: 90 min
Release Date: 4/18/08
Expelled is a documentary hosted by Ben Stein that turns Michael Moore famous techniques as featured in Roger And Me and Fahrenheit 9/11 against what he calls Big Science. While is it obvious that Ben has an agenda, he presents himself as gradually becoming aware of a climate of repression in U.S. academia against any who fail to hold to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.
He starts with the case of Richard Sternberg who was fired (or so the film claims) for publishing an article by Stephan C. Meyer that mentioned the possibility of Intelligent Design. This leads Ben on a worldwide expedition to meet with various players in the Darwinism vs. Intelligent Design controversy. Interspersed between interviews are images of the Berlin Wall, Stalin, communist guards, etc. all in stark black and white. The not so subtle message is that Big Science is a totalitarian regime.
One highlight of the film is an encounter between Ben Stein and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Dawkins in addition to his scientific work has become a noted atheist who has written a scathing attack on the Deity as reveled in the Old Testament. After Stein allows Dawkins to read this except Stein asks Dawkins to estimate the likelihood of the existence of God to which Dawkins was less than one percent. They then engage in some give and take. Concluding that placing a numerical value on this is meaningless. Then somehow Stein gets Dawkins to seemingly admit that their might be a “signature” for intelligent design but that if it was found that it would be due to biological engineering of an alien civilization rather than God. I sure most of the audience will be incredulous at that!
In addition the film has an encounter with a professor at Cornell who eagerly embraces all of the negative philosophical consequences of an evolution-materialistic worldview that any evolution opponent would want to present. We meet another scientist who wants to minimize the role of religion in society. Stein also links Darwinism to the Nazis with quotes from Hitler that seems be close to other quotes from Darwin. This punctuated with a visit to a facility in which Nazi doctors killed the handicapped and dissected their bodies.
This is a very over the top but powerful presentation. As a propaganda film it is very effective and my rating is based on this rather than a belief in the views presented. In a way I find that targeting biology as the menacing Big Science to be a curious choice. Rather the scientific establishment supporting the theory of human-induced global warming would seem a better target for Ben talents. Certainly it is presenting more questionable views and is going to have a far greater impact on our lives than mere biological theories.
It is also important to point out that there are serious disputes about many of the claims of oppression make in the film. I certainly will not attempt to render a judgment of that here but if you see the film you might also want to check out the counter claims at the website: www.expelledexposed.com for some balance.