Reviews of movies with a religious/ethical theme
"Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" A discussion
of academic freedom and intelligent design
||Katherine T. Phan: "In Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Stein -- who has also worked as a lawyer, an economist, an author and social commentator -- embarks on a journey
across the globe to answer the long disputed question 'Were we designed or are we simply the end result of an ancient mud puddle struck by lightning'?" 1
||Ben Stein: "EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed" is a controversial, soon-to-be-released documentary that chronicles my confrontation with the widespread suppression
and entrenched discrimination that is spreading in our institutions, laboratories and most importantly, in our classrooms, and that is doing irreparable harm to some of the world's top scientists, educators, and
||Roy Speckhardt: "If one needs to believe in a god to be moral, why are we seeing yet another case of dishonesty by the devout? Why were leading scientists deceived as to the
intentions of a religious group of filmmakers? It's immaterial that nobody may have asked about the film's premise. It was the duty of the filmmakers to provide it, unasked. We godless humanists know
this; why didn't the filmmakers? Moreover, the very scientists whom creationists decry don't make films under such false pretenses." 3 (Speckhardt is the executive director of the American
Ben Stein is well known for his role in the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day
Off," his TV program "Win Ben Stein's Money," and many other
projects. According to the New York Times:
"He said he also believed the theory of evolution leads to racism and
ultimately genocide, an idea common among
creationist thinkers. If it were up to him, he
said, the film would be called 'From Darwin to Hitler'.''
He traveled the world interviewing top scientists, educators and
philosophers concerning what he feels is a lack of intellectual freedom
concerning beliefs about origins of the species. He believes that:
"... educators and
scientists are being ridiculed, denied tenure and even fired - for the 'crime'
of merely believing that their might be evidence of 'design' in nature, and that
perhaps life is not just the result of accidental, random chance."
That is, they
are not allowed to promote Intelligent Design as a alternative to the Theory of
The New York Times states:
"The film is described in its online trailer as 'a startling revelation
that freedom of thought and freedom of inquiry have been expelled from
publicly-funded high schools, universities and research institutions.'
According to its Web site, the film asserts that people in academia who see
evidence of a supernatural intelligence in biological processes have
unfairly lost their jobs, been denied tenure, or suffered other penalties as
part of a scientific conspiracy to keep God out of the nation's laboratories
and classrooms." 4
The movie was released during 2008-FEB in select
theatres across the U.S. It is available for purchase at:
Allegations of deception:
According to the New York Times, Rampart Films invited the
evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and other leading scientists to be
interviewed for their documentary film to be called "Crossroads." The movie was
to examine the intersection of science and religion. After the interviews, the
scientists found themselves in another movie (Expelled: No intelligence
allowed) by a different producer (Premise Media).
"At no time was I given the slightest clue that these people were a
Eugenie C. Scott, head of the National Center for Science Education
''I have certainly been taped by people and appeared in productions where
people's views are different than mine, and that's fine...' I just expect
people to be honest with me, and they weren't.''
The New York Times states:
"Mr. Stein, a freelance columnist who writes Everybody's Business
for The New York Times, conducts the film's on-camera interviews. The
interviews were lined up for him by others, and he denied misleading anyone.
'I don't remember a single person asking me what the movie was about,' he
said in a telephone interview."
"Walt Ruloff, a producer and partner in Premise Media, also denied that
there was any deception. Mr. Ruloff said in a telephone interview that
Rampant Films was a Premise subsidiary, and that the movie's
title was changed on the advice of marketing experts, something he said was
routine in filmmaking." 4
Who were "expelled" for believing in creationism/intelligent design?
According to the National Center for Science Education's website "Expelled Exposed:"
- Caroline Crocker:
- The movie soundtrack said:
- Ben Stein: "After she simply mentioned Intelligent Design in her cell biology class at George Mason University (GMU), Caroline Crocker’s sterling academic career came to an abrupt end. ... Not only did she lose her job at George Mason, this highly qualified researcher suddenly found herself blacklisted, unable to find a job anywhere."
- Caroline Crocker: "[My supervisor said] 'nonetheless you have to be disciplined,' and I lost my job."
- Reality: At the time, she was in a non-tenure track job at George Mason University. Such jobs carry little security and no guarantee that her contract would be renewed after it ended. Her assignment was to teach the theory of evolution. This did not include teaching intelligent design (ID). She did not just "mention" ID in one of her lectures, she actually taught creationist material. Some students complained. She was allowed to continue teaching, and to finish her contract. She was not rehired. Her career did not come to an abrupt end. She had another contract to teach at Northern Virginia Community College that overlapped her GMU contract.
She was not blacklisted. Dr. Crocker
later held a job as a postdoc at the Uniformed Services University, where she did research and taught molecular biology techniques. 6
- Michael Egnor:
- The movie soundtrack said:
- Ben Stein: "When neurosurgeon Michael Egnor wrote an essay for high school students saying doctors didn’t need to study evolution in order to practice medicine, the Darwinists were quick to try and exterminate this new threat."
- Michael Egnor: He said that he was shocked by the "viciousness" and the "baseness" of the criticism that he received. Such treatment is quite normal on the Internet, but Dr.Egnor might not have been aware of that.
- "Orac," an oncologist, surgeon, and Internet blogger accused the Discovery Institute -- the main proponents of ID) -- as "eager to use anyone they can find whom they can represent to the public as having scientific credentials -- never mind whether those credentials have anything to do with evolutionary biology."
- Another physician and blog poster, Burt Humburg, speculated that he may have made these statements in order "to make a buck, gain a little influence, or exhibit some sort of other ulterior motive."
- Reality: Egnor did not constitute a new threat; since the Theory of Evolution emerged, there have always been doctors who rejected it. Compared to the sort of Emails and blog postings that this website has received, the bloggers were rather tame. At least he didn't receive death threats. 7
- "Expelled Exposed" has contrasted what was said on the soundtrack with reality for four other scientists: Guillermo Gonzalez, 8 Robert Marks, 9 Richard Sternberg 10 and Pamela Winnick. 11
According to Wikipedia:
"The general media response to the film has been largely unfavorable.
- It received an 8% meta-score from Rotten Tomatoes (later improved to 10% overall) where the film was summarized thus: 'Full of patronizing, poorly structured arguments, Expelled is a cynical political stunt in the guise of a documentary.'
- Multiple reviews, including those of USA Today and Scientific American, have described the film as propaganda. ...
- The Chicago Tribune's rating was "1 star (poor)", while
- The New York Times described it as 'a conspiracy-theory rant masquerading as investigative inquiry' and 'an unprincipled propaganda piece that insults believers and nonbelievers alike.'
- Christianity Today gave the film a positive review.
- The American Association for the Advancement of Science describes the film as dishonest and divisive propaganda, aimed at introducing religious ideas into public school science classrooms."
"The film has been used in private screenings to legislators as part of the Discovery Institute intelligent design campaign for Academic Freedom bills. 12
Steven Isaac of Plugged In, a service of the fundamentalist Christian group Focus on the Family said that the film's role:
"... is to essentially dive-bomb the culturally established idea that Darwinian evolution has already won the scientific debate regarding the origins of man. And it boils over at the notion that the debate itself is now out of bounds. ... A sizable portion of the movie explores what Stein believes to be a credible link between Darwinian thought and atrocities committed by Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. Here, images switch from hilarious to horrifying as we see glimpses of what happened when Nazis turned on Jews. ... And a good deal of screen time is given to Prof. Will Provine of Cornell University, who details the final effects of Darwin’s theories—from the viewpoint of one who believes they are inevitable yet positive. If fully taken to heart, he says, you lose the idea that man has free will, that there is hope for life after death and the conception that there is anything or anyone higher than yourself." 13
This webmaster's assessment, for what it is worth, is that the overall picture is a really neat film of very creative fiction. Since it presents itself as a documentary about real situations in academia, it may be bending the commandment "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor" a bit. 14 However, that commandment might not be too important, because it was left out of the Exodus 34 version of the Ten Commandments. 15
It was a successful movie, having cost $3.5 million and having grossed $7.7 million (by 2010-APR-28). Home video sales grossed over $1.8 million in total sales.
Title: "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed"
Release date: 2008-APR-18
Director: Nathan Frankowski
Produced by: Logan Craft & Walt Ruloff
Runtime: 97 minutes.
Themes: Evolution v. creationism;
Rating: PG (contains some disturbing images from the Holocaust, and discussion of eugenics.) The Catholic Church's Office for Film & Broadcasting rates the movie as an A-II -- adults and adolescents. 16
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Katherine T. Phan, "Ben Stein Confronts Dominance of Darwinian Thought in New Film," Christian Post, at:
- Ben Stein, "Ben Stein's Introductory Blog," at: http://www.expelledthemovie.com/
- Roy Speckhardt, "Humanists vs. Evangelicals," The New York Times, 2007-OCT-04, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
- Cornelia Dean, "Scientists Feel Miscast in Film On Life's Origin," New York Times, 2007-OCT-06, at:
- "Expelled Exposed: Why Expelled Flunks," National Center for Science Education, at: http://www.expelledexposed.com/.
- "Caroline Crocker," Expelled Exposed, at: http://www.expelledexposed.com/
- "Michael Egnor," Expelled Exposed, at: http://www.expelledexposed.com/
- "Guillermo Gonzalez," Expelled Exposed, at: http://www.expelledexposed.com/
- "Robert Marks," Expelled Exposed, at: http://www.expelledexposed.com/
- "Richard Sternberg," Expelled Exposed, at: http://www.expelledexposed.com/
- "Pamela Winnick," Expelled Exposed, at: http://www.expelledexposed.com/
- "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," Wikipedia, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
- Steven Isaac, "Expelled: No intelligence allowed," Plugged In, 2008, at: http://www.pluggedin.com/
- "E," Exodus 20:16.
- "J" Exodus 34:12-25.
- Harry Forbes & John Mujlderif, "Expelled: No intelligence allowed," Catholic News Service, 2008, at: http://www.catholicnews.com/
Copyright © 2007 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2007-OCT-06
Latest update: 2010-AUG-08
Author: B.A. Robinson