Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed Movie Review

Who would have thought that Ben Stein, the game show host and famously drab economics teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, would one day become the leading apologist for the theory of intelligent design? Not me. But that's life for you -- a surprise around every corner. Stein is the central figure in the new film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a fire-bomb documentary meant to burn down the house of "Big Science," whose members, according to the film, have silenced all dissent from the theory of evolution and are actively engaged in the persecution of anyone who doesn't toe the party line.

Expelled works in much the same way as a Michael Moore documentary -- a raft of provocation and very little persuasion. It starts out by serving up a few case histories of scientists who publicly declared their sympathy for intelligent design. In each case, five in all, reaction from the scientific establishment was swift. Tenure was denied, contracts weren't renewed, websites were taken down, etc. Expelled would have you believe that these cases represent instances of grave injustice and the contravention of academic freedom, but it's poorly argued and lacks evidence. Tenure is often denied. Contracts frequently aren't renewed. That's life, especially in academia. More evidence is required to build a compelling case, and the makers of Expelled don't want to get bogged down in chronicling academic intrigues. Can't say I blame them, but their lack of rigor doesn't help their cause.

Expelled then goes on to interview a number of proponents of intelligent design. Each of them sounds smart, obviously more knowledgeable about science and the origin of life than I am, but the film fails to define exactly what these men think and what they're proposing. I understand they reject the theory of evolution. I understand that intelligent design involves a "designer." But what else? What would intelligent design research contribute to the body of science literature? How would intelligent design researchers test their claims? Unfortunately, the film doesn't bother to provide answers to these questions.

Perhaps the worst part of Expelled comes when Stein tries to connect the theory of evolution and Nazism. While it's true that Hitler used Darwin's theories to support his ideology, it's intellectually dishonest to associate, however tenuously, today's scientific community with Nazism. Too often in today's public discourse, people feel it's not enough merely to assert that their ideological opponent is wrong -- they must also claim he's evil. This is shameless demagoguery, and it's not persuasive or constructive.

Another component of Expelled is interviews with leading scientists -- such as Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion -- who seem thrilled at the chance to ridicule not only intelligent design and its proponents but all people of faith. In interviews leading up to the release of Expelled, many of these scientists have said that their quotes were taken out of context and that the filmmakers misrepresented themselves in the interviews. Listening to these men throughout the course of the movie, it's hard to feel much sympathy for them. As poorly as Stein and the rest of the makers of Expelled acquit themselves in the film, Dawkins and his cohorts are every bit as vicious.

And that's the one thing that Expelled manages to expose -- the rancor and malice on both ends of this issue. It isn't an argument so much as it's a war, complete with soldiers and battles and funding and propaganda. Expelled isn't a thoughtfully rendered documentary about the freedom of inquiry; it's a shot across the bow of the scientific establishment. And it just doesn't work.

Cast & Crew

Director : Nathan Frankowski

Producer : Logan Craft, Walt Ruloff

Comments

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed Rating

" Grim "

Rating: PG, 2008

Advertisement

Editors Recommendations

Ed Sheeran Records New Songs With Swift, Admires Spears, Dedicates Song To Cameron

More Ed Sheeran news in what’s been a mind-bogglingly successful 2014!...

Ed Sheeran Records New Songs With Swift, Admires Spears, Dedicates Song To Cameron

Benedict Cumberbatch Will Star In Second BBC Shakespeare Series

English actor Benedict Cumberbatch is set to reacquaint himself with...

Benedict Cumberbatch Will Star In Second BBC Shakespeare Series

Lady Gaga And Tony Bennett Scores Number 1 Album With 'Cheek To Cheek'

One of the less likely musical match-ups in pop music history has caught the...

Lady Gaga And Tony Bennett Scores Number 1 Album With 'Cheek To Cheek'

Pharrell Won Some Awesome Contestants For His Team On The Voice. Also Our Hearts.

It’s settled, Pharrell Williams is the best The Voice judge. Sorry, everyone else...

Pharrell Won Some Awesome Contestants For His Team On The Voice. Also Our Hearts.

Stevie Nicks Returns With A New Album: '24 Karat Gold - Songs From The Vault'

After a three year gap since her 2011 album 'In Your Dreams', Stevie Nicks is...

Stevie Nicks Returns With A New Album: '24 Karat Gold - Songs From The Vault'

Jason Sudeikis Lands Lead Voice Role In 'Angry Birds' Movie

The upcoming Angry Birds movie looks to have a strong ‘Saturday Night Live’...

Jason Sudeikis Lands Lead Voice Role In 'Angry Birds' Movie

Ariana Grande - Love Me Harder [Live On SNL] Video

Announced by Chris Pratt, Ariana Grande takes to the stage on Saturday Night Live, to give a performance...

Ariana Grande - Love Me Harder [Live On Snl] Video

Mila Kunis And Ashton Kutcher Welcome A Daughter Into The World

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher have reportedly become parents to a...

Mila Kunis And Ashton Kutcher Welcome A Daughter Into The World

Nirvana: In The Words Of The People Who Were There - Carrie Borzillo Book Review

Nirvana are a band I should probably like more than I do, and know more about...

Nirvana - Nirvana: In The Words Of The People Who Were There
Advertisement