This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Clearly the product of intelligent design

Guest Mediaculture

The documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, is quite a contrast to the usual left-leaning videography produced by the likes of Michael Moore. Narrated by Ben Stein, host of Comedy Central’s cable TV game show “Win Ben Stein’s Money,” it explores the premise that “freedom is what made America great … ” but some secular institutions of higher education are limiting scientific exploration and academic freedom.

By interviewing professor after professor who lost their jobs for merely suggesting, in peer- reviewed publications, that intelligent design (ID) might be a plausible explanation for the origin of life on Earth, Stein makes a strong case that a conspiracy exists to eliminate anyone who would challenge the accepted evolutionary theory. He describes a type of “political correctness” gone amuck.

In the early 1600s, the Roman Catholic Church was very powerful and held considerable sway over society. Church officials refused to listen to Galileo when he argued from science that the Earth revolved around the sun rather than vice-versa—as was commonly understood from a literal interpretation of Scripture. In 1633, Galileo was tried by the Inquisition for heresy and spent the last years of his life under house arrest.

In our postmodern, post-Christian era, the church and science have switched roles. Many people no longer believe in God but rather rely on the infallibility of science. The film portrays events that suggest that those who hold to the possibility that a higher power was instrumental in creation are being persecuted by the powerful academic and scientific communities.

Stein’s calm demeanor and dry sense of humor are disarming. The result: those he interviews open up to him in surprising ways. Stein does not hide his own Jewish faith or the Judeo-Christian faith of most of the professors he interviews. After one scientist tells his de-conversion story, I realized that those depicted in the film who vilify proponents of ID are themselves ardent atheists.

One person in particular goes on a vicious rant against the “hateful … misogynist God … of the Hebrew Bible.” Stein postulates that this debate in academia is less about science and more about theology. In many secular universities those who leave room in their research for an intelligent designer are being ostracized, having their research funding cut off, or in some cases getting fired.

There are some very frightening things portrayed in the film, most notably the connection between scientific Darwinism, as understood in contemporary America, and the social evolution practiced in Nazi Germany. The Nazi performed ghastly eugenic experiments promoting the propagation of a superior Arian race. Stein also delivers a body blow against planned parenthood by noting that its founder, Margaret Sanger, was a proponent of eugenics who believed that poor uneducated people should not be allowed to propagate.

You have to pay careful attention to notice the distinction the film makes between creationism and ID. It does not defend biblical creationism but rather supports the right of scientists to ask questions and postulate hypotheses that allow for the involvement of a higher power in the origins of life. Another subtlety is that Stein does not discredit evolution, only a particular Darwinian form of evolution which does not allow for God’s hand in creation. Several ID scientists speak in the film of evolution as “God’s instrument of design.” One credits Darwin with “a valid insight but not the whole answer.”

This documentary invites debate between scientists who advocate a Godless evolution and those who make the case for intelligent design. Stein argues academia has erected a wall, similar to the Berlin Wall, that cordons off acceptable and unacceptable avenues of scientific exploration. One interviewee summarizes the films premise when he says, “Questions that aren’t properly answered don’t go away.”

Expelled is clearly the product of intelligent design. It is rated PG, runs 90 minutes and began its theatrical run on April 18.

Steve Carpenter is conference coordinator for Virginia Mennonite Conference.

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