Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Expell me!

When I signed up for my required Biology general education course in college, I was a little apprehensive about whether the curriculum would contradict or raise doubts about my feelings on religion. I found that just the opposite was true. Learning about the elements, the pieces of the cell, the progression of the human body as it grows in the womb, and similar topics actually strengthened my belief that only a God could have created life and the earth we live on.

I've observed with interest the intelligent design movement that has blossomed over the past few years. I think there's merit in admitting that some things in the universe are so complex and perfectly balanced that they are unlikely to have occurred by random processes. Unfortunately, scientists in America who dare to suggest this do not always face an easy road. Ben Stein presents some of their stories in his documentary Expelled!: No Intelligence Allowed, which my wife and I watched together last week.

In Expelled! humorist, lawyer, actor, and documentarian Ben Stein interviews a parade of scientists who have been blacklisted for asserting that life is so complex and organized that it did not come into being by undirected processes. The movie doesn't argue against the established fact that organisms change and evolve over time. But Stein does challenge the notions that Darwinism explains how life first appeared on the earth.

A main theme of Expelled! is that the American scientific estabilishment views intelligent design as a cunning tool of the creationists in the decades-long battle over American science curriculum. Defending evolution is not enough for these scientists; they have gone on the offensive against religious belief and promoted the idea that science and religion are "at war", and that science is the obvious winner. Stein interviews some very bright individuals, some religious and some not, who counter that a belief in God can be an asset to a scientist, and that "we may be able to encounter God through science, if we are free to go there."

Stein presents Richard Dawkins as Exhibit A from the "Darwinism = no God" school of thought. Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist at Oxford University whose book "The God Delusion" has sold over 1.5 million copies. In the movie's climax, Stein sits across a table from Dawkins in a one-on-one interview. When pressed to explain the origin of the first cell on earth, Dawkins actually suggests that life might have been "seeded" on this earth by a highly evolved intelligent life form on some other planet (a life form whose origins Dawkins confesses not to know). At this point the cool-as-a-cucumber Stein probably figured he had his documentary in the bag.

The Berlin Wall also gets a lot of footage in Expelled! The movie states that American science has placed a wall around what it is willing to believe, and is missing out by failing to consider ideas outside this wall, however meritorious they might be. Through all this, Expelled! ends on an optimistic tone. After all, the Berlin Wall came down, and Stein suggests that incorrect ideas will eventually fall as long as there are enough people willing to listen to and pursue the truth.

Expelled! is available on the Netflix "Watch Now" list.

1 comment:

nuttbutts said...

I watched Expelled! also and thought it was great!