Ben Stein Expelled Roundup

Updated with new links:

Ben Stein’s new movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, came out this weekend, and the reviews are all over the map. Here is a roundup of links both positive and negative, and somewhere in between!

The Good:

The Bad:

The Ugly:

Have you seen the movie? What did you think?

12 Comments

  1. Tim says:

    I liked it – Ben is both funny and serious. Plus he got interviews with the right people and got Richard Dawkins to admit ID is a reasonable position. Way to go Ben!

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    Thanks, Tim. Anyone else seen it yet?

  3. patrick says:

    recently saw Expelled, Ben Stein’s goal in making the movie(i gather) is to promote free thought, especially more thinking about motivations that drive American academia and a lot of other behind-the-scenes worldview that we tend to take for granted.

  4. Greg says:

    Honestly, I haven’t seen it, but I will check it out when it hits DVD. I’m cheap ;-).

    From what I read though it sounds like “no intelligence allowed” was a rule for the making of the film. To say that the theory of evolution somehow lead to the Holocaust is not only ridiculous and untrue but just outright disgusting. Anti-semitism lead to the Holocaust. And the attempted extermination of a people has nothing to do with “natural” selection. That’s about as un-natural as you can get. That is called “Social Darwinism” and really has nothing to do with Evolution. In fact most scientists condemn Social Darwinism — the fact that something works a certain way in nature by no means implies that we should apply it to society or culture. Its a complete logical fallacy.

    And Tim. You said: “and got Richard Dawkins to admit ID is a reasonable position.” I really doubt that. I’m sure it was taken out of context. I’ve heard several negative reports from scientists interviewed for the movie, about the sneaky tactics used to get them to say what the producers of the film wanted them to say. Even the review on Christ and Pop Culture admits to this. Seriously, can you really imagine a guy like Dawkins suddenly changing his mind and admitting that he’s been wrong about ID all this time, simply because he was confronted by non-scientist Ben Stein? I highly doubt it.

  5. Jeri says:

    Hi Ray,

    I am enjoying your website and look forward to daily updates as I have just subscribed through Google Reader.

    My husband and I saw Expelled the weekend it came out and were both very impressed by it. It was quite enjoyable and informative. We even think all Christians should see it as it reveals an important insight to the thoughts of those in academia towards the Bible.

    In regards to the above comment “Seriously, can you really imagine a guy like Dawkins suddenly changing his mind and admitting that he’s been wrong about ID all this time, simply because he was confronted by non-scientist Ben Stein? I highly doubt it” I can reply that Richard Dawkins suggested that aliens from another planet could possibly have seeded the earth with the origins of new life. This statement was not coerced from him (how could it have been?). My husband and I were amazed!

  6. Greg says:

    @ Jeri,

    You said, “I can reply that Richard Dawkins suggested that aliens from another planet could possibly have seeded the earth with the origins of new life. This statement was not coerced from him (how could it have been?).”

    This is a perfect example of the producers of the film editing something out of context. Dawkins does not truly believe this. He was positing it for the sake of argument. But I’m sure the producers did their best job to make him (and most other scientists) look silly, and edited it in such as way as to give the passive, uncritical viewer the impression that scientists hold all sorts of strange beliefs.

    I’ve heard the “aliens” argument before. The point of it is this: Intelligent Design says that some things are so complex that they must have required a designer. To try and feign objectivity, and in an attempt to sneak ID into science classes, IDer’s don’t (often publicly) say that they believe the designer was God. (this of course isn’t fooling anyone)

    So, Dawkins is basically saying, “Ok, so it needed a designer then? Perhaps this designer was aliens. Perhaps aliens designed life and seeded all life on earth” His reason for stating this was not a statement of personal belief but an example of what conclusions could be made if you take ID at face value (e.g. that some things MUST have had a designer or even designers, and even if this were true it does not automatically point to the Christian God (this being a flaw in ID, not Christianity)). And I know for a fact that this was his point, because I’ve read a similar statement by him to this effect that had NOT been taken out of context. Lesson learned: don’t believe everything you see. Put on your thinking cap.

  7. Ray Fowler says:

    Patrick – Thanks for sharing.

    Greg – Sounds like you’ve got some strong views on this subject. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Jeri – I am glad you are enjoying the blog. Welcome aboard!

    Everyone – I am sorry I can’t interact more with your comments on this one as I haven’t seen the movie myself. (I am actually saving my pennies for Prince Caspian!) Feel free to disagree with each other, but please focus on the issues and keep the tone respectful. Thanks!

  8. Jeri says:

    Greg, have you seen Expelled? would be my first question. The next thought I have is in response to “But I’m sure the producers did their best job to make him (and most other scientists) look silly, and edited it in such as way as to give the passive, uncritical viewer the impression that scientists hold all sorts of strange beliefs.”

    I agree it’s possible editing was done to make Dawkins and others look silly, but I’m not sure editing is responsible for Dawkins’ words.

    The reason Ben Stein pressed Dawkins for an answer is that evolutionists make a huge leap of (unfounded) faith when it comes to the origins of life. There had to be a beginning of it, but at that point they just shrug, and maybe say things like Dawkins said. If evolutionists were able to explain the origins of life, there would be no need to posit such statements for the sake of argument. If evolutionists are not able to explain the origins of life, then why are they so very closed-minded, even antagonistic, to the idea of God possibly creating it? That’s all ID scientists and others are trying to do…be allowed to bring these ideas to the table in the academy. These ideas were once, not so long ago, acceptable. What has changed between now and then? No one has proven there is no God, and that He did not create life!

    I’m not extremely knowledgeable about this subject, but I am able to think logically sometimes :). I think this movie was made to alert people to this issue that exists in academia, and the producers obviously used some tactics designed to sway opinion! But I don’t think they misrepresented any facts. In addition, some of the best minds out there are in disagreement with Darwinism and present-day evolution theories!

    Could you link to the similar statement you’ve read by Dawkins? I’ve tried to find something from him that would further explain his statement. Thanks for the interaction Greg.

  9. Greg says:

    @ Jeri,

    Unfortunately, I don’t remember exactly where I originally read Dawkins’ comment on aliens, as it was some time ago. But I did a quick search and found the below discussion of Expelled, by Dawkins himself, where he does discuss the “aliens” segment….

    “Toward the end of [Ben Stein’s] interview with me, Stein asked whether I could think of any circumstances whatsoever under which intelligent design might have occurred. […] The leading advocates of Intelligent Design are very fond of protesting that they are not talking about God as the designer, but about some unnamed and unspecified intelligence, which might even be an alien from another planet. […] So, bending over backwards to accommodate […] and bending over backwards to make the best case I could for intelligent design, I constructed a science fiction scenario. […] I patiently explained to him that life could conceivably have been seeded on Earth by an alien intelligence from another planet (Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel suggested something similar — semi tongue-in-cheek).”

    I think that should explain where he was coming from…he even refers to it as a “science-fiction scenario” and mentions that this had previously been mentioned by others “semi tongue-in-cheek”. He was using this example for the sake of argument.

    The above quote is from:
    http://richarddawkins.net/article,2394,Lying-for-Jesus,Richard-Dawkins

    I edited his quote to get rid of his side-comments. But the full text is in the link above.

  10. Greg says:

    @ Jeri

    No, I haven’t seen the film as I admitted as the first sentence of my first post above. 😉 I would like to though.

    You said: “The reason Ben Stein pressed Dawkins for an answer is that evolutionists make a huge leap of (unfounded) faith when it comes to the origins of life. […] If evolutionists are not able to explain the origins of life, then why are they so very closed-minded, even antagonistic, to the idea of God possibly creating it?”

    First, this statement is a common misconception that evolution must describe the origins of life. However, “evolution by natural selection” only comes into play after there “is” life. The real explanation for the origins of life on earth is MUCH more a question for biochemists, not evolutionary biologists. Now there might be some type of biochemical natural selection involved with the origins of life, but again, this is a biochemistry question.

    Secondly, I don’t think that “evolutionists” are by definition against God, or that somehow God (or “a god”, depending on religion) might have somehow of been involved with the origin of life. Afterall there are many, many scientists who are Christian, and still accept the theory of evolution as a scientifically valid one.

    There are many problems (for both science and religion) when trying to use God as an explanation in science (including the origin of life). These have nothing to do with whether religion is right or wrong, but how science works. Science by its very definition is “natural explanations of the natural world”. Why are only natural explanations allowed? Though this is a huge subject within the philosophy of science (and there are many books and university courses on this) I’ll attempt to sum it up in two main points…

    1.) The use of God in science is bad for science. And this is nothing against science or religion, it has to do with the fact that if you use God as an explanation for something all lines of further questioning and inquiry cease. Because “god did it” is a final answer. However, that type of final answer doesn’t work well in science and history shows this to be the case. I’ll use a simple and somewhat ridiculous example to make the point. Suppose a scientist were trying to explain why volcanos erupt. If God is used as the sole explanation, we’d never really know why volcanos erupt, even though there really was a perfectly natural explanation. Science cannot progress if God is allowed in as an explanatory factor. This is because there is no way to know which cases you would even say “God did it”. Without any way to scientifically know which cases one would even use the “god did it” explanation, it becomes a useless explanation. This has nothing to do with whether God exists, but is simply a factor of how science works.

    2.) Use of God as an explanation is bad for religion. Why? Because, say you posit God as an explanation for something. Later some inquisitive person comes along and explains the same event using a natural explanation. This seems to put God out of a job. As our knowledge of the natural world increases, we have seen that our ability to explain the natural world with natural explanations is ever increasing.

    For these reasons, it’s better to just leave God out of scientific explanations. Using God for these types of inquiry raises the potential to hinder scientific progress and our knowledge/understanding of the world and also puts God into the position of being “explained” away. This isn’t good for anybody.

  11. Jeri says:

    Wow, Greg, Sir Isaac Newton, among others, would find some of your statements about God, science and religion interesting!

    Your arguments are over my head so I can’t carry my end of the discussion any further in that direction, I reckon! I am thankful for the many men and women of science out there who hold the view that God fits wonderfully with both true science and true religion. Which view a person holds depends on the lens by which he understands life, truth and the world. And we all employ a lens…which one gives the true sight?

    I enjoyed the conversation,Greg. Many blessings to you.

    Jeri

  12. Sharon Gamble says:

    Greg – I don’t think believing God created the world means we have to stop the curiosity and exploration. There is still the question of HOW He set it in motion. Many great scientists were religious and were still very curious – wanting to understand the world they believed God created. If He did it, He was incredibly clever the way it all fits together. It’s fascinating to examine and explore it. Just a thought…It has been fun to read the exchanges!

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