Creationist film not very intelligently designed

By staff writers
22 Apr 2008

Millions of dollars have been spent promoting Ben Stein’s creationist propaganda movie ‘Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed’ to conservative church groups, but that money would have been better spent on fact checkers, say its critics.

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) in the USA, which has both believers and non-believers among its active supporters, has this week launched a website called www.ExpelledExposed.com which “reveals the truth behind the creationist movie’s misrepresentations.”

Writing on MSNBC, Dr Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, says ‘Expelled’ isn't just bad, it's immoral. “There is not a shred of intelligence on display in this just released ‘documentary’ purporting to be a careful examination of the fight over teaching creationism and evolution in America”, he declares.

“Creationists have been making the same arguments for decades,” says Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education (www.ncseweb.org). “They’ve gotten better at marketing these claims, but they’re no more valid now than during the Scopes trial of the 1920s. Creationists have been predicting the death of evolution for over a century, yet it is constantly affirmed by evidence from fields Darwin could never have imagined.”

Given the damning assessment at www.ExpelledExposed.com, Scott adds, “Perhaps the filmmakers should have spent more time hitting the books, instead of beating up on hardworking scientists.”

Throughout the movie, Ben Stein claims that ‘Big Science’ represses intelligent design to advance an atheistic agenda, but Peter Hess, from NCSE’s Faith Outreach Project, strongly disagrees.

“There are many successful evolutionary biologists who are also people of faith,” he observes, “and a host of people of faith who regard intelligent design as a misconceived and harmful rejection of science. In attempting to pit Christianity against science, Expelled misrepresents both.”

“We reviewed public records and reports on the intelligent design promoters who were supposedly discriminated against, and we discovered that the claims that they lost their jobs over intelligent design are unsupported,” explains Josh Rosenau, a biologist at NCSE.

“That said, professors who aren’t making advances in their field, editors who disregard their journal’s established practices, and lecturers who repeat creationist falsehoods shouldn’t be surprised if they have trouble holding jobs. These people weren’t expelled; they flunked out.”

The www.ExpelledExposed.com site contains information about the ‘martyrs’ from Expelled, and also of real scientists who successfully challenged established science.

“The difference,” NCSE researcher Carrie Sager observes, “is that real scientists back their challenges with experimental results. Results are what changed minds, forced textbook revisions, and earned Nobel Prizes.”

More insidious are the movie’s attempts to link evolution to the Holocaust, say critics. Susan Spath, a historian of science at NCSE, comments: “The implication that Darwin led to Nazism and the Holocaust is an irresponsible misrepresentation of a terrible history. Hitler abused many things, including science, and Expelled is wrong to shift blame off his shoulders and onto evolution.”

The www.ExpelledExposed.com site quotes the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman, who described similar claims in a previous creationist movie as “an outrageous and shoddy attempt ... to trivialize the horrors of the Holocaust.”

Dr Caplan is even more forthright. He writes on MSNBC: "To lay blame for the Holocaust upon Charles Darwin is to engage in a form of Holocaust denial that should forever make Ben Stein the subject of scorn not because of his nudnik concern that evolution somehow undermines morality but because in this contemptible movie he is willing to subvert the key reason why the Holocaust took place — racism — to serve his own ideological end."

The National Center for Science Education is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending the teaching of evolution in the public schools. The NCSE maintains its archive of source material on the history of creationism at its Oakland, California, headquarters.

On the web at www.ncseweb.org. www.ExpelledExposed.com is a resource for journalists, teachers, and curious moviegoers who want the full story behind Expelled.

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See also on Ekklesia: 'Theology, science and the problem of Intelligent Design' by Simon Barrow, http://ekklesia.co.uk/node/6707

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