Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
The pre-release controversy surrounding Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed didn't quite reach the fever pitch that preceded The Passion of the Christ, but it has nonetheless "bought" the filmmakers more free publicity than they ever could have afforded.
Recent weeks of hullabaloo have included:
- Film critics allegedly "crashing" private screenings
- Interview subjects claiming they were duped by filmmakers
- A prominent atheist being denied admission to a screening
- Producers suing opponents for allegedly "suppressing free speech"
- The advent of a website devoted to "exposing" Expelled
There's yet another comparison to the pre-Passion hype: While critics accused director Mel Gibson and his film of anti-Semitism, the filmmakers behind Expelled—and movie host Ben Stein, who is Jewish—argue that Darwin and evolutionist theory paved the way for Hitler and the Holocaust (but Scientific American begs to differ). Perhaps it's no coincidence that Motive Marketing, which is spearheading publicity for Expelled, was also in charge of PR for The Passion.
Now that the movie has hit theaters, does it live up to all the pre-game hype? Well, sort of.
On the one hand, it does accomplish what its title infers. "Expelled" refers to several college profs and scientists who were reportedly denied tenure or lost their jobs because they dared to mention Intelligent Design (ID) in the classroom, in research papers, or on the job. The film presents these cases in varying degrees of detail, but always implying that a clear injustice was done in each situation. (Christianity Today looked into at least one of the cases earlier this year—that of Guillermo Gonzalez, denied tenure at Iowa State University ostensibly due to his support of ID.)
The film's subtitle, "No Intelligence Allowed," refers to what Stein and the filmmakers decry as a lack of "academic freedom" or "open inquiry" in academia and the scientific community. The movie argues that gatekeepers in those circles aren't even allowing ID as a topic of discussion. Of course, filmmakers only depicted those situations which support their premise—the movie was made by a company called Premise Media—but ignore any cases of public school classrooms across America where ID theory is at least discussed, if not taught.
So, the film succeeds in making the point that Intelligent Design should at least be on the table for discussion. But if you're looking for ammunition to argue your Darwinist friends under the table, you may want to look elsewhere. While Expelled certainly leans heavily toward the ID side of the debate, it's not trying to present an airtight case, or to shut the door on evolutionary theory.
Still, Expelled was made by people—including Stein—who believe in ID, and indeed in God as Creator. There is little talk of "biblical creationism," and in general, folks in the ID camp either don't want to be perceived that way—or they simply don't buy a literal interpretation of the Genesis account. Still, ID proponents argue that the complexity of organisms—even within a single cell—points to some sort of designer, whether or not they call that designer "God."