By Vic Holtreman
Short version: Your opinion of the film will with almost complete certainty be predicted by your opinions on Darwinism vs Intelligent Design.
Yes, I know everyone is looking for reviews of Morgan Spurlock's Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? Here's a spoiler: He doesn't find Osama. His movie is funny and entertaining, but I think this film will generate far more debate and discussion and is as relevant to what's happening today as Spurlock's movie.
Having said that, I believe that writing this review is almost a pointless exercise, but I'll write it anyway. Why? Because your opinion of the film will with almost complete certainty be predicted by your opinions on Darwinism vs Intelligent Design.
I've been scouring a few sites looking to see what people thought of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed and it is expectedly getting skewered. Rotten Tomatoes has it at 9% at the time of this writing and over at IMDB.com it's sitting at 3.3/10. The interesting thing about the rating over at IMDB is that 88% of the votes are either a "1" or a "10," with very few in between. I'm guessing that most of the votes on the "1" side are from people who haven't even seen the film.
Much like the reviews and viewer opinions of Michael Moore's psuedo-documentaries or Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" are influenced by whether the person in question agrees with the views espoused in those films, that will be the situation here in even more stark relief. Considering the fact that most reviewers over at RT loved those films, it's no surprise to me that Ben Stein's film was skewered.
I don't blame anyone - it's just about impossible to judge a documentary on a hot-button subject without bringing personal bias into it.
A couple of the eventual items that will be highlighted in the movie are hinted at with the opening credits, which are made up of what looks like old archival footage from World War II. The movie credits are blended in to look like they are part of the original footage, which I thought was kind of cool. Ben Stein walks onto the stage of a crowded auditorium to talk about the fact that no matter the era, freedom is the one constant that has defined America throughout its history.
From there he goes on to expand on his main point: No, it's not that Intelligent Design theory is superior to Darwinism... but that the mere mention of I.D. by someone in an academic position can lead to not only denial of tenure, but to outright censure and loss of their position. You read that right: not the teaching of the theory - just the mention of it as a possible valid theory.
He interviews a number of academicians and scientists who have met the fates described above and cites what led to their firings, etc.. Stein also interviews those in institutes of higher learning that came pretty close to visibly spitting whenever they were questioned about the topic.
One of the things that has people up in arms about this film is that Ben Stein draws a connection between Darwinism and Nazi Germany. He says quite clearly that he is NOT implying that Darwinists are Nazis - only that Hitler was influenced by the theory and sought to "accelerate" human evolution by eliminating the weak, infirm and supposedly inferior races.
I understand Stein's reason for including this in the film - more than one athiest in the film emphasized the belief in no ultimate moral standards. The logical conclusion from that is that due to the idea of moral relativism ("well, maybe that was considered bad 50 years ago but times have changed") is that eventually we could go beyond abortion and voluntary euthanasia to selecting people to be euthanized "for the good of mankind/the human race/our country" with no guilt of sense of wrongdoing.
The problem here is that the idea of a "designed" universe is rejected out of hand, there IS no room for discussion (similar to the global warming debate). If someone disagrees they are shouted down with "idiot/ignorant/stupid" and of course, "creationist." End of conversation.
As far as I'm concerned, the unadulterated hubris of those in academia in their 100% certainty that there is no God in a universe where so much is still unknown is for lack of another word, galling.
You're either going to think that Ben Stein's Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is a huge disinformation campaign of a film and hate it, or you're going to think that it's a big eye opener when it comes to the current dangers to our freedom and the discussion of important issues.
On a final note, I'll be monitoring the comments below carefully. I've said before that I have NO problem with people with opposing opinions as long as those opinions are stated in an intelligent and civil manner with no personal attacks. In any case, especially online, I've found these discussions pointless as no one is going to change anyone's opinion on either side.