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Column: ‘Expelled’: lacks valid arguments

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April 22, 2008

If any of you out there are desperately wondering why you haven’t seen Ben Stein in any Clear eyes commercials lately, it’s because he has been filming a documentary. In “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” Stein investigates the documented firings of many college professors and scholars who tried to bring the theory of Intelligent Design into the arena of scientific debate. After interviews and research, Stein uncovered a long running fight between Evolutionists and those who think Intelligent Design is just as open to scientific research as the theories of Darwin.

As a documentary, “Expelled” does a good job of shedding light on an issue that goes much deeper than whether or not Intelligent Design should be taught in a classroom.

But when it comes to picking a side and proving a point, Ben Stein leaves more unanswered questions than a resounding argument. In fact, Stein veers into different arguments so frequently that at times it’s hard to figure out just what “Expelled” is trying to prove. What starts as an examination into teaching freedom in the classroom quickly ventures into an attempt to prove Darwin wrong and vindicate Intelligent Design. Stein never offers counterarguments to Darwin’s evolutionary theory, and fails to find any evidence in support of Intelligent Design. For one ridiculous portion of the film, Stein makes links between Darwin and the core concepts of Nazism. The bulk of the documentary is a constant stream of criticisms lacking proof and IQ flexing.

In an attempt to cover up the lack of valid arguments, Stein and director Nathan Frankowski rely on covering the documentary in “Hollywoodism.” While interviewing a professor about the freedom to teach ideas in a classroom, the White House is clearly shown in the background. A clip of Charlton Heston from “Planet of the Apes” being held captive for thinking differently is interwoven into Stein’s rhetoric about the bullying Darwinists give those who discuss Intelligent Design. In the film’s closing monologue, Stein’s speech on the dividing wall between religion and science is cinematically compared to Ronald Reagan’s address on the evils produced by the Berlin Wall.

It isn’t surprising that the argument is heavily one-sided. Stein achieves the goal of making Darwinists seem like evil, self-centered atheists, but this is due to the fact that Stein only interviews Darwin atheists. Stein also acts as a poor interviewer, with most of his questions being either loaded or leading his subjects into a trap.

Regardless of where one personally stands on the seemingly endless struggle between science and religion, you can’t help but see that this documentary is flawed. While it’s portrayed as a look into the censoring of teaching, the core of the flick is mainly pro-conservative, Christian creationism. Stein’s documentary is certainly thought provoking and will likely stir a heated debate between you and your friends, but his findings do very little to offer any sort of answers.

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