Well Expelled is neither. It is rhetorically brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. The creative use of archival footage, and the underlying theme connecting to that over-arching American value, freedom ... all brilliantly deployed. And apart from rhetoric, it's a very well done production, easy to follow, and I can imagine it sustaining the interest of a diverse audience.
My one quibble was that there wasn't really any space given to the substance of either neo-Darwinism or its challengers in Intelligent Design. But, I guess this wasn't about the substance of science per se, but about the freedom for science to be true to its best and highest principles.
I've no idea what kind of reactions Expelled is getting. In fact, I tried to stay away from coverage so I could go with an open mind. Coming away from the movie, I found myself quite convinced that neo-Darwinists definitely act like a stereotypical religious orthodoxy when threatened. The wall between what is acceptable and unacceptable science suddenly seems a lot more real.
Which is, of course, hugely ironic.
The one thing that I was not expecting was the exploration of the atheistic, materialistic philosophy that undergirds neo-Darwinism, and the connections between this worldview and the early 20th century eugenics movement in the US, as well as its culmination, if you will, in Hitler's Germany. The documentary very clearly avoids the fallacy that Darwinism necessarily leads to totalitarianism. But, as one interviewee put it, it might not have been sufficient for Nazism, but it was certainly necessary.
From Barb Nicolosi's "thumbs up" review:
Don't stay away thinking that this project is about a bunch of angry Christians trying to get the Bible creation story taught in high school science classes. The debate over the merits or lack thereof of Darwin's theory is really just the broad canvas for the movie's more basic contention that a society in which open thought is suppressed will devolve into injustice and even brutality.Of course it's not Christian propaganda. Stein is Jewish after all! My absolute favorite moment: hearing Richard Dawkins admit that he really does not know where life came from, and that one hypothesis he'd suggest is that it was created by a higher life form ... of course one that itself was a result of natural selection in some other part of the universe (A variation on the alien-seeding theory), so basically, just pushing back the question ... This after he had just said he was 99% sure that life had no intelligent origin.
One of the most resonant aspects of the project for me was watching how little interest the defenders of Darwin against all comers have in being consistent. They oppose one ideological dogma with something that comes down to just another one.
No wonder Dawkins is outraged. His outrage is manifest in the documentary. And, apparently, the N-word for scientists is "creationist." [Oh, btw, I love the Guardian's description of Intelligent Design as a "variation" of creationism. Whatever it is, ID is not "creationism" in the sense of Christian creationism based on the Bible. But, it's the Guardian ...]
And at the very end of the video is a robust defense of the search for truth. I almost heard echoes of the Holy Father in that ...
Some YouTube videos:
Ben Stein on Hannity and Colmes.
Glenn Beck. (Yeah, yuck. But still)
So ... did any ... um ... non "fair & balanced" types interview Stein? Larry King? Jim Lehrer?
[Def. check out the post which links to America's excerpts from two early 20th century articles about Darwin, including the quote, from Charles Darwin himself, that The Origin of the Species was a misnomer, since his theory doesn't at all talk about, well, the origin of the species at all!]