Christ and Pop Culture reviews Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

I have a feeling that people will take from Expelled exactly what they bring into it.

Christ and Pop Culture has recently become a favorite website of mine, and reviews like this one of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed by Carissa Smith, are a reason why. From the review:

Those who don’t recognize Ben Stein’s name will probably recognize his voice, best known for intoning “Bueller? …Bueller?” in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. However, Stein has also been a speechwriter for Nixon and Ford and a conservative economics columnist. In his newest role as actor and co-writer in the documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, he uses Michael Moore-esque tactics to raise important questions about Intelligent Design, academic freedom, and the power of ideas. However, the movie can’t decide which of these Big Questions it’s about and ends up giving us flippant and/or irrelevant footage instead of deep inquiry.

The most flawed — and yet most interesting and compelling — part of Expelled begins when Stein interviews a scientist (and atheist) who argues that Darwinism inevitably leads to the belief that there is no God and no life after death. This scientist said, proudly, that if his brain tumor recurred, rather than suffering and waiting to die, he would shoot himself in the head. It’s a heartbreaking scene, and it introduces the section in which Stein ponders whether the theories of evolution and natural selection lead to euthanasia, abortion — and, yes — the Holocaust.

I’m torn about this argument. On the one hand, I’m afraid that this kind of thinking (Hitler believed in Darwinism; therefore, Darwinism led to the Holocaust) is exactly the sort of logic [Richard] Dawkins and his kind use to argue that Christianity inevitably leads to the Inquisition. If Christians support this logic, it could come back to bite us in the backside.

Personally, I’m hesitant to see the film, precisely because of the issues that Smith — and other reviewers — have mentioned. I’m not a fan of Michael Moore-esque tactics even when Moore himself does them, and so I’m not so certain I should rush to see a movie that, from all appearances, employs them to make a point that many of my fellow Christians support.

I dislike throwing around the term “propaganda” because it’s so loaded and dangerous, but the more I see and hear about Expelled, the more the term seems to fit. And propaganda is never a good way to make a point, even if used to make a point that is — on the surface, at least — in-line with your beliefs.

The Intelligent Design/Evolution debate is a serious one, and as such, it requires clear discussion and communication, as well as grace and humility from both sides. I’d love to see a reasonable and gracious dialog between proponents of both theories, one that traded flag-waving and disdain for honest discussion. But I guess that’d be about as probable as a presidential candidate candidly talking about some skeleton in their closet.

Much like the Flying Spaghetti Monster meme of yore, I have a feeling that people will take from Expelled exactly what they bring into it. No minds will really be changed. Rather, I suspect that most folks will leave the film with their preconceptions and suspicions confirmed even more solidly, confident in their belief that they are absolutely right and that the other side are complete tools.

And all for the low, low price of a movie ticket.