Expelled: No Mainstream Scientists Allowed

Well, I got past my hardware problems, and then started to read my e-mail and some of my RSS feeds. First, I came across an e-mail from Christianity Today’s ChristianBibleStudies.com, from which I often get useful material. Today, they’re wanting me to pay $5.95 for a discussion of the movie that I can use in my Sunday School class.

I am not encouraged by their link to an interview with Ben Stein that starts out:

Ben Stein got his start as a lawyer and a speechwriter for Presidents Nixon and Ford, and in more recent years he has written books, offered investment advice, and hosted both a game show (Win Ben Stein’s Money) and a reality TV show (America’s Most Smartest Model). But he is probably still best known for playing the boring high-school economics teacher who took attendance in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Now Stein is tackling education of a different kind, as the star of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a documentary about the Intelligent Design movement—and the academic establishment’s efforts to stifle the debate over the limitations of evolutionary theory that many ID advocates have been calling for.

I decided not to spend $5.95 and probably not to discuss Expelled! in any Sunday School classes either.

The problem I have is that Expelled! is also squeezing some folks out, and they are making Christianity Today a co-conspirator in that process. The ones squeezed out? All those Christians, even evangelical Christians who would like much of what Christianity Today publishes, but who accept the theory of evolution.

This is one of the many problems with this movie. It frames the controversy as one between theists and atheists, between moral people and immoral people, and thus leaves out Christian evolutionists, moral atheists, and many people who are not particularly religious or anti-religious, but are simply out there doing the best science they can. As one of those Christian evolutionists, I find this implication appalling. According to this movie and its promoters, I’m a co-conspirator with a bunch of Nazis to persecute Christians.

I recall a student of mine who took my Creation-Evolution seminar–the short, four hour version–and then talked to one of his fellow students in biology class. This man was interested in Christianity, and attracted to it, but simply found the evidence for evolution overwhelming. My young student was able to explain to him that the theory of evolution was not contrary to all forms of Christianity, and soon he was involved in a local church.

I was disappointed in Christianity Today, but I was pleased to note that Reasons to Believe, with whom I often disagree, has noticed the nature of the Expelled! propaganda piece as well. As reported on The Panda’s Thumb, they have asked folks associated with their ministry not to endorse the movie in a way that connects with their official business:

Therefore, we ask all chapter members and volunteers to refrain from endorsing EXPELLED in any official way. This request does not extend to your personal interactions-only to any actions taken in association with or on behalf of Reasons to Believe. (The whole quote is here.)

Through a comment on the Panda’s Thumb article, I found this post by Ken Ham on the Answers in Genesis blog, who, not surprisingly is excited by the film’s release and is encouraging all his supporters to view it. (Note that the Answers in Genesis blog doesn’t allow comments or trackbacks. Perhaps that is their demonstration of how much they value dialog.)

If we Christians are to welcome such mainstream scientists into our community, our family, we will have to learn to be reasonably respectful toward them. It would seem that not calling them Nazis would be a good start in that direction! If this is a battle about freedom of speech, then it should apply to all parties. If it is a battle in the culture war, then it’s unfortunate that a salvo such as this has been launched at so many devout Christians who accept the theory of evolution.

I do not object to vigorous argument, as long as it is vigorous and honest. Expelled! fails to meet the standard.

Hmm. That’s enough rambling at the end of a day spent largely taking my computer apart and putting it back together. If I said anything really weird, I’ll make that the excuse!

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