It may seem a little overzealous to pick a fight with Charles Darwin, the English naturalist who changed how humans understand their origins with his 1859 book “The Origin of Species,” but for lawyer, actor and professor Ben Stein (of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “The Wonder Years” fame), Darwin is exactly the sort of man he’d like to meet in a dark alley. Arriving in theaters nationwide April 18, Stein’s documentary, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” may seem at first glance like a comic journey into the debate about evolution and creationism; however, the film takes on the politics of science and academic freedom in America today.
According to a press kit provided by Motive Entertainment, the company that also marketed Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” the documentary will present its audiences with examples of how scientists believing in evolution purposefully marginalize fellow scientists who believe differently — namely in Intelligent Design, which is a modern form of the traditional teleological argument for the existence of God.
The film’s production crew traversed continents in search of professors, biologists and others, some of whom feel that their scientific research that supported Intelligent Design caused damage to their academic reputations and, in some cases, cost them their jobs. (The New York Times reported last September that several scientists complained that they had been misled when they were invited to be interviewed for the documentary, and that they had not been told that the film makes a case for Intelligent Design.)
Publicity materials for “Expelled” assert that the film’s aims are to show how theory is taught as fact, and how in turn, dogma, rather than debate, is the flavor of the day at American universities. According to the press release, the documentary reminds us of something the filmmakers see as all but forgotten. “America is the first Democracy that was founded on the distinctive worldview that ‘a Creator’ conferred ‘inalienable rights’ on human beings, rather than the State, or another institution, such as ‘Big Science.’”
“Big Science,” in this case, is academia that stands by Darwin.