The notorious creationist movie has crawled over the border into Canada and garnered a few reviews.
Truth begins and ends with the title of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a semislick advertorial for “intelligent design”, the sanitized public mask of creationism, itself invented by Christians who think their God is too stupid to have come up with evolution on his own….
Various cranks, allegedly fired from academia for their outrageous anti-Darwinist queries, give the usual freedom-of-speech spiels. (The genuine questions raised here have to do more with the notion of tenure than science, but that’s too subtle for movie palaver.) And leading evolutionary thinker and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins—seen in several interviews—only gradually recognizes that he is being set up.
The National Post, “Science is not Philosophy,” by John Moore
Expelled is at its most risible when it tries to establish a direct line from Darwin to eugenics and genocide. Stein quotes from a passage in Darwin’s writing that appears to endorse the notion that for a species to thrive the infirm must be culled. He omits the part where Darwin insists this would be “evil” and that man’s care for the weak is “the noblest part of our nature.”…
The core of the religious complaint against evolution rests on a false syllogism: Darwin leads automatically to atheism which leads to a world without moral order; therefore science is the enemy of God. It’s a maddening false supposition because while scientists are free to believe in God (and an estimated 40% do) science itself remains neutral…
…just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean everyone isn’t out to get you. It is equally true that when everyone insists you are wrong about something it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re engaged in an elaborate conspiracy. You could just be wrong.
The National Post, “Nature vs. nurture vs. Nikita Khrushchev,” by Chris Knight:
apparently lacking any decent footage of Darwinists in their natural (and naturally selected) environment, it uses old black-and-white clips of cops with billy clubs, schoolyard bullies, Berlin Wall builders, guillotine operators and (my favourite) Nikita Khrushchev banging a shoe. The message is clear: If you think life evolved from the primordial soup, you’re in some pretty bad company.
Expelled goes on to make the argument that Darwinism was a necessary though not sufficient condition for Nazi Germany — which, even if true, is like saying that having two arms is necessary though not sufficient to strangle someone; and I stand by my right to bare arms. Nonetheless, this spurious leap of logic lets the filmmakers unleash a torrent of Nazi newsreel footage. (Apparently, Darwinists can be both Communists and Fascists at the same time.)
Intelligent Design is not synonymous with the six-days-and-then-He rested liturgy of creationism, but it’s not far off. Proponents believe life is too complex to have arisen randomly, and the universe too unlikely for it to be a chance occurrence. (Although if life hadn’t arisen, we wouldn’t be making films about how unlikely it is.) DNA is a program, they contend, so where’s the programmer? Unfortunately, any theory that rests on the axiom “Well, somebody must have made all this!” lacks a certain scientific rigour, never mind experimental validation.
A few other fallacies are worth mentioning. Just because a scientist holds a belief doesn’t automatically make that belief scientific. And just because a theory is framed in scientific language doesn’t necessarily give it equal status with opposing viewpoints. The flat-vs.-round-Earth debate, for instance, doesn’t take place on a level playing field because one of the theories is wrong…..
Ultimately, however, what sinks Expelled is not bad science but bad filmmaking.