Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (DVD Review)21 Sep, 2008 By: John Latchem
Prebook 9/23/08; Street 10/21/08
Box Office $7.7 million
Rated ‘PG’ for thematic material, some disturbing images and brief smoking.
Expelled begins with host Ben Stein explaining that some biology professors have been dismissed from institutions of learning for broaching the topic of intelligent design in the context of presenting theories of evolution. He frames the issue within the larger context of free speech and open debate.
Many reviews referred to Expelled as propaganda in support of intelligent design, though it doesn’t really earn that label. While it does present a point of view, it is no more skewed to its presupposed notions than Michael Moore’s films are to his. It’s an entertaining and effective presentation, so it’s no surprise Expelled plays well to its target audience while riling detractors (some of whom are interview subjects in the film).
The narrative raises some valid points about the relationship between science and religion, but doesn’t go far enough in connecting the dots. The film posits scientists have disagreements with the theory of evolution, but doesn’t explore them. One speaker says that there are arguments for intelligent design that aren’t religious, but doesn’t state them. Expelled’s main fallacy is that, in blurring the lines between philosophy and science, it fails to recognize the key distinction between them.
The key question at the heart of this issue boils down to a definition of God. And that’s just not a question science, or this film, is equipped to answer.