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Peter T Chattaway

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

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How far apart from each other do you guys live? Perhaps I could buy someone a plane ticket...

:lol:

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Orson Scott Card chimes in:

People flocked to see Al Gore's pack-o'-lies movie because it put forth the orthodoxy of the elite. People flocked to see Michael Moore's deceptive, smug, sneering documentaries because they only attacked people that ignorant elitists have declared to be valid targets. These films have made millions of dollars and have advanced the amount of ignorance in the world.

Ben Stein's Expelled is well made, funny at times, and also disturbing. It's far more honest and accurate than the works of either of the above-mentioned Oscar-winning documentarians. And the issues he discusses are vital.

...which might lead you to think he endorses ID. But no:

Meanwhile, though, you will still find me among those demanding that only science be taught in science classes. Intelligent Design is an unprovable hypothesis that has no place in science education.

Hmmm... Interesting.

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In a world where a snob like Michael Moore and a smug manipulator like Al Gore can win Oscars for "documentaries" that play fast and loose with the truth, it's ironic that Ben Stein's Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, which makes a serious effort to tell the truth about a problem that's seriously damaging our civilization, not only won't get nominated for an Oscar but will certainly be attacked as anti-scientific.

Well, I missed the part where he elaborated on how Moore's movies and An Inconvenient Truth are deceitful. Just after that, I missed the part where he explained how less than five people who have lost their employment or reputations for reasons that aren't proven to be their association with the I.D. movement is a problem that's seriously damaging our civilization.

Of course I realize that it's just a blog, but I think he should stick to fiction. He seems to have a good handle on it.

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Berlinski is that sort of person that people who know nothing about a subject in question find fascinating, and people who do find exasperating. When he declares in the film that 'they [biologist] don't even really know what a species is' he sounds fascinatingly deep. But it's not. And it's worse than merely false: it's an exploitation of what is a complicated subject in order to give a glib answer that papers over any hope for understanding.

The reason there is no single definition for species in biology is not because biologists are simply baffled by the idea, or are missing some fundamental magical step. It is that you can't really capture or define something with so many fuzzy boundaries, gradients, and possible dimensions of comparison all in one single definitive definition. Which, as Berlinski would rather not have you know, is precisely the pragmatic problem that we would expect to face if evolution is true. The problem is not that there is no known definition of species, but rather that there are too many possible but often incompatible ways to do it, and each captures something important worth noting, but downplays others. The standard, workmanlike definition merely, and somewhat arbitrarily, picks a place (the natural tendency to successfully interbreed in the wild), and this, in fact, works just fine in many areas.

But there are many more issues to consider: what if two populations can interbreed, but produce only sterile offspring? What if they can do it, and the offspring is sterile only in 3 out of 4 major chromosomal combinations, but fine for the fourth? What if they are perfectly compatible genetically, but face, ahem, physical challenges to successful reproduction? What if they are physically and basically genetically compatible, but a very simple chemical lock/key system prevents reproduction? What if they will refuse to breed in the wild, but can be made to do so in captivity? What if, as in African Chilchids, they will not breed with fish of a certain color, but if you put them under a particular spectrum of light that blocks this color, they will. And so on. There is an endless array of variations, including ring species, in which each population in a geographical ring can breed with those nearest to it, but as you travel around the ring and finally back to where you started, you end up with two populations that cannot?

Oh, and that's not even getting into the problem with the term "species" in taxonomy, where it has two meanings: a specific population level grouping AND a sort of ranking, and these two meanings can conflict and contradict in practice, again not because biologists are dumbfounded, but because we're stuck in practice with the awkward marriage of Linnean taxonomy (which we are basically stuck with by convention, but which is ill-suited to the task) with evolutionary cladism (which is more accurate and clear, but boring).

All of this makes "species" a difficult concept to understand, but that's not the same thing as saying that it cannot be understood or that biologists, as Berlinski implies to laypeople, are blind to some great and obvious aspect of species (like, for instance, the creationist belief that species have some magical barrier called "kind"). Berlinski simply isn't willing to put in the time to understand it, and he doesn't want anyone else to do so either.

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Judge to rule on Yoko Ono lawsuit over use of 'Imagine' in movie

U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein said he will rule quickly in the case after both sides described the issues surrounding the song and movie in harsh terms during arguments on Monday.

Lawyer Anthony T. Falzone said the movie, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," was set to open in Canada on June 6 and DVD rights needed to be finalized by the end of May for distribution in October. The movie is currently being shown in about 200 theatres in the United States.

He said an adverse ruling by Stein would mean "you have muzzled the speech of my clients" because they would have to replace the song with other images, losing the chance to make the issue important enough that it could even influence the U.S. presidential campaign.

"If you issue that injunction, you trample on these free speech rights and you put a muzzle on them and you do it in a way that stops them from speaking on this political issue leading up to the election," Falzone said. . . .

Associated Press, May 20

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I see this thread hasn't been updated since almost a month before the Canadian release (June 27). So, here are a couple links to the articles I wrote on the film for the secular and religious press.

Oh, and here is the item I wrote for CT Movies a month ago on the judge's ruling in that Yoko Ono lawsuit.

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Anti-Evolution film 'Expelled' to Be Re-Released Following Court Victory Over Yoko Ono

The controversial film "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" will be re-released theatrically this summer across the United States to celebrate the film's legal victory over Yoko Ono, according to the documentary's producers. . . .

Working in conjunction with the film's distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures, "Expelled" will be made available to any group of 250-300 people at a cost of low as $6 per ticket.

"We have 1,000 prints ready to be shipped out to any group that would like to bring the movie to their local theater," noted Premise's EVP-Sales Tripp Thornton.

FoxNews.com, July 17

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Yoko Ono, EMI drop suits over Lennon song

John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono and EMI Records, the world's fourth largest music company, dropped copyright infringement lawsuits against the makers of a documentary that used the portion of the song "Imagine" without permission. . . .

In his blog, Falzone said the song won't appear in the DVD version of the documentary as the move came too late. . . .

Reuters, October 8

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Roger Ebert:

"Expelled" is not a bad film from the technical point of view. It is well photographed and edited, sometimes amusing, has well-chosen talking heads, gives an airing to evolutionists however truncated and interrupted with belittling images, and incorporates entertainingly unfair historical footage, as when it compares academia's rejection of Creationism to the erection of the Berlin Wall. . . .

The more you know about evolution, or simple logic, the more you are likely to be appalled by the film. No one with an ability for critical thinking could watch more than three minutes without becoming aware of its tactics. It isn't even subtle. . . .

This film is cheerfully ignorant, manipulative, slanted, cherry-picks quotations, draws unwarranted conclusions, makes outrageous juxtapositions (Soviet marching troops representing opponents of ID), pussy-foots around religion (not a single identified believer among the ID people), segues between quotes that are not about the same thing, tells bald-faced lies, and makes a completely baseless association between freedom of speech and freedom to teach religion in a university class that is not about religion.

And there is worse, much worse. . . .

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Roger Ebert:

"Expelled" is not a bad film from the technical point of view. It is well photographed and edited, sometimes amusing, has well-chosen talking heads, gives an airing to evolutionists however truncated and interrupted with belittling images, and incorporates entertainingly unfair historical footage, as when it compares academia's rejection of Creationism to the erection of the Berlin Wall. . . .

The more you know about evolution, or simple logic, the more you are likely to be appalled by the film. No one with an ability for critical thinking could watch more than three minutes without becoming aware of its tactics. It isn't even subtle. . . .

This film is cheerfully ignorant, manipulative, slanted, cherry-picks quotations, draws unwarranted conclusions, makes outrageous juxtapositions (Soviet marching troops representing opponents of ID), pussy-foots around religion (not a single identified believer among the ID people), segues between quotes that are not about the same thing, tells bald-faced lies, and makes a completely baseless association between freedom of speech and freedom to teach religion in a university class that is not about religion.

And there is worse, much worse. . . .

It's okay though, because Michael Moore does it as well. ;)

I still find it funny that the DVD cost the same as the Blu-Ray ($29.99) where I live.

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Interesting quote from Ebert's article:

Hilariously, the film argues that evolutionists cannot tolerate dissent. If you were to stand up at a "Catholic and mainstream Protestant" debate and express your support of Creationism, you would in most cases be politely listened to. There are few places as liberal as Boulder, Colo., where I twice debated a Creationist at the Conference on World Affairs, and yet his views were heard politely there. If you were to stand up at an evangelical meeting to defend evolution, I doubt if you would be made to feel as welcome, or that your dissent would be quite as cheerfully tolerated.

Not sure I agree that an evolutionist would not be met "cheerfully" at an evangelical meeting; but the real point is, how would any of us know? That seems to me like a low, ungenerous thing for Ebert to say.

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Interesting quote from Ebert's article:
Hilariously, the film argues that evolutionists cannot tolerate dissent. If you were to stand up at a "Catholic and mainstream Protestant" debate and express your support of Creationism, you would in most cases be politely listened to. There are few places as liberal as Boulder, Colo., where I twice debated a Creationist at the Conference on World Affairs, and yet his views were heard politely there. If you were to stand up at an evangelical meeting to defend evolution, I doubt if you would be made to feel as welcome, or that your dissent would be quite as cheerfully tolerated.

Not sure I agree that an evolutionist would not be met "cheerfully" at an evangelical meeting; but the real point is, how would any of us know? That seems to me like a low, ungenerous thing for Ebert to say.

I don't know if it counts, but last year in Cambridge when I was interning there, the conservative evangelical organization for which I was working hosted a Christian evolutionist from Oxford, and gave him several hours to discuss his perspective. From the people I met afterwards, I would wager that the majority of the crowd came from a creationist perspective, and yet the discussion was healthy, measured, and respectful to both sides.

Perhaps (as the movie postulates) things are more polarized over here in the States, but sometimes I wonder if the battle isn't really being fought by a small group of blowhards at the top, and a very few rabble rousers scattered sporadically around in educational institutions.

And yes, I agree, the accusation is a little low.

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No apologies

It's hard to reconcile such a presentable, intelligent and Christian man with such an incendiary movie. Walt Ruloff, a 44-year-old Canadian high-tech mogul, was explaining why he came up with the idea to finance Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. . . .

Despite his pleasant demeanour, Ruloff seems like the kind of guy who is always up for a good brawl for what he feels is the right cause. After selling his company, he now works on a project-by-project basis.

"When I get my strength back, I'm going on another crazy venture."

It will probably be another documentary, he said, featuring Stein. But it will be quite different. "It will be on the [collapsing] economy. We'll go under the covers and look at what really happened. We'll analyse the fraud aspect to it. That's not being talked about enough."

Vancouver Sun, January 3

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I watched this over the weekend. Um...just like a Michael Moore film, I felt like I was missing larger pieces of the stories of the wronged academics/scientists that might have put the situations into greater perspective. I thought the gotcha moments did not work at all. And the attempts to tie Darwinism as directly inspiring Nazi-ism and eugenics unconvincing. Afterall, using the logic of the film, one can easily argue that Christianity (and religion in general) directly lead to all sorts of societal ills. An idea is not inherently guilty of the crimes of those who misuse and abuse it.

Plus, I found the film more than a little mean spirited and driven by paranoia. It made Bowling for Columbine and F9/11 look positively balanced and reasoned.

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I am revisiting this thread because I just saw Hellbound the Movie. Wow, this has become quite the conversation. Well, is was quite the conversation and I am glad it produced such thoughtful dialogue. It is my opinion that that is the least a documentary should do.

Plus, I found the film more than a little mean spirited and driven by paranoia. It made Bowling for Columbine and F9/11 look positively balanced and reasoned.

Nezpop, I didn't find the documentary even "a little mean spirited" or "driven by paranoia." I didn't even find it slightly lending itself toward propaganda, like every single Michael Moore "documentary." I wonder how much of the spirit of a film like this is driven by the spirit (or expectations) of the viewer.

In the end, I didn't find that the film produced much conversation or dialogue between the two camps. However, I did think it was an excellent documentary on the "production of knowledge" and the gate keepers of "legitimate" academics.

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Nezpop, I didn't find the documentary even "a little mean spirited" or "driven by paranoia." I didn't even find it slightly lending itself toward propaganda, like every single Michael Moore "documentary." I wonder how much of the spirit of a film like this is driven by the spirit (or expectations) of the viewer.

When you are nearing the end and have footage of the host pointing at science and basically saying "this is the path to genocide" and pointing to religion and saying "this is the path to life"? That is an unnecessary dividing line to make. And it looks pretty paranoid. And hardly a balanced discussion.

I also note that when you suggest Michael Moore makes propaganda films, it is pretty common for his fans to find that preposterous. I suspect, as you note, how these films come across has a lot to do with how the viewer feels about the topic. But one is being more than a little generous to pretend Expelled had no spirit brought but what the viewer brought... This was not an attempt to ask folks to look at the ID issue and discuss, it declares that anyone who feels it ought not be included in Science class is part of a liberal elite that is trying to suppress knowledge.

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I come down somewhere in between Thom and Nez.

It should be uncontroversially acknowledged on all sides that Expelled and Michael Moore films are works of propaganda—which doesn't make them bad, or wrong, or unconvincing; it simply means that they are works of open advocacy, which is all that propaganda denotatively means.

I happen to think that in both cases there are some valid points to be made and some unconvincing manipulation of facts, presentation of half truths, manipulative techniques, etc. In the case of Expelled, I don't think Stein's big "gotcha" of Dawkins was any kind of "gotcha" at all; I didn't think Dawkins said anything crazy or anything that should be jumped on in that way.

On the other hand, I think the film has a valid point to make regarding the relationship of evolutionary naturalism, eugenics, and the Nazi holocaust. Science is not the path to genocide, but it is hard to argue that evolutionary naturalism as a worldview does not tend to erode the necessity of recognizing the sacredness of life, respect for the individual and the equal dignity of all persons. Not to say that individual evolutionary naturalists can't still choose to affirm all those things, but from the standpoint of evolutionary naturalism it is hard to refute other evolutionary naturalists who choose to go a different route. (Note some overlap between my thoughts here and my reflections in the "Faith in Crisis" thread.)

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I don't consider myself a Creationist in the sense that I'm spending every hour of every day trying to prove that Creationism is true. I believe God created. Or started or began or whatever you will. To me creation is God's art, not to lead us to proof of His existence or proof that He created us, but to lead us to Him. In the same way that Starry Night resonates of who Van Gogh was, so does creation itself resonate of who God is. Is there intelligence in that? Purpose? Meaning? I think so. I guess that's as close as I want to get to Intelligent Design.

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SDG wrote:

: In the case of Expelled, I don't think Stein's big "gotcha" of Dawkins was any kind of "gotcha" at all; I didn't think Dawkins said anything crazy or anything that should be jumped on in that way.

Indeed. And it was partly because I didn't see any "gotcha" there either that CT Movies spiked my review of the film and replaced it with another (which is now held up by Wikipedia as an example of the one positive Christian review that stood in opposition to all the other negative reviews).

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I come down somewhere in between Thom and Nez.

It should be uncontroversially acknowledged on all sides that Expelled and Michael Moore films are works of propaganda—which doesn't make them bad, or wrong, or unconvincing; it simply means that they are works of open advocacy, which is all that propaganda denotatively means.

I happen to think that in both cases there are some valid points to be made and some unconvincing manipulation of facts, presentation of half truths, manipulative techniques, etc. In the case of Expelled, I don't think Stein's big "gotcha" of Dawkins was any kind of "gotcha" at all; I didn't think Dawkins said anything crazy or anything that should be jumped on in that way.

On the other hand, I think the film has a valid point to make regarding the relationship of evolutionary naturalism, eugenics, and the Nazi holocaust. Science is not the path to genocide, but it is hard to argue that evolutionary naturalism as a worldview does not tend to erode the necessity of recognizing the sacredness of life, respect for the individual and the equal dignity of all persons. Not to say that individual evolutionary naturalists can't still choose to affirm all those things, but from the standpoint of evolutionary naturalism it is hard to refute other evolutionary naturalists who choose to go a different route. (Note some overlap between my thoughts here and my reflections in the "Faith in Crisis" thread.)

Except the problem is that Nazis were not clear cut atheists, evolutionary scientists and so on. It was far messier than that. People have managed perfectly well to connect faith and dehumanizing their fellow people. And often found their religious texts bolstered their ideals. Can science lead to terrible actions? Yeah. So can religion and politics. I find Stein's easy writing off of evolutionary science as only leading to genocide as intellectually sound as Dawkin's blanket declarations of the evils of religion.

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FWIW. When I saw this film in the theatres I went with some Christian friends. Afterwards there was a lot of talk about how the film exposed Dawkins and evolutionary science as foolish etc etc. But later on when I really thought about it I came to conclusions much the same as Peter and Steven.

I don't know where I stand on the evolutionary debate for sure, but I do know that God created, no matter how it was done.

Another thing I know is that there is mountains of science suggesting evolution to be true and unfortunately many Christians attempts to refute this and make people who believe in evolution look foolish, often backfire. I wonder if some people wanted to see a gotcha moment in the film, so they saw one.

Edited by Attica

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On the other hand, I think the film has a valid point to make regarding the relationship of evolutionary naturalism, eugenics, and the Nazi holocaust. Science is not the path to genocide, but it is hard to argue that evolutionary naturalism as a worldview does not tend to erode the necessity of recognizing the sacredness of life, respect for the individual and the equal dignity of all persons. Not to say that individual evolutionary naturalists can't still choose to affirm all those things, but from the standpoint of evolutionary naturalism it is hard to refute other evolutionary naturalists who choose to go a different route. (Note some overlap between my thoughts here and my reflections in the "Faith in Crisis" thread.)

Except the problem is that Nazis were not clear cut atheists, evolutionary scientists and so on. It was far messier than that. People have managed perfectly well to connect faith and dehumanizing their fellow people. And often found their religious texts bolstered their ideals. Can science lead to terrible actions? Yeah. So can religion and politics. I find Stein's easy writing off of evolutionary science as only leading to genocide as intellectually sound as Dawkin's blanket declarations of the evils of religion.

We aren't as far apart as you might think, though there may be an irreducible element of difference between us.

I would put it this way: Those who commit atrocities will justify them in the language and idiom of whatever worldview is dominant or convenient for their purposes, whether religious or irreligious. In the case of Nazism, this included strains of religious sentiment, particularly neo-pagan sentiment, though there were also echoes of Christian thought as well, including the sad legacy of Christian antisemitism. Also, obviously I disagree with the film's critique of evolutionary theory, which, contra the I.D. theorists, I accept.

That said, it is also true that the eugenic project, a necessary precursor to Nazi ideology, is essentially predicated on a naturalist worldview. It does not follow from evolutionary theory per se, but evolutionary naturalism does provide the necessary context for the eugenic project, without which the Holocaust as we know it cannot be imagined.

Without in any way accepting the film's attempt to implicate evolutionary theory itself in the Holocaust, or excusing Christian antisemitism of culpability, the actual cultural context in which the Holocaust occurred and was justified was one predicated on a theory of superior racial development rooted in evolutionary naturalism. Sans Darwinism (which, broadly, I accept), and the appropriation of Darwinism by secular humanism (which I do not), the Holocaust as we know it would be historically unthinkable.

Edited by SDG

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