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Seriously funny

Movies | Ben Stein takes on the debate-phobic Darwinian establishment

Issue: "Shattered dreams," April 5, 2008

"The shot heard round the world" that started the American Revolution came on April 19, 1775. On April 18 this year, a seriously funny documentary is scheduled to hit 1,000 theaters across America and fire a shot that will go unheard if debate-phobic Darwinists get their way.

The 100-minute documentary, Expelled, is perfect for adults and children of middle-school age or above: It should be rated R not for sex or violence but for being reasonable, radical, risible, and right. (It is rated PG for thematic material, some disturbing images, and brief smoking.) The expelling of Intelligent Design (ID) proponents from universities is not a laughing matter, but star Ben Stein is amusing as he walks, in dark suit and bright running shoes, from interview to interview with scientists and philosophers on both sides of the evolution debate.

Expelled rightly equates Darwinian stifling of free speech with the Communist attempt to enslave millions behind the Berlin Wall. One Expelled scene shows Stein, mathematician David Berlinski (a sophisticated Paris resident), and nuclear physicist Gerald Schroeder (wearing a yarmulke), all now ID advocates, discussing the importance of freedom as they visit a remnant of the Wall. All three are Jewish, and they don't look or talk like the hicks portrayed in Inherit the Wind.

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Stein, giving the Darwinists he interviews plenty of time to make their case, is particularly effective in his conversation with Richard Dawkins, atheistic author of the best-selling The God Delusion. Dawkins astoundingly admits that life on earth could be the result of ID, as long as the designer was a being from outer space who was himself the product of atheistic evolution. No God allowed!

Expelled's showing of the connection between evolutionary doctrine and Nazi eugenics has already infuriated some in academia and the media: University of Minnesota professor P.Z. Myers blasted Expelled as "ludicrous in its dishonesty," and Orlando Sentinel reviewer Roger Moore raged about "loaded images, loaded rhetoric." But since a movie is not a dissertation, films show linkages by juxtaposing clips rather than pages of footnoted type. The real question is: Did Darwinism bulwark Hitlerian hatred by providing a scientific rationale for killing those considered less fit in the struggle for survival?

The answer to that question is an unambiguous yes. When I stalked the stacks of the Library of Congress in the early 1990s, I saw and scanned shelf upon shelf of racist and anti-Semitic journals from the first several decades of the last century, with articles frequently citing and applying Darwin. If you read an anti-Expelled review that dodges the issue of substance by concentrating merely on style, you'll be seeing another sign of closed minds.

April 18 will bring an interesting test of whether Expelled, or any other documentary so conceived and so dedicated, can endure in movie theaters past the first weekend. Michael Moore's fatuous documentaries have done good box office with the help of sympathetic reviewers and network news producers. Ben Stein's excellent one might rely on evangelicals and others who are tired of being ridiculed by the closed minds of the Evolution Establishment.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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