A Quick Review of Ben Stein’s Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
Conspiracies of all sorts abound in our culture specifically on the internet. Two of the more insipid are the ones claiming the Holocaust never happened or there are no Jews alive in our modern world and the “Jews” we know today occupying the land of Israel are really of Turkish decent. The first scenario can be located in the putrid propaganda of racist, KKK, neo-Nazi anti-Zionists, where as the other is primarily the product of radical, anti-Dispensational replacement theologians.
However, in recent months another group of historical deniers has begun to publish on the internet: those who want to minimize or ignore entirely the role Darwinian evolution played in shaping early 20th century eugenics policies in the United States and eventually the master race goals of Nazi Germany before World War II. Charles Johnson, curator of Little Green Footballs, is the one eugenics denier I am most familiar with. I have been tracking and on occasion noting on my blog how he has become a full on Dawkin’s stooge ridiculing creationist and ID supporters to the point of falsely accusing the Institute of Creation Research of being in league with Islamic “creationist” groups funded by terrorist organizations.
Probably the main source of his irrational response to the conflict evolution has with creation is Ben Stein’s documentary from earlier this year, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. I did not see the film when it was originally released, though I did post a bit on the reactions it was receiving from bitter atheists who hate any one attacking their faith. Now that it is has been released on DVD, and I have the free time vacationing as it were at the in-laws, I had the opportunity to sit down and watch it on a gigantic LCD 50 inch flat screen TV.
Thus I wanted to offer my thoughts.
The film is extremely well made and Stein brings a charm to the various interviews he has with the scientists expelled from their jobs for questioning Darwinian theory. The basic premise of the documentary is to expose the censorship and black listing happening to a number of qualified, multi-degreed scientists who had the courage to put down the Darwinian kool-aid and ask penetrating questions of the main tenets of Darwinian theory. As a result, a number of them, particularly the ones Stein interviews, have lost their teaching positions, grants for research, or experienced any number of black listing tactics to shut them up. Stein even interviews a reporter in New York who talks about how the black listing even extends to secular journalists willing to give ID a fair shake in their reporting.
In addition to critics of evolution, Stein even interviews Darwinianists like Richard Dawkins, Eugenie Scott, and Daniel Dennet, to get their perspective on the expulsion of these scientists on account of them questioning Darwinian theory. Of course, they either deny such a thing is happening or believe the purge is necessary. The most ardent denier of any censorship happening is Eugenie Scott. One of the more amusing parts of the film is her boasting no such thing is happening, then the film switching to the fact it is. The documentary crescendos to an interview Stein had with Richard Dawkins in which the famed atheist attempts to argue that advanced alien lifeforms (who evolved themselves according to Darwinian means) could have seeded life on our planet so it too could evolve like them.
However, the most controversial feature of the film, and the reason for the title I gave this post, comes when Stein traces the history of Darwinian thought as it influenced eugenics policies in the U.S. and eventually Germany which led to Hitler’s death camps. In spite of the anger this portion of the film has inflamed, I personally thought more could be shown in this section, because the film makers didn’t even begin to touch on the history of the eugenics movement. Most notably, the influence U.S. scientists and politicians had on Germany and Hitler’s use of their research.
Though the history of eugenics in the U.S. is briefly mentioned, the film skips over the first 20 years or so of eugenics being practiced in the U.S., and instead focuses upon Stein touring a German mental facility from the WWII era where the mentally ill were experimented upon and eventually killed all in the name of eugenics. One disturbing note is the young German gal giving Stein the tour. She believed she could not rightly judge what had happened in that place, even suggesting it was a right thing to do. Her responses to Stein’s questions showed how generations throughout the world have succumbed to postmodern thought.
At any rate, it is this part of the movie which has brought it the most controversy and criticism even by friendly supporters of ID. But the hostile reaction to Darwinianism influencing Nazi eugenics policies is baffling, because critics are reacting negatively to historical fact. It is just an historical fact that the Nazis justified their eugenics policies by appealing to evolutionary theory. Anyone who would do any serious research would discover this reality. Yet, it is denied by Stein’s critics to the point he has been ridiculed for even suggesting evolutionary theory played a significant role in the German Holocaust.
I personally believe this hostile reaction is because eugenics was an attempt by modern societies to take evolution out of the realm of just being a theory explaining the emergence of life on earth way in the past, and employed it in a practical manner in which humanity is controlling its evolutionary destiny. This troubles normal thinking folks, because the weak and helpless were the primary victims of these policies. What happened in Nazi Germany is the logical conclusion of Darwinianism, and people are so uncomfortable with that fact they make the absurd claim Stein is distorting the truth, or they argue there was no connection between Hitler’s madness and evolution, or deny eugenics existed at all, or down play its influence in the U.S. during the early 20th century.