Saturday, May 3, 2008

EXPELLED: "The Right" Releases More Propoganda

I recently received an "E-Card" advertising a documentary titled "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" from a friend, so I checked it out, since its easy to get any info you need and even download full length movies online, its not that hard.

The film, which claims that "Big Science" (haha... like "Big Tobacco" or some crap like that) suppresses criticism of both the evidence for evolution and the modern evolutionary synthesis, which is the theory that clearly explains this evidence. The film, hosted by Ben Stein, (who hasn't had a paycheck from Clear Eyes eye drops or Comedy Central in ages, so must be strapped for cash) contends that this scientific theory contributed to the Holocaust, communism, atheism, and of all things, Planned Parenthood. Furthermore, the film claims that American educators and scientists who believe that there might be evidence of Intelligent Design in nature are being persecuted for these beliefs.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science described the film as dishonest and divisive, saying that the film aimed at introducing religious ideas into public school science classrooms, therefore, once again, breaking that separation of church and state that our founding fathers put in our constitution and the film is being used in private screenings to legislators as part of the Discovery Institute intelligent design campaign for Academic Freedom bills.

In my research of the film I found the following:

Promotion of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution:

The film claims that intelligent design deserves a place in academia and refers to examples of what it calls a "design approach". The Discovery Institute's Paul Nelson describes "design theory" as "the study of patterns in nature that are best explained as a result of intelligence".intelligent design has been scientifically unproductive and has not produced any research to suppress, having failed to find any way of testing its claims.
Stein says in the film that "Intelligent design was being suppressed in a systematic and ruthless fashion", although the National Center for Science Education says in response that In a review of the film, Scientific American editor John Rennie comments on the vagueness of intelligent design's proposals, describing it as "a notion which firmly states that at one or more unspecified times in the past, an unidentified designer who might or might not be God somehow created whole organisms, or maybe just cells, or maybe just certain parts of cells—they're still deciding and will get back to you on that."

Claims that intelligent design advocates are persecuted:

In the film, Stein claims that scientists do not have the freedom to work within the framework of believing there is a god.[23] On the Expelled blog, Stein wrote:

Under a new anti-religious dogmatism, scientists and educators are not allowed to even think thoughts that involve an intelligent creator. Do you realize that some of the leading lights of "anti-intelligent design" would not allow a scientist who merely believed in the possibility of an intelligent designer/creator to work for him... EVEN IF HE NEVER MENTIONED the possibility of intelligent design in the universe? EVEN FOR HIS VERY THOUGHTS... HE WOULD BE BANNED.

However, describing the film for New Scientist, Amanda Gefter wrote:

Its selling point is that academic freedom in the US is threatened by a vast conspiracy of atheist scientists, hypnotized by what Stein labels in the film the "Darwinian gospel". Supporters of ID are fired from their institutions or denied tenure, the film argues, while journalists who report on ID are silenced or shunned. This is an old trick. By claiming their views are suppressed, proponents of ID hope to be protected from criticism. When someone argues that ID is bogus, all they need do is yell: "See? Suppression!"

Portrayal of science as atheistic:

The film alleges that scientists and the scientific enterprise (which it calls "Big Science") are dogmatically committed to atheism and that Intelligent Design proponents are "suppressed in a systematic and ruthless fashion." It alleges a previous commitment to materialism in the scientific establishment as the cause of this "persecution". Stein contends that "There are people out there who want to keep science in a little box where it can't possibly touch a higher power, and it can’t possibly touch God." The National Center for Science Education says that
the film represents scientists who are atheists as representative of all scientists, without discussing the many prominent scientists who are religious, and thus creates a false dichotomy between science and religion.

In an interview with Scientific American, the associate producer of the film, Mark Mathis, said
they had excluded scientists who are religious, such as Roman Catholic biologist because their views would have "confused the film unnecessarily". Mathis also questioned Miller's intellectual honesty and orthodoxy as a Catholic because he accepts evolution. HAHAHA

The film portrays the modern evolutionary synthesis as a theory that refuses to accept ideas with a theistic component like intelligent design. The National Center for Science Education states that this ignores the many scientists who are religious but do not bring God in as part of their theories, as testing requires holding constant some variables and no one can "control" God; consequently scientific explanations are restricted to the natural causes that are testable, regardless of the religious views of the scientists.

On the film's portrayal of science, Lauri Lebo, a York Daily Record journalist who covered the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, noted
"The first half of the movie is devoted to explaining how intelligent design is not religion" and then "the filmmakers seem to completely forget their earlier message. The rest of the movie is devoted to proving that atheistic scientists hate God and are trying to suppress intelligent design because, well, it's all about belief in God".

Claims that Nazism was inspired by acceptance of evolution:

The film opens with images of the Berlin Wall, and repeatedly uses a jittery style(which Richard Dawkins describes as the amateurish "Lord Privy Seal" effect of illustrating every point with images, including a guillotine, fist fights, and above all Nazi gas chambers and concentration camps.

In the film, intelligent design proponent David Berlinski says that Darwinism was a "necessary though not sufficient" cause for the Holocaust, and Stein presses the message of evolutionary biology being responsible
without acknowledging more direct causes such as the economic ruin of Germany after World War I and the racism and antisemitism dating back over seven centuries before Charles Darwin. In fact, the works of Darwin were burned by the Nazi Party.

From a scientific viewpoint, any distorted misunderstanding of evolution incorporated in Hitler's thinking is irrelevant to the validity of the modern evolutionary synthesis.

Michael Shermer, who was interviewed for the film, wrote of this:

When Stein interviewed me and asked my opinion on the impact of Darwinism on culture,
he seemed astonishingly ignorant of the many other ways that Darwinism has been used and abused by political and economic ideologues of all stripes....

Arthur Caplan, Professor of Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote in his MSNBC column that the movie is a "frighteningly immoral narrative" and wrote that "this film is a toxic mishmash of persecution fantasies, disconnected and inappropriate references to fallen communist regimes and their leaders and a very repugnant form of Holocaust Denial from the monotone big mouth Ben Stein."

He criticized the substance of the movie, saying "[w]hat is especially startling and monumentally deceptive is that the movie never bothers to tell us what Intelligent Design actually is." He questioned the movie's understanding of science because "Science, by the very definition of the term, wants to invoke god or divine intervention as little as possible in seeking explanations for natural phenomena. " He concluded, "To lay blame for the Holocaust upon Charles Darwin is to engage in a form of Holocaust denial that should forever make Ben Stein the subject of scorn not because of his nudnik concern that evolution somehow undermines morality but because in this contemptible movie he is willing to subvert the key reason why the Holocaust took place — racism — to serve his own ideological end. Expelled indeed."

The Anti-Defamation League issued the following statement condemning the film's use of the Holocaust:

The film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed misappropriates the Holocaust and its imagery as a part of its political effort to discredit the scientific community which rejects so-called intelligent design theory. Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people and Darwin and evolutionary theory cannot explain Hitler's genocidal madness. Using the Holocaust in order to tarnish those who promote the theory of evolution is outrageous and trivializes the complex factors that led to the mass extermination of European Jewry.

Reaction to the Movie:

The critical reaction to Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed was generally negative. The film was widely publicized, but was not screened for film critics in advance. As of May 3, 2008, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 3 critics gave the film positive reviews and 30 gave negative ones. Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 20 out of 100, based on 13 reviews.

Now, in terms of reviews by conservative, right wing reviewers would be 100% positive, but that is NOT the case.
Conservative National Review columnist John Derbyshire described the movie as "creationist porn" and "propaganda for ignorance and obscurantism." Concluding his review he wrote, "For shame, Ben Stein, for shame. Stand up for your civilization, man! and all its glories."

Roger Friedman of conservative good ol boys club "Fox News" writes that "Expelled is a sloppy, all-over-the-place, poorly made (and not just a little boring) 'exposé' of the scientific community" and echoes Patterson's concerns about Stein's career direction, stating that he "is either completely nuts or so avaricious that he's abandoned all good sense to make a buck" and "like some other celebrities, [he] finally has shown his true colors and they aren't so pretty." Friedman criticizes the film's exploitation of the Holocaust, "hoping someone will latch onto an anti-Semitism theme here" but that it is "such a warped premise that no one's biting", and Stein's involvement, as a Jew, is "so distasteful you wonder what in — sorry — God's name — he was thinking when he got into this". Ultimately he concludes that "It will come and go without much fanfare" and that were the film to be shown in his area he'd "boycott the filmmakers for thinking of me as this gullible and unsophisticated."

Well, folks, thats what I found when researching this film... I hope you all will make no effort to see it so that it can end up at the dusty bottom of a bargain DVD bin at Circuit City in a matter of months.

As a footnote, for those of you not familiar with certain things having to do with the First Amendment of the United States Constitution:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . ." The phrase "separation of church and state", which does not appear in the Constitution itself, is generally traced to an 1802 letter the Danbury Baptists, where Jefferson spoke of the combined effect of the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

In Closing, I wish to use a quote that references the separation of church and state that is from a former president and fellow Catholic, John F. Kennedy:

"I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him."

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