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Stein Turns The Tables on Darwinists
Los Angeles Daily News ^ | 4/20/2008 | Chris Weinkopf

Posted on 04/20/2008 2:59:24 PM PDT by Mark

Stein turns the tables on Darwinists By Chris Weinkopf, Editorial Page Editor

THERE'S a great piece of viral satire working its way around the Internet, an ad for Ben Stein's new movie, "Expelled." It's a music video featuring animated representations of prominent atheists rapping about their intellectual superiority over the majority of mankind that still has doubts about Darwinism as an all-purpose, infallible explanation for everything.

The video is funny, but nowhere near as funny as some of the crusading atheists' responses to it.

At the Web site of celebrity God-hater Richard Dawkins, both host and acolytes spent more than a day - and wrote hundreds of posts - praising the video because they construed its smug lyrics ("He's smarter than you, he's got a science degree!") as supporting their cause. The satire sailed right over their heads.

And so it is with "Expelled" itself - a searing satire whose critics have largely failed to recognize it for what it is. Instead, they fume over what they perceive as Stein's unfair treatment of them.

They resent, for example, that Stein's movie repeatedly associates the unequivocally godless with images of the Berlin Wall, the USSR and even Josef Stalin. They protest the suggestion that evolutionary absolutism poses a dire threat to America's most-cherished rights. And they decry Stein's charge that Darwinist thinking led - and naturally leads - to evils like eugenics and Nazism.

Which is to say, they miss the point.

Stein's film is part parody of, part rebuttal to, the Advertisement crusading atheists who have risen to prominence in recent years - such as Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. And it employs the same nasty tactics they have perfected.

Is it unfair to liken all Darwinists to communists? Of course, but no less so than likening all believers to al-Qaida and the Taliban - a popular trope among the New Atheists.

Is it a stretch to argue that academia's hostility toward skepticism about the Gospel of Darwin imminently imperils freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom itself? Certainly. So is the claim that scientists who detect hints of design in their research are "anti-science," and that those who resent the teaching of atheist dogma as fact in public schools are attempting to impose a "theocracy" on us all.

And yes, it's a cheap shot to pin the wickedness of Adolf Hitler on Charles Darwin's writings from a century earlier. But, then, so is blaming every abuse committed in the name of God on religion itself.

For 90 minutes, "Expelled" puts its targets in the same uncomfortable, unfair position in which believers have long found themselves in academia and the media. In turning the tables this way, the movie reveals, cleverly and amusingly, that you don't need to believe in God to be a zealot.

Stein profiles several scientists who have suffered professionally for suggesting that just maybe there's more to creation than chance. For uttering this heresy, these scholars find themselves ridiculed and punished by their peers, not for the quality of their work, but for the implications it contains.

These are not "creationists" or biblical literalists, mind you. They are just scholars who cite extensive research to suggest that a purely random explanation for all of creation is, at best, implausible. They accept the scientific evidence for evolution - specifically, its role in the development of species - but reject the ideological claim that natural selection rules out the possibility of God.

For this deviation, they are pilloried by a stridently atheistic establishment that fears questioning this over-reaching take on evolution more than any medieval theist ever feared the notion of heliocentrism. Thus academia has slammed the door on the very open debate and free inquiry that are crucial to the pursuit of knowledge it claims.

Crusading atheists do this, they insist, in the name of science. But when Stein presses them on how life first began, their responses quickly devolve into the decidedly unscientific.

One posits, without evidence, that life sprang up "on the backs of crystals." Another says that earthly beings may have been "seeded" by an alien race from another planet - an explanation in which Dawkins, Dr. Rational himself, places some credence. (Anything to avoid the possible hint of You Know Who.)

To which Stein wryly asks, "Is this science or science fiction?"

At this point, the crusading atheists no longer need Stein. They have entered the realm of self-parody.

Chris Weinkopf is the Daily News' editorial-page editor. Write to him by e-mail at

TOPICS: Religion; TV/Movies
KEYWORDS: benstein; boxoffice; expelled; movie; moviereview; religion; stein
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The satire sailed right over their heads.
1 posted on 04/20/2008 2:59:24 PM PDT by Mark
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To: Mark


2 posted on 04/20/2008 3:12:19 PM PDT by traderrob6
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To: Mark

And there you have it folks. It’s always been style over substance, but only in number not in truth.

Truth always takes a more solitary path and yet will not be denied.

Of-course there exist universal truths that only the insane would deny, but I’m not referring to them.

There are some who would say that it’s the water that keeps the glass from spilling all over the table.

So let the battle begin and may the best man win.

3 posted on 04/20/2008 3:24:20 PM PDT by shineon
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To: Mark

Refreshing to read a review by somebody who actually “got” the movie. It was brilliant!

4 posted on 04/20/2008 3:41:03 PM PDT by dawn53
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To: shineon

My wife and I went to see the movie the other day and were stunned, we were not alone! Living in South Florida we thought we would be alone in the theatre. Much to our astonishment the theatre was packed by showtime.

The movie itself is an excellent satire and it is delightful watching the tables turned on some of these folks. Richard Dawkins looks particularly uncomfortable when he suggests that aliens may have seeded our existence while poo-pooing the idea of a “creator”.

The main message of the movie though is to look into the real assault on reason and highlight the need for an open discourse.

While watching the movie the “debate” over climate change came to mind. It made me think that these smart folks need to take another look at Popper and Kuhn before declaring the end to any debate or claiming absolute knowledge.

In the same way that marxists butchered Hegel’s dialectic by claiming the evolution of society ended at thier prefered destination so to the scientific community ignores the scientific method by declaring the end of knowledge to suit thier own ends....

5 posted on 04/20/2008 3:56:49 PM PDT by PoliticalDookie
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To: PoliticalDookie

We too thought it would be an empty theatre. It was packed. Only 4 people walked out. Loud clapping afterward.
We have been telling people to go see it.

6 posted on 04/20/2008 4:10:47 PM PDT by surelyclintonsbaddream (MISSOURI TIGERS #4 or # 5 we don't mind which!!!)
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To: surelyclintonsbaddream

My wife and I liked it a lot, but in Massachusetts, I can’t say the theater was packed.

7 posted on 04/20/2008 4:21:41 PM PDT by shineon
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To: surelyclintonsbaddream

Saw the movie on Friday evening. Theater had over 150 people attending, and we had a standing ovation, with a lot of applause afterwards. Loved the movie.

8 posted on 04/20/2008 4:23:21 PM PDT by yellowroses (a Yankee in Texas)
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To: yellowroses

In terms of BOX OFFICE, Expelled opened in the highest number of theaters of any Documentary - Political. See here :

At this point in time, 2 days after opening, it already ranked 26th among all documentaries. If life time gross is 10 times opening, it could well to go to number 3 among all documentaries, behind Fahrenheit 9/11 and March of the Penguins.

Also, I find it interesting to compare the ratings some sites give this movie.

Rotten Tomatoes’ critics rank it at 9%

At Box Office Mojo, 66.4% of viewers give it A’s against 28.7% who gave it F’s

It seems that Expelled’s viewers are even more polarized than Fahrenheit 9/11.

As a point of comparison,

66.4% of viewers have given Expelled an A so far compared to 46.5% to Fahrenheit 9/11.

9 posted on 04/20/2008 4:34:58 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: Mark
1 N The Forbidden Kingdom LGF $20,870,000 - 3,151 - $6,623 $20,870,000 - 1
2 N Forgetting Sarah Marshall Uni. $17,348,000 - 2,798 - $6,200 $17,348,000 $30 1
3 1 Prom Night (2008) SGem $9,100,000 -56.3% 2,700 - $3,370 $32,564,000 $20 2
4 N 88 Minutes Sony $6,800,000 - 2,168 - $3,136 $6,800,000 - 1
5 4 Nim’s Island Fox $5,650,000 -38.0% 3,277 -241 $1,724 $32,857,000 $37 3
6 3 21 Sony $5,500,000 -47.5% 2,903 +167 $1,894 $69,984,000 $35 4
7 2 Street Kings FoxS $4,000,000 -67.9% 2,469 +2 $1,620 $19,879,000 $20 2
8 6 Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! Fox $3,500,000 -40.9% 2,670 -539 $1,310 $144,407,000 $85 6
9 N Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed RM $3,153,000 - 1,052 - $2,997 $3,153,000 - 1
10 5 Leatherheads Uni. $3,022,000 -51.9% 2,798 +27 $1,080 $26,578,000 $58 3

10 posted on 04/20/2008 4:44:39 PM PDT by Liberty Valance (Keep a simple manner for a happy life)
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To: Liberty Valance

I’m glad to see Ben Stein’s film at # 9
while Clooney’s Leatherheads is at #10.

11 posted on 04/20/2008 4:50:31 PM PDT by Liberty Valance (Keep a simple manner for a happy life)
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To: Liberty Valance


12 posted on 04/20/2008 5:15:30 PM PDT by Ranger Warrior
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To: Mark
Good review, but I don't think claiming Hitler was a Darwinist was satire. It is pretty well documented and the Holocaust was nothing more than Euthenasia. Rest of the review was spot on.

Great movie that was brilliantly made.

Pray for W and Our Troops

13 posted on 04/20/2008 5:32:41 PM PDT by bray (Go InSain)
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To: Mark
"Another says that earthly beings may have been "seeded" by an alien race from another planet"

I found that comment really funny...I asked out loud in the theatre, then where did the aliens come from?
I really like the movie.
14 posted on 04/20/2008 5:42:03 PM PDT by The Louiswu (Just say NO... to Hillary and O'Bama)
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To: shineon

Massachusetts would like to ban this movie.

15 posted on 04/20/2008 6:34:23 PM PDT by daniel1212 (Time to move on.)
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To: daniel1212
"Massachusetts would like to ban this movie."

16 posted on 04/20/2008 7:38:52 PM PDT by Liberty Valance (Keep a simple manner for a happy life)
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To: traderrob6

“Is it unfair to liken all Darwinists to communists? Of course, but no less so than likening all believers to al-Qaida and the Taliban - a popular trope among the New Atheists.”

Exactly, and this is the nut of the issue. Somebody has to take the high road and stop resorting to such absurd generalisations.

My observations tell me that the people behind Expelled are essentially cut from the same cloth as the likes of Dawkins, Harris et al.; they see a nice rabble-rousing subject that they can appeal to for financial gain. They have no real interest in getting to the bottom of the issue of whether science and religion truly are irreconcilable. They just want to sell books and movies. And of course, the more insulting, obfuscatory, and sensationalist the media strategy used, the more it sells.

We’re all being conned by this fabricated controversy, imho.
First off, this whole issue is somewhat misplaced; it’s more pertinent to a theological discussion regarding literal vs allegorical interpretations of scripture than an issue of scientific controversy. Clearly, evolution, along with a lot of other science, is in contradiction to a literal interpretation of the Bible. However, it is only a minority who follow this interpretation. That’s not to say that those few are right or wrong (it’s a theological discussion for another day), but to simply point out that for many people there really is no big controversy afoot here. Secondly, in their zeal to attack social Darwinists (and there’s still a few of them around) the ID crowd have conflated a scientific theory with an ideology. Not only rudely insinuating that a large number of God-loving scientists of being immoral degenerates, but putting forth the false dilemma that if you even find evolution vaguely compelling, you must be a satanist!

What’s needed is some coherent, thoughtful and respectful discussion that is inclusive of scientists and non-scientists regardless of faith, which aims to identify reasons for possible conflict between science and religion (particularly theological variances) and how & if these can be reconciled.

And no, science isn’t some leftwing fantasy. It’s been used well in the defence of this country specifically against leftwing fantasies, for anyone who cares to pick up a history book. The last thing we need our kids to be hearing is that science is equal to communism. Way to cut their legs off at the knees and leave them crippled against their enemies.

17 posted on 04/21/2008 11:55:47 AM PDT by Incitatus
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To: PoliticalDookie

I went to see this movie last night with friends and we loved it.

We live in the suburbs of ultra-liberal Portland, OR so I thought we would be alone, but surprisingly the theater was packed. And the movie got applause at the end. I counted only two people who left and didn’t come back. Amazing!

18 posted on 04/21/2008 3:14:18 PM PDT by Evie Munchkin
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To: shineon
I was one of 3 - also in MA.

The strident atheists hang themselves, Stein just hands them the rope.

Still like most in the genre, it suffers from straw men. There are more reasonable men than Dawkins his side of this debate. Then again, I doubt Stein would have much of a problem with them.

19 posted on 04/21/2008 6:03:25 PM PDT by JasonC
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To: bray
The movie is actually quite careful to state that it would be ridiculous to claim all Darwinists are Nazis. But it shows to a demonstration that Hitler was a Darwinist, (as though it is needed) and it makes a strong case that Darwin was an extreme eugenicist himself, on the decisive moral point. In other words, that it was not simply a gross distortion of Darwin, but something he believed himself. The damning quote from Darwin is that only a fool would let his worst animals breed, in a deliberately human context.
20 posted on 04/21/2008 6:07:01 PM PDT by JasonC
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