Well you've got to give Ben Stein credit; he doesn't kick sand in the face of weaklings. He goes right up to the biggest, most muscle-bound, meanest SOB on the beach, kicks sand in his face and then insults his girlfriend for good measure. Stein's new movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed examines the intolerance of those in academia and science who have excluded all who dare question any of the many flaws in Darwin's theory of evolution.
The reaction to the film represents The Left's second full-blown fit in month. (Their first fit was, of course, after the last Dem debate in which Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos showed Obama to be a lightweight when presented with a couple tough questions.) The grounds for reviling Stein's work have been many and varied. Some, like Time Magazine's Jeffrey Kluger have attacked it for saying that Darwinism was a necessary condition for the growth of Nazism.
It's in the film's final third that it runs entirely off the rails as Stein argues that there is a clear line from Darwinism to euthanasia, abortion, eugenics and--wait for it--Nazism. Theories of natural selection, it's claimed, were a necessary if not sufficient condition for Hitler's killing machine to get started. The truth, of course, is that the only necessary and sufficient condition for human beings to murder one another is the simple fact of being human. We've always been a lustily fratricidal species, one that needed no Charles Darwin to goad us into millenniums of self-slaughter.
I doubt that Kluger is stupid so can only assume that he is only playing stupid in his review. Hitler could certainly not have used Christianity (which he loathed) as a philosophical underpinning for extermination of the Jews but Darwinism fit the bill just fine. When you talk about the survival of the fittest it doesn't take much effort to frame certain groups as intrinsically unfit, therefor making their removal necessary to advance the species. This is what Hitler did. Yes, people will always do terrible things but Darwinism allowed Hitler to do them while saying that it was a necessary good.
Other critics have tried to say that those academics who Stein says lost their jobs for their support of Intelligent Design (ID) did so for other reasons. Michael Shermer (who Stein interviews in the film, making him appear somewhat clueless) attempts a "gotcha" on this point and tries to prove that,
In other words, from the get-go this was much ado about nothing.
But his proof is weak. Of course anyone who tries to prove that academia is free of petty, little fiefdoms and intolerance and is instead a paragon of free-thought is bound to come off as unserious to anyone who has been anywhere near a University in...well, probably since the first one was built.
The really stupid critiques of the film come from such as Valeria Tarico (no, I've never heard of her either but she has apparently written something called The Dark Side: How Evangelical Teachings Corrupt Love and Truth. and writes for exChristian.net so you can pretty much see where she's coming from right off the bat) at the very "rational" Huffington Post who attempts to say that Stein is using his movie as a stalking horse to get Creationism into the schools and the minds of all those little children Hillary would like to protect from their parents and dangerous ideas like that of God. In fact Stein is very clear on numerous occasions throughout the movie in stating that ID and Creationism are very different things indeed and Stein gives absolutely no indication that he has any use for Creationism at all.
The film is a very smartly produced, interesting, thought-provoking and entertainingly crafted call for academic freedom. It is understandable why academics are less than thrilled with it as they frequently come off as petulant and small-minded. The legendary Richard Dawkins, author of the The Blind Watchmaker and The God Delusion comes off especially poorly, at one point suggesting that life on Earth may have been designed but if so it would have to have been by aliens. Then he amusingly and obliviously journeys into the land of the absurd with Stein about what he thinks the chances are that God might exist. 99%? 98%? 49%? His principled scientific rigour disappears like morning fog, much to his irritation.
If Expelled was not a joy to watch in the first place, and it is, watching the sputtering image of Dawkins would alone be worth the price of admission.
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air thinks Ben Stein misses the point.