EXPELLED: NO INTELLIGENCE ALLOWED Directed by Nathan Frankowski, written by Kevin Miller, Walt Ruloff and Ben Stein. A KinoSmith release. 96 minutes. Opens Friday (June 27). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NNNNN
From Ferris Bueller to fulminating Bible-thumpers, Ben Stein keeps some pretty interesting company.
The author, actor and occasional game show host came to Toronto last week to promote his new movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Required, which purports to expose a global conspiracy among scientists to keep “intelligent design” out of the mainstream.
Accompanied by his producer, Walt Ruloff, Stein sat down with me at the Royal York for a conversation distinguished by its cordiality. Given my response to the film (see review), I half-expected a shouting match, but Stein and Ruloff were civil, and even warm. When our talk was over, Stein asked me where I went to school and what my father did for a living, and he seemed to be interested in the answers.
In its opening scenes, Expelled presents Stein as an amiable free-thinker who sort of stumbled across the ID movement’s dust-up with “Big Science” in the course of his journey through life. Stein says that’s more or less the way it happened.
“I mean, I didn’t know much about it to start with, and I was quite skeptical about intelligent design and about the idea that Darwinists didn’t have all the answers,” he says. “I didn’t assume they had every single answer, but I thought they had pretty much all of them. And I didn’t realize how many undiscovered continents of experience there were.
“I didn’t realize that Darwinists had no explanation for gravity,” he continues, “no explanation for thermodynamics, no explanation for the laws of fluid motion. I didn’t realize that Darwin himself had thought there was design in a large part of the creation of the universe. I didn’t realize a lot of those things.”
The ID movement points to elements of evolutionary theory that aren’t yet fully understood as evidence of a Designer at work.
The trick to distinguishing ID from good old-fashioned creationism is that ID never identifies the designer. It’s pretty clear everyone wants it to be God, though, since ID proponents are quick to dismiss other possibilities, like the theory of directed panspermia, which posits that life was seeded throughout the galaxy by aliens, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, whose noodly appendages are said to touch us all.
“If [Richard] Dawkins can say, ‘Yes, panspermia is a viable way that life could be seeded on Earth’, and if he also said that God could have been, or a designer, or a divine, and he left the table open, we wouldn’t have made the movie.”
Expelled also lays the blame for the Holocaust at Darwin’s feet, charging his theories with enabling Adolf Hitler’s campaign to exterminate Europe’s Jews.
“If it had been my movie,” Stein says, “I would have made the whole movie about that, because the fact that Darwinism is the basis for so much evil in this world is not well known, and it’s a very dangerous thing.
“I do not blame Darwin for that, although I think Darwin said some things we quote in the movie that are really quite inflammatory. But the idea that Darwinism and the Darwinists should escape scot-free from eugenics, racism, the Holocaust – that’s nonsense. Darwin was a big, big force in rationalizing the Holocaust in the minds of the people who did it.”
Ben Stein and Walt Ruloff on scientists' resistance to acknowledging God as a possibility.
Ben Stein and Walt Ruloff confront the question of their own investigative baggage.