Film causes nationwide controversy

On April 15, College students heard a lecture from Bob Kaita, a Princeton physicist who argued it is possible for a scientist to believe in God. While Kaita’s arguments were reasonable, the material handed out in the hallway was not.

Volunteers passed out promotional DVDs, posters and pamphlets hocking Ben Stein’s new documentary, “Expelled.” “Expelled” purports to expose a conspiracy of Darwinists out to suppress any hint of intelligent design (read: creationism) from science. Moreover, “Expelled” posits a direct link between accepting evolution and enacting Nazi-like eugenics policies. These premises are as flawed as intelligent design itself.

While not having any direct bearing on the film’s claims, the tactics used by its producers are telling. According to, several prominent scientists and atheists, including Richard Dawkins, PZ Meyers and Eugenie Scott were hoodwinked into giving interviews for the film, which they would likely not have done had they known what sort of film “Expelled” would be.

Instead, Dawkins and the others were told that their interviews were for a film called “Crossroads” concerning “the intersection of science and religion.” Clips from their interviews were used out of context to enhance the appearance of science as hostile to religion. “Expelled” then claimed “Crossroads” was merely a working title, and that the film’s direction had changed with no intent of deception. However, according to, the domain name had already been registered on March 1, 2007 – before the interviews for “Crossroads” took place. Later, when he attempted to attend a screening of “Expelled,” Meyers was told he had to leave immediately or face arrest.

The claims of harassment and intimidation on the part of intelligent design proponents appear to be, for lack of a better phrase, utter crap. One section of the film details the case of Richard Sternberg, a researcher at the Smithsonian Institute who “Expelled” claims was fired for his views. However, Sternberg was never actually a Smithsonian employee. He was merely a research associate who always had a limited term at the Institute, and was already planning to step down from his post at the journal Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington.

“Expelled” also claims that Iowa State University astronomy professor Guillermo Gonzalez was denied tenure because of his views on intelligent design. However, tenure is always difficult to achieve. “Expelled” makes exaggerated claims like this about several other figures in academia – these people were, in each and every case, dismissed for legitimate reasons.

“Expelled’s” linking of legitimate science to Nazism is the most troubling aspect of the film. This is a logical fallacy known informally as the “reductio ad hitlerum.” Besides, the link from evolution to the Holocaust is very weak. “Expelled” quotes selectively from Darwin to make him sound like a eugenicist monster. Speaking of how natural selection has ceased to apply to humans, Darwin said, “We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbeciles, the maimed and the sick. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man.”

Believing in evolution certainly does not mean that one believes human beings should be left to die, let alone deliberately put to death. The Holocaust was caused by the desperation and humiliation of the German people after World War I, combined with centuries-old anti-Semitism.

Of course, there is also much to be said of the scientific evidence that supports evolution. I am not, however, a scientist, so I encourage people to seek that information elsewhere. Just think twice before accepting Stein’s tall tales of rebellion and victimization.

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