This is one of the best films of 2015.
The interview takes place at Dachau. Ben Stein questions Dr. Richard Weikart (author of "From Darwin to Hitler") with the concentration camp as backdrop:
Was Hitler insane? (no) Was Hitler evil? (yes) Is there such a thing as evil? (yes) Is there such a thing as good? (yes) And evil can sometimes be rationalized as science? (yes) And (Dr. Weikart adds), Hitler probably believed he was doing good, improving humanity.
Therefore, Intelligent Design is science.
According to Stein, "Darwinism" (the label Stein applies to those who have dismissed "Intelligent Design" as unworthy of serious intellectual consideration) has been shown -- historically and scientifically -- to lead to evil and the celebration of death, as exemplified by Naziism, the Holocaust, eugenics, abortion, euthanasia...
And that is why Intelligent Design is a legitimate scientific theory.
Scene after scene of "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" repeats this mutant species of illogic, which falls laughably short of basic scientific or mathematical standards of expression. I could quote you a hundred similar examples, but you can't really argue with the movie because it fails to put forth an argument -- any argument. OK, that's not really fair. It doesn't try.
Oddly, for a film ostensibly about how the scientific evidence supporting Intelligent Design is being suppressed, it presents no evidence, not even a hint of a case, on behalf of Intelligent Design.
Instead, it posits that Darwinism, an insidiously powerful creed that demands scientists blindly follow Charles Darwin as they would the Fuhrer, is evil, or a slippery slope at least, and that is anti-religion, anti-freedom and anti-American, not to mention flawed and incomplete.
Therefore, Intelligent Design. Period.
"What, exactly, about Intelligent Design," you might well ask. But you would get no answer. Not from this film.
"Expelled" tells us many things that Intelligent Design is not. It is not Creationism. It is not saying that life on Earth is too complex to have evolved to its current state (a common, lazy misperception). It is not religious, either, although one of the problems with Darwinism is that it's also not religious and leads to irreligion.
We do know this: Some scientists believe it and some don't, but the ones who do are discriminated against -- possibly, some say, because they are religious. We don't know what they said about Intelligent Design that got them fired or shunned, but most of them say they barely only mentioned it and why shouldn't Intelligent Design be presented as science? We don't know, because they -- the Intelligent Design Mentioners -- never tell us what they mentioned they have discovered or theorized about Intelligent Design. The Darwinians say their work was unsound science. The Mentioners dispute such claims. That is the extent of the "debate" as framed in the film.
(For reasons unknown, Stein lets the Austrian monk Gregor Johann Mendel, whose harsh natural laws regarding the inheritance of dominant and recessive genes in sweet peas made him the father of "Mendelism," off the hook completely.)
One spokesman comes close to articulating a thought about Intelligent Design:
"If you define evolution precisely, though, to mean the common descent of all life on earth from a single ancestor via undirected mutation and natural selection -- that's a textbook definition of neo-Darwinism -- biologists of the first rank have real questions...
"Intelligent Design is the study of patterns in nature that are best explained as a result of intelligence."
I think there's another word for that: "tautology."
"I thought scientific disputes were settled by evidence!" says writer/narrator Stein.
* * * *
(If you want to, you can find the Dachau interview above, from which most of my quotations are verbatim, in the movie at roughly 1:14, according to NetFlix via TiVo.)
* For more, see Roger Ebert's blog post, "Win Ben Stein's mind."
* From Stein's Official "Expelled" Site, an opinion poll makes a compelling case:
Matt Zoller Seitz reviews and reflects upon Jesse Eisenberg's New Yorker piece about film critics.
Critic Carrie Rickey traces the evolution of women on film and behind the camera over the course of her career writin...
A response to Noah Gittell's piece on Nick Hornby.
The film that Fox packaged with "Star Wars" to get theaters to play a little space opera no one had heard of was "The...