Monday, April 21, 2008

On Expelled, part I

There's a lot to say about the movie Expelled. I saw it today and it's percolating in my mind and will be posted. But one thing needs to be addressed first.

In this film, Ben Stein, in a quest to defend professors who acknowledge Intelligent Design, takes us to a Nazi insane asylum.

It comes fairly late in the the film. Up until this point i disagreed with much of the film, agreed with or respected a few things about it, and felt i could write about it fairly with no need to express outrage.

But from a relatively low-key, calm and reasonable, "fair and balanced" plea for all views to be on the table, all rigorous science to be allowed to stand or fall on its own merits, suddenly Stein takes a dark and nasty detour.

Framed by quotes from Darwin, about how only in regard to human beings do we nurture the defectives among the species -- how no farmer in his right mind would breed the weakest farm animals -- Stein devotes an outrageous stretch of film time to a tour of a Nazi insane asylum, one in which the "defective" were gassed and dissected. After a fairly brisk pace throughout the earlier portion of his film, Stein spends long quiet frames walking us through the gas showers, the dissection table, the echoing hallway of this slice of hell. Powerful imagery. Imagery which he quite intelligently designs to play on the viewer's mind, to associate Darwin's theory with a regime that perverted that theory to commit crimes against humanity.

This was reprehensible.

Stein should be ashamed of playing on the worst excess of warped Darwinism as practiced by Nazi Germany, in a film in which he keeps crying out for Intelligent Design to be fairly represented.

I'm glad it came late in the film. It would have colored my opinion of anything that came after it, and some points earlier seemed honorably made and worthy of discussion. But that passage worries me a whole lot. I'm still mulling over just how much the later passage should alter my respect for the earlier points.

More thought is in order before i address the film in more depth.

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