FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)--As Ben Stein's documentary "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" enters its second week in theaters, I would like to comment on its first week of fireworks.
Elie Wiesel once remarked that the opposite of love is not aggression but indifference. If he's right, Expelled is unrivaled in its lavish spreading of love. Indeed, it shows that there is yet hope for our society. The lukewarmness that the risen Lord so despised in the Laodicean church is nowhere evident in the reviews of this film.
Expelled documents assaults by a secular elite on the academic freedom of Intelligent Design supporters. Not surprisingly, the secular elite are displeased to have their dirty deeds exposed.
Our society separates sharply between elite and popular culture. Elite culture regards Darwinian evolution as the greatest idea ever conceived and as an ideological weapon for keeping in check a popular culture that overwhelmingly believes in God.
"Expelled" unmasks this disconnect. In consequence, popular reviews of the film are overwhelmingly positive (e.g., Rush Limbaugh and Mike Huckabee loved the film) whereas high-culture reviews are overwhelmingly negative (e.g., The New York Times and the Village Voice).
The Village Voice's reaction to "Expelled" was especially illuminating. "Expelled" shows that there is a clear intellectual lineage between Darwin's ideas about evolution and Hitler's Nazism. It documents this carefully, and it adds all the appropriate caveats (no, not all Darwinists are Nazis; yes, there were many other factors besides Darwin's ideas that led to Nazism; Darwinism was a necessary but not a sufficient condition for Nazism; etc.).
Any connection between Darwin and the Nazis, however, is completely unacceptable to our secular elite, who will not allow Darwin, who has become a secular saint, to be in any way denigrated. Review after review has railed on "Expelled" for connecting Nazism and Darwinism. The Village Voice referred to Ben Stein's drawing of this connection as "bizarre and hysterical."
Yet the same weekend that "Expelled" opened in theaters saw the opening of another documentary, "Constantine's Sword." Here's what the Village Voice has to say about that film: "X marks the spot, literally, where Christianity and the Catholic Church fostered the centuries of religious hatred and anti-Semitism that culminated in the Holocaust.... But if [author James Carroll's] film is more provocative personal inquiry than reportorial knockout punch, it still pokes needed holes in the concept of papal infallibility and provides historical context for the dangers of linking the church and military."
So, for our culture's secular elite, a film that shows how Christianity "culminated in the Holocaust" constitutes cutting-edge cultural commentary. But a film like "Expelled," which carefully documents how the Nazis appropriated Darwin's ideas, is "bizarre and hysterical."
If you missed "Expelled" this first week, go see it this second week. If you've thought better about seeing the film because of all the negative reaction, overcome your scruples. If you want to know what's at the heart of our cultural divide, you must see this film.
William Dembski is research professor of philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is interviewed in "Expelled." For more information visit www.getexpelled.com or www.expelledthemovie.com. "Expelled" is rated PG for thematic material and very brief language.