NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Following weeks of controversy about not only its content but its filming and production, Ben Stein's documentary "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" opens this weekend.
The 90-minute movie (PG, thematic elements, very brief language) explores the ongoing academic, legal and cultural battle between supporters of Darwinian evolution and Intelligent Design, which is the belief that certain aspects of the world are so complex that they are best explained as having been created by an intelligent being, instead of by a random process. Stein talks to people on both sides of the debate, and in a climactic scene, interviews noted atheist and evolutionist Richard Dawkins.
The movie's premise is simple: Supporters of Intelligent Design are being "expelled" -– fired, shunned or ridiculed (or all three) -– from institutions for their beliefs. Stein's famous dry humor is on display throughout the film.
Pro-family leaders, including Focus on the Family's James Dobson and the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission's Richard Land, have given the film thumbs up.
"Expelled is a wonderful movie," Land said on the April 17 broadcast of "For Faith and Family" in which he interviewed Stein. "I think it should be required viewing for anyone who wants to understand what is going on and what is at stake in the debate over worldviews in this society."
Land encouraged Christians to tell their friends about it.
"This is one of these times when you can vote with your pocketbook. You can vote with your economic franchise, and Hollywood will listen when they see the dollar signs," he said.
Contrary to what some people might assume, Stein said he's not on a quest for the teaching of Darwinian evolution to be replaced by Intelligent Design in schools and colleges. Rather, he simply wants to see ID be given a place at the academic table.
"Darwin proposed [evolution] as a hypothesis, [and it] has become a dictatorial totalitarian regime within big science and the academy of the United States of America, colleges and universities, and foundations," Stein told Land. "[Y]ou cannot question it, you cannot doubt it, you cannot express the slightest quibble with it, or you lose your grant, you lose your job, you lose your office, you lose your friends, sometimes you lose your family. You are expelled, in other words, and we think that's a bad state of affairs in a free society and a society founded on the freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry."
One reason the evolution debate frustrates Stein, he said, is because its supporters pretend that it answers questions it in fact doesn't. In one of the movie's more dramatic and humorous moments, Stein asks Dawkins if he believes it's even remotely possible that an intelligent being could be responsible for life on earth. Dawkins responds by suggesting aliens could have played a role.
"It is possible," Stein said, "that evolutionism explains changes within species. I have no doubt about that, frankly, but does it explain where life came from? No. Does it explain where matter came from? No. Does it explain where energy came from? ... [It] doesn't explain any of those things, so it is a theory which, at best, it explains a very teeny part of the puzzle."
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press. For more information about "Expelled," visit www.GetExpelled.com.
to listen to Richard Land's interview with Ben Stein.