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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Expelled Movie: Catholic columnist liked it, and its Jewish backbone, much better than he had feared


Columnist Christopher A. Ferrara, of New Jersey-based Catholic magazine Remnant, admits,
When I went to a local movie theatre to see “ Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” during its short run, I went with very low expectations, and more out of a sense of duty than anything else. The critics had uniformly savaged this documentary exposé of the academic tyranny of the Darwinian establishment, and even allowing for their liberal bias I had expected to encounter a schlock production along the lines of other such films produced with the backing of evangelicals and fundamentalists.

But the film about the ID guys wasn't as bad as Ferrara feared.

Actually, on that score, I could have told Ferrara to fear not. The film was made by professionals, not by people who save souls by emptying theatres. Anyway, he writes,
Imagine my surprise and delight when I realized that the critical savaging of this film was probably motivated primarily by fear—fear that “Expelled” might actually succeed in tearing down what the film, in a thematic allegory, likens to a Berlin Wall in academia, behind which are confined in lonely exile the hardy few who have dared to challenge the teaching of Saint Darwin by stating the obvious: that the emergence of life in all its unimaginable and irreducible complexity can only have been the result of creation according to an intelligent design. With Ben Stein, the lawyer, former presidential speechwriter and Hollywood celebrity as its front man and narrator, “Expelled” is a lavishly mounted and brilliantly executed piece of anti-Darwinian propaganda, in the best sense of the word.

and
It hardly needs to be explained how stunning a breakthrough this film is, even despite its flaws (including a rather painful-to-watch appeal to Jeffersonian liberalism as the antidote to Darwinism). I paid three times to see “Expelled,” for the sheer pleasure of watching over and over again such an unexpected bombshell of a movie, hardly believing that Stein would have lent his name to the production, since it surely means the end of his Hollywood career.

Of course, when someone's career "ends" because he says something that so manifestly needed to be said (witness all the establishment types insisting that it ain't so, ain't so, ain't so ... ), that's because he has outlived that career.

Ferrara also notes that the film ends with "a tableau of three Jewish intellectuals: Stein (valedictorian of his class at Yale Law School), nuclear physicist Dr. Gerald Schroeder (formerly of MIT and now a professor at Hebrew University), and mathematician and philosopher Dr. David Berlinski" and he then goes on to talk about David Berlinski's excellent The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions.

Agnostic Berlinski is particularly hard on "Catholic evolutionists" in a Remnant interview with Berlinski in Paris (May 9, 2008), which he reproduces just below the rview of Expelled:
CF: Let’s turn to the Catholic Church, which is our focus here. Let’s talk in particular about somebody like Ken Miller who piously assures us that “as a Catholic, I have no problem reconciling the theory of evolution with my faith.” But then he’ll turn around and deny intelligent design. Now my question would be, isn’t that a disingenuous position?

DB: Well, I hesitate to talk about Ken Miller’s Catholic faith because I regard him as being disingenuous across the board…. As I understand Miller, he’s not denying intelligent design. He’s simply pushing it to a level such that it will never be an impediment to any particular dogma in the here and now. And he’s perfectly prepared to say that the cosmos is in some sense intelligently designed. He’s prepared to say that because the evidence is overwhelming that it is. He’s just determined not to see evidence of intelligent design in any process of living systems.

CF: And why?

DB: Because that would put him squarely in conflict with prevailing orthodoxy…. Like so many other people, Ken Miller wants to serve as many gods as he can.

CF: …. So that’s the issue. Where is there a place for God in the system of someone who says, at one and the same time, I am a Catholic, but life arose through a stochastic process? Where is there room for God in that system? A verbal affirmation?

DB: He [God] is very far away where he can do no trouble and interfere with no human activities, and that is exactly the point of the exercise: to retain the piety of devotion without any inconvenience of faith.


But the whole interview is worth reading, particularly when Berlinski addresses the unfruitful tautology of "survival of the fittest" (which makes few or no predictions) and compares it to the fruitful tautology of Newton's account of gravity.

Note: Blogging may be spotty for a few days because I will be teaching at Write! Canada and I have recently been apprised that I have 19 students, as of last count, in Freelance Survival 101, or whatever we are calling it this year. So I must prepare, prepare, prepare. I will likely blog, but probably only one entry at a time rather than five at once. Meanwhile, slainte and l'chaim and salaam and all that to all readers!

Note: Blogging may be spotty for a few days because I will be teaching at Write! Canada and I have just been apprised that I have 19 students, as of last count, in Freelance Survival 101, or whatever we are calling it this year. So I must prepare, prepare, prepare. I will likely blog, but probably only one entry at a time rather than five at once. Meanwhile, slainte and l'chaim and salaam and all that to all readers!

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