November 27, 2012


by Jesse Johnson

Expelled” is a documentary where comedian/actor/presidential speech-writer Ben Stein makes the case that scientists are suppressing evidence that shows that life has an intelligent designer. While the movie is a few years old, the point it makes still stands: evolution is a theory with more problems than answers, chief of which is that it is too unclear to be helpful. Nevertheless, the scientific community is so defensive of evolution that any evidence to the contrary is simply not allowed to be heard. Instead, those that dare do research that support intelligent design (ID) are expelled from the academic community.


The circular argument made by the scientific community and exposed by the movie is simple. ID is not science because no research backing it appears in peer-reviewed journals. Moreover, no scientist can do research pointing to ID or publish any articles defending it because it is not science. The circle is both complete and impenetrable.

Stein compares it to the Berlin Wall; American scientists have freedom to explore anything they want, as long as they stay on one side of the wall and ID stays on the other. Anyone that violates this rule is fired, figuratively tarred and feathered, and driven into the wilderness. Meanwhile, scientists themselves have real questions about evolution that they are unable to ask for fear of reprisals. While our country was founded on freedom, this freedom is under attack by the scientific community (picture Stein walking through Arlington Cemetery asking if these men died in vain, and you get the picture).

This is not a Christian movie. Stein’s foundation is not the deity of Christ, and his push for theism is not a push to bow the knee to the creator of the universe. This is also not a fair movie. Stein acts like Michael Moore with interviews spliced together and simplified issues being dismissed with sound bite phrases.

Yet this is a helpful movie. Any Christian who has attended public school at any level, be it kindergarten or grad school, can attest to the truth of what Stein exposes. Evidence for macro-evolution is practically concocted, and substantial evidence for ID is dismissed. Some of the best scenes in the movie have different evolutionists presenting Crystals and Aliens as possible sources for life on earth. This is more reasonable than ID, we are told, as long as the aliens themselves could have come from some Darwinian mechanism.

The last few scenes stressed that the debate between evolution and ID is really a debate about world-views. One of the scientists (there are so many in the movie, they are hard to track or remember their names) said that this is a debate where our world-view shapes how we see the evidence, not the other way around. This was probably the most profound line in the movie.

Christians realize what the scientific community (generally speaking) does not admit: our world-view does shape the way we see evidence. If nothing else, Stein succeeds in making a movie that shows people how shallow evolution is because of how shallow the world-view behind it is.

He could have made a better movie. The evolution/Nazi connection was overplayed, and his explanation of evolution was under-played. He compared himself to Ronald Regan too much, and cartoonish evolutionary caricatures abound. But he did make an entertaining movie on a complex topic that is taboo in classrooms.

I strongly recommend college students rent this movie, and strongly recommend that their shepherds take the time to talk to them afterwards. Use this as a chance to teach them what presuppositionalism is, and how it affects their education. The evolution “debate” has only one side being heard, and Stein sets the table for a helpful discussion about what is really behind the scientific community’s insistence that ID be silenced.

A final note: If you have seen “The Privileged Planet,” you will recognize Guillermo Gonzales. After the making of that movie, he was one of the scientists who found himself expelled.

Jesse Johnson

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Jesse is the Teaching Pastor at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA. He also leads The Master's Seminary Washington DC location.
  • csrima

    Thanks for posting this! I’ve seen the movie a few times, and I agree that there is an obvious “Moore-ish” agenda in the interviews. I also agree with your take on the whole. As with any agenda-driven movie, it can’t be treated as gospel. I do wish that Stein would have presented every angle on the “expelled” scientists, and allowed for the fact that there are real issues that people have with how his explanation of their “expulsions” took place.

    Regardless, you are right in stating that the main takeaway is the prevalence and regular dismissal of the importance of worldview in the formation of suppositions. The secular academy seems to actually believe that they come to their conclusions 100% honestly and without any bias…but their unwillingness to admit that there are flaws in evolutionary theory proves that assertion to be patently false.

    The danger is the suppression of opposing viewpoints when there are real questions to be answered by the scientific community that, to put it bluntly, they cannot answer.

    • csrima

      It’s also interesting to note the widespread media reaction to Senator Rubio’s comments in GQ. The response isn’t “well, then, let us explain the virtues of evolution,” so much as it is “conservatives don’t believe in science!”

      It’s the worst kind of media reporting, and that’s saying a lot after this most recent election cycle.

      • It’s interesting, isn’t it Seth, that materialists/positivists spin science as something to be “believed in.” It’s an acknowledgement that when science goes from being a servant to a master, “scientism” is indeed a worldview with its own unprovable philosophical presuppositions.

        This short documentary on C. S. Lewis’s thoughts on sciencism as “the magician’s twin” was extremely informative, and apropos for the topic today.

  • Karl Heitman

    Hey Jesse, great review. It’s been a while since I’ve see this, but I would also highly recommend it to anyone. Have you ever see the documentary “IndoctriNation?” I’d like to see some of your thoughts on that….

    • I haven’t seen it. Woudl you recommend it?

      • Karl Heitman

        Yes. I would. I think it was very well made, but, like all documentaries, it was a little biased. It would be fun to see your review of it on the C-gate… The topic will surely warrant some responses from your audience. 😉