Randy Olson, creator of the excellent documentary film Flock of Dodos, has weighed in with a post and a lively debate in the comments, Meet Ben Stein, the New Spokesman for the Field of Evolution. I was particularly impressed with JuliaL’s comment in that thread.
Extremely effective as propaganda.
I went to see the movie this weekend because I can’t expect to have any credibility in discussing it with my church friends if I haven’t seen it.
I’m comfortable with the context of witty debate, and, viewed as part of that context, Myers and Dawkins were clever and surprisingly mild-mannered.
I’m also familiar with the context of conservative Christian conversations about religion, and in that context, Myers and Dawkins look cold, callous, arrogant, and hateful.
Myers takes something that the audience treasures as the most valuable element of their lives, the source of comfort in pain and tragedy, the source of the ethical and social systems they live by, and compares it to a trivial hobby (accompanied by ad by an old clip of an ugly, foolish-looking woman knitting). The very off-handedness of his comment reads as a powerful insult. The method by which one is dealing with the death of a child, the way in which one makes life-altering decisions, all a trivial hobby? That doesn’t come across so much as a put-down of religion as a dismissing of the pain, hopes, and lives of the people themselves.
As a Christian who is entirely comfortable with the scientific Theory of Evolution, I hope that very few of my fellow church members see this movie because I think its effect may be hard to counteract. I’m sorry to see today so much scienceblog discussion focused on money – for the fundamentalists, this is an investment in missions, not a source of income – and so much less focused on what a powerful tool this movie is for turning a religious person who has known and cared little about the evolution/ID struggle in public schools into a determined advocate for ID.
Sadly I think she’s correct about the reactions to the film by conservative/fundamentalist Christians, I recommend you read the whole comment.
Michael Shermer received a letter demonstrating some of the harm Expelled is doing by spreading lies. Richard Dawkins wrote a wonderful reply, ‘Open Letter to a victim of Ben Stein’s lying propaganda’
A young Christian wrote an interesting post, Expelled, or Why I Wont Be Seeing It.
Blake Stacey has put together a list of people actually harmed in the evolution/creationism wars in his post, Creation, Power and Violence.
Scientific American has many articles about Expelled, here are two to get you started. Ben Stein Launches a Science-free Attack on Darwin and Six Things in Expelled That Ben Stein Doesn’t Want You to Know.
Peter Manseau wrote a review for Science & Spirit magazine, Is I.D. Ready for Its Close-up?
Blue Collar Scientist has quotes and links for Some Expelled Reviews.
Skeptico comments on Ben Steins appearance on the Craig Ferguson show, Whats Ben Stein Smoking? Seriously, has Ben lost all his brain, expecting evolution to explain things in other unrelated fields of science, WTF!