Monday, April 21, 2008

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

I took my 18-year old
daughter who is taking several courses in history, philosophy, and political science at the University of Miami to see Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. She was very impressed [we are functionally agnostic] with the argument that suppression of the teaching of ID even as a heuristic device is streng verboten as Dr. Berlinski said. Ben Stein cornered Dr. Dawkins and the arrogant professor simply was unable to answer the "prime mover" argument when after he posited panspermia from advanced civilizations from other planets [which was the Soviet party line for a while], Dawkins was unable to say how the advanced aliens got kick-started. Stein gently kept Dawkins writhing on the hook. All in all, so much better than the apodictic twaddle doled out by Michael Moore, laughable to the extreme on health-care as any Miami Cuban can inform you---and Al Gore, who simply says "the argument is settled" and let the evidence be damned.

Berlinski and Stephen C. Meyer were very impressive, and other interviewees on both sides were less so. The Berlin Wall imagery fit the concept almost exactly.

However, I would have liked to push the envelope further, which the movie didn't do in the interests of keeping the polemic clear and simple. Some of the deeper philosophical and religious questions were not even touched upon.

To wit, evolution & Darwinism has never been able to explain human consciousness, that is, the reflexive ability to consider oneself in contexts imagined or posited outside one's own experience. No one, not Skinner nor Bertrand Russell nor Wittgenstein nor Rorty can even begin to approach the complexity of the human soul. Dawkins & others like the silly skeptic Shermer, who surfaces on Larry King to spout his apodictic homilies, simply refused to answer the questions put to them by Stein. Dawkins, to give him credit, was simply unable to do so. Shermer was totally dishonest when presented with the facts of the case of Stephen Meyer, which he was already aware of. He simply pretended not to understand or refused to answer honestly---of course it was the latter.

I would have liked to see the crew of Reason Magazine, a libertarian outfit which is far more intellectually honest than the likes of Shermer, in the film.

But all in all, Stein did a good enough job, though it was about fifteen minutes longer and a bit more redundant than needed. I gave it five stars on the NYT review board---it simply was the best polemic I've seen since Planet of the Apes.

Stein has put together a pretty good movie, talkative and sometimes a wee bit preachy, but overall much better than the Moore & Gore fiascos.

1 comment :

patrick said...

just saw Expelled... Ben Stein's goal in making Expelled (i gather) is to promote free thought, especially more thinking about motivations that drive American academia and a lot of other behind-the-scenes worldview that we tend to take for granted.