Sunday, February 22, 2009

Expelled: Ben Stein's Big Embarrassment

I may be the last Atheist blogger in the world to see Ben Stein's Expelled, but I think I have something new to say: This movie is so bad, we should have ignored it completely.

Expelled was embarrassing to watch, nothing more than a glaring piece of hack propaganda. I used to really admire Stein, and when I heard about Expelled, I was genuinely worried. A man of his intelligence and wit could, in theory, deal a real blow to science and to the rational view of the universe.

Instead, I was shocked at the amateurish propaganda techniques, the laughable conspiracy theories, and the discredited "scientists" he picked as his "victims." I thought Ben was better than that. I thought he'd present a well-reasoned, articulate, balanced documentary, one that really challenged the scientific community.

Instead, he wrote and narrated a piece of trash. The only people who will be influenced by this garbage are creationists, people who are already in his camp.

In fact, the most embarrassing part is that Ben Stein insults the very people he is trying to defend. Ben Stein counts on his audience's ignorance of science and the scientific method. For example, he has a long sequence showing the incredible complexity of cellular biology, which is mostly intended to baffle an uneducated audience, and then basically says, You're too dumb to understand this, so God must have created it.

Next he tries to bamboozle everyone with the tired old information-theory (aka entropy) approach, another subject that requires an advanced college degree and years of study to fully appreciate. He presents just enough to fool an uneducated audience, then repeats the argument that because we're too dumb to understand this, God must have designed it.

This appeal to the ignorance of his audience is insulting, even to creationists who agree with Stein. To real scientists, it's nothing short of fraud.

When he got to the picture of Joseph Stalin, and started associating Atheism with Communism and the Holocaust, I couldn't stand it any more. That sort of guilt-by-association is beneath the dignity of a well-educated man like Ben Stein. The Nazis got the trains to run on time; should we persecute Amtrak's management and call them Nazis if they manage to get Amtrak trains on schedule? The Nazis believed in Einstein's Theory of Relativity and were using it to design nuclear bombs; should we put all of our Los Alamos and Berkeley nuclear physicists and engineers in prison as Nazi sympathizers? The Nazis believed that fresh air and exercise are healthy, should we incarcerate Jack LaLane?

Ben Stein claims to be in favor of science, yet he ignores its most important lesson: Science searches for the truth, no matter how unpleasant! If the Theory of Evolution was responsible for Nazism and Communism, that doesn't make it false. It just means that as moral humans, we have to learn to rise above our natural, animal instincts.

I think the Atheist community made far too big of a stink about Expelled. It is an unimportant movie. By raising such a furor over it, we've given it far more credibility than it deserves. Dawkins refuses to debate creationists for this very reason – it's a stupid debate, you won't win any converts, but by debating them you imply that they are in the same league as real science.

They're not. And neither is Ben Stein. With Expelled, he reduced himself from the ranks of important intellectuals, down to the rank of amateur propagandist.


  1. The nazis hated Einstein and his theories. Einstein was Jewish, and nazis don't like Jewish people.

  2. They may have hated Einstein, but that didn't stop them from using his famous "E = mc^2" equation to try to build nuclear weapons. If it hadn't been for some brave Allied forces who sneaked behind the German lines during WWII and destroyed the Nazi's production facilities, the Nazis might have finished their bombs, and world history would be very different today.

  3. The use of mass ignorant people is no surprise.
    Politicians and religious leaders are doing it for centuries.

    Creationists are only taking advantage of mass stupidity.

    Go to places like Sweden, Denmark, to see how much people they can enthusiast ... ignorance is the fuel for creationism, as you wisely pointed, they *know* creationism does not resist to educated people !

  4. Before watching, I felt pretty-much the same about Stein as the author did, and I was similarly disappointed in him.

    After an hour of weaving communism and evolution together, he finally came out and pulled the Holocaust card.

    I listened to the first five minutes of his holocaust-was-caused-by-Darwinism, but when the next segment expounded further upon that idea, I pressed "Eject."

    I suppose that made me miss his heart-to-heart with Dawkins, but I refuse to give creedence to someone who says that the theory of evolution led inexorably to the Holocaust.

  5. Maybe my opinion will not be published but I am a physicist and mathematician and I really don't believe that really "educated people" can go after stupidity like evolutionist and other pseudo-theories that were never proved. Come on, let's say the truth, this is not science.

  6. I am a resolute non-evolutionist who really hated this movie. It was edited like a piece of propaganda in the vein of the michael moore crap films. Very sad.

    Folks. There is plenty to not like about the theory of evolution. Plenty to be told without resorting to this kind of blatant propaganda measure.

    Wish more evolutionists were reasonable about their own theory.

    You guys often sound just like the fundies you so dislike

  7. Anon:
    > You guys often sound just like the fundies you so dislike

    No, that's where you're wrong. Unlike the anti-evolution position, which is based on faith and ignoring the evidence, the science behind evolution is something you can study and learn about for yourself. The discoveries that we call the "Theory of Evolution" need not be taken on faith, they can be verified by any competent scientist. More importantly, they have been. There are thousands of great books about evolution. Have you read any of them? "The Blind Watchmaker" is a great starting point.

  8. Tisk tisk Atheists! Please prove to me that God doesn't exist. If you can't prove it, then who do you think you are that you can state with absolute certainty that God doesn't exist? If you boil your argument down to its simplest form, all you have is an opinion with fancy language designed to complicate the matter. In fact, you have just as much faith in the opposite direction as one with religious beliefs.

  9. Virtual Media - You should do your homework before you make comments like that. Your argument is a classic logical fallacy that was thoroughly debunked hundreds of years ago. No serious Christian apologist dares use it any more. For a quick summary of why it's completely bogus, see You Can't Prove God Doesn't Exist.

    In a nutshell, you can't prove ANYTHING doesn't exist. Not your Yahweh, nor Thor, nor Vishnu, nor little green men living on the moon. It's an empty argument.

    You're asking me to disprove a god who supposedly is omnipotent an omniscent, yet created flawed humans who sinned, so he impregnated a virgin, who then had his child, but the child was really the god, but then he arranged for the very same humans he created to torture and murder himself, and somehow anyone who believes this is forgiven for sins they never committed in the first place ...

    Did I get that right? I'm supposed to disprove that?

  10. Virtual Media didn't mention being Christian, why have you made that assumption?

    Also, no one has mentioned that the scientists in Expelled were talking about intelligent design not Creationism, they made that distinction. There are scientists who want to explore this theory so why shouldn't it be debated? Talk about blind faith, is it really in our best interest to just keep believing in that flawed theory of Darwins? Even it it turns out that there is no intelligent design involved how will we know if it's not allowed to be explored?

  11. I just watched Expelled and I think it is a story that needs to be told. You have all these elaborate theories but do not have any proof where they came from..

    Mr.Stein does not deny the process of evolution,he's meerly stating that maybe there's a master at work.

    I love how you who I shall call Atheists have no respect for people's thoughts and beliefs and assume that because you think something is right or wrong, then therefore it's gospel. It shows a great deal of intolerance and lack of respect on your part.

    Has Mr. Stein EVER retaliated for the abuse that he has endured for making this movie? maybe you Atheists should consider it a lesson from a man of great spiritual ethics and morals. The golden rule goes a long way..Shame on you..

  12. Has Mr. Stein EVER retaliated for the abuse that he has endured for making this movie? No.

    Yes. For one thing, he responded to the ADL by saying, "This is none of your fucking business." The Holocaust and Ben's claims about it are none of the Anti-Defamation League's business?

    Expelled is a lie and a form of Holocaust denial. It's a shameful defamation of scientists whose only ambition is to make life better so that you can credit God for their works.

    Also, no one has mentioned that the scientists in Expelled were talking about intelligent design not Creationism, they made that distinction.

    Ben Stein defined intelligent design as "the idea that God created the universe." Goodbye to the "distinction!"

  13. everyone on this blogs states to many opinions and no facts are provided. To each his own. At the end if a god believing man is wrong he'll just lay in the dirt, but if he is right.. i feel sorry for the other guy who chose not to believe. One way or another your life will end. Heads up!!

  14. I'm pretty sure you're just mad that Ben Stein made Richard DICKings look like more of close-minded moron than he normally does.

  15. Why is it so quickly forgotten why we know evolution happened and is happening? The same life that exists now did not exist 3 billion years ago....this is fact in the scientific sense . Cyanobacteria in oldest rock layers and zero humans or trilobites or dinasaurs or worms or baby snakes. Slightly younger rock layers only primitive multicellular and bacteria, younger yet trilobites still no moles chipmunks dogs baby humans etc etc. that is fact and all the scientific evidence supports only evolution or a god that tricked us to believe evilution. The latter by def of god is impissible


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