The title of this post is a dual reference. It refers to the event described in the post itself, but also to the fact that it took me so long to write about it. So much stuff has been going on in the world and I’ve just been too lazy to write about it. But it’s a quarter to eight on a Sunday morning, and Mandy is still asleep, and I’ve just got no excuse.
So, have you guys heard about this film, Expelled? It’s a “documentary” that claims there is a bias against creationists in the scientific community. Part of me would have to agree with that basic premise: There is no evidence to support creationist claims; proper scientific inquiry is based upon evidence; therefore, a person who claims as fact that a creator-being exists or existed cannot be a scientist. Sure. But the film apparently goes on to claim that Hitler based his designs for the Holocaust on Darwin’s work — a claim that is as false as it is offensive. Hitler’s ideas were based, more than anything else, on the writings of Martin Luther, who predates Darwin by about three centuries. Furthermore, the notion of a Hitler-Darwin connection implies that pogroms did not exist before Darwin published Origin of the Species in 1859. The truth is almost the exact opposite. Darwin observed that the culling of species, pogroms, eugenics, and genocide — behavior observed in human beings for thousands of years — also occurred in nature. There is no evidence that Hitler ever read Origin of the Species, although he was an intelligent man so one could reasonable assume he was at least aware of Darwin’s ideas. There is, however, overwhelming evidence that Hitler was a Catholic, and that his anti-Semitism stemmed more from his religious beliefs than anything else.
So the film itself is fundamentally flawed, which only exacerbates the hilarity surrounding the producers’ attempts to market the thing. A couple of weeks ago in Minnesota they held a screening. Attendees had to register in advance online. Among those who registered was my favorite biology professor, PZ Myers. The registration process allowed him to bring guests, but did not require him to identify them. So he did.
While waiting in line to enter the theater, a security guard approached Professor Myers and informed him that the film’s producer was barring him from attending the screening, and furthermore that if he did not leave post haste the police would be called. Professor Myers left without incident, and made his way to the nearby Apple Store, where he reported the incident on his blog.
While the good professor waited outside, the guests he brought with him were admitted into the screening. These guests included his daughter, her boyfriend, and Richard freakin’ Dawkins. How such an oversight could occur I have no idea, but at least it provided fodder for a hilarious, no-holds-barred review of the film. Professor Myers’ daughter Skatje, a skilled and passionate defender of Atheism in her own right, provided an equally withering review of the film here.
I do really want to see this movie, just so I can roast it with authority. By all accounts, however, it is as poorly made as it is informed or informative. I’d say we should expect more from narrator Ben Stein, of “Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?” fame. But then again, the guy wrote speeches for Richard Nixon.