Well, Ben Stein's Intelligent Design screed Expelled is going to start showing up in theaters this Friday, though it's only running in two theaters in my city. I actually saw a commercial for it on TV for the first time this morning. I must admit that I have some morbid interest in seeing the film, though I've no interest whatsoever in supporting its creators by paying to do so. Expelled is little more than a collection of the same tired old creationist arguments mixed in with whining about about "scientific elitism" and weird accusations that Darwin caused the Holocaust.
There are two things that strike me as missing from all the pre-release material on Expelled, the first being the obvious question that, if somehow ID turned out to be true in the face of all on-going scientific research, why would that naturally lead us to the conclusion that the Judeo-Christian God was behind it? Why not Odin, Amaterasu, Ganesh, Marduk, or Cthulhu? What would it prove about any god? Mightn't it just prove that there are aliens and that they created humanity? Because ID is just a repainted version of fundamentalist Christian creationism, it makes an unspoken assumption that if nature were shown to be designed by an outside intellect, it must've been Yahweh that did it. But what leads them to that assumption? Why didn't Ben Stein interview this guy?
The reason is that Stein and his Expelled cronies aren't interested in non-Christian versions of ID is that they're specifically out to tout biblical creationism in the guise of science. Not that I'm claiming that the alien guy is doing any more science than the IDers (actually they're probably working on about the same level), but it's telling that the traditional IDers want nothing to do with these guys. They're all making about the same claims, but the ID crowd wants to make sure that its audience understands, without having to say so, that the operator behind all this meant to be Yahweh.
What's double fun here is that any time you bring up the whole "intelligent design by aliens" to a traditional IDer, you'll get a response along the lines of "Aliens complex enough to create human beings are also too complex to have arisen by chance*, so what designed them?" The reply, of course, is that an omnipotent deity must by definition be far, far more complex than either humans or aliens, so where did it come from? Was it designed by something else? Where did that come from? Did it, and only it, evolve? If a deity has existed for all eternity with no beginning or end, can't one ask, rhetorically, why a static universe in which the building blocks of life have always existed is not at least equally as plausible?** Most IDers have no answers to these questions because their are operating under the assumption that the ID "designer" is meant to be Yahweh.
Also conspicuous by their absence are any prominent Christian scientists who accept evolution. As usual, I'm going to trot out Human Genome Project head Francis Collins, who is an eminent geneticist and also a devout believer in evangelical Christianity. Collins is willing to go to the mat with Richard Dawkins about the existence of God (Collins is big into the anthropic argument.), but he is convinced of the reality of evolution by natural selection after having spent his entire professional life working exclusively in the field of genetics! Where is Collins in Expelled? What about Catholic biologist Ken Miller, author of Finding Darwin's God and outspoken foe of creationists of all stripes? Why isn't he in Expelled?
The answer here is easy - Expelled's producers felt that Christian evolutionary scientists would "confuse the audience". Something that the creators of Expelled want to sweep under the carpet is that the vast majority of Christians working in the biological sciences understand evolution by natural selection to be, for all intents and purposes, an established fact. By refusing to acknowledge that anyone can both be a Christian and accept evolution by natural selection, the Expelled crew is working hard to manipulate their Christian viewers into siding with them by fiat, essentially saying that "Christians aren't allowed to accept evolution".
So yeah, Expelled is coming to theaters on April 18th, but it might behoove moviegoers to think for a moment about some of the perspectives that have been expelled from Expelled.
* Note the use of the word "chance" in ID/creationist-speak, rather than anything more illustrative of the proper evolutionary view of "random mutations being acted upon by non-random selection pressures."
** Sure such a cosmological scheme doesn't jive with modern physics, but doesn't that make it all the more appealing? Stick it to Big Physics by asserting your right to believe in a static universe!