Shalom all! I’ve browsed through the messages in this thread and have gotten a feel for what the main opinions of the people are. I’d like to throw in my own two kopecks into the debate.
I had not planned on going to see “Expelled”, although I was very intrigued by the commercials on TV. I changed my mind after reading this review: Ben Stein Vs. Sputtering Atheists I announced to my teen-aged daughters that we were going to see this movie that afternoon. They were less than thrilled.
I am a Roman Catholic, whose atheist ex-wife divorced him, and has raised my daughters as Unitarian-Universalists. (She felt she needed a church to shore up her case for custody, and that was the closest thing she could find to a church that didn’t actually have you believe anything.) The only thing my daughters know about Christianity and Catholicism is what their mother has told them, with me being held up as the occasional exception that proves the rule. So I’ve had to approach this “God” thing carefully.
Both daughters will be going into fields that are heavily political – one into art and journalism, the other into aeronautic science – so I presented this film as a documentary about academic freedom. (By “political” I mean there will be pressure in their fields to accept certain things as true, regardless of evidence.) It lead to some interesting discussions – my oldest daughter was surprised by several things, including the fact that I believe in evolution. I explained that ID is the closest thing to what the Church has been teaching for years, i.e., the actual “spark of life” was given by the Creator, who then used evolution as a tool. Not that He couldn’t have created the world as described in Genesis, but being subtle, chose this method. It’s why I don’t believe ID should be taught in school.
In short, this film allowed me to witness to my daughters about my faith, without their outright rejection of it as my attempt to brainwash them. Having spent some time debating issues with their mother, I know that from the way they changed the subject when I provided certain answers that I hit some marks; we will just have to see what those marks are.
As for the film itself, regardless of what some people may say, to me it is an excellent documentary on intellectual freedom. I’ve worked in universities enough to realize there are a lot of personal politics that go on in each department, and it is the rare college indeed that has not had one department or another turn into an armed camp over some arcane detail. Yet to see one particular ideology being suppressed in favor of another, so that research which may actually shore up the case for the second ideology is suppressed because no one must mention the first ideology, terrifies me. And with all due respect, drpmjhess, what should it matter what the producers told you about the thrust of the film? The documentary filmmakers I have known (usually students) have frequently told me of times where the the thrust of the original film changed as they gathered information. The central question is this:
Would you have altered your answers to questions based on your knowledge of the ultimate thrust of the film?
In other words, would the “truth” you would express be a different “truth” if you agreed with or disagreed with the filmmaker? I’m not talking about HOW you would express your truth, but would the answers you would give change depending on who you were talking to? If the answer is “NO”, then you should still not have any problem answering their questions (unless you suspected they would recut the interviews to make it appear that you were saying something you didn’t, as has happened in a number of anti-Catholic films; but that re-editing is a different issue.) If the answer is “YES”, then we have the reason this film was made.