Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Expelled the Movie

You can find my review at St. Anthony Messenger's website:


While I often will write two reviews for a film, I decided that this was about all I can say about "Expelled."

If my column length had permitted it, I would have added links to what a Vatican scientist said about "intelligent design" in 2005: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10101394/

And I would really have wished the filmmakers would have included a Catholic perspective (they mention "Catholic" only once in the film), including a reference to St. Thomas Aquinas' philosophical arguments/proofs from natural reason for the existence of God:

"The fifth proof arises from the ordering of things for we see that some things which lack reason, such as natural bodies, are operated in accordance with a plan. It appears from this that they are operated always or the more frequently in this same way the closer they follow what is the Highest; whence it is clear that they do not arrive at the result by chance but because of a purpose. The things, moreover, that do not have intelligence do not tend toward a result unless directed by some one knowing and intelligent; just as an arrow is sent by an archer. Therefore there is something intelligent by which all natural things are arranged in accordance with a plan---and this we call God."

Visit http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/aquinas3.html for all five proofs.

The Catholic Church (notably in the 20th century especially) has a rich body of teaching on Scripture, science, and evolution. Here is an excellent article from Catholic Answers that addresses Catholic beliefs and the issues about evolution:


The filmmakers might say that "Expelled" is not about evolution or intelligent design but about academic freedom. Perhaps this is true. It is interesting that evolution/intelligent design is the only area of academic intolerance the film addresses (if I recall well.)

Science, reason/philosophy, and theology are not incompatible. However, one is not the other. They can support each other (St. Thomas Aquinas also taught that philosophy is the handmaiden of philosophy - but he doesn't seem to have addressed the science that his teacher and mentor, St. Albert the Great is known for.)

At the end of the day, I don't think the film adds great clarity to any aspect of the evolution/intelligent design debate - though it may raise some temperatures.

To be fair, the film says that the debate they (the filmmakers) have framed will be settled by the evidence - that no one seems to have systematically presented to date. (They might argue that academia doesn't permit it; but since when do limitations hold back the search for truth?) 

Bring it on.

(Some questions comes to mind: were all those academics really fired for only the reasons noted in the film? What information was left out? Did we get the whole story? What's motivated the filmmakers? Injustice? And what else?)

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