begins with archive footage showing the construction of the Berlin Wall while an excellent violin rendition of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2" is being played. (Though no lyrics accompany the music, anyone familiar with the song will immediately begin to think, "We don't need no education– we don't need no thought control; No dark sarcasm in the classroom– teachers leave them kids alone. Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone! All in all it's just another brick in the wall.") The Berlin Wall becomes a metaphor in this film for the activities of the neo-Darwinist establishment in keeping discussion of Intelligent Design [ID] out of university classrooms and other academic settings.
The first words spoken in the film come from the neo-Darwinist proponent Richard Dawkins, who says, "The battle over evolution is one skirmish in a much larger war." (Dawkins has the interesting idiosyncrasy of pronouncing "evolution" as "evil-ution.") This becomes a theme that is developed in the film as connections are made between neo-Darwinism and questions concerning the larger world-view of materialism.
The first words spoken by Ben Stein are, "Freedom is the essence of America." These words form another theme in the film- that of protest against the loss of academic freedom to explore ID and how this loss signifies an imposition of a certain philosophy upon the American people.
Cases of scientists who have faced oppression for allowing discussion of ID are presented: The movie focuses on Richard Sternberg
, who lost his position at the Smithsonian for publishing a peer-reviewed article in favor of ID, and Caroline Crocker
, who lost her job at George Mason University for mentioning ID on 2 slides in a presentation. Following discussion of these 2 cases, a quick sketch in given of several scientists who have lost their jobs or have been denied tenure for allowing discussion of ID.
The question is posed concerning the question of whether these scientists deserved the treatment they received from academia: Are these scientists engaged in promoting religion? Is ID science at all? To answer these questions, Stein speaks with Bruce Chapman
, president of the Discovery Institute
, who makes the point that the ID movement includes Jews, Christians, Muslims and agnostics, so the promotion of a particular religious viewpoint is not a part of ID. Other interviews (including one of William Dembski
of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
) makes the point that many scientists question the assertion that naturalistic processes can account for the complexity apparent in the universe. This information is contrasted to a quote from Richard Dawkins: "Evolution is a fact."
The claims made by neo-Darwinist proponents for the origin of life are explored through examination of the video Cosmic Origins: From Big Bang to Humankind
. Two evolutionary theories are mentioned: The crystal theory (that the intricate development of crystals led to development of life) and directed panspermia (that highly advanced extraterrestrials intervened to direct evolution on this planet). These are explored to demonstrate what outrageous theories are accepted by neo-Darwinists while ID is rejected.
The complexity of life is demonstrated by means such as a 3D computer model of cellular processes. That this complexity could have arisen through naturalistic processes is obviously false.
The film returns to the theme of oppression, this time focusing on oppression of journalists. The case of Pamela Winnick- a non-religious Jew who refused to take a position on ID when reporting the debate- is presented. Winnick has come under the scrutiny of neo-Darwinist watchdog groups.
Philosophical consequences of neo-Darwinism are then demonstrated through a presentation of William Provine
, a professor at Cornell University, who argues that acceptance of Darwinism leads to a denial of any deity, the afterlife, morality, and free-will. These philosophical consequences lead to political and social consequences, as seen when the connection between radical Darwinism and Nazism is demonstrated. This prompts Ben Stein to ask, "What can I do?" The response comes from David Berlinski and another scientist, who tell Stein that he must make it apparent to the world that a wall exists to keep ID from being discussed in academia. This leads to a final interview with Richard Dawkins, in which the philosophical bankruptcy of neo-Darwinism is exposed.
The film ends with footage of the Berlin Wall coming down and with Stein lecturing an auditorium of college students on academic freedom.
[Tomorrow I hope to offer a critique of the film.]
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