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The Expelled film: Straws in the wind, and other news


First straw flies past: The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is playing the “religion” card, of course:

… the statement noted, more than 11,000 Christian leaders in the United States have signed a letter affirming that evolution does not conflict with religious faith. The United Church of Christ recently sent out a pastoral letter expressing a similar position. Evolution “is based on a diverse and robust body of physical evidence, from fossilized bones to radiometric measurements of the ages of the Earth’s rocks,” the statement says. But the movie, by conveying misinformation about science and researchers, seeks to force religious viewpoints into science class …

AAAS’s PR people think that today’s serious Christians are stupid. That we haven’t seen the film, don’t know that the key issue it raises is intellectual integrity, and don’t even know that their tame clergy are, for the most part, the phantoms of a discredited liberalism – haunting churches awaiting rapture into condos.

Second straw: If AAAS is the large event, here’s a small one: A reader wrote me last night wanting to know what I thought of the fact that Expelled had flopped at the box office.

Much surprised, I wrote back, pointing out,

Expelled is # 5 in all recorded political documentaries, grossing Domestic Total as of May 18, 2008: $7,486,000 (Estimate)

Here’s the list of the documentaries, including those released this year, of which Expelled is doing by far the best.

I asked in what sense my correspondent (who was delighted by the prospect, I suspect) thought that the film had flopped. He wrote back to say that (1) it hadn’t done well in his neck of the woods and (2) that it wasn’t doing as well as Michael Moore’s documentaries.

Moore, of course, practically defined the art, so it’s not surprising that his films would lead. Still, if we look at the list of all documentaries tracked by Box Office Mojo, Moore’s Roger and Me did not make as much in 19 years as Expelled made in a couple of weeks. But, in fairness to Moore, he was starting from behind back in 1989 because the genre was new. So we can’t really count that.

1 Fahrenheit 9/11 Lions $119,194,771 2,011 $23,920,637 868 6/23/04
2 Sicko LGF $24,540,079 1,117 $68,969 1 6/22/07
3 An Inconvenient Truth ParC $24,146,161 587 $281,330 4 5/24/06
4 Bowling for Columbine UA $21,576,018 248 $209,148 8 10/11/02
5 Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed RM $7,486,000 1,052 $2,970,848 1,052 4/18/08
6 Roger and Me WB $6,706,368 265 $80,253 4 12/22/89

The more recent films that grossed better are between about one and six years old, and Expelled‘s run has been measured only in weeks. So this is failure?

Still, don’t be surprised to hear your local Bible school’s biology drone announcing to the Daily Yawnicle that Expelled is “doing a lot of harm in the Christian community, causing students to doubt science and to question their faith” – just about the worst things he can imagine, I suppose.

Third straw before I stopped noticing: ID basher Larry Arnhart pretends to read some sinister significance into the fact that Michael Behe isn’t in the Expelled film.

I wonder if ID bashers are hoping that readers will not realize that Behe WASN’T expelled. He still has his lab and his job as a biochemistry prof at Lehigh (that’s not the ID bashers’ fault, you may be sure).

Behe’s first book, Darwin’s Black Box, came out in 1996 (Free Press). At that time, it was still safe for the Darwin mob to portray a scientist who knows that Darwinism is a crock – and is actually willing to admit it – as a tenured crank who could be attacked, then ignored. Later, when the bad news grew in volume, they knew better. They had to start Expelling even high profile doubters. Hence the film.

So now what? Well, with Edge of Evolution, Behe has written another powerful book, but it is only one of many available. So it is safest for the Lehigh Darwinbots to either buy him out or wait him out until retirement, rather than give him reason to appear in Expelled.

Case in point: When Baylor decided to roughhouse Bob Marks while Expelled was being shot, Baylor ended up as one of the film’s locations.

Today, even people who say that they hate the ID guys are starting to publish seriously on Darwin’s Blank Crocks. So expanding the Expelled strategy might not be a  smart move. Anyway, stay tuned.

There, Larry, is that so hard to understand?

Since we are here anyway, here’s an truly reliable and unbiased account of evolution from the Simpsons.

Just up at the Overwhelming Evidence blog

Physicist: Darwin’s theory of evolution supported in part from “calculated fear” A remarkable admission in light of all the bilge currently fronted by tax-supported science organizations, assuring us that the Expelled film is wrong, wrong, wrong and that no such thing is going on.

Expelled scientist Crocker featured in video just up online

Iowa State University
cops “Outrage Award” for denying tenure to astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez

Brit pop science rag all wet about Biologic Institute

Vatican astronomer: Yes, space aliens might exist

Error-prone science textbooks: Who’s to blame? Not me, says, the little red editor ….

Can't say I find the influence of Darwin upon Nietzsche, and Nietzsche upon Hitler a surprise, or even controversial. The idea of Man and Superman fits the bill for the Fuehrer. It is easy to find many scholars who support the idea that Nietzsche believed in an atheistic organic evolution, although he wanted to modify some of its philosophical implications, and that he owed this mainly to Darwin. The question becomes then, did Hitler, or Stalin, work out the logical consequences of their atheistic belief in evolution, or was it some other strange insertion that led to mass murder? It's obviously complicated, too complicated for a populist documentary, but beliefs do have consequences, and these need to be looked at squarely. So I can't see this aspect of Expelled as anything other than fair game. MattWright
Denyse True, Behe wasn't expelled, per se. But neither were Bruce Chapman, Richard Weikart, Gerald Schroeder, Michael Egnor, or David Berlinski, all of whom were interviewed in Expelled. The argument that Behe didn't appear because he didn't suffer enough doesn't hold water and then we remain with the fact that perhaps the single most recognizable name in ID was left on the cutting room floor. This demands a better explanation than Behe wasn't a martyr. My guess as to why is because Behe doesn't buy into the Darwin/Hitler rubbish and/or he gives Darwinian mutation/selection too much credit over billions of years of descent with modification while not showing proper deference to the 144-hour creation mythologists. DaveScot
Hi, interested. Controversy swirls around Moore's documentaries, to be sure, but that demonstrates that he guessed accurately what people care about. He may well have misrepresented key facts, but the mere fact that some people are shouting Lies! lies! is only to be expected - whether he got it right or not. While we are here, caution, Stone! We can only understand Revelation by treating it as a mirror. It's NOT intended as a flashlight to illuminate closets in the lives of others. O'Leary
"During my seminary days in the mid 90s, the joke was that UCC (United Church of Christ) stands for Unitarians Considering Christ. It was by far the most liberal protestant denomination in the U.S. at the time, having approved, for instance, homosexual clergy well before the Episcopalians, Methodists, and Presbyterians got around to it. That the UCC should endorse materialist evolution at the expense of ID is therefore hardly surprising — if anything, it’s a recommendation for our cause." I think it's rather humorous that Christ has become synonomous with American Conservatives. I look to the Book of revelations, people fail to realize apocalyptic was a style of writing, the author of that book was attempting to criticize a group of wealthy imperialistic closet homosexuals, yet, I see republicans quoting from it.. who are exactly that.. a group of imperialist closet homosexuals... Time changes things I guess...... Stone
i would hardly want us to compare expelled to a moore film. his movies are largely fiction masquerading as documentary. interested
So the evolutionists want it both ways. On the one hand, they dismiss the thousands of scientists who have expressed doubts about the theory of evolution because many of the scientists aren't biologists (or, more accurately, evolutionary biologists). Yet on the other, they proudly tout the thousands of non-scientist "Christian leaders" who say that evolution doesn't conflict with faith. Go figure. jinxmchue
"P.S. Barack Obama’s Jeremiah Wright is a UCC minister." Might that explain the following? http://whereistand.com/BarackObama/3748 And we thought Judge Jones had it all wrong... F2XL
KevinS raises an important point: Roger and Me was so long ago that it must be evaluated by Then dollars. But it may also resemble Expelled in another, more significant way: It made a huge amount of money right up front because an audience primed to hear its message streamed to the theatres. I enjoyed Roger and Me - on DVD ten years later, after it had become obvious that the Rust Belt problem was more complex than uncaring plutocrats. The real success of Expelled depends entirely on whether it becomes a focus for change, as Roger and Me did not. O'Leary
Go here for information on UCC's massive membership decline. Apparently, it's got worse since 2005. No, membership ISN'T everything. But when committed Christians are fleeing from every door and window that can be forced open, ... The rest of us find out when we welcome the refugees. Imagine AAAS paying flacks who don't even know this stuff, when it's so basic. O'Leary
The fact that the AAAS PR team would think they were making headway by pointing to the United Church of Christ demonstrates just how out of touch they are. O'Leary
By any fair measure, Expelled is really #6 on the all time political documentary list. A quick look at the weekend box office of Roger and Me shows that it made the vast majority of its money in spring 1990: http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=weekend&id=rogerandme.htm There's been just a teensy bit of inflation since then, as shown on this page of ticket prices: http://www.boxofficemojo.com/about/adjuster.htm If we assume a very conservative price of just $5 per ticket in 1990 (instead of $4.23) and that we can only adjust the $6,159,000 shown, you still get a gross of a little over $9,000,000 in present day dollars. So I think it's safe to assume that Expelled is beating Roger and Me from the simple fact that it's grossing more money per ticket than Roger and Me was over a decade ago. That's probably why the overview page for the movie actually lists it as ranking 6th, not 5th. KevinS
"The United Church of Christ recently sent out a pastoral letter expressing a similar position" I agree with Dr Dembski on that one. When I read that I had a chuckle and thought to myself that that is hardly much of an endorsement of their position. Jason Rennie
P.S. Barack Obama's Jeremiah Wright is a UCC minister. William Dembski
During my seminary days in the mid 90s, the joke was that UCC (United Church of Christ) stands for Unitarians Considering Christ. It was by far the most liberal protestant denomination in the U.S. at the time, having approved, for instance, homosexual clergy well before the Episcopalians, Methodists, and Presbyterians got around to it. That the UCC should endorse materialist evolution at the expense of ID is therefore hardly surprising -- if anything, it's a recommendation for our cause. William Dembski

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