- The Washington Times - Monday, April 21, 2008

Challenging orthodoxy is hardly unusual for home-schooling families; we tend to view academia with less reverence than most. Thus, home-schoolers may enjoy a surprising new documentary, “Expelled,” that dares confront one of the sacred cows of academia: Darwin’s theory of evolution. It also reveals some very emotional behavior among highly respected scientists.

Mark Mathis, a 20-year veteran of TV news, helped produce the film, coordinating many dozens of interviews with scientists from all sides of this question. “Expelled” is hosted by actor Ben Stein, whose roles as a science teacher and supergeek in film and on TV have made him famous but who also a trained lawyer, a political speechwriter and a formidable wit.

“Ben is the protagonist who goes on the journey, encounters scientists, puts forth questions and gets some very funny and very revealing answers,” Mr. Mathis says in a recent interview. “These are the high priests of information on the origins of life, and when someone comes along suggesting that there might just be some intelligence behind the fantastic richness of plant and animal life with the incredible symbiosis that exists — they see it as an attack.”

Family educators will appreciate the film’s scientific elements and “a wealth of teaching moments,” Mr. Mathis says.

“There’s a fantastic animation sequence showing the phenomenal things going on in the nucleus of the cell,” he says, “the transcription of information, the condensing and duplication of that information, as well as genetic studies about how mutations destroy information — so how could this process be the source of the building of all this information?”

The rancor triggered by the suggestion of an intelligence behind the development of all living things is neither impartial nor reasoned, Mr. Mathis notes.

“Intelligent design is seen as challenging their worldview — a materialistic worldview,” he says.

To query the absoluteness of the dogma is career suicide, he says. Loss of jobs, discrimination and public ridicule are meted out to those who mention any scientific or mathematical gaps in Darwinism. Even more of an affront to Darwinism’s adherents is mentioning its role in social engineering.

“The film doesn’t shy away from pointing out that Darwin’s ideas have been behind many of the destructive social constructs that created Nazi Germany, Soviet communism, Pol Pot’s Cambodia — regimes of extermination,” Mr. Mathis says. “When a materialistic philosophy misuses science to trump values, this is the necessary precondition for those systems to come into existence.”

The film is intended as a catalyst, Mr. Mathis explains.

“It’s important to push back against elitists misusing science to drive philosophy,” he says. “We’re being taken for a ride — on our own dime — we’re paying those who control what can be said in universities, in schools.”

The film was just released Friday, but the debates have been raging for weeks in blogs and other arenas.

Mr. Mathis says he hopes the film will be a catalyst for public awareness.

“What’s going on isn’t science,” he points out. “Why not allow free and open debate? Why is this taboo? There’s a pretense that the evidence is overwhelming. It’s not. It’s time for honest discussion. Let’s talk scientifically, with all the data, allowing freedom of thought and freedom of inquiry.”

For more information on the film, visit www.expelledthemovie.com.

Kate Tsubata, a home-schooling mother of three, is a freelance writer who lives in Maryland.

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