DVD Pick: Ben Stein’s “Expelled”

My wife and I just watched Ben Stein’s movie “Expelled” on DVD. I had seen it in theaters but forgot how good it was. It’s a funny and very thought-provoking look at the debate between intelligent design and evolution.

There’s even a couple of animated sequences in the film. A 2D cartoon clip and an impressive 3D segment with the camera flying through he interior of a cell.

Highly recommend. Here’s the trailer:

“Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” Opens Tonight

I generally try to keep this blog about art-related topics, but every once in a while something completely unrelated grabs my attention. I beg your indulgence.


Do you ever look up at the stars and wonder, “How on earth did we humans ever get here in the first place? Were we created by God, or did we evolve on our own from a puddle of goo zillions of years ago?”

It’s an important question with big implications, and is certainly worthy of discussion and debate. However, the scientific and educational establishments don’t always see it that way. In many intellectual circles Darwin’s theory of evolution is the only legitimate explanation for the origin of life, period.

stein.jpgActor, businessman, and columnist Ben Stein (best known for his comedic role in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off) has produced a very serious documentary about the debate between Intellgent Design and Evolution. In Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed he claims that scientists and educators put their careers at risk if they dare question Darwin’s theories, or worse, subscribe to the idea that the universe just may have been designed by an intelligent Creator. For many scientists and scholars, to publicly challenge Darwin’s secular ideology can be nothing short of career suicide.

I think Stein is on to something.

Lest you think Stein is just one of those conservative right-wing “nut-jobs”, consider the following: He is not a Christian (he’s Jewish); he’s a respected columnist whose writings have appeared in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times; and last year he gave $2,000 to the Senate campaign of the ultra-liberal Al Frankin. Stein hardly fits the stereotype of a religious “fanatic”.

Here’s the trailer for Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed:

This looks extremely interesting to me. [EDIT: I heard an interview with Stein on the radio today where he stated that Expelled has very high production values (as documentaries go) and in terms of cost-per-minute it is possibly the most expensive documentary ever made. There’s even a sequence that is all-animation.]

As I’ve written before (here and here), while I’m not a scientist it seems clear that there are serious scientific problems with the theory of evolution, problems that are worth discussing. The question of how we human beings came to be is an important one with huge implications. Unfortunately, it’s not only risky for some to question Darwinism publicly but it’s even illegal to teach anything but evolution in some public schools. (If you think I am overstating the case, read this news story).

Stein’s message is one that I think needs to be heard. Of course Michael Moore, Al Gore, and James Cameron have all shown us how easy it is for documentary filmmakers to play fast and loose with the facts. I hope Stein will do better, but I will be watching Expelled with a critical eye just in case. At the very least, Expelled should create lots of discussion and inject some new energy into a very important debate

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (official site) premieres tonight in movie theaters nationwide.

[EDIT: I’ve seen the movie and it’s very well done. Much better than I thought it would be. Intelligent, thought-provoking, captivating, and sprinkled with humor. No matter which side of the debate you are on, this one is a must-see!]


Some freelance projects have tight deadlines. Others move at a slower pace.

Way back in Spring of 2005 I was contacted by a publisher to illustrate a series of children’s books designed to help kids understand various Christian concepts. Since there was no real rush our understanding was that I could set it aside to work on other more urgent projects when necessary. It was nice to have a large project that I could work on at a somewhat relaxed pace, and the client was terrific to work with.

The first book, What Your Nose Shows, was about Creationism (or Intelligent Design, if you will). The author, Ray Comfort, wrote a some rhyming text about the nose and how it’s very existence points to a Creator.

A few months after finishing the first book I was hired to start a second one. Scratch and Sniff was about a cat named Scratch and a dog named Sniff. The lesson had to do with disobedience (sin) and our need for a Savior. We decided it would be fun to make this an actual “scratch and sniff” book, with a different scratchable scent on every page.

Eventually it was decided that since the first book was about the nose, it should also be scratch-and-sniff. So after completing the second book we went back and re-worked the first one to incorporate smells into the story.

Finally, after over a year-and-a-half both books were ready to go to the publisher.

Printing with scratch-and-sniff inks turned out to be a complicated process and resulted in several more delays. Eventually the books were printed overseas and now, nearly three years after the project was begun, the books are finally available for purchase. (Click to buy What Your Nose Shows and Scratch and Sniff).

Here are the covers and a couple of sample pages from each book. They are taken from different parts of each book so the text won’t make sense, but you can get an idea of what the art looks like: