[The next paragraph has a correction that is printed in bold italic text. The correction comes from off-blog email between myself and Shawn Anthony.]
Shawn Anthony, a Brethren in Christ blogger who examined for one year Unitarian Universalism as a possible faith community during his M.Div. studies, has commented on Expelled on his blog. You can read Shawn's original post and the reader comments about this here.
My final comment on Shawn's blog (which may not make it through if he deletes it) is quoted here:
My concerns were not over the intelligence of those promoting Intelligent Design in the movie "Expelled" -- my concerns were with their honesty.Here are a few examples of the dishonesty behind this movie:
Is supporting dishonesty OK if it supports a cause one believes in?
Richard Sternberg -- "Expelled claims that Sternberg was 'terrorized' and that 'his life was nearly ruined' when, in 2004, as editor of Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, he published a pro-intelligent design article by Stephen C. Meyer. However, there is no evidence of either terrorism or ruination."
Guillermo Gonzalez -- "Expelled claims that Iowa State University astronomy professor Guillermo Gonzalez was denied tenure because of his views on intelligent design. However, this shows a naïve and distorted understanding of the tenure process at a major research university. The tenure process involves intense scrutiny of a candidate’s accomplishments in order to assess his future potential; the beliefs or extra-academic opinions held by the candidate are not a factor. Gonzalez’s academic record is not as golden as Expelled would have you believe, and due process was rendered at every level of appeal. ISU was justified in rejecting his application for tenure."
Caroline Crocker -- "Expelled claims that Caroline Crocker was fired because she mentioned Intelligent Design in a class she was teaching. However, the evidence says otherwise. While there may have been grounds to fire her with cause, Crocker was not fired and continued to teach her course after student complaints; in addition, she did not just 'mention' intelligent design, but rather was teaching demonstrably false creationist material. We do not know for certain why Crocker was not re-hired for her non-tenure track job. Such positions carry no promise that contracts will be renewed. Only tenure-track jobs come with such an expectation, and only tenured professors have a guarantee of employment."
Biology professor PZ Myers was "expelled" from a private screening of the movie -- you can read the account of this incident here. For all of the moviemakers' claims about about intellectual inquiry and academic freedom, this action speaks much louder than their words. However, you may want to read Richard Dawkins commentary on this incident ("Lying for Jesus"). Here's a brief quote from his article:
"Now, to the Good Friday Fiasco itself, Mathis' extraordinary and costly lapse of judgment. Just think about it. His entire film is devoted to the notion that American scientists are being hounded and expelled from their jobs because of opinions that they hold. The film works hard at pressing (no, belabouring with a sledgehammer) all the favourite hot buttons of free speech, freedom of thought, the right of dissent, the right to be heard, the right to discuss issues rather than suppress argument. These are the topics that the film sets out to raise, with particular reference to evolution and 'intelligent design' (wittily described by someone as creationism in a cheap tuxedo). In the course of this film, Mathis tricked a number of scientists, including PZ Myers and me, into taking prominent parts in the film, and both of us are handsomely thanked in the closing credits.All of this gives creationism and intelligent design a patina of dishonesty. Unfortunately, this reputation for dishonesty can taint Christianity if they don't do anything about it.
Seemingly oblivious to the irony, Mathis instructed some uniformed goon to evict Myers while he was standing in line with his family to enter the theatre, and threaten him with arrest if he didn't immediately leave the premises. Did it not occur to Mathis -- what would occur any normally polite and reasonable person -- that Myers, having played a leading role in the film, might have been welcomed as an honoured guest to watch it? Or, more cynically, did he not know that PZ is one of the country's most popular bloggers, with a notoriously caustic wit, perfectly placed to set the whole internet roaring with delighted and mocking laughter? I long ago realised that Mathis was deceitful. I didn't know he was a bungling incompetent."