Ken Connor

In Expelled, Ben Stein also interviews Dr. Eugenie C. Scott, a spokeswoman for the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). The NCSE's mission is "defending the teaching of evolution in the public schools," and Dr. Scott is the self-appointed Chief of the Politically Correct Thought Police. Although a putative proponent of academic freedom, she maintains that there is no room for discussion of Intelligent Design in the classroom. She comes across as Darwin's Eva Braun in the film.

Instead of encouraging free inquiry, the scientists interviewed in the documentary mock ID as "pseudo-science" or "religion masquerading as science." These barbs are based on their assumption that the notion that God (or a designer) created life somehow contradicts rational thought. They argue that ID is based on belief—not rational science—but they neglect to mention that their theories on the origin of life are also based on an element of belief. Indeed, the acceptance of any theory of origins necessitates belief (or faith) in that theory.

The NCSE's dogmatic dismissal of alternative theories of our origin in an attempt to preserve "science standards" smacks of the censorship Galileo suffered at the hands of the Church when he defended the theory that the Sun, not the Earth, was at the center of our solar system. Perhaps most telling is Dr. Scott's claim that the NCSE will not rest until the last brushfires of controversy over evolution are put out. These efforts to extinguish controversy and to mute dissenting voices are antithetical to traditional notions of academic freedom. But that doesn't bother the scholars who are interviewed in the film. In the academy, it's 1984 and, in their world, freedom is tyranny.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.