FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – A controversial documentary set for release nationwide on April 18 could foster a cultural shift “equivalent to the fall of the Berlin Wall,” said William Dembski, research professor of philosophy at Southwestern Seminary.
The seminary hosted a private screening of the director’s fine cut of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed in the seminary’s Ray I. Riley Center on March 3. In the film, host Ben Stein tracks down scholars who have been persecuted—or “expelled”—by the academic community for their support of intelligent design (ID), a research program that flies in the face of Darwinism.
“Southwestern has a significant role in this (project),” Ralph Manning, Chief Financial Officer for Premise Media Corporation, said to a group of students, faculty and select community members before the showing of the film. According to Manning, Premise Media and Ben Stein were driven to this project by a concern for scientific freedom and the sanctity of life, issues impacted by the ID-Darwinism debate.
“This film exposes the hypocrisy of an academic and cultural elite who pretend that they value freedom of inquiry and expression but in fact suppress it when it clashes with their deeply held materialistic convictions,” said Dembski, who is one of the leading ID scholars featured in the documentary. He and other proponents of ID have suggested that the universe shows signs of having been designed by some intelligent being.
According to Dembski, many fields of study involve intelligent design, including archeology, forensics and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). An archeologist, for example, examines the evidence—like a curiously shaped stone—to determine whether it might be the product of a human intelligence.
“These sciences, however, are uncontroversial because any intelligence detected through them could be an ‘evolved’ intelligence,” Dembski said. “Most of the action with ID, on the other hand, centers in biology, so that any intelligence involved with the emergence of living things is likely to be an ‘unevolved’ intelligence. ID therefore challenges materialistic theories of evolution, such as Darwinism.”
Unlike creationism, however, ID does not begin with the Genesis account of creation, nor do its proponents attempt to describe the nature of the intelligence that designed the universe. Despite this fact, Dembski noted, “ID is friendly to Christian theism in a way that materialistic forms of evolution never have been.”
“One of the biggest obstacles to people coming to Christ in Western culture is the impression that science has disproved the Bible and Christianity,” he said. “ID therefore helps to correct this false impression by showing that our best science supports belief in a higher intelligence responsible for life. ID does not give you the Christian God as such, but it puts you in the right ballpark.”
Dembski appears in Expelled only to discuss background information on ID. However, he said that he is also among the “expelled,” who “have had their careers and livelihoods assaulted for advocating ID.” In 2000, he was relieved of his post as director of Baylor University’s Michael Polanyi Center for Complexity, Information and Design, and this center, which he founded, was closed. However, Dembski found a home at Southwestern Seminary in 2006, where he continues to defend ID. Most recently, he co-authored and edited The Design of Life, a comprehensive survey of the field, which he recommended to those interested in the further study of ID.
During the screening of Expelled at Southwestern, Manning urged viewers to support the film by attending its April 18 premiere. He pointed out that the success of the movie during its opening weekend could lengthen its runtime, allowing more people to be exposed to the issues surrounding the ID movement. For further information and to view a preview of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, visit the film’s Web site,