Expel, expelling, expelled!

Richard Dawkins inadvertently smuggled into a private screening of pro-creationist documentary.

Published March 21, 2008 11:24PM (EDT)

A soon-to-be-released Ben Stein movie, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," which attacks evolutionary theory and its defenders in the culture war, has been screening to hand-picked audiences around the country for the past couple of weeks. Yesterday, PZ Myers, an evolutionary biologist and blogger, says he was politely waiting to take a look at the film when he was hand picked by a policeman to leave the theater. The cop told Myers that the producer had ordered him to leave.

Myers, who is well know both for his defense of evolutionary biology and his attacks on creationism, had a special reason to see the film; last year he was interviewed by its producer, Mark Mathis, who'd told him it was going to be called "Crossroads" and that it was going to be about science and religion. Myers agreed to the interview, only to find out that the film is actually a pro-creationist documentary accusing the academic community of unfairly "expelling" scientists who support intelligent design from their academic departments. Intelligent design is the hypothesis that there is evidence in the natural world for the existence of a supernatural designer. A federal court in 2006 deemed it a form of creationism.

Myers, who calls the film's allegations nonsense, was not alone. Also interviewed for the film was the far more famous, and far more notorious in pro-intelligent design circles, Richard Dawkins. Dawkins, the face of modern atheism, is an Oxford evolutionary biologist and the author of "The God Delusion," a best-selling book lambasting religion.

Expulsion from a screening of a film purportedly defending the importance of freedom of thought and academic tolerance would seem ironic enough. But apparently the atheist detection system set up at the door was overwhelmed. While Myers ended up out on his ear, the friend he'd gone to the film with was allowed to pass. That friend: Richard Dawkins, the world's most famous atheist, himself.

"I feel mighty," Myers writes in Pharyngula, his blog. "When the creationists saw me and Dawkins in a lineup, I am the one that had them so frightened that they had to call for the guards."

By Gordy Slack

Gordy Slack is the author of "The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything: Evolution, Intelligent Design, and a School Board in Dover, PA." He is currently writing a book about epilepsy.

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