A new index of forbidden ideas?

February 22, 2011

The satirical documentary is not a genre known to be friendly to religious faith.  See, for example, my posts on Bill Maher’s Religulous (here and here).  Michael Moore pioneered this type of documentary—NOVA meets Saturday Night Live—with Roger & Me in 1989.  The genre relies heavily on ironic juxtapositions and gotcha moments.

While I have nothing against a little satire, the style and technique of such documentaries limit how deeply they can engage an issue.  These limitations apply to Ben Stein’s Expelled:  No Intelligence Allowed (2008), though Stein’s perspective is antithetical to Maher’s:  it’s secular orthodoxy he’s skewering.

The point of departure for the documentary is the dismissal of several faculty members from various universities across the country (George Mason, SUNY Stony Brook, Baylor, and Iowa State, as well as the Smithsonian Institute).  These professors were allegedly too sympathetic to “intelligent design”.  The film doesn’t do much to help us judge the merits of intelligent design theories, but Stein’s point is not so much about the validity of the theory itself as it is about academic freedom.

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Benedict and Darwin in 2009

July 14, 2009


It is an important year for Benedict to come out with a new social encyclical. Not only to look back at Populorum Progressio, but also to consider many of the effects of Darwin’s theory 200 years after his birth and 150 years after his publication of On the Origin of the Species. We can make this connection because of Benedict’s concern, as he says, to promote an “integral humanism.” A brief survey of the Introduction to Caritas in Veritate makes clear note of this. Read the rest of this entry »