Richard Dawkins Confirms That "Expelled" Will Be an Important Film
Richard Dawkins, through his actions if not his words, has made clear to the world that he is extremely interested (and I am guessing terrified) of the film Expelled, which will be in theatres in April 2008. How else can you explain his efforts to get into an early, free screening of the film in Minnesota, including going in under the (technically accurate but intentionally misleading) alias, "Clinton Dawkins." Given all the pre-release drama, this film is going to be a must-see water cooler discussion phenomenon.
According to one witness account, there was a Q and A session debate between Dawkins and Mark Mathis, the film's producer:
Dawkins stood up and abruptly started firing off questions at Producer Mark Mathis - who politely and very professionally informed the audience that this person was well-known atheist Richard Dawkins.
Dawkins stood up and questioned Mathis on several issues. He questioned Mathis on why P.Z. Myers was denied access to the free preview showing of the movie.
Mathis calmly responded by explaining that Myers had simply not been an invited guest to this free preview and pointed out the fact that he could pay to see the movie after its release.
(He also joked that he enjoyed the idea of Myers paying $8.00 to see the movie along with everyone else).
It certainly did not escape notice of myself or many in the theatre that Dawkins apparently also had entered into the free movie preview apparently as an uninvited guest.
After Mathis responded to Dawkins' first objection - Dawkins then claimed to object to the film on the premise that any interview he had done in the film was under the assumption that he was interviewed by Ben Stein and Mark Mathis for a film that was to be about the even-handed look at the Intelligent Design vs. Darwinian evolution controversy. The conversation basically went like this:
Dawkins: I agreed to be in the film under the assumption that I was being interviewed by Ben Stein (and by Mark Mathis) for a film that was to take an even-handed look at the Intelligent Design/Darwinian Evolution controversy.
Mathis- It was a fair treatment.
Dawkins--You got me into the movie under false pretenses.
Mathis- I told you that it was a movie about intelligent design and Darwinistic evolution controversy + (various other things that were in the movie)
Dawkins: I was bending over backwards to define an example of what could be a potential source of life's origins. Repeats 'I was bending over backwards' several times. You ridiculed the alien concept.
Mathis- I did not ridicule the concept- we just showed in the movie what you said in response to the question.
Mathis- I want to correct- what you said on the radio show wasn't accurate; wasn't true (more discussion took place)
Dawkins- sorry I did misstate but it was a minor point.
Mathis:- I didn't think it was minor - you called me a liar.
At one point during the exchange between Mathis and Dawkins one unidentified audience member in the audience even politely stood up in obvious disagreement with Dawkins and correctly suggested that the main point of the film was that Intelligent Design should be presented along with Darwinian evolution.
Dawkins then attempted to try to continue in debate with Mathis even though Mathis had previously said that wanted the after-movie Q & A session to be about Q & A and not "debate". I really admired Mathis' smooth, controlled handling of the entire evening - especially the Q & A session. He provided the forum with the type of welcoming and respectful open conversation - the kind of conversation and open discussion the film itself suggests should be much more commonplace - especially within the academic community in America.
What is especially amusing is PZ Myers' and Richard Dawkins' gloating about tricking security into letting Dawkins in. It appears that this was fully intentional and the best PR move Mathis could have made. He quite properly said "no free entry" to the second-rate academic Myers (who has made clear his disdain for civil discourse and civil rights, and has falsely accused Mathis of lying), and he debated the noted author Richard Dawkins and allowed Dawkins to embarrass himself publicly and confirm the importance of the film. You cannot get better publicity than that.
Other posts about this film can be found here.