Ben Stein's work in his new controversial movie "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" has earned him praises and now an award from the intelligent design community.
The multi-talented star of his Comedy Central show "Win Ben Stein's Money," who is also known for his lead role in the film "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," was named the recipient of the 2008 Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth, an award created to honor one of the founding fathers of the intelligent design movement.
Stein will receive the award through Biola University's masters in science and religion program in a ceremony on March 27, one month before "Expelled" hits theaters.
In his movie, Stein explores the long-standing controversial debate between supporters of Darwinism and proponents of intelligent design. Through interviews with experts and professors from both camps, he discovers an elitist scientific establishment that punishes the scientific proponents of intelligent design because they reject some of the claims of Darwin's theory of evolution.
"If you just stand up and question Darwinism – that's it – your career is over," Caroline Crocker, a former biology teacher at George Mason University, shared in the film's trailer.
She is among several professors featured in the film who claims they were ridiculed, denied tenure and even fired in some cases for discussing problems with Darwinism.
Makers of the documentary said in a recent teleconference that the movie doesn't seek to champion intelligent design as the sole truth but calls for more academic freedom, where challenges to any scientific theory including Darwinism would be fairly considered.
Biola, a private Christian university in Southern California, established the award in 2004 to honor legal scholar and Berkeley law professor Phillip E. Johnson, who was the award's first recipient. Johnson, who became a born-again Christian as a tenured professor, is the co-founder of the Center for Science and Culture of Discovery Institute, the nation's leading think tank on intelligent design.
"The award," noted Biola, "recognizes Johnson's pivotal role in advancing our understanding of design in the universe by opening up informed dissent to Darwinian and materialistic theories of evolution."
In 2006, the award was given to British philosopher Antony Flew, once considered the most prominent defender of atheism in the English-speaking world. He argued in books such as God and Philosophy (1966) and The Presumption of Atheism (1984) that one should presuppose atheism until evidence for God proves otherwise. He later abandoned his long-held atheism on account of design arguments and after "following the evidence where it leads."
Stein will be the third recipient of the Johnson award.