[2006/03/02] Anti-ID Media Resorts to Mockery, Misrepresentation
Anti-ID Media Resorts to Mockery, Misrepresentation 03/02/2006 Evolution News, a blog of the Discovery Institute ID think tank, was launched in 2004 to try to correct misrepresentation in the media. It never seems to have a shortage of material (see their 3/2/2006 post). Even though the Discovery Institute maintains public documents on its website defining what intelligent design is and what it means, many reporters seem to get their information from ID’s most virulent critics without even checking the accuracy of their statements. They also repeat old arguments and caricatures that the Discovery Institute has repeatedly addressed. The first rule of journalism ought to be to get the facts straight. The second ought to be to strive for neutrality and balance. If it were not for the internet, it seems the public would get a very lopsided and inaccurate view from the media of what ID is, what its proponents believe, and what they are trying to do. Out of the steady stream of critical articles about ID, we’ll summarize a few and look at one in more detail (emphasis added in all quotes):
Utah: Deseret News called evolution a “fact-backed theory,” put ID into a false dichotomy against Darwin’s natural selection, and repeatedly associated ID (but not evolution) with religion.
Australia: The Scoop spoke of ID “infiltrating” schools, a word with sinister connotations. It quoted an education official treating ID like bird flu: “He called on federal and state education ministers to withhold public funding until these schools agreed to quarantine science teaching from religious dogma” and the “Intelligent Design myth” promulgated by “fundamentalists” but gave no opportunity for the other side to respond.
Florida: The Sun-Sentinel spoke of groups that wanted to “water down” passages about Darwin and introduce the “controversial idea of intelligent design.” It said, “Mainstream scientists have discredited the theory as a repackaged form of old-school creationism” being “peddled” by its supporters. Buried in the article were responses by Discovery Institute, but an evolutionist got the punch line: “...students are really going to waste their time looking for alternative hypotheses to evolution. There are none.” This prompted a letter to the editor from John West (reprinted on Evolution News).
Pennsylvania: The Philadelphia Inquirer gave ample space for Judge John E. Jones to answer softball questions about his Dec. decision in the Kitzmiller vs. Dover case; the interview portrayed him as a historical hero. One question began, “Reading through the opinion, it was hard to evade the impression that you were surprised at the weakness of one side of the case,” to which the judge replied, “The opinion speaks for itself.” Undoubtedly few will ever hear of Dr. Kevin Anderson’s penetrating critique of the decision in a newsletter called Creation Matters.
Nevada: an AP story in MSNBC News gave a fairly straight report on efforts by Steve Brown’s petition to introduce a constitutional amendment to correct errors about Darwinian evolution in textbooks and school curricula. The article began, however, with a hypothetical: “A proposed constitutional amendment would require Nevada teachers to instruct students that there are many questions about evolution – a method viewed by critics as an opening to teach intelligent design.” The bill said nothing about intelligent design.
New York: Evolution News felt it necessary to spill a lot of ink correcting repeated errors by the New York Times, despite numerous attempts to communicate the facts to them.
Virus Attack: The cover story of Discover Magazine was titled “Unintelligent Design.” It announced a strange idea that viruses were somehow responsible for the origin of life. Yet this radical minority view was posed as a triumphal attack against ID: “This is striking news, especially at a moment when the basic facts of origins and evolution seem to have fallen under a shroud,” it says. “In the discussions of intelligent design, one hears a yearning for an old-fashioned creation story.... Now the viruses appear to present a creation story of their own: a stirring, topsy-turvy, and decidedly unintelligent design wherein life arose more by reckless accident than original intent.”
Poison Pens: The leading science journals routinely censor letters from ID supporters or creationists, but give full rein to evolutionists to speak whatever is on their minds (example: 11/24/2005). Last week, Science (3 March 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5765, pp. 1240 - 1241) printed a letter from a high school teacher who arrayed scientists against moaning ID supporters: “Many supporters of intelligent design find discomfort in the concept that humans have evolved as a result of ‘mistakes.’ Although it is not an obligation of scientists to address discomfort in concepts, it is an obligation of scientists to present findings in an objective, scientific manner.” That, by implication, is exactly what evolutionists do (but ID “supporters” do not). No mention is made of the 500+ scientists on the Discovery Institute list who think Darwinian evolution is inadequate and should be critically examined.
The Evolving ID: Sid Perkins in Science News1 portrayed ID as “evolving” from creationism to intelligent design to “teaching the controversy”. While he is not the first to use the metaphor of ID evolution, it is a very misleading one, because ID proponents are (hopefully) employing their intelligence toward a purposeful end: challenging what they see as an entrenched dogma. The metaphor puts ID at a rhetorical disadvantage before its proponents speak a word. What’s more, Perkins’ reference page listed only staunchly anti-ID sources. It appears he did not even attempt to do a journalist’s homework and find out what leaders in the ID movement believe. (Note: this article will be critiqued in more detail in the commentary that follows.)
Ironically, some evolutionists feel the media is biased against them. Jason Rosenhouse and Glenn Branch wrote in BioScience2 a stern warning about the danger of people being swayed against evolution by the media. In their list of suggestions to fellow biologists who find themselves on the air, their first recommendation was as follows:
In any encounter between scientists and the media on the subject of creationism, declare first and foremost that the specific scientific assertions of ID proponents are false. State unambiguously that evolutionary theory is perfectly capable in principle of explaining the formation of complex biological systems, and, indeed, has done so in practice many times. (Emphasis theirs.)
In other words, get your sound bite out before anyone else can. Their other suggestions had to do more with style than substance. They ended with advice from Thomas Huxley, who said: “I am sharpening up my beak and claws in readiness.” Others called him Darwin’s bulldog; he seemed to be calling himself Darwin’s vulture. Those who want a taste of the pro-ID attitude in spite of all the negative reporting should read Jeffrey C. Long’s letter in North Carolina Conservative. His metaphor for ID is a bit different than the one used by Sid Perkins. To Jeffrey Long, it’s not over till it’s over, and the strength of the combatant is more important than the circumstances.
In my favorite scene from Star Wars, Luke Skywalker has been transported to an arid wasteland where he is bound and pushed to the end of a gangplank from which he’ll be cast headlong to a certain horrible death. When asked if he has any last words, he turns to the hideous giant slug and his janissaries and defiantly yells: “I’m warning you, Jabba -- this is your last chance!”
Incidentally, the Los Angeles Times printed a fairly complimentary article about Dr. Henry Morris, who died last weekend (see 02/25/2006 entry and Scientist of the Month). ICR’s latest Back to Genesis article, written by Dr. Morris shortly before he died, was critical of intelligent design also – but for totally different reasons: he felt it is not Biblical enough. Whatever one thinks about ID, perhaps the bottom line is to end one’s race well. Even Morris’s critics had to admit he was an honorable and gentlemanly combatant. Maybe Dan Letha’s “After Eden” cartoon honoring Henry Morris (see Answers in Genesis) will even leave some evolutionists – those who grew up in Sunday School only to reject their faith in biology class3 – with a bit of nostalgic longing in their hearts.
1Sid Perkins, “Evolution in Action,” Science News Week of Feb. 25, 2006; Vol. 169, No. 8. 2Jason Rosenhouse and Glenn Branch, “ Media Coverage of ‘Intelligent Design’,” BioScience Volume 56, Number 3, March 2006, pp. 247-252(6). 3Examples: Will Provine, Michael Shermer, many others. Lee Strobel told a story in The Case for Faith about evangelist Charles Templeton, who lost his faith to evolution at Princeton. As the elderly Templeton, struggling with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, bared his soul about his life, he was at first very critical of God, the Bible and Christianity. But when he thought of Jesus Christ, he softened and said that he felt Jesus was the most perfect man who ever lived. In a moment of weakness, welling up with tears, he blurted out, “and I... I miss him!” Templeton died in bitterness and cynicism. In contrast, Henry Morris, like all Christians, considered meeting Jesus Christ face to face in heaven as his “blessed hope” (Titus 2:12-14).
The reporting on intelligent design is a national travesty. It represents either extremely sloppy reporting, or intentional misrepresentation by leftists with an agenda to stymie all efforts to bring the Darwin Party to accountability. The article by Sid Perkins in Science News is a case in point. The spin had been spun before his sin had begun. Perkins used only hardline Darwinist sources like Eugenie Scott and Robert Pennock. He presented no evidence that naturalism is correct or even capable of explaining how hydrogen became brains; he merely assumed it is the established truth of Science. To these people, ID supporters are not even worth listening to, because the sentence is in: all who doubt molecules-to-man evolution must be fundamentalist creationist flat-earth pseudoscientific wackos trying to stuff religion into science. Well, with that kind of outlook, the only thing to do is load them onto the trains to Ravensbruck and get it over with. The arrogance of the Darwinist empire is atrocious. Do they ever try to explain the complexity of DNA and molecular machines? No. Do they explain the fine-tuning of the universe? No. Do they really attempt to explain the abrupt appearance of all life in the fossil record? No. Can they figure out the origin of life? No. They don’t have to, because they have power. Their absolute power has corrupted what it usually corrupts, absolutely. When the peasants rage, they pacify them with another bedtime story. It’ll work, because criticism is against the law. All they have to do is fool some of the people all of the time, and muffle the others. There is not one facet of the scientific materialist philosophy, worldview and story line that is not under stress from the evidence: not the fossil record, not human evolution, not the origin of life, not the big bang, not the origin of language and the mind, not historical geology, not planetary evolution. You’ve read it all right here for over five years. The only place where there is complete confidence in the whole shebang is in the imagination of the Darwinists, who are accustomed to believing six million impossible things before breakfast. Rosenhouse and Branch, and Olsen with his Dodo film (see LiveScience), are concerned about style. They recognize that King Charlie’s PR is taking a beating. They want to spruce up his image with a better coat of whitewash, not to really examine their hearts and confess their sins, but to find more effective ways to shout Long Live the Usurper. Style is nice, but nothing matters more than truth. Telling people hydrogen will evolve into brains is a hard sell. It just doesn’t make any sense to most people. Intelligent design has the advantage of being straightforwardly believable and in accord with the evidence. So here is the situation: a corrupt Darwin Party drunk on power, and critics who are determined to let the truth come out. Since the Darwinists have wrested power over the journals, the lawmakers, the big-science institutions and the schools, they think they don’t need evidence. They don’t need to be held accountable. Since they have power, they can portray their myth as fact and force it on everyone. It doesn’t matter to them that the Kingdom of Science was predominantly Christian for many centuries, and that many of the greatest scientists of history proclaimed overtly essentially the same position revitalized by today’s intelligent design movement. The Darwin Party usurped power in Huxley’s day, and are not about to give it up. How do you treat bullies? How do you deal with entrenched, institutionalized corruption? You keep on. You force the issue. You stand up to them, and call bystanders to take note of their injustices. You call their bluff. You demand they explain why the rules of logic and evidence do not apply to them. You force them to face the evidence. You confront them when they lie and sidestep the real issues. When they slam one door in your face, you run to the next one. You keep on keeping on, and you never tolerate bluffing and evasion for an answer. In short, you don’t acquiesce. What is required for evil to triumph, class? Nor do you act like them, because the goal is not merely a shift in power, but a return to righteousness. That’s a great word that is rarely heard today. Be righteous, and expect righteousness. Acting honorably, demand honor. Acting honestly, demand honesty. Acting truthfully, demand nothing less than the truth. Acting nobly, despise all that is ignoble. But honesty is not incompatible with wisdom, strategy and tactics. Perkins and the others are wrong to portray creationists and ID supporters as evolving ideologues, because Big Science today is corrupt, and things needs to change. The ID minority is not evolving; it is engaging an important issue by intelligence and design. You would think people willing to call corrupt authoritarians on the carpet for dishonesty and dogmatism would be praised; maybe someday they will be, by historians looking back on this era. In the meantime, what do the Goliaths expect the Davids to do? When Darwinists find lawyers willing to lie and influence judges to make fallacious decisions about scientific matters, when they threaten lawsuits to shut off debate, when they threaten loss of tenure and forbid publication, when they promote falsehoods in the media and pull their power plays to ensure their dominance, should they not anticipate that some critics will not take this behavior lying down? Of course. They should expect that the critics will dodge, feint, duck and keep fighting, because some people believe their cause is just. So here’s the situation, Darwinists: we realize your fat, blubbery monstrosity of evolutionary theory has lots of minions at his command. You think you have the freedom fighters surrounded, at the mouth of the Sarlacc, but we’re calling you out. You cannot defend methodological naturalism as a philosophy of science. You cannot defend hydrogen becoming brains. We’re warning you, Charlie: this is your last chance.