The Cultural War: Biased News Coverage
and its Distorted Portrayal of Creationism
|Author: John Woodmorappe
Subject: Social Issues
John Woodmorappe’s Articles
About John Woodmorappe
Review of PBS film (documentary)
The two-hour PBS (Public Broadcasting System) program “In the Beginning: The Creationism Controversy” gave much food for thought. On the positive side for creationism, members of both camps were interviewed. High-caliber spokesmen for creationism, such as Dr. Duane Gish and Phillip Johnson, were interviewed. However, it would have been more effective had Dr. Steven Austin been asked to discuss his work on the Grand Canyon rather than have Dr. Gish discuss it secondhand. The program also ended on a positive note, with the commentator stating that, in our pluralistic society, both sides must coexist. This ending, however, did not sit well with Robert Koehler of The Los Angeles Times, who was notable in his hostility toward creationists.
One obvious thread throughout the program was that of the evolutionists having the last word. Evolutionists were asked by the commentator to answer creationist claims, but creationists were never asked to answer evolutionists’ claims. No doubt had creationists been given the opportunity, they would have called the evolutionists to task for their many inaccurate claims. In fact, Diane Bailey, in an editorial in The Hollywood Reporter, complained that Randall Balmer, the host, did little cross-examination of the speakers.
Another disappointing, but hardly unexpected, factor, was the many inaccurate, and unchallenged, portrayals of creationism and creationists by evolutionists. For instance, Harvard’s Stephen Jay Gould, when asked if anyone could fairly reject evolution, said that you can always find someone with a legitimate degree in science who will not accept a theory because of a personal or ideological commitment not to. Coming from a person who is a Marxist, it seems like a rather self-serving statement. Also, no doubt creationists will find it insulting to hear their views equated with those who believe in UFOs etc., as Gould did. It is a classic ad hominem and guilt-by-association tactic. The situation is quite different in Russia, where creationists are recognized by evolutionists as intellectual equals and not arrogantly dismissed as purely-religionists and pseudo-scientists.
Not surprisingly, the evolutionists (Gould, Krishtalka, etc.) relentlessly portrayed their theory as proven fact. They defined a creationist as a non scientist and, armed with this self-serving and obviously circular definition, claimed that there is no controversy among scientists about the validity of evolution. Their belittlement of those who disagree with them is not at all in line with the fact of many very intelligent scientists who question evolution, as does Phillip Johnson. In fact, Tom Walter of the Memphis newspaper The Commercial Appeal pointed out that the program failed to recognize that many creationists are scientists.
Eugenie Scott compared the struggle of evolutionists and creationists with that of David and Goliath. She considers evolutionists to be the David, which seems incredible in view of the vastly greater wealth, power and influence evolutionists have over creationists. For instance, untold funds go for research in molecular biology alone. Evolutionists have the media on their side. Most significant of all, the judicial branch, with all its unilateral power to void laws or invent ones (i.e. “judicial activism”) at will, is largely controlled by humanists. Perhaps the best analogy is that of an occupying power and a well-organized guerrilla force. The occupying power controls the cities, railroads, etc., whereas the countryside is largely under guerilla control. In similar fashion, creationists have been most successful at the grass-roots level and the evolutionists at the institutional level. In an editorial, Walter Goodman of the New York Times alleges that “fundamentalists now run 2,200 school boards.”
Typical of the way evolutionists like to compartmentalize reality, there was a constant portrayal of creationism as a strictly religious issue. Leonard Krishtalka saw “creation myths” as serving a different function from science and saw no problem in the teaching of creationism in a comparative-religion class. But what if one finds the scientific evidence pointing to God? Does one buy into the prevailing rationalistic definition of science and ipso facto exclude God solely because He belongs in the “religion compartment” of reality and cannot ever be brought into the “scientific compartment” of reality? Since science is a human invention, it is humans who define what it is and isn’t. And who makes the decision? The humanists, of course.
Krishtalka also complained that creationists are racist in accepting the “Judeo-Christian myth” as true and all others as implicitly false. Using his own logic, are the Polynesians racist for believing their cosmogony is true and others false? Are non-Christians racist for not accepting the truth of Christian theology? For that matter, are evolutionists bigots for believing in the absolute truthfulness of their theories? On the contrary; evolutionists have no qualms in claiming that their view is proven and therefore entitled to exclusive consideration in the science classroom. But what if Christians believe that they have good evidence that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and therefore are entitled to maintain that Christianity is the only true religion?
Overall, the program was free of statements that believers may regard as vituperative. The one possible exception was Krishtalka’s charge that creationism panders to the human ego, because it allegedly makes humans the center of all existence. In fact, creationists would argue that the exact opposite is true. It is evolution that makes man the center of all existence by making him his own god: the master of his existence, accountable to no one but himself. And it is creationism that takes the humble view, because it recognizes man’s subservience to his Creator.
Throughout the program, evolutionists repeated outdated and long-refuted premises. One of them was that if you teach creationism, then you also have to teach all the creation myths of all the cultures of the world. Another was the claim that the account of Noah and the Flood makes good sense in a religious context but not in a scientific context, as the ark would be overloaded with 40 million species. Those who are familiar with the facts can only wonder when evolutionists will stop repeating this specious and rather silly argument. Then there was the classic attempt to equate small changes in populations with molecules-to-man evolution, and Gould’s non-sequitur in jumping from these small changes to the patterns allegedly seen in the fossil record. In fact, Gould’s claim that there are hundreds of transitional forms in the fossil record would be very much disputed by knowledgeable creationists.
All in all, it is gratifying to see creationism featured in the national media. Even though the coverage has its anti-creationist bias, the severity of this bias appears to be considerably less than that of similar earlier programs. Perhaps a good follow-up program would be one that is pre-screened and agreed upon by both evolutionists and creationists, if that is possible.
Topics: news media distortions, cultural war, liberal media bias, politically incorrect, news media doublespeak, culture war, media reality check, slanted news reporting, anti-religious bias of television, slanted news coverage, issues in science and religion, demonizing fundamentalism, defying political correctness, news media omissions, liberal scare tactics, culture war, anti-science scare tactics, scientific dogmatism, left-wing bias of the news media, Christian bashing, anti-Christian bigotry, liberal fear mongering, America’s cultural war, dogmatism in science.