Upholding Accuracy in Science Journalism

    For the past couple of days, I've been telling you about grave problems with the PBS "Evolution" series that is being broadcast this week. Today I'd like to consider the deepest issue raised by this series -- who disagrees with Darwin? In many respects, that's the most important question raised by this series and the one it handles most inadequately. At bottom, the central claim of modern evolutionary theory is that God had nothing to do with how organisms and human beings came to be. Sometimes this claim is put more modestly -- if God did have something to do with our existence, we cannot know that as a matter of science -- but the practical effect is the same. Natural causes explain our origin. If that's what evolution asserts, however, most Americans disagree. Polling evidence over the past two decades has consistently shown that approximately 90 percent of Americans think either that God created human beings directly, or that he controlled the process of evolution to create us. In either case, intelligent design went into our creation. We don't exist simply because of natural causes. In addition to the public, many leading scientists believe God created us. Now, scientific truth is not a matter of counting noses. If 100 percent of the American public thought that the moon was made of green cheese, then 100 percent of the American public would be wrong. But any journalistic effort that claims to be accurately surveying the current debate about evolution, while omitting coverage of both sides of the debate, has failed at its task. In its final hour, entitled "What About God?" the series portrays those who disagree with Darwin. Unfortunately it leaves out both scientific arguments and inconvenient evidence. The scientific case for the intelligent design of life is missing. Instead dissent from evolution is depicted either as unthinking Protestant fundamentalism or as ignorance to be corrected by better education. Good religion, says PBS, accepts Darwinian evolutionary theory. Bad religion doesn't. You won't see it on PBS, but many responsible scientists disagree with Darwin. Take Michael Behe of Lehigh University. Dr. Behe argues that cell biology reveals a breathtaking complexity best explained by intelligent design. And the series ignores the views of Baylor University mathematician, Dr. William Dembski, who says that science can reliably detect the action of a designer. In fact, unlike the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, which earlier this year put the intelligent design debate on their front pages, the PBS series completely omits any discussion of the intelligent design community except for a passing reference by an anti-design advocate. Folks, that's just not honest science journalism. Most of the American public doesn't accept undirected Darwinian evolution as a full or adequate explanation of our existence. And many well-trained scientists and philosophers think that intelligent design is a better explanation. Odds are, the very people hearing my voice right now fall into these groups. Your views deserve a respectful and fair hearing. PBS hasn't given you one. They haven't even come close. Your tax dollars help pay for public broadcasting. A full and accurate debate serves the cause of truth. Anything less is propaganda from a worldview that has already lost much of its credibility.


Chuck Colson



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