Darwin Dogma Day on the BBC
This item was circulated to supporters of the Centre for Intelligent Design in 2015 following a grossly inaccurate treatment of the subject by the BBC in 2015. The call to complain to the BBC is no longer current, but it was taken up by a number of our correspondents at the time. However, the problem is likely to recur in broadcasts dealing with Intelligent Design.
The high world-wide esteem enjoyed by the BBC rests not just on its technical expertise but on its reputation for balance and objectivity. But, by any measure, its treatment of Creationism and Intelligent Design in Radio 4’s Inside Science item for Darwin Day on February 12th was certainly not its finest hour.
Between them, the presenter Adam Rutherford and the contributors Drs Thomas Dixon and Eugenie Scott managed to give a seriously distorted view of Creationism and Intelligent Design (ID). You can listen to the Darwin Day item at around 16 minutes into the 30 minute programme at www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b051vr38
If you are as disturbed as we are by the content of this item, we suggest you write to the BBC expressing your concerns. The procedure for making a complaint can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/ and it should be sent to BBC Complaints, PO Box 1922, Darlington, DL3 0UR.
You may find it helpful to use one or more of the following points. It is always best to find your own words, keep it brief and restrict your comments to one side of a page.
It is not historically accurate to claim, as the programme did, that Creationism is essentially a 20th century and largely American phenomenon. Belief in a Divine Creator was the default position within which Darwin argued his case for evolution by natural selection, and for the previous 1,900 years a 'young earth' view was commonly held. That this is now dismissed by modern science is beside the historical point.
It is also demonstrably the case that many of the founders of the modern Intelligent Design movement are in fact former Darwinists. They became sceptical that the mechanism of natural selection acting on random mutations actually possessed the massive creative power attributed to it; they are not young earth creationists trying to re-package their beliefs. Anyone who has taken the time to read the published work of ID proponents like Prof Phillip E Johnson, Dr Stephen Meyer, Prof Michael Behe and Dr William Dembski would know this.
None of the above names comes from the fiery and fundamentalist stereotypes described by Dr Dixon but, if anything, from mainstream Catholic and Protestant traditions.
Scepticism about the neo-Darwinian synthesis being the whole story is certainly not restricted to creationists or advocates of Intelligent Design. Some Darwin sceptics, like Dr David Berlinksi and Prof Thomas Nagel, are either atheist or agnostic.
In addition, to take one experimental example, the avalanche of recent publications, emanating from the Encode project, and describing functionality in the so-called 'junk DNA' validates a prediction made nearly 20 years ago by design theorists. It also invalidates the predictions made by Neo-Darwinists that such ‘junk’ is just what would be expected from millions of years of random mutations.
To treat Intelligent Design as simply a variant of traditional creationism, as was done throughout the item, is just factually inaccurate.
Listeners to the BBC deserve a much more rounded and accurate treatment of why these matters remain controversial. It demeans their intelligence to hear only the cosy, uniform and condescending views expressed in this programme. To have Eugenie Scott, a self-confessed humanist and committed Darwinist, explain Intelligent Design is about as fair as asking Jeremy Corbyn to commend Tory policies to the nation in the run up to a General Election!
We urge you to write to the BBC to ask for a much more informed treatment of creationism and intelligent design in its coverage of origins.
Dr Alastair Noble,
Director of the Centre for Intelligent Design UK
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