Sunday, 18 November 2007

Responses to PBS "Judgement Day" program

Last Tuesday, PBS ran a two hour special on NOVA about the infamous Dover School District "Evolution vs Intelligent Design" trials. Jessica and I watched it and we found it to be a very well put together program, which explained in a very easily comprehensible way what science is, why intelligent design IS NOT science, and how the members of the Dover school district were religiously motivated when trying to teach students intelligent design as an "alternative to Darwinian theory". It was one of the better episodes of NOVA I've seen and was greatly pleased that PBS stood up for science cand didnt play the "Christian apologetic" card. Many other people, it seems, were not so pleased. The PBS ombudsman has released an article publishing some of the emails and letters they recieved from viewers; many of which were complaints about the "one sidedness" of the show.

Here's a few choice excerpts from some of the letters (emphasis mine):

"I realize that PBS has always treated the neo-Darwinian theory
of Evolution as sacred and beyond question but last night's dose of
Darwin-worship was so strong and so contrary to any genuine search for truth
that I can
no longer consider support of public television a
morally defensible practice

So, basically, because PBS, on a show dedicated to science, chose to support the science and not the religious rhetoric, supporting public television is now immoral? You've got to be kidding me.

"After tonight's program on Intelligent Design it proves that
PBS has a "design" of its own — it's one that is driving the country to
destruction — your bias is completely counter to history, to the very foundation
of our nation and history of nations. Every part from beginning to end
had its own objective; completely counter to the Truth which is proven in the
rise and fall of nations

Aparently, countering "the Truth" (id est the Bible) has been the cause of the collapse of nations throughout history. I'd bet good money that this guy slept through history class. This letter also displays the sickening misconception that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. Perhaps the study of the founding fathers and reading the Decleration of Indepenance should become mandatory in American schools. Maybe then the myth that the US is a "Christian nation" would be dispelled.

"It doesn't take a "Rocket Scientist" to figure out that if we,
as humans, evolved from monkeys . . . THEN WHY? . . . Are there STILL Monkeys???
We were "Created" by God!!! Pull up AOL now and you'll notice the Gov. of
Georgia praying for rain, (No Doubt to GOD). When 9/11 happened what did every
good neighbor do? PRAY. Not to monkeys . . . To our "Creator"!!! It shouldn't
take tragic and desperate circumstances for people to realize this fact!!! GOD
BLESS AMERICA!!! In GOD We Trust!!!"

Yet another example of the painful ignorance people have of evolution. It gives me a headache trying to figure out why some people cannot grasp what it is that evolution teaches. Nowhere does it say that we evolved FROM monkeys. Humans and monkeys both evolved from some other common ancestor. Apes are not our ancestors but theyre more like our cousins. Also, because people prayed to God after 9/11 doesnt prove his existance. That's a complete non sequitur. I also find it amusing that people are still using AOL (there's something to be said about the intelligence of fundies and AOL users but I'll let you draw your own conclusions).

"I measured the time from the beginning of the program to the first
time an idea from ID theory was even presented (25). If I had time I could make
a chart of how many times a positive statement was made pro evolution
(uncontested) vs. pro ID statement (each contested or refuted). "

Hmm perhaps this is because Intelligent Design is false and evolution is our current best understanding of the natural process of speciation? The one major point of the Dover trial was to show that ID was not science, so why would the doccumentary give a "pro-ID" stance at all? Of course it was "pro-evolution" - that was the outcome of the trial! If the outcome had been reversed and evolution pronounced baseless mumbo-jumbo while ID was the Gospel truth (pardon the pun) then things would have been different. But that is not the case. ID was presented as a refuted non-scienctific religious idea BECAUSE IT IS A REFUTED NON-SCIENTIFIC RELIGIOUS IDEA.

"I am glad I have not donated any $ to KQED for many years since I would not want to contribute to the propagation of the false, erroneous, illogical theory of macro-evolution. If evolution were true and man "evolved" from apes, why do we have apes and monkeys co-existing with man? Why have the apes not all turned into humans? Then, there's the immoral implication of evolution. "Survival of the fittest" follows from evolutionary theory. Evolutionists, to be logical and true to their faith (it takes faith to believe in it since there is no clear, unimpeachable physical evidence for macro-evolution) should see nothing wrong with what Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc., did in the genocides of millions of people."

This one has three pathetic points. First, this guy also says that macroevolution is "illogical". I'd like to know his reasoning for this. Macroevolution is possibly one of the most logical ideas I can think of. Animals with genes that make them more fit have more offspring. More offspring with this gene means a change in allelic frequencies. Over time, the more fit gene is kept and the less fit gene dies out. What's so illogical about that?
Secondly, this guy also displays the ever-so-present lack of understanding of how evolution works. Again, we didnt evolve "from monkeys", we evolved along side of them. Apes have not "turned into humans" because that's not how evolution works! Why can't people undersand this!? The third thing he says is the often used "Evolution = survival of the fittest = killing off weak people = OMG HITLER MASSMURDER" argument. He combines this with the claim that there is no physical evidence for macro-evolution (there is. Tons of it.). Hitler (and Pol Pot, and Stalin) did commit genocide, there is no denying that. But what people have to understand is that "fit" and "weak" do not mean the same thing. Survival of the fittest DOES NOT MEAN survival of the strongest or fastest, biologically or socially. Fittest = better chance at producing offspring. From what I know, Hitler didnt exactly send the Jews to Auschwitz because they were having more kids. This disgusting misconception that "survial of the fittest" ammounts to killing off socially weak people is rampant in creationist thinking and ammounts to little more than extreme Social Darwinism, a concept that has long been abandoned.

"Surely you could have interviewed prominent scientists,
philosophers and theologians who could explain how the two theories are actually
one and the same. Typical humanistic, lefty propaganda staged to move the feeble
mind to a certain point of view. Garbage, really. You should fire the writers
and producers.

The two theories are NOT one and the same. Evolution is a naturalistic process that occurs over immense periods of time. Intelligent Design is when a magical entity sneezes and POOF you've got another living thing. The two ideas are almost antithetical. Once again, the point of the program was not to compare and contrast Evolution and ID; the point was to tell the story of the Dover trial, during which ID was shown to be a flimsy psuedoscientific religious argument. Why are people surprised that this is the idea expressed in the show?

"It was fascinating to see those dipstick high school teachers,
bolstered by the heir to the Darwin fortune explain the impossible and to the
great lengths that these . . . will go to deny that there is a greater power
than some . . . that passed teacher's college in some backwater . . .

Yeah, because Darwin totally made it rich off of his ideas. I'm pretty sure I saw him on the 1888 Forbes 500.

There are a ton of other letters but it would take a century to write a full response to all of them. Read them if you like but I take no responsibility if your blood pressure skyrockets due to the sheer ignorance that most of the letters wallow in. There are a few letters commending PBS on what was truely an accurate and well presented program, but the vast majority of them are drivel from fundies. Be warned.

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