Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Extra! Extra!

The New York Times has really pissed me off over the last year by extending its he-said, she-said political reporting style to coverage of intelligent design, and in general promoting the idea that people who believe in evolution are God-hating atheists. See, for example, this awful article by the awful Jodi Wilgoren (link to a site hosting the article for free). (Not that I have anything against atheists, of course.)

So I want to give due credit to Ian Fisher and Cornelia Dean for opposing he-said with bald fact, written in the editorial voice, twice in the course of this article.

Robert L. Crowther, spokesman for the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute, a Seattle organization where researchers study and advocate intelligent design, dismissed the article and other recent statements from leading Catholics defending evolution. Drawing attention to them was little more than trying "to put words in the Vatican's mouth," he said.

L'Osservatore is the official newspaper of the Vatican and basically represents the Vatican's views. Not all its articles represent official church policy. At the same time, it would not be expected to present an article that dissented deeply from that policy.


There is no credible scientific challenge to the idea that evolution explains the diversity of life on earth, but advocates for intelligent design posit that biological life is so complex that it must have been designed by an intelligent source.


Oh, and as far as the theology addressed in the article, it's stunningly obvious, and basically what any religious person with half a brain has believed all along:

In the Osservatore article, Dr. Facchini wrote that scientists could not rule out a divine "superior design" to creation and the history of mankind. But he said Catholic thought did not preclude a design fashioned through an evolutionary process.

"God's project of creation can be carried out through secondary causes in the natural course of events, without having to think of miraculous interventions that point in this or that direction," he wrote.



  • At 2:26 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    I don't understand if you're being sarcastic. What's so great about that third paragraph you quote? The structure of the sentence makes the two assertions equivalent, whereas in fact the first assertion reflects the consensus of hundreds of thousands of intelligent, professional scientists, whereas the second assertion reflects the unscientific rambling of fringe lunatics with no scientific training.

    In general, the article is yet another example of the Times giving too much coverage to ID. To do so implicitly grants it credibility as a scientific objection to evolution.

    Best to just give it the space that it deserves: buried deep in some article about religion, or maybe mentioned in a news report without engaging the idiotic ideas themselves.

  • At 2:40 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    As to your first point, I was reacting specifically to the first half of the sentence, which I think makes the people quoted in the second half of the sentence look stupid. I mean, they can posit it all they want, but the reporters are stating baldly that there is "no credible scientific challenge" to evolution.

    And given the Vatican's recent vacillation on the subject of evolution, I actually don't think it's giving too much credence to ID to report the fact that the Vatican house organ said in no uncertain terms that ID shouldn't be taught in public schools, which is what it means to say that the Pennsylvania decision was correct.

    And to continue being fair to the Times (on this rarest of days), not all its reporters have been equally bad on ID. Cornelia Dean has in general done an okay job, from what I remember.

  • At 2:48 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    I still think that even in this article they treat ID too much like a science. An uncareful reader would read that sentence and be like, "yeah, some scientists say this, but those IDers make a really good criticism. Those dumb scientists, they're always ignoring common sense." Especially since it's such a commonsensical, folk wisdom objection to evolutionary theory. It's something any child might say when first confronted with the idea of evolution -- "but how could something so random create something so complex?" -- which has a not very complicated scientific explanation, which the Times does not give.

    Nope, I maintain that the Times' coverage of ID still sucks. Maybe this is a step in the right direction, but it still sucks.

  • At 3:09 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Oh, on the whole, definitely, sucks big-time. I just thought it was only fair to recognize this modest step in the right direction.


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