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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Intelligent design and popular culture: The BBC spin on British creationism

In an article at the BBC News online (September 15, 2008), "Who are the British creationists?", Julian Joyce beautifully demonstrates why legacy media, online or not, are media sources that are best taken with a big bag of sidewalk salt.

He starts with a creation museum in England:


At first glance the Genesis Expo museum, in the naval town of Portsmouth, looks like any other repository of natural history exhibits: fossils of dinosaurs and unusual rock formations.

But focus on the narrative of the information panels alongside them, and you start to realise this is a museum with a difference - one dedicated to the theory of creationism.
As I said when the much glitzier American creation museum opened in Kentucky, it is legal to have a private museum about anything one wishes to. That only shows that one lives in a liberal democracy or constitutional monarchy.

He then informs us,
The revelation that US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin says creationism should be taught in schools, alongside that of evolutionary theory, has raised few eyebrows in the US. ...
Actually, that is a canard put out by anti-Palin commentators. But Joyce can count on his British readers not to know that.

We are also told that, "And while the Church of England this week issues a formal apology to Charles Darwin, ... " - in fact, there was no formal apology. A church bureaucrat had literally thunk the idea up on his own initiative.

And in a classic display of believing whatever confirms one's prejudices, we read that there is "growing support" for "literal six-day" creationism. The evidence? Get a load of this:
Growing support

Justin Thacker, head of theology for the Evangelical Alliance, says research in 1998 found one third of the Alliance church members were "literal six-day creationists." The other two thirds embraced evolutionary theory to a "greater or lesser degree" he says.

"Since that survey was done, I'd say fewer of our members are out-and-out creationists - it has become more acceptable to embrace some form of Darwinism," he says.

But Keith Porteous Wood of the Secular Society is unconvinced.

"There is no question that creationism is growing," he says. "It is increasingly well funded, and well organised."
In short, creationism is not growing in Britain but both Wood and Joyce need to believe it is - Wood for his fundraising letters and Joyce for his scare story.

Unless ... Joyce really means that Muslim creationism is growing. That is a safe bet because, given that the Muslim population of Britain is growing, any point of view accepted by Muslims might well be growing in consequence. But Joyce does not say that.

He handles this topic by implying that Christian and Muslim creationists are somehow "uniting":
This shared belief in the origins of man - and the universe - is uniting unlikely bedfellows in the anti-evolution cause.

The Rev Greg Haslam, who preaches the creationist Christian creed to his 400-strong congregation at Westminster Chapel in London, welcomes the determination of Muslims to impart a religious-based view of the world.
But that is hardly an example of "uniting", and does not imply that the two groups work together. So far as I have been able to determine, they generally do not.

Anyway, file this one under "Why the legacy mainstream media are losing ground." Basically, it's reached the point that, on some topics, they just can't put out a story any more without a big fat thumb print sticking in it.

See also: Will Brit “faith and science” heavyweights speak up after education director’s firing?"

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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