Evolution News and Views (ENV) provides original reporting and analysis about the debate over intelligent design and evolution, including breaking news about scientific research.

Evolution News and Views

PBS Tackles Evolution Debate Again, but Fumbles in the Endzone

This past weekend PBS program Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly aired a story about the Kansas board of education's recent hearings on evolution. The producers tried to cover the whole debate and allowed many of the different points of view to be included. In that regard the program was better than most news stories on the issue.

And, they did define Discovery's approach to science education properly in the first half of the program.

The Discovery Institute is leading the challenge to the way science is taught in this country. It favors teaching evolution as a scientific theory that is open to critical scrutiny, not as a sacred dogma that should not be questioned.

Dr. STEPHEN MEYER (Discovery Institute): The public is starting to catch on that there's more to this debate than the stereotyped view of the enlightened scientist versus the backwoods Bible thumper.

It's later in the program that they muddle things terribly.

Additionally, the show leaves viewers with the idea that this is primarily a religious issue (of course this is a religious program) and that the Kansas board is considering including intelligent design in science curriculum. This is not the the case, as has been accurately reported by local media and the Associated Press. Still REN makes the claim that that is what's taking place in Kansas. And they manipulate quotes to bolster their mistaken premise:

DE SAM LAZARO: Conservatives on the Kansas Board of Education are not arguing openly against teaching evolution. They want other explanations, such as intelligent design, taught as well. They call this "teaching the controversy."

Ms. MARTIN: Since there is a controversy, we ought to be able to allow students to address that controversy in our public schools. Especially if our parents and the communities are saying, "Hey, you know, we don't like the way this is being taught to our students. It sounds like indoctrination to us."

First, Teach the Controversy has nothing to do with intelligent design. We should know, we coined the term, and it is our approach to education that is called such. "Teach the controversy" refers to the idea that what students should be taught is the evidence both for and against Darwinian evolution, and the controversy and debate amongst scientists about that evidence. No intelligent design there.

It would be interesting to know in what context Ms. Martin made the above quote, since she doesn't say specifically that she's calling for intelligent design. And, the board of which she's a member, has said repeatedly that is not their objective in revising the science standards. Later this week when the board reconvenes to discuss the issue again this will undoubtedly be made clear. Let's hope REN is filming that meeting.