May 7, 2001

Icons of Evolution exposed on CNN


The big news this week was the CNN telecast overnight on May 3, on their CNN Newsroom Series show that is used in many public and private school classrooms.

The 7-minute segment (see transcript) featured the exposure of the peppered moth story and the faked Haeckel embryo drawings by Jonathan Wells, in his book Icons of Evolution. The segment began with an interview with Joe Baker, a high school senior who has become skeptical of evolution and wants his school board to put labels in the textbooks warning students about the errors. According to Baker, "This isn't about typos. These are the main icons which are used to teach evolutionary theory. Many of them are fraud."

As usual, the school district has refused to do anything to correct the fraud. Leading Darwinian authorities also don't seem to care whether the examples in the textbooks are accurate or not. Jerry Coyne of the University of Chicago told CNN that evolutionary biologists are the ones who discovered the frauds and errors in the first place, so there was no need for outside critics like Wells to make a public issue of the subject. This fails to explain why those leading biologists kept the embarrassing facts confined within professional circles, and why the textbooks still feature the Haeckel drawings and the peppered moth story, presenting them and other dubious icons as absolutely reliable evidence for Darwinism. My own experience in conversations with Darwinists is that most of them simply shrug off textbook errors, however gross. What does it matter, since the theory has to be true on philosophical grounds alone, regardless of the evidence? The purpose of the textbooks is not to inform, much less to encourage critical thinking about evidence, but to induce the students to believe the philosophy.

The CNN transcript also features a brief interview with Michael Behe explaining irreducible complexity, and a rebuttal by Eugenie Scott. Scott takes her usual line that intelligent design is "religious" and not "scientific," which means in effect that Darwinism (or some alternative naturalistic explanation) is true by definition, regardless of the evidence. As a letter from a biologist published in Nature in 1999 summarized this position, "Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic." Who wants truth, if you can have that kind of "science" instead?

The best thing about the CNN program was that it exemplified the approach for teaching evolution that we in the Intelligent Design movement support. The public schools should "teach the controversy." Students need to learn what the mainstream scientists believe about evolution, and why they believe it. Students also need to learn why there are so many critics, and why the critics are growing in number and influence.

If the science educators continue to pretend that there is no controversy to teach, perhaps the television networks and the newspapers will take over the responsibility of informing the public. This week there was a favorable story about Intelligent Design and the Discovery Institute in yet another major newspaper, Canada's National Post.

While the science textbook writers are still trying to bamboozle students with the Haeckel embryos, the reporters are at last getting a clear glimpse of the truth.

Copyright 2001 Phillip E. Johnson. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
File Date: 5.07.01