British Reporting on Evolution Debate Even Less Accurate than American Media

Robert L. Crowther, II

The debate over how to teach evolution has ignited a firestorm of controversy in Britain. And, as hard to believe as it is, the truth is that the reporting in the UK has been even worse than the reporting on the issue here in the US.

British media seem nearly universally incapable of discerning any difference between creationism and intelligent design. They use the terms interchangeably and often refer to “the Bible story of God creating the world in six days, 6,000 years ago,” no matter whether they are discussing creationism or intelligent design.
Here’s a typical British description of intelligent design:

People who believe in Intelligent Design or ID say that it is a scientific alternative to evolution – It explains the way that life has developed on Earth as being guided by an intelligence, a force that many would call God. Its supporters say it is a more sophisticated explanation than creationism – which views the development of the world solely in biblical terms. Intelligent Design accepts many of the scientific aspects of evolution, but sees the guiding hand of God behind them all.

What’s humorous is that, at the end of the article, the BBC World Service felt that even more was needed and so printed a list of definitions, including this one: “the guiding hand of God the leading role of a supreme intelligence who is the creator and ruler of the universe.”
Clearly, many in the British media simply can’t write a story that communicates ID supporters’ own views on the subject but rather insist on asserting that intelligent design seeks to name the intelligent cause we see scientific evidence for in the natural world.
Asserting that ID believes “God is behind it all” flies in the face of what British — and American — ID scientists have themselves said. I blogged briefly about BBC News Night’s interview with Prof. Andy Mcintosh of Truth in Science (TiS). Mcintosh repeatedly explained that in science you look at the scientific evidence, and that the evidence can’t tell you who the designer is. “We are not seeking to say in any way who the designer is when we’re examining science in the classroom. … Within the science classroom we’re simply asking to look at the scientific evidence.” Later Mcintosh restated this. “We are not asking for belief to be brought into the classroom we are simply saying let’s look at the evidence, let’s look at the scientific evidence to see whether it actually shows the design thesis or not.”
There have been a few cases where accurate reporting has leaked through. BBC’s Science & Nature website correctly reports that it was Phillip Johnson who helped to ignite the modern ID movement and even properly defines the theory.

Johnson recruited other Darwin doubters, including biochemist Professor Michael Behe, mathematician Dr William Dembski, and philosopher of science Dr Stephen Meyer. These scientists developed the theory of intelligent design (ID) which claims that certain features of the natural world are best explained as the result of an intelligent being.

Even while they were repeatedly slamming TiS in numerous articles, The Telegraph had to also report that:

But the group is backed by a number of respected academics.
Its four-man board of directors includes Andy McIntosh, a professor of thermodynamics and combustion at Leeds University, and Maurice Roberts, a former classics teacher and now a minister in the Free Church of Scotland.
The group’s advisory council includes Stuart Burgess, professor of design and nature at Bristol University, Derek Linkens, an emeritus professor at the department of automatic control and systems engineering at Sheffield University, and Dr Tim Wells, a senior lecturer in the school of biosciences at Cardiff University.

Robert Crowther

Robert Crowther holds a BA in Journalism with an emphasis in public affairs and 20 years experience as a journalist, publisher, and brand marketing and media relations specialist. From 1994-2000 he was the Director of Public and Media Relations for Discovery Institute overseeing most aspects of communications for each of the Institute's major programs. In addition to handling public and media relations he managed the Institute's first three books to press, Justice Matters by Roberta Katz, Speaking of George Gilder edited by Frank Gregorsky, and The End of Money by Richard Rahn.