Creationism’s Public Relations Campaign

Friday, January 10, 2014

Transcript

A recent Pew Research Center analysis finds that one-third of Americans reject the theory of evolution, believing that “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.” Brooke speaks to Edward Caudill, author of Intelligently Designed: How Creationists Built the Campaign Against Evolution, who says that modern media has been a godsend for Creationists.

Guests:

Edward Caudill

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [10]

Carina from Michigan

I just wanted to add a tangent (it is related to communication, don't worry)...I was floored when I read the Origin of Species and realized that all of the "arguments" that creationists throw at evolution were actually anticipated and addressed by Darwin in the Origin itself. I didn't know how old the arguments were; it really makes current-day creationists look kind of pathetic, to be bringing up the same points 150 years later when Darwin and all biologists since then have refuted them countless times. No doubt this is mentioned in Cuadill's book.

Darwin addresses these points beautifully, too! His writing is incredible.

Jan. 29 2014 02:23 PM
Paul Bowman from Baltimore

Forgive me for further belaboring my point, but I'd like to note that the new issue of First Things has a feature essay on the subject.

It would be great if OTM could somehow acknowledge that creationism is a more complicated matter in conservative America than the January show's report suggested.

Jan. 21 2014 02:16 PM
UO

Old news. Intelligent Design has been utterly impotent ever since the Dover trial nearly a decade ago. The severe beating ID took at the trial effectively killed the Wedge Strategy. The ID'ers can pretend all they like that The Designer is something other than the Christian God, but nobody has ever bought it, not even the cdesign proponentsists themselves.

No doubt they will come up with some other grand scheme eventually. And that will fail too. There's only so much you can do with a rotten idea.

Jan. 18 2014 04:01 AM
Eric Scigliano from Seattle

How sad. OTM and Brooke Gladstone fell right into the semantic sloppiness that has for long shielded the creationists. How often have you heard them huff, "Evolution is only a theory"? It's the movement's favorite meme. They take this to mean "theory" in the popular sense: what scientists call a hypothesis, a proposition that has yet to be tested. In science, "theory" means a comprehensive explanation supported by reasoning, experiment, and observation--such as Darwin's theory of natural selection. which as amended and amplified by subsequent research is still the best explanation standing for the observed phenomenon of biological evolution. Yes, evolution is fact, just as gravity and weather are. Anyone who studies infectious diseases, breeds dogs, or raises crops and battle pests deals with it every day.
Alas, Brooke disregarded these distinctions and referred, flatly and repeatedly, to "the theory of evolution." Worse yet, she evoked it as something one "believed" in or didn't. Choose your facts.
This linguistic disconnect and its (I think pernicious) effects seem like a natural subject for OTM. But if you don't do it, you might at least keep your terms straight. And, otherwise, keep up the good work.

Jan. 15 2014 04:01 AM
Michaela from Metropolitan Philadelphia

Although I am sure that time restraints required that much information needed to be omitted from the OTM story about Creationism, I was disappointed that no mention was made of the decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover where (Federal Court) Judge John Jones found Intelligent Design to be Creationism at its core. Much information about the trial and many other conflicts in this area can be found at the National Center for Science Education (ncse.com).

Jan. 14 2014 03:33 PM
Michaela from Metropolitan Philadelphia

Although I am sure that time restraints required that much information needed to be omitted from the OTM story about Creationism, I was disappointed that no mention was made of the decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover where (Federal Court) Judge John Jones found Intelligent Design to be Creationism at its core. Much information about the trial and many other conflicts in this area can be found at the National Center for Science Education (ncse.com).

Jan. 14 2014 03:32 PM
John

"Design" shouldn't get around the religious prohibition though as it is dependent upon there being a "designer" which implies a god. Life evolved without a designer.

Jan. 13 2014 03:06 PM
Mason Kelsey from 32779

Anything we can do to kill this monster of ignorance call "creationism" is OK with me.

Jan. 13 2014 12:32 PM
Mario Piper from Central Vermont

Although I love NPR and OTM, I must say that I think this story over-simplified this issue. Check the link to the pew findings. The findings are far more nuanced than this story seems to indicate. I love the scientific method. I also have a faith in God. I study mathematics and physics, have spent a considerable amount of time abroad, and genuinely love talking with people of all stripes. I wouldn't consider myself as a backward, "hillbilly" type of a person, just because I believe in something that is unprovable. This episode seemed less NPR, and more FOX. But who am I but a backward imbecilic hillbilly fostering theologic bilge, right???

Jan. 12 2014 06:50 PM
Paul Bowman from Baltimore

Much as I love OTM, some reports are pretty disappointing, and this is a good example. The great fundamentalist conspiracy to re-brand creationism and sucker the media is quite an old story, presented here as though it were fresh material. More importantly, though, the piece offers a facile reading of creationism as a factor in current American religious conservatism. We hang unhelpfully, here, at the level of Fox TV stridency and evangelical Facebook memes, when there's a much more interesting story of deep conversation within conservative Christianity to be pursued and watched. My fear is that in a piece like this one, OTM does much more to feed the flames of conflict than to help us understand the ideas in play or the culture dynamics that could produce change.

Let me suggest three recent articles that I'd say are representative of conservative critical awareness, at somewhat different places in the spectrum of media American Christians consume.

Midwestern Evangelical science teacher James Hoskins, for "Christ and Pop Culture," looking back on "Our Long American Tradition of Spectacle and Culture War" and ahead to next month's Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christandpopculture/2014/01/bill-nye-vs-ken-ham-continuing-the-american-tradition-of-spectacle-and-culture-war/

Oakland writer Tim Stafford, reporting in Christianity Today about a gathering, two years ago in New York, of leading conservative Protestants publicly opposed to a young-earth view:
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/marchweb-only/biologos-new-york.html

Catholic physicist, U. of Delaware professor Stephen M. Barr, for First Things -- read widely by conservative Catholics and Protestants -- on failure of the intelligent design movement (2010):
http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2010/02/the-end-of-intelligent-design

(In First Things, see also for instance Evangelical historian Mark Noll's two-decades-old review of Ronald Numbers' The Creationists: http://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/08/001-ignorant-armies-34)

Jan. 12 2014 05:19 AM

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