Monday, October 14, 2013

Wormhole losing credibility?

One of my favorite television shows is Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman on the Science Channel. It's fairly obvious why I take pleasure in watching this documentary-style entertainment, because it delves into science and answers some of life's great questions.

But one of my pet peeves with this show is its insistence on inserting religion where it doesn't belong. As a journalist, I am 100 percent for telling both sides of a story, and if religion truly played a role in any particular episode then I would accept its presence and listen intently. But also as a journalist I am bound by my ethical responsibility to reveal fact and not glorify destructive conspiracy theories that attempt to dispel these facts.

When a show like Wormhole lands on Science Channel, I believe it has an obligation to tell the truth, because that's the very definition of science, discovering the truth about our universe. Yes, it is entertainment, but its content needs to stand on its own merits to be that entertainment and shouldn't stray from that just to embrace a non-secular audience or majority.

What has me so hot about one of my favorite shows on TV? The episode titled "Did God Create Evolution?" had quite a few misconceptions and misrepresentations in its writing. Some of the monologue that Freeman offered essentially said Darwin's Theory of Evolution was his explanation for all life. That is 100 percent wrong. The theory explains how all living things evolved into what they are, but it says nothing of the origin of life. His book is called On the Origin of Species, not On the Origin of Life.

Scientists don't know how life started, and that's OK; they will figure it out one day. But as we've explored in this blog before, when we don't know something we don't just say God did it. That's a scientific cop out.

But the biggest offensive segment in this episode came right at the beginning when they highlighted a Christian scientist (isn't that an oxymoron?) who believes in Intelligent Design, aka creationism. He used the argument of irreducible complexity, which essentially states if you remove any single part of something and that something fails to operate, then it's irreducibly complex and cannot have evolved to that point. 

Parenthetically, this argument was once used in a Pennsylvania courtroom to try to force the school system in question to teach creationism alongside evolution. Dr. Behe, in that case, used the same example that was used on Wormhole, the flagellar motor of a certain bacteria, which has a rotary type tail that acts like an outboard, burrowing through its substrate. Behe went so far on the stand as to intentionally misrepresent facts. He was embarrassed during cross examination, where he had to admit he didn't keep up on actual science and medical journals that refuted his claims. He even had the judge (in his summation) defending evolution and accusing Behe of preying on the religious and trying to profit from it.

It's not my responsibility to explain all the reasons why his argument was refuted (you can read the God Delusion for that, which does it much better than I ever could), but I believe Wormhole dropped the ball here by even giving the Christian scientist any credibility. This isn't a political debate where Science Channel was legally obligated to give equal time to candidates. This is the Science Channel, and its obligation is to science and fact. Knowing this ID argument is ludicrous and refuted, SC should have used that opening time for a much better, more responsible segment.

Please stop catering to the sheep just to sell commercials. Tell the truth, don't insult our intelligence with superstitious mumbo-jumbo. You're better than that Morgan.

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