California high school sued over Intelligent Design

The battle certainly isn’t over, as CNN reports that a California high school is the latest to face a lawsuit over Intelligent Design.

As it happens, they probably deserve to lose. The teacher is the wife of an Assembly of G-d minister, for one. It is very likely she has already crossed the line into religion — how do you spend an entire semester talking about this without going all religious in the middle of public school? Since they said they will look at “scientific, biological and Biblical aspects,” they as much declared that religion is where they are headed.

Then again, this is an elective course, not part of the science curriculum. Isn’t that exactly what the critics asked for? One wishes they could find a more neutral offering (i.e. drop the “Biblical aspects”) to make a case around.

But what I really want to talk about here is media bias — CNN spinning this in as anti-ID a manner as possible. I noticed four obvious spin tactics in a three minute video (follow this link and then click on “WATCH -> Intelligent Design Lawsuit”). The first three are:

  • Both the description of the video and the article headline refer to ‘intelligent design’ in quotes, lower case. This sends the message, even before beginning, that it’s not a real theory or argument — it’s a facade, a pretense.
  • The reporter is not standing in a classroom, in front of the school, or in the school board room. Rather, he reports standing in a church. How is the (darkened) church relevant to the story? Simply put, it isn’t — it is there only to spin the story in a sinister religious light (or darkness).
  • Finally, CNN interviews two opponents in the community as well as a lawyer for the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. For the contrary side they speak only to one obviously foreign-born parent, and two students.

For the fourth and perhaps most devious tactic, look carefully at the second student interview. The first student merely explains that “she doesn’t tell us any of her opinions, she just lets us think for ourselves,” and they leave it at that. The second stops after saying that he learns in class that the evidence leads to the conclusion that evolution can’t be the whole story, there has to be an alternative that replace it. The reporter, however, is not happy with that conclusion.

Reporter: And what is that?
Student: An Intelligent Designer.
R: Meaning G-d?
S: Yes, G-d, the Xtian G-d who Created the earth in six days.

Of course, CNN never tries to determine whether the student was repeating something learned in class, or the conclusion that he reached individually from the evidence presented. If you listen carefully it seems that the student said what was learned in class, and then stopped until the reporter asked him to draw conclusions not part of the curriculum. But no matter — the very idea that someone might receive data, evidence, that possibly leads to a theistic conclusion is already off-limits in the eyes of CNN.

It is nowhere in the Constitution, of course, that facts cannot be presented merely because athiests don’t like the conclusions thinking people might reach.

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3 Responses

  1. Seth Gordon says:

    Rav Menken refers to the teacher in this case as “the wife of an Assembly of G-d minister”.

    Even one should spell “G-d” when referring to the common English name for Hashem Yisborach … is that honor appropriate for the name of that which the Christians worship?

    (Gotta be careful with that global search-and-replace. Remember the newspaper that issued an embarrassed correction for referring to some organization’s finances as “back in the African-American”?)

  2. Aaron says:

    I have not noticed much intelligence in the design of the current day yehiva system to which I have been exposed.

    – ab

  3. Charles B. Hall, PhD says:

    The school system conceded defeat:

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