They're were a few reasonable criticisms of my piece from Wednesday about the PBS program on Intelligent Design, but many responses simply shirked off my point about the program being biased. I made two observations which, so far, no one has contested:
First, the program had two parallel extended segments explaining each position: one on evolution, the other on ID. The segment on evolution was uninterrupted by any rebuttals from the ID side. In the segment on ID, however, a rebuttal from the evolution side was included on every point about ID.
Second, in the dramatized course scenes, a number of cross examinations by the anti-ID side were shown, while no cross examinations of the anti-ID side by the pro-ID side were shown.
Now journalistically-speaking these are about as egregious as it gets. The prevailing belief among the more rabid of the anti-ID crowd seem to be that it was simply okay that the program was biased: bias is okay, they seem to suggest, as long as it is for a good cause.
Now I have gone back and looked at the PBS description of the program on its website, and although the documentation for the program nowhere explicitly claims that it is impartial, the language it uses obviously seeks to give the impression that is offering some kind of impartial treatment. Over and over it uses the word "educational". And most people take the word "education" in a sense that distinguishes it from "propaganda" or "indoctrination".
Nowhere on the site does it say that the program is what it is: a polemic against Intelligent Design.
Look, I have said here before that I really don't have a hard and fast position on the issue of common descent. I've said that I think anyone who publicly declares that they know for a fact what happened millions of years ago is blowing smoke. It's hard enough trying to figure out what happened a couple hundred years ago, or a couple thousand. I'm a skeptic when it comes to exactly how we got to be what we are.
The one thing I will hang my hat on is that our human nature cannot be purely a natural product because then our rational and moral faculties would be without explanation. In other words, Naturalism cannot explain the processes we employ to determine if anything--including Naturalism--are true, or whether any of our actions are right or wrong.
The concepts of truth, falsehood, validity, right, wrong, beautiful, or ugly simply make no sense in a consistently Naturalistic world, and our only choice is between holding to a worldview in which they make sense, in which case we can keep using them, and one in which they do not make sense, in which case we have to simply give them up.
My problem with many of the opponents of Intelligent Design in not primarily that they argue against Intelligent Design (I'm still trying to figure that one out myself), but that they argue on the basis of a worldview that does not allow them to argue at all.
Furthermore, I'm a scientific layman who can only judge what I don't know on the basis of what I know. And when I am trying to make a judgment, I get very suspicious when I see one side not judging the other by the best arguments for it, but the worst ones they can find.