Recently, I was interviewed by CNN reporter Lisa Sylvester for a brief news story regarding Congressmen Paul Broun’s comments about origins. CNN aired only a tiny snippet of my comments. So it seems appropriate to give a more detailed summary here.
By way of background information, Dr. Paul Broun, Jr. is a U.S. Representative from the State of Georgia. He has a science background with a degree in chemistry and is also a medical doctor. He serves as Chairman of the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee for the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Dr. Broun is also a devout Christian and biblical creationist. This of course upsets evolutionists who have tried so hard to dupe the public into believing that creation is somehow unscientific. It is hard for evolutionists to maintain their facade that all educated “scientific” people believe in evolution when Dr. Broun is such an obvious counter-example (as are many others).
When speaking at a church several weeks ago, Dr. Broun pointed out that evolution isn’t true, and that the earth is young. He is right of course. The science certainly confirms biblical creation and a young earth, as we have repeatedly demonstrated. Dr. Broun also pointed out how a belief in evolution can dissuade people from receiving Christ. He mentioned that such secular notions are “lies straight from the pit of hell.” That’s certainly true. And it was perfectly appropriate for Dr. Broun to discuss the spiritual implications in this church setting. But of course, the secularists complained about this and hyped it as if Dr. Broun had said something inaccurate.
CNN opted to do a short segment on the reaction to Dr. Broun’s comments. And being ever vigilant in its journalistic obligation to present the truth in as unbiased fashion as possible, CNN interviewed both a creationist and an evolutionist to get their respective reactions. They interviewed Bill Nye to give his evolutionary perspective. And CNN requested a representative from ICR to present the creation view. I was happy to accommodate their request. Lisa asked very good, appropriate questions, and interviewed me for somewhere between 5-10 minutes.
But when the story aired, not all the facts were presented accurately. Indeed, many of the things that were claimed were things that I had specifically refuted in the interview. It’s almost as if the story had already been written, and they just wanted a short sound bite from a token creationist. (I know you’re probably thinking, “Not CNN! That would be journalistically irresponsible!”) Apparently, it’s always a shame when inconvenient facts get in the way of a perfectly good story. Anyway, I will here respond to some of the specific claims made in this news segment.
A conservative member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee is drawing fire after his own fire and brimstone denunciation of some major scientific theories.
No. Broun hasn’t denounced any scientific theories. He has merely denounced unscientific conjectures – evolution and the big bang. And he was right to do so. Even if CNN doesn’t want to endorse the biblical position, it would have been nice for them to at least be a bit more objective. Broun was criticizing evolution and the big bang. Those are the facts regardless of what side of the debate a person favors. So why didn’t CNN just report the facts?
Lisa Sylvester has been looking into this story for us. Lisa, what’s going on here?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. You know people often talk about religion and politics as being two of the most contentious subjects, well this next story has a little bit of both.
SYLVESTER: Athens Clark County, Georgia, has a population of about 100,000, home of the University of Georgia. The town is represented in Congress by one of its most conservative members, Paul Broun. Representative Broun has a 99 percent conservative rating from the American Conservative Union. When it comes to faith, Broun disputes everything science says on how the earth and humans came to be.
Students of logic will recognize Lisa’s blunder here. She has committed the fallacy of reification in giving science personal, concrete characteristics. Science does not “say” anything. It is a conceptual tool – a procedure for testing certain types of propositions. It is not a person that can have an opinion on something. Moreover, Broun disputes nothing that can be scientifically demonstrated to be true. What we do understand about science today is perfectly consistent with biblical creation. I mentioned this to Lisa in the interview and gave some specific examples: information in DNA, irreducible complexity in living systems, and evidences for a young earth. Why did CNN ignore this in favor of an inaccurate statement?
Listen to him from this speech at a sportsman’s banquet last month at the Liberty Baptist Church.
BROUN: All this stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and big bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell.
It’s a perfectly accurate statement by Broun, and certainly appropriate for the setting.
SYLVESTER: And once more Broun says the earth is only 9,000 years old…
We believe that 6,000 years is a better estimate. But Broun is in the right ballpark. I mentioned to Lisa a number of different lines of evidence that confirm the biblical timescale. Among others, the fact that c-14 is found in virtually everything that has carbon in it, regardless of how deep it is found in the fossil layers – yet c-14 cannot last even 1 million years. With a half-life of only 5730 years, it is a strong confirmation of a young universe. There is no known way to “recharge” the c-14 in deep rock layers, because cosmic rays do not penetrate, and the c-14 nuclear cross section is many orders of magnitude too small to be recharged by other radioactive elements that are found in the earth. Isn’t it unfortunate that none of these facts made it in to CNN’s story?
which lines up with some Christian’s literal approach to interpreting the Bible.
I find it comical when people talk about some Christians taking a “literal approach to interpreting the Bible” as if that were unnatural. How many other history books do people interpret in a non-literal way? Imagine someone arguing, “We all know that the War of 1812 was fought millions of years ago – except of course for those strange people who interpret their history books literally!”
The video has now gone viral. People shocked that Broun who is a medical doctor and sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology is challenging what the scientific world has deemed to be fact.
I’m not “shocked” at all that an intelligent, educated person recognizes the problems with evolution and the big bang. Dr. Broun is part of that “scientific world” as are many creationists. He challenges nothing that can be demonstrated by the methods of science. So once again, the CNN report just isn’t quite up to par when it comes to accuracy.
BILL NYE: It’s very much like saying you think the earth is flat. It’s not flat. You can show that, you can prove that to yourself.
Ah yes. No evolutionary diatribe is complete without a reference to creationists being like those who believe in a flat earth. Here Bill Nye repeats the old false analogy fallacy by conflating observable science with absurd conjecture. The roundness of the earth (which is Scriptural – Isaiah 40:22, Job 26:10) can be confirmed by the methods of observational science. Can particles-to-people evolution be demonstrated today? Of course not. If Bill Nye thinks that evolution can be proved, then let him prove it. So far, no one has been able to do that.
To claim that it’s 9,000 years is not off a million years. It’s off by a factor of a million. It is extraordinarily wrong.
Here Bill commits the fallacy of begging the question. He seems to want to prove how wrong creation is by pointing out that it is very, very different from the evolutionary age estimate. But this argument presupposes that the evolutionary position is true – which it isn’t. I could just as well say, “Bill Nye’s position is not off by a million years. It’s off by a factor of a million! It is extraordinarily wrong!”
SYLVESTER: TV personality and scientist Bill Nye says the earth is 4.5 billion years old. Nye says we know that because of something called radiometric dating that determines the age of meteorites and asteroids.
Apparently, Mr. Nye is not at all familiar with the RATE research conducted at ICR, nor the assumptions involved in radiometric age estimates, nor the general unreliability of radiometric dating when it is tested on rocks of known age. When Lisa asked me about radiometric dating, I mentioned all of these things. Apparently those facts were not compatible with the story CNN had prepared.
We can also look at fossils…
Fossils are fantastic evidence that there was a worldwide flood. Most fossils are marine fossils, and yet they are found on land. Many of these still contain preserved soft tissue, which would be totally unreasonable if they were millions of years old. I mentioned this to Lisa in the interview. Why was this not mentioned in the story? I don’t expect the folks at CNN to automatically agree with my claims. But it would have been nice if they would have at least objectively reported them.
…and the layering of the earth…
This is also consistent with the worldwide flood. Most of the Earth’s surface is covered with sedimentary rock – the kind of rock deposited by water.
… and dinosaurs are believed to have roamed the earth 225 million years ago.
Belief is not evidence. Children believe in the Easter Bunny, but that doesn’t lend any support at all to the position. The evidence (soft tissue in dinosaur fossils, evidence of rapid deposition of the rocks which contain these fossils, historical records of people encountering dinosaurs, dinosaur petroglyphs, and so on) is consistent with dinosaurs living at the same time as people; it confirms the biblical timescale.
Still many in the country brush aside the empirical evidence.
Yes. They are called “evolutionists.”
A Gallup poll finding 46 percent of Americans believe in creationism, 32 percent believing in evolution but guided by God and 15 percent in atheistic evolution.
A subtle, but common question-begging epithet is committed here. Did you notice that “creation” has an “-ism” attached to it (as if it were merely a belief) whereas “evolution” does not? But factually, it is the reverse. In adding the “ism” the sentence becomes awkward since creationism is a belief – specifically “a literal belief in the biblical account of Creation” according to the American Heritage dictionary. So essentially the phrase becomes: “46% of Americans believe in a belief in creation.” “Believing in a belief” seems grammatically redundant and awkward. Even evolutionists believe in creation-ism; that is, they believe that there exists a belief in creation.
Jason Lisle is an astrophysicist who represents a group trying to debunk conventional scientific wisdom and prove creationism.
What?! I certainly am not out to debunk anything scientific. I mentioned to Lisa in my interview that we at ICR love science, and our research team is comprised of many Ph.D. scientists. I pointed out that it is the creation worldview that makes science possible, and that evolutionary notions are contrary to the principles of science. This was the context for the quote they used below. So why did CNN choose to misrepresent our position? The report also does not mention by name “The Institute for Creation Research” though I mentioned it several times in the Interview. To their credit, CNN did at least post the name on the video feed at the bottom during their brief clip of me.
Again, the silly use of “creationism” makes for an awkward and inaccurate closing. No Lisa, we are not trying to prove a “belief in creation.” Nor are we really even trying to prove creation. Creation has already been proved (see my book “The Ultimate Proof of Creation”) and we are simply making people aware of this fact. We continue to show how the evidence from science lines up with what the Bible teaches.
JASON LISLE, INSTITUTE FOR CREATION RESEARCH: The idea that the universe is sort of is a big cosmic accident, well if that’s the case, then why would it obey laws like E equals MC squared. That’s kind of convenient, isn’t it? I mean if it’s just a big accident why would it obey nice neat mathematical laws that the human mind can understand. It doesn’t make sense for it to just be a big explosion. It makes sense that it was created by the mind of God.
On the positive side, they did quote me accurately, and did not take my comments out of context. On the negative side, why did they not air any of the footage where I dealt with the specific claims that were made? Why did they not air the clips where I listed particular instances of scientific evidence that confirms creation? I gave concise sound-bite answers that would have been perfectly suitable for dealing with any of the claims brought up in the story. Yet, these were not shown. It’s almost as if the folks at CNN didn’t want people to be informed that creation researchers have thoroughly refuted the claims made by evolutionists. (But of course, that would be poor journalism.)
SYLVESTER: Two people we talked to in Representative Broun’s home town of Athens capture that split in views.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think anyone who is overtly and strongly Christian in our neo pagan age is going to get backlash.
True. Jesus took an overtly strong Christian position in His earthly ministry to a pagan world, and He certainly got some backlash.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don’t think that someone who is in a high- ranking of power should say something like that.
Why? Broun’s comment was (1) accurate and (2) perfectly appropriate to the setting. If Dr. Broun had been speaking to a group of scientists on the scientific problems with evolution, then it might have seemed unusual or out-of-place to address the spiritual implications, even though they are true. But what’s wrong with addressing these issues at a church? Secularists have already attempted to suppress all freedom of speech for Christians to talk about the Bible in every other setting: “Keep that stuff in church.” Now they get upset when these things are mentioned in church!
SYLVESTER: Now, we’ve reached out to Representative Broun’s office, but they say he is not available.
Christians are verbally assaulted and misrepresented all the time in our culture. It would be counter-productive to respond to each attack. Besides, what guarantee does Broun have that CNN would give him a fair interview? For example, would they edit down his interview so that they only air five sentences? If so, then it would probably be just a waste of Broun’s time to go on the program.
The only thing that they did add though was that Broun was speaking off the record to that large church group about his personal beliefs on religion. But, if that is indeed true, well that wasn’t obvious to the church because this Liberty Baptist Church, they have posted Broun’s full remarks on their church Web site and on their Facebook page — Wolf.
It isn’t clear to me why Lisa thinks that this is inconsistent. Public officials are human beings too, and they have a right to have a life beyond the office. If more elected officials were consistent Christians like Dr. Broun, and began running our country according to the principles set forth in Scripture, then our nation would be in much better shape! Psalm 33:12.
BLITZER: Lisa, tell me a little bit more about this Gallup poll you cited. What — 46 percent believe in creationism.
Actually, essentially 100% of Americans believe in creation-ism. That is, virtually everyone believes that there exists a belief in creation. The 46% figure apparently applies to those who believe in creation, not creation-ism.
SYLVESTER: Yes, you know this poll was just done last June and we’ve seen this sort of consistently and it’s something to keep in mind because people will hear these comments that Representative Broun saying that he believes in the strict interpretation of the Bible, …
There it is again – the “strict interpretation of the Bible” as if this were somehow an unnatural position. Language is always interpreted in a literal way unless there are good contextual reasons to take it another way. The folks at CNN expect us to take their words literally, yet they don’t extend the same courtesy to God.
essentially that the world was created in six days, but there are actually a lot of people in this country and that poll captures that 46 percent that believe in creationism.
They believe in creation, not creationism.
There is also a substantial about a third of the country believing in sort of this middle view, which is, you believe in evolution, you check the box, yes, believe in evolution, but you believe that that evolution was guided essentially from a higher power that you believe in the big bang theory but something had to give that spark.
In a way, this is the worst position because it attempts to mesh two diametrically opposed philosophies. Theistic evolution has a god who isn’t quite powerful enough to simply create what he wants, but must take billions of years of gradual, inefficient tinkering to get things to eventually work out. Evolution is a merciless and gruesome concept of the strong destroying the weak, and gradually changing due to genetic mistakes – most of which result in disease or death, but a handful of which “improve” the organism. That’s certainly not consistent with the God of Scripture. So if you’re going to believe in evolution, okay, but don’t blame God for it!
So there you have it. That’s the rest of the story – including the many points I made that were conspicuously left out of the CNN segment. If this is what passes for journalism at CNN, it makes me wonder how accurate many of their other stories are.