Tuesday, 20 September 2011

BBC Response to My Newsnight/Dawkins Complaint

Here's the BBC's response to my complaint. My comments are in red:

Thank you for your comments with regard to ‘Newsnight’ broadcast on BBC Two on 13 September.

I understand you were offended by the treatment of religion on the programme.

We acknowledge some viewers were unhappy with the programme’s discussion with Professor Richard Dawkins. We also appreciate some viewers found presenter Jeremy Paxman’s comments offensive. However, we do not agree that it showed anti-Christian bias.

Well, it did. rather than question his thesis, Paxman lauded it. And called Christians bigoted and ignorant.

This discussion centred on Professor Dawkins’ new book, which seeks to counter myths, legends and religious teachings commonly taught to children by replacing them with strict scientific rebuttals. The interview was not about the merits of religion or science as a whole; instead it sought to explore the methods of disseminating knowledge to children, with particular reference to complex subject matter which can be difficult to understand even for the most mature readers.

Yes, the interview (i.e. the BBC) posited that a theory (the big bang) on top of another theory (evolution) are fact. These are not scientific facts. They are theories. They were presented as facts, whereas religion (e.g. Creation) is a myth to be scoffed at.

Jeremy countered Professor Dawkins’ assertions on a number of occasions, stressing that stories and myths are often more interesting than bare scientific explanation. Yes but he did not question the assertion that the Biblical account of Creation is a myth, whereas he blindly accepted prof Dawkins beliefs (including all the 'leaps of faith' needed to accept the Big Bang and Evolution). Jeremy added that such stories and religious interpretations offer comfort and inspire imagination. Jeremy then asked Professor Dawkins why he was concerned that such teachings take place, his comments did not intend to cause offence and instead sought to initiate a variety of responses from the interviewee. Jeremy's interviewing style is well known. He was being provocative by playing devil's advocate. It is a really important element of what makes ‘Newsnight’ what it is. The matter in question was not the validity of Genesis, but the reasoning behind Professor Dawkins’ vehement opposition to such teachings. ‘Newsnight’ or the BBC does not have opinion on either matter. We believe the interview was conducted in an impartial and appropriate manner.

It was certainly not impartial and anyone who saw the interview and read my initial complaint would recognise that. It was a love-in, a hug-fest, in which two people on the "same side" poked fun at religion and stated that Mr Dawkins' beliefs (based on his beliefs - not on what he has seen, for he was not at the Big bang nor has he presented the missing link) were absolute facts, whereas all religious statements are myths and stories, in which Genesis is mixed in with Aboriginal tales. This is like disproving the Big Bang by showing a documentary on a professor who says the earth has a Malteser at its centre and started as a second tier treat in a giant cosmological chocolate assortment box..

I do understand you feel very strongly about this, so I’d like to assure you that I’ve registered your concerns on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that's made available to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, programme makers, channel controllers and other senior managers.

Yadda yadda. Where is the apology for a BBC employee calling Christians "idiots" and espousing an atheist belief-system as fact, despite the lack of evidence.

The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions on future BBC programmes and content.

Once again, thanks for taking the time to contact us.

Kind Regards

Mark Madden
BBC Complaints

My response was:

I am sorry but Mr. Paxman did not interview in his usual style - for which he is well renowned. This was akin to a love-in, with two people casting aspersions on the Christian faith.

You have not apologised for Mr. Paxman's derogatory description of Christians and anyone else who does not toe Mr. Dawkin's line on the THEORIES of the Big Bang and Evolution.

If he interviewed someone questioning the moral, personal, societal values of homosexuality and joined that person in make derogatory remarks about homosexuals I feel he would be chastised by the BBC -- and a complainant would see some sort of redress.

As a Christian, of course, I can expect none of this, which shows just how slanted and biased the BBC has become.

It is easy for Dawkins and Paxman to sneer, but most people in this country still describe themselves as Christian, and as tax-payers and licence fee-payers I believe that we should not be the object of such open bias on the BBC.

I feel that my complaint has been all but ignored.

Here's my original article and letter of complaint

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