So I watched Nightline tonight, buoyed by the fact that the clips that appeared on the website earlier today were not too bad from the atheist standpoint (as I described here.) I should have known better. Having just watched the actual show, it is clear that they had no intention of giving any sort of accurate picture of what either side said. Instead, the goal was to play in to the standard script in which the fanatical Christians are presented as lovable, but simplistic, while the atheists are presented as dogmatic and obnoxious.
Almost nothing from the clips I viewed this afternoon were included in the evening’s show. In fact, almost nothing from the debate was included at all. Instead it was mostly voice overs from the moderator, and clips showing the participants arriving at the debate site. There were just a few very short sound bites from the participants.
Thus, there was nothing from Ray Comfort’s lengthy diatribe about the Ten Commandments, or his relentless evangelizing. Instead, there was just a short clip of him blathering about how a painting requires a painter. There was nothing from the part where Comfort and Cameron had no answer to the atheists’ question about who designed the designer, or why, if it was allowed that the designer could be eternal the universe couldn’t be eternal as well. The atheists were described as “mocking the Christian position.” In reality they only mocked Ray Comfort’s insipid arguments.
Here was a typical exchange, as shown on the program. Kirk Cameron holds up a series of cartoons meaning to show the absurdity of evolution. There was a picture of a half frog/half bull (a bullfrog, get it?) and the like. The idea was to illustrate the foolishness of thinking that one kind of animal could turn in to a different kind of animal. That, of course, is one of the dumbest anti-evolution arguments ever devised. But the only response shown from the atheists was of one of them turning to the other and muttering “What a numbnut!” I agree with the sentiment, but it plays terribly on television.
As I mentioned in my previous post, the atheist side made a number of good points during their presentation. So naturally the only one that was given any significant time on screen was the one where they really stepped in it. That was when they were asked whether the accounts of Jesus death, burial and resurrection as given in the Bible count as evidence in favor of Christianity. It’s a softball question. You simply point out that the Gospel accounts were written long after the events they describe and that they comprise the sole evidence for the rather extraordinary claims about the supernatural aspects of Jesus’ life. Thin evidence indeed. Instead the atheists went down the dead end of questioning whether Jesus actually existed. This rightly got a groan from the audience, and a quick response from Comfort.
After the “debate” there is a clip of moderator Martin Bashir lounging comfortably on a sofa, engaging in pleasantries with Comfort and Cameron. Seems they were suprised by the strong atheist sentiment from the audience, but hey, that’s New York for you. Ha ha ha! The segment closed with Bashir gushing about the wonderful thing Nightline had done in bringing together such disparate viewpoints to discuss their differences. Yes, clearly an open exchange of ideas is what interests them.
I often bash the cable news stations for their simplistic reporting and braying pundits. But I have not seen anything on cable to match the worthlessness and vapidity of this segment. A while back, when Ted Koppel was still hosting the show, there was talk that ABC might cancel Nightline and replace it with another standard late night talk show. At the time there was much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth about the decline of television news, and about the difficulty of putting on intelligent programming (which Nightline was thought to be at that time) on network television. Nightline survived, of course. Judging from tonight’s performance, alas, it would have been if it had been cancelled. The average monologue from a late night talk show host is far mor informative and interesting than the dreck they put on tonight.