As you know, nothing gets under a GetReligionista's skin like reading a story about a controversial topic in which it appears that the journalists who produced it made little or no effort to talk to qualified, quality voices on the other side or sides of the debate. I am totally used to seeing this happen when media scribes turn their attention issues of God, science and creation.
I am not, however, used to seeing the Associated Press publish a story in which a scientist who can accurately be called a "creationist" is allowed to preach a sermon on Noah's flood and the young-earth creation model, with no responses from any of the other relevant camps on this hot-button issue.
Yes, you read that right.
What we have here is a mainstream story about work by a creationist that includes no responses from theistic evolutionists, from any of the mainstream Darwinist camps or from any of the groups (and there are several) taking stances that can be grouped under the Intelligent Design umbrella. Here's the top of the story:
WEST RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) -- A swirling, twisting sandstone formation in northern Arizona is evidence of Noah's flood, says a West Richland man who recently visited the unusual geologic phenomenon.
Greg Morgan, a nuclear safety engineer at Hanford, said he was amazed to see sandstone resembling waves, whirlpools and reversing currents that appear to have been frozen in place.
Later on, there is this summary material about on the viewpoint of Morgan and his allies on what they call "The Wave."
Morgan, who initially thought The Wave was just an example of water and wind erosion cutting through many layers of sandstone, says the evidence at Paria Canyon shows "what Moses wrote was true."
"I may be the first among creation geologists to openly promote this as evidence of Noah's flood," he said.
If such a cataclysmic flood event deposited the twisted layers of sand and whirlpools that later were to turn to stone, then how did the flood currents frozen in stone become exposed in a waterless desert? Morgan believes a second flood catastrophe -- perhaps similar to the Ice Age floods that scoured Eastern Washington thousands of years ago -- unleashed icy waters that ravaged the Southwest, as well.
That would account for the rapid erosion in Paria Canyon and in the Grand Canyon, which is about 70 miles south of The Wave, he said. "About half the people I've talked to say, `Yeah, that's proof the Earth is young,' " Morgan said.
This point of view is immediately endorsed by Andrew Snelling -- who, like Morgan, is connected with Answers magazine. Readers are told that Snelling has a doctorate in geology, but are not told where he did that work. That is crucial info and, with a mere two clicks of a mouse, it's easy to find out that he did his very mainstream doctorate in 1982 at the University of Sydney, Australia.
So Snelling is certainly an interesting voice to be quoted on this subject. But where are the academics and researchers representing other points of view on these questions? Yes, this is an article about Morgan's work, but allowing Morgan and Snelling to speak without opposition is not fair to the wide array of secularists, liberal Christians and, yes, conservative Christians who hold other positions.
It may not be possible, in the context of one-wire service article, to quote experts from a dozen or so other camps. However, it is certainly essential to quote one or two, adding enough material to let readers know that these other viewpoints exist.
In the end, the story offers factual details (some of them quite interesting) that support one perspective. However, any fair-minded journalist who has made attempts to cover stories about science and faith knows that there are always multiple interpretations of the facts at hand. It is simplistic and unfair to suggest that these debates can be accurately covered -- in hard-news copy -- with quotes from only one or two perspectives.
All in all, this is a very strange wire-service report. Very, very strange.