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Can people be virtuous apart from God?

 

It’s the Worldview, Silly

 

The issue is not journalistic bias, but the worldview journalists bring to their work.


By Michael Carl

Rev. Michael Carl

Rev. Michael Carl

June 24, 2008 — Most Americans tend to believe two things about broadcast news:  Fox News is biased toward Republicans and the rest of the “news media” is full of liberals.  This is a hard claim to counter because in his 1997 article for the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Everette Dennis writes, “To some, the evidence of liberal bias seems incontrovertible as study after study finds reporters and editors more likely to identify with liberal politics and the Democratic Party by margins ranging from 55 or 60 percent to as high as 85 percent.”  [1]

Even after that admission, Mr. Dennis says that if there is bias, it’s slanted towards conservatives, “To many critics, these studies offer definitive evidence of a pervasive liberal bias among the nation’s journalists.  But this is far too simplistic.  Among other things, these critics ignore the political predilections of publishers and media owners, which are and have always been overwhelmingly conservative.”

Professor Mr. Dennis goes on to say he believes editors favour Republicans, “They ignore the tilt of newspaper editorial endorsements, which frequently favour Republican candidates, often in the face of popular sentiment.”  Mr. Dennis apparently believes popular sentiment favours Democrats and that those stubborn, conservative editors endorse Republicans against the public will.

To defend the anti-bias claim, Dennis cites the principles of the Journalists Code of Ethics.  The Society of Professional Journalists web site says that journalists who subscribe to the Code of Ethics have a duty to seek the truth, “Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.”  A couple of lines later, the Code of Ethics reads, “Journalists should:  Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.”

Taken at their own words, Mr. Dennis sees no bias and their Code of Ethics forbids it.  So, why is there such a discrepancy between the academy and the perceptions of the general public?

This question leads us to two more: First, is it possible that journalists are unable to see bias?  Second, if journalists are unable to see bias, is it because they are reporting the truth as they see it?  If the answer to these questions is “Yes,” then the issue is not journalistic bias.  The issue is the worldview journalists bring to their work.

So what is a worldview? Writing in the Principia Cybernetica Web, philosopher Francis Heylighen says that a world view is simply how we humans view the world.  This view involves our perspective on the world, our values, our sense of the future, our course of action and three other factors.

A simplified definition of worldview comes from Christian writer Charles Colson at the Breakpoint site.  Colson says a world view is a person’s view of reality, where we came from, what’s wrong, what can be done to fix it and our purpose.

The End of the Modern World - CLICK to order

The root of the problem is the liberal/humanist worldview that goes back to ancient Greece and is now firmly entrenched in our culture.  Sociologist Romano Guardini writes in his book The End of the Modern World that the liberal/humanist view clearly emerged in the Renaissance period, when “Man’s passion for knowledge began to lead him away from authority, pointing him directly toward real things.”  The emphasis is on the word things.

Mr. Guardini continues to describe the ascendancy of the human-centred worldview as he writes, “The new culture taking shape in Europe bred an outlook which thrust into prominence the increasing opposition to the Church.  European man was adopting as self-evident truth the point of view which gave to politics, economics, government, science, art, philosophy, and education principles and criteria immanent to themselves.”  Note the opposition to a God-centered view with the opposition to the Church.

A Conflict of Visions: Idealogical Origins of Political Struggles- CLICK to order

Thomas Sowell writes in A Conflict of Visions that English philosopher William Godwin’s Enquiry Concerning Political Justice was a key source of this human-centred worldview.  Sowell calls this view the “unconstrained vision” and says, “Man’s understanding and disposition were capable of intentionally creating social benefits.”  He continues, “His was the unconstrained vision of human nature, in which man was capable of feeling other people’s needs as more important than his own…”  Sowell tells us by his complete omission of God that the liberal/humanist worldview says people can be virtuous apart from God.

Sociologist and moral philosopher Dr. Robert George says in his book The Clash of OrthodoxiesClash Of Orthodoxies: Law Religion & Morality In Crisis that the liberal/humanist worldview is in direct conflict with a God-centred worldview, and this conflict is strongest in three areas:  “The issues immediately in play have mainly, though not exclusively, to do with sexuality, the transmitting and taking of human life, and the place of religion and religiously informed moral judgment in public life.”

Mr. Dennis’ essay directly tells us most journalists are liberal/humanists and as we have seen, this philosophy forms their worldview.

If we keep Mr. Dennis surveys and Dr. George’s assessment in mind, we should be able to discern why the news is filled with sex and celebrity gossip.  We can understand why the news is slanted in favour of abortion, embryonic stem cell research, assisted suicide and socialised medicine.  We should also understand why Christians are portrayed as ignorant and narrow-minded, and why Christianity is portrayed as the outdated enemy of intellectual and scientific progress.

So, what can be done? In the short term, write, call, email or fax the major media outlets and offer your opinions.  Don’t be afraid to tell them that you expect real news and balanced coverage.  Firmly tell them that you expect Christians and Christianity to be covered fairly.  (A list of web mail sites follows this article.)

For the long term, conservatives and Christians should consider a career in journalism.  The only way for there to be any lasting change to the media is if conservatives and Christians enter the newsrooms of America and perform with excellence.

So the next time we decry the quality of the news, let’s remember: It’s the worldview, silly. Still, knowing the problem isn’t good enough. It’s our duty to work for positive change.

 

[1] Liberal reporters, yes; liberal slant no! by Everette E. Dennis, January 01, 1997


Michael Carl is the pastor of a church in Massachusetts and is President of the Christian think-tank, The Greenwood Institute of Christian Scholars. He lives with his family in Massachusetts.

 

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