November 22, 2004

Well, this is depressing

So it turns out the average American `doesn't know what to say' about evolution.
I can't decide what this means, nor which is more depressing: that people have been shuffled through our crappy publication education system and don't understand what a `scientific theory' is, how science works, and so on; or that the people who favour ridiculously literal readings of the Bible are that prominent.

Comment: I have tried and tried to understand why contemporary evolutionary theory is a threat to fundamentalism. A hundred years ago, Darwinian biology is associated with Social Darwinism (`the rich are richer because they're better, so screw the poor!'); that's why William Jennings Bryan, an awesome Evangelical populist, argued against it during the Scopes trial. But that association's long since faded. And if you want reactionary fundamentalist moralism, you just need Paul's books, or Deuteronomy if you're Jewish; Genesis, especially the creation story, isn't going to do that much for you. Why is taking a metaphorical reading there so important?

Incidentally, you can read my defence of evolution here. I haven't reread it in a while, so I can't say I endorse all of it now, but it was well-received when I wrote it a couple years ago.

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