Three quick items:
1. Templeton and credential inflation: The Templeton Foundation website has sort of fixed Rod Dreher’s credentials. Until yesterday Templeton had advertised him as a “seven-time Pulitzer Prize nominee,” and, as I pointed out, that characterization violated the Pulitzer organization’s own guidelines. Dreher’s status has now been changed to this:
Nominated by his editors seven times for the Pulitzer Prize, Rod has spent most of the past two decades as an opinion journalist . . .
Well, this stays within the letter of the law, but since any journalist can be nominated if someone fills out a form and pays fifty bucks, it’s hardly a gold star. Really, Dreher’s rabid ignorance is an embarrassment to the Templeton Foundation. They have very deep pockets—can’t they hire someone better?
2. Homeschooling and evolution. The thread has gotten long and predictable. Religious opponents of evolution came to our website en masse, and, while there was some acrimony, many of you patiently and gallantly tried to instruct the benighted about why scientists accept evolution as not just a theory, but as scientific fact. This exercise, I think, was futile. Going back over the threads, I can’t think of a single person who initially expressed doubt about evolution and then changed his/her mind when confronted with the evidence. Indeed, one person even refused to look up the evidence, insisting that we provide not just references, but arguments on the site.
There are several lessons from this. First—and this is disheartening—these people are simply immune to evidence. Those whose opposition to evolution is based on faith are almost never “converted” when given the facts.
Second, many of them don’t want to get the facts. These folks have no interest in examining the evidence for evolution. Their minds are closed. And it’s exactly that kind of attitude that I’m worried about with homeschooling: the fear that parents will instill in their children a rigid set of beliefs about faith, morality, and biology, along with the attitude that those beliefs are not to be examined. That’s why many (yes, I know, not all!) parents keep their kids away from the public schools: to prevent their children from exposure to views that challenge their own.
Ignorance about evolution is not a crime. Willful ignorance is.
Third, the arrogance of some of these evolution-deniers is amazing. Without much training in biology, they come to an evolutionist’s website and proceed to tell all of us why we’re wrong. They offer ancient creationist canards like “if we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” Or, “science can’t tell us which came first—the chicken or the egg.” These misconceptions could be remedied by the briefest of scientific educations. But they don’t want that. We scientists are often accused of being arrogant, but that is nothing compared to the arrogance of these creationists.
Finally, the idea that our being nice will bring evolution-deniers into our camp is ridiculous. Yes, the homeschooling thread provides some anecdotes, not systematic data, but they show that being “nice” to creationists has no effect on changing their minds. It only enables their ignorance.
The homeschooling kerfuffle demonstrates, I think, that we won’t rid this country of creationism simply by teaching people the facts of evolution. We have to loosen the grip of religious faith on the minds of our children.
3. Accommodationism. There’s another kerfuffle going on at several websites about the compatibility of science and faith. You can find the relevant links at Larry Moran’s website, Sandwalk. Yes, I do have a dog in this hunt, and yes, people are criticizing my view that science and faith are philosophically incompatible, but my dog is tired. For now, I’ve said pretty much everything I have to say on this issue.
Finally, here’s a list of the ten best donut shops in the US. They made a mistake with Chicago, though: Dat Donuts (near me) is good, but doesn’t hold a candle to Chicago’s Old Fashioned Donuts, home of the world’s absolute best apple fritter:
Fig. 1. To die for. Old Fashioned’s ineffably good apple fritters.