I’ve spent all morning listening to science talks at the Evolution meetings in Portland, so I wasn’t at a concurent session on “Communicating Science”.
Jen McCreight was there, though, and over at Blag Hag she reports, much to her (and my) chagrin, that the Society for the Study of Evolution has joined the ranks of atheist-bashers:
Much of the talk was about distancing support of evolution with atheistic views – that we need to stress that religion and science is compatible so people in the “middle” can still accept theistic evolution. That people are more willing to accept evolution if they hear it from their pastor. He [Robert Pennock] lauded Francis Collins and the BioLogos foundation for being pro-evolution…even though BioLogos just had a piece trying to reconcile Biblical Adam and Eve with evolution.
. . . The reason why people feel compelled to do this [preserve their religious beliefs and bend the science to fit them] is because religion holds a special status in our society where it can’t be criticized, even when it’s blatantly wrong. This really came out in the second part of the symposium, which was by a woman from AAAS (I unfortunately missed her name). She said there’s no use in including creationists or atheists in the discussion because we’re extremists who won’t change our minds.
Well, I’m sorry to hear this. BioLogos and Francis Collins praised for accepting evolution? Is the speaker not aware that, as Jen notes, BioLogos has recently spent much of its webspace trying to reconcile science with a historical Adam and Eve? Is that the kind of respect for facts and data that we, as members of the Society for the Study of Evolution, want to encourage?
Atheists are such a reviled minority in our society that it’s always safe to diss them in public, especially if you want to position yourself in the “middle of the road” between “extremes”—a position that to the benighted always seems to be so reasonable. But, as P. Z. Myers said,
squatting in between those on the side of reason and evidence and those worshipping superstition and myth is not a better place. It just means you’re halfway to crazy town.
As for me, I’m glad I skipped the communication for the science.
Footnote 1: We just lost to Ghana, 2-1. Very sad, but good for them!
Footnote 2: Portland has what is by far the best Thai restaurant I’ve ever eaten at in my long life. It’s Pok Pok (menu here), and four of us had a spectacular dinner, including drinks, for $92. The boar collar (neck of a male boar, cooked with soy, star anise, and other spices) is the best Thai dish I’ve ever had. If you’re a foodie in Portland, don’t miss this one. And if you’re at the Evolution meetings, grab a cab and get over there!