Wow, you know, you guys could have thrown me a couple gimme questions. Nope, right onto solving the creationism problem! Haha, well, I’m just an undegrad with some odd ideas floating around in my head, so I’m unlikely to have the best solution, but I’ll at least ramble about what I think for a bit.
I honestly don’t think acceptance of evolution will increase in the US until religious belief decreases. We already see this trend among young people, which gives me hope that it will continue with time. I know a lot of scientists will argue that acceptance of evolution (and science in general, for that matter) is compatible with religious belief – but I’m going to have to side with the likes of PZ and Coyne and Dawkins and say this isn’t true. Scientific thinking is inherently opposed to religious thinking. Science is based on facts and experimentation and tweaking our idea of what is true so it becomes more and more accurate. Religion is based on belief and faith, where even facts that prove you wrong can be brushed away with some nonsensical mental acrobatics.
So how do we defeat creationism and intelligent design? Defeat religious and supernatural belief. We need to promote skeptical, critical, scientific thinking, and that’s incredibly hard to do when people still believe in miracles and ghosts and heaven and all other sorts of nonsense. Thankfully as people become less and less religious, they’ll probably accept evolution more and more. I think there will always be the extreme evangelical creationists, but the best we can do it make it so they’re a crazy little minority. Once we get to that stage we can start bugging the liberal Christians (since we’re talking about the US) to really understand evolution.
What do I mean by that? There are plenty of Christians who do believe in evolution. While I’m glad they exist, they either don’t fully understand the implications of evolution, they interpret the Bible so liberally that what it says doesn’t even matter anymore, or they’re doing some impressive doublethink (which I think most liberal Christians get particularly adept at). Religious people who attempt to reconcile their beliefs by saying God “guided” evolution do not really believe in evolution by natural selection. They believe in evolution by some omnipotent being fiddling with mutations, which is not scientific thinking. At least they won’t get in the way of evolution being taught in schools, but they still don’t really understand it. I think the only religious people who can really accept evolution are the ones who take a deistic view of God – that he decided to let evolution be the mechanism of how all the variety of life came to be. But that still doesn’t make any sense. The whole beauty of evolution is that it is a natural process. It didn’t need some god to create it, because it works based on chemistry and physics and probability etc etc.
And now I’m just rambling. Let me summarize: It’s going to be freaking hard.