Wade’s column is practically an exercise in nostalgia, harking all the way back to 2005. He’s very concerned that people are bashing poor Marco Rubio for not understanding that there is no confusion about the age of the earth — it’s 4½ billion, not 6000, years old. Wade is almost Mooneyesque in his tribute to the old tropes. Look here:
The inevitable clash with science, particularly in the teaching of evolution, has continued to this day. Militant atheists like the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins beat the believers about the head, accomplishing nothing; fundamentalist Christians naturally defend their religion and values to the hilt, whatever science may say.
There’s Richard Dawkins! He’s militant! He’s beating up the Christians, who are all just meekly defending themselves!
I swear, I thought we fought our way past those old stereotypes years ago — only the terminally clueless still refer unironically to “militant atheists”. But have no fear, Wade has a solution to the conflict between scientists and creationists: all we need to do is admit that evolution is a theory.
By allowing that evolution is a theory, scientists would hand fundamentalists the fig leaf they need to insist, at least among themselves, that the majestic words of the first chapter of Genesis are literal, not metaphorical, truths. They in return should make no objection to the teaching of evolution in science classes as a theory, which indeed it is.
It’s like one of the oldest creationist misconceptions in the book! Of course it’s a theory, but it’s a scientific theory, which means that it is a broad explanation that encompasses all the available evidence and has excellent predictive power to guide research. It’s not going to console creationists, unless we plan to also encourage them to continue believing that it means “just a guess”. And seriously, Wade believes that that’s enough to make all the creationists in the world simply fold up shop and go back to church, blissful and happy in a world full of singing angels and magic spun sugar fairy-tale castles? That is quite possibly the dumbest resolution of a chronic problem in the conflict between science and religion that I’ve ever read.
Hey, I’ve got an idea: we can solve all the problems in the Middle East by just getting the Jews and Christians and Moslems to admit that they’re all worshipping the same god. Presto! The fighting ends! (Sorry, I just felt my own words were a challenge and had to come up with an even dumber idea.)
And please, if you’ve ever read the Book of Genesis, practically the last word you’d ever apply to it is “majestic”. Petty, tribal, vicious, demented, small-minded, violent, bizarre…those are better words. And the first chapter isn’t really great poetry, I’m sorry to say — if you think otherwise, you’ve been brainwashed by the repetition. I’m really not prepared to abandon a commitment to scientific evidence just so some dim bumpkin can cling to his cherished belief that a poem saying a magic man poofed everything into existence is a deep insight.
I save the worst for last.
A scientific statesman, if there were such a person, would try to defuse the situation by professing respect for all religions and making a grand yet also trivial concession about the status of evolution.
I’m no statesman, but…you will never catch me lying and saying that I respect all religions. I do not, sir. Religions are systematic collections of threats and cajoling lies intended to bully a population into living in fear and supporting a parasitic priestly caste. They do not deserve respect. What they need is dismantling.
You will also not catch me making concessions about science simply to appease pious politicians. I will state the strengths and limitations without regard for the sensibilities of ignorant charlatans.
Damn, I really am not a statesman. But if that’s what a statesman does, you shouldn’t be able to find a scientist so willing to compromise on their principles to be one.