If you want to see how the other side thinks, and I mean more than just the vocal leaders at the top of the creationist movement, there’s an excellent example at The Friendly Atheist. It’s written by a fellow who visited his local church, Parkview Christian Church, and reviewed a 25 page pamphlet on creationism put out by the pastor, Tim Harlow.
I have to be blunter than the Friendly Atheist (he’s friendly, after all; I have no such qualifier): Reverend Tim Harlow is sincere, caring, literate, and open to conversation, but his pamphlet is 199 proof distilled stupid, aged in oaken casks and decanted with love. It’s a collection of “scientific” creationism’s greatest hits, from “evolution is just a theory” to “evolution causes sexual deviancy and Naziism”, by way of quote mining, tornadoes in junkyards, Piltdown man, the Loch Ness monster, and every logical fallacy trotted out by the parade of fools we’ve heard from between Henry Morris and Phillip Johnson. This thing is a hotbed of quote mining. He’s quoting Richard Dawkins in support of Intelligent Design creationism; he quotes Carl Sagan to say evolution is impossible; he’s even got the infamous dishonest partial quote of Darwin on the evolution of the eye.
This pamphlet is written as a letter to his children’s teacher, and it’s presented as the work of a well-meaning parent begging a teacher to be fair. I’ve had students who ask me to be fair, before—it usually means they’ve thoroughly bombed on some test, and want some special consideration for their errors. That attitude holds true here, too.
So, as a teacher, you are bound to teach evolution. That is not your fault: it is simply the reality and I do understand that fact. I just want to try to keep you open to the idea that my child, and probably most children in your classroom, do not believe that “theory.” I am asking you to teach (or continue to teach) evolution as just that — a “theory,” and keep your classroom open to other theories of the origin of the world. The essential issue of the famous Scopes trial that started all of this was the fundamental right in a free country to study any theories of origin. At that point, the courts decided that evolution could be taught with creationism. Somehow the pendulum swing went way over to the other side. I would suggest that many people — some scientists included — would like to see it swing back.
Right there in his opening entreaty he demonstrates that he doesn’t know what the scientific meaning of the word “theory” is; I am not kindly disposed. The rest of the pamphlet is even worse, and there wasn’t a single paragraph I could find that was untainted by error. Sorry, Harlow, but it’s only fair that I flunk you.
I hope no teachers are taken in by his phony plea, either. Yes, you are free to learn any old stuff and nonsense you want—does anyone doubt that Harlow’s children are getting thoroughly and repeatedly indoctrinated into the baloney in his pamphlet? —but the job of the public schools should be to teach the best, established, superstition-free ideas, not echo the unscientific myths of ill-informed parents in the community, of whom Harlow is an excellent representative.
Harlow is also representative of the kind of authority figures standing at church pulpits all across the country, trading in fellowship and community good works, and handing out lies, nonsense, and ignorance with a happy glint in his eye. And people believe him—after all, would a preacher lie to you?
Now the scary part: there are pastors like Harlow in your town, right now. And they have congregations that listen to them, and vote, and harass your public school teachers. You should be afraid.