Greg Laden has the story. It’s really not much of a story, but it’s local, so we care—basically, a crazy Jesus lady is buying prime billboard space around the area to flaunt her opinion that evolution is bunk, and newspapers are writing about it. It’s content-free noise, and we can only hope that all of our creationist opponents continue to be this shallow and stupid (and what do you know—they are!), but still, shallow and stupid seems to draw in the fan base. The article does mention some of her sponsors: if you’re planning on having a home built in the Duluth area, scratch Legacy Custom Homes in Cloquet off your list of contractors.
The article also quotes John Goodge, a geology professor at UMD. I have nothing against the guy, and don’t take this as a personal criticism, but he does echo the routine sentiment that most people, even most scientists, take, and I think it’s part of our problem.
But while Goodge views creationism as faith and evolution as science, he’s uncomfortable with portraying the issue as a battle.
“There is no conflict between science and religion, because one is a rational way of understanding the world. The other is a faith in something that binds people together,” he said.
Look. Some wacky creationist has slapped together routine statements from creationist websites (especially Answers in Genesis) that declares a central scientific theory false, that accuses scientists of conspiracy to lie to students and citizens, that demands that you have to accept their religion and repudiate science or burn in hell forever, and we’ve got scientists shrugging their shoulders and saying there isn’t a battle. One side is shooting at the other, and my side is in a state of denial. Of course there’s a freaking conflict between science and religion. We’re in the middle of a war right now where what is at stake is the minds of our children (and the creationists would agree with that statement), while too many of us pretend nothing is going on to be concerned about.
That statement that religion is “a faith in something that binds people together” is also a problem, even while it is entirely true. It does not mean it is a virtue, although everyone pretends it is—racism and homophobia and xenophobia and fear are also things that bind people together, effectively it seems, but that shouldn’t imply that we should appreciate them. Wrong and wicked ideas seem to be awfully powerful for binding people together, and that’s another reason to oppose them vigorously instead of pretending that they should be ignored.