In a post earlier today on the anniversary of the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species, I casually grouped creationsts among hysterics about the Obama re-election and other individuals who do not appear to be wired to code. I may not have done them justice.
Also today, at the Chronicle of Higher Education, one can find a sober article by Adam Laats that explores the difficulties that supporters of evolution in dealing with creationists. In short, he says, caricaturing creationists is not productive.
Take one, the Hon. Paul C. Broun Jr., whom the good people of Georgia have dispatched to the United States House of Representatives. Mr. Broun achieved notoriety earlier this year when he was quoted as saying that the Big Bang and evolution are among "lies straight from the pit of hell."* Mr. Broun, Mr. Laats points out, is not an ignoramus but an educated man who simply rejects a current scientific orthodoxy.
We need a more developed taxonomy.
It is indisputable that there are a great many Americans who adhere to a literal reading of Scripture, which is their right. Moreover, no one denies them the right to express their beliefs or instruct their children in those beliefs.
It appears likely that there are figures in public life who, whatever their private dispositions may be, find it advantageous to practice on the simple by advocating creationism, either openly or in the disguise of "intelligent design," gaining votes by diluting the science textbooks with tincture of theology.
And, as Mr. Laats says, there are people who are not simply but educated, who sincerely hold beliefs that are compartmentalized enough to deny scientific orthodoxies.
Granted those broader categories, where does that leave us?
I've said before that as a high-church Anglican I have no room to disparage anyone else's beliefs and practices, and if a man believes that the cosmos sprang into being on a crisp October day in 4004 B.C., the Constitution gives him room for it.
But for those who reach for the machinery of the secular government to establish creationism in the curriculum, my impulse, as a disciple of H.L. Mencken, is to resort to fusillades of ridicule.
Since that will likely bounce off their carapaces, we ought to encourage those doughty souls who bring lawsuits to challenge idiotic legislation. The ruling of Judge John E. Jones III in Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover in 2005 displays a satisfactory outcome to a worthy effort.
Sadly, this does not offer a solution to the plight of children trapped in the private madrassas set up to evade the wicked secular public schools. Thus it becomes all the more important to see to it that children not so immured are educated to live in the twenty-first century rather than the nineteenth.
*You people who upbraid me for ragging on cranks who happen to be Republican, please note that I did not even mention the Hon. Paul C. Broun Jr. in the previous post, even though he offers a target as broad as a barn.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun