Today the New York Times features an article by Neela Hanerjee entitled "An Alternative to Evolution Splits a Pennsylvania Town." The whole thing is depressing - it discusses the currently successful efforts of conservative Christians to add elements of the "Intelligent Design" "theory" to the science curriculum alongside good ol' Darwinian evolution. It also features this heartening little gem: "In a November 2004 CBS News poll, nearly two-thirds of Americans said they favored teaching creationism alongside evolution in schools."
When people try to bring religion into the public sphere, I think the whole thing basically boils down to one of two situations: enough people believe in an idea, and it is seemingly inoffensive enough to just put it out there and no one will care, like the White House Christmas Tree.
The second scenario is one of religious insecurity - we see a threat, so we're going to yell just a smidge louder than we did before. I think the evolution/Intelligent Design question presents one of those times. My question is: whose faith is threatened by the idea of evolution? Is anyone's belief in the existence and utter power of God diminished at all by the possibility of evolution? Evolution and the existence of God are not at all mutually exclusive; lo, I think they are complementary. Like those old Jeffersonian (I think) notions of God as a watchmaker, sitting back and admiring his work, why couldn't God have set up all these evolutionary dominoes and then, on the first day/at the start of the Big Bang (take your pick, or all of the above), given the first domino a little push?
It frustrates me to see religious conservatives take the religious ideals and tenets I believe in and then warp them into something I don't recognize. Yet I can see where they are coming from, and what their intentions are . . . it just ain't right. In sum, religious conservatives need to get some more science education (or at least a gift subscription to National Geographic, or Scientific American, or Ranger Rick, for pete's sake) and liberals need to stop thinking they're smarter than everybody else.
Here's the article, by the way.