How to Kill Creationism

In this Splice Today essay, Noah Berlatsky concocts a multiple-choice test:

Adam was married to

(A) Eve
(B) Steve
(C) a dinosaur
(D) a platypus

He proposes — somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I think — that the best way to finish off creationism “as a viable public ideology” would be to “make it a nationwide curricular requirement.”

He professes confidence that “given just a little time and the usual level of resource allocation, our educational system can insure that less than 46 percent of students will pick A.”

Berlatsky writes as a former teacher and a firm believer in evolution. Yet the thrust of his essay is, creationism: really not the end of the world.

He points out that, according to polls and such, plenty of people “believe lots of things that have no particular scientific basis.” To wit: They believe in ghosts. They believe vaccines cause autism. They believe in JFK assassination conspiracy theories. They assign great weight to dicey economic forecasting.

“All of these beliefs,” he writes, “have more practical negative consequences than a belief in creationism.”

In fact, Berlatsky argues, many critics of creationism are really huge snobs. He singles out Katha Pollitt for an essay in The Nation, and calls the piece “basically dishonest.”

Pollitt, he writes, claims “she’s talking about creationism to alert us all to the harm it does. But really it seems like she’s saying creationism causes harm in order to give her an excuse to talk about it. The poll isn’t a wake-up call. It’s just another way to sneer at people she doesn’t like for the horrible sin of being different — more religious, less educated — than she is.”


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