Tomorrow, I give one of my occasional talks about Intelligent Design, in Columbia, MO. I stay away from religious questions at such events, unless someone in the audience explicitly brings one up. Evolution and ID are not religiously neutral topics, but whether Darwinian evolution succeeds as a scientific explanation and what this implies about the gods are different questions.
Most scientists and science educators would agree with this approach. After all, the primary reasons for resistance to evolution are religious, and the best way to dampen opposition to evolution is not to play into anxieties that accepting evolution will turn you into a godless infidel.
But then, I also have to wonder how my audience reacts to what I say when criticizing ID, especially if it’s a public event. If how people react is heavily dependent on what they perceive as the religious implications of what I say, where does that leave me? Should I worry that what a good number of people hear will be quite different than what I intend to say, because I do not really understand the context in which they interpret my words?
I really don’t know. And since I don’t know, I’ll go ahead and speak the way I am accustomed to. But when I think about it, this bothers me.