At Splice Today, Noah Berlatsky says that progressives like me who mock creationists are actually making a mountain of a molehill:
For what it’s worth, I think evolution is true; I believe in it as much as I believe in the Internet or in the existence of Katha Pollitt. I did my MA thesis in part on Darwin, and I’ve read a good deal of evolutionary theory for a layperson. I agree with Pollitt that creationism is incoherent and illogical. The earth is really old; dinosaurs existed long before people did; I’m related to apes, and have the hair growing on my ears to prove it.
However, I don’t think you have to be a fool to believe the contrary. Really, all you have to be is human. Humans, of whatever creed or politics, believe lots of things that have no particular scientific basis. Some people believe in ghosts. Some people—even some left-wing people—believe vaccines cause autism. Some people, again, some of them left-wingers, believe John F. Kennedy’s assassination was part of a vast conspiracy. Some people believe that Kennedy was a good President. Some people believe that economists can forecast the economy.
All of these beliefs have more practical negative consequences than a belief in creationism. In fact, the only real effect of creationism, as far as I can see, is to interfere with the teaching of evolution in some secondary schools. And given how lousy U.S. high schools are, this is probably a boon for science. As a former educator, I can tell you that the best way to get students to know nothing about a topic is to teach them about it. If you want to kill creationism as a viable public ideology, just make it a nationwide curricular requirement. “Adam was married to (A) Eve (B) Steve (C) a dinosaur (D) a platypus.” I’m sure 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.