Monday, November 07, 2011

Does it matter that a lot of people are wrong about evolution? |

Does it matter that a lot of people are wrong about evolution? |

my concern here is not whether Dawkins is right that evolution has happened and is happening. Of course he is, of course it has and of course it is. No, what interests me is whether the fact that so many people now, still, deny the truth of evolution matters. Dawkins thinks that this rejection of one of the central achievements of science isscandalous and appalling, and that these crackpot creationists must be told the error of their ways, and told and told again, until they return to the straight and narrow. Me? I don’t think I care that much.

To illustrate my point with a contrast, I think it matters a very great deal that so many people have been and continue to be so very, very wrong about the nature of the financial crisis that now afflicts the world. Errors in this matter are not merely erroneous. They are errors with huge and hugely damaging consequences. Millions have already suffered horribly because of these errors. Millions more are about to. But who is suffering because of creationism? Why does it matter to the rest of us what creationists think? Are creationists forcing their nonsense upon others? Maybe to some extent they are. Many potential commenters will know a lot more about the answer to that question than I do. If creationists are doing this, that would be a reason to berate them about all the errors they are making. But, are they?
Another good reason to go after creationists is to demoralise them, because of the other bad things that creationists are doing.

But what other bad political projects are creationists contributing to? Dawkins regards the USA’s aggressive policies in the Middle East as very bad, and thinks that Christian creationists are responsible for these policies in a big way. I agree that occupying foreign countries these days tends to be a mistake, while shorter, in-and-out attacks, with fewer pretensions in the direction of telling the locals how to govern themselves (such as I hope and trust the recent Libyan escapade has been (and fear that it may not be)), are also fraught with peril but seem, on the face of it, somewhat less harmful. But I don’t think that Christian creationists are by any means the only people who support such military operations.

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