Riker's Mailbox

Thursday, April 23, 2009


When it rains, it pours.  Or in my case, drizzles... but it's a drizzle in a drought, so don't complain :)

I just read Jerry Coyne's latest article lambasting the National Academy of Sciences and the National Centers for Science Education for their accomodationist standpoints with regard to the harmony of evolutionary theory and religious faith (he must've gotten the idea from me), and I gave myself another opportunity to think about the issue.  Here was my reponse:

I tend to see the posturing of the NAS and the NCSE as more of a logistical matter than anything else; these organizations need money to function, and they have to be sure not to alienate potential sources of funding. But then there's a side issue: they don't need to pander to us as naturalists/rationalists/atheists, because we're already on the same side of the fence. The people for whom those statements were written are those who might be *on* the fence. And the surest way to knock them back to their side is to require them to abandon a component of their belief system before we grant them admission. If a theist comes to the NCSE or NAS website, they're looking for encouraging words, not challenging ones. We should give them to them and let the merits of the science itself argue its cause. The NCSE and NAS have a tough enough job just promoting evolution in this religiously saturated country. But if you want them to take a hard line stance, then you're effectively asking them to incorporate the inordinately larger task of debunking religion. In our non-ideal world, they have to pick their battles. It might offend me that they have to speak disingenuously to do so, but I'm going to have to live with that.

So, I don't like it any more than I disliked it before*... but I acknowledge the rock to their left and the hard place to their right, and will let them play at this mild little version of fighting dirty** to gain a little ground on our tiring uphill battle.

* - I think that's a valid sentence
** - I mean, they're totally lying to their audience.  It's a classic bait-and-switch.

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