Among the most maddening things about the assault on science education — especially resistance to teaching public school students about evolution without watering it down with arguments rooted in junk science — is the rank dishonesty and religious bigotry that motivate anti-evolution extremists. In yet another excellent Huffington Post essay, Michael Zimmerman of the Clergy Letter Project calls out that kind of garbage coming from the anti-evolution Discovery Institute in Seattle.
We told you a few days ago about Zimmerman’s Huffington Post essay explaining that mainstream science isn’t divided over evolution. The “controversy,” such as it is, is the product of religious extremists who attack and seek to marginalize people of faith who see no problem with accepting evolutionary science and believing in God. (The Roman Catholic Church, for example, sees no such conflict. Neither do many mainline Protestants, Jews and other people of faith outside of fundamentalist circles.)
The Discovery Institute countered with an essay on its own website, claiming that skepticism about evolution really is based in science. (Disco made the same absurd argument last year when its staffers descended on Texas during the debate over new science curriculum standards.) But Zimmerman makes quick work of wrecking that disingenuous argument in his new Huff Post essay:
“You may remember Pat Robertson warning the good people of Dover, Pennsylvania, when they threw out the school board members who required that intelligent design be taught in their schools, ‘If there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city.’
Or you may remember Robertson saying that ‘the evolutionists worship atheism. I mean, that’s their religion.’
Or perhaps Albert Mohler’s comments in Time, will come to mind: ‘You cannot coherently affirm the Christian-truth claim and the dominant model of evolutionary theory at the same time.’ In case you don’t remember, let me remind you that Mohler is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
I could go on ad nauseam, providing you with similar quotes from high-profile fundamentalist clergy members, but I see no need to do so; clearly these folks regularly claim that they cannot accept evolutionary theory on religious grounds. I have no problem with these people saying what they believe, but I am completely opposed to them implying that all who are religious must agree with them.”
Zimmerman is especially dismissive of the claim by Casey Luskin, who wrote Disco’s counter essay, that he (Zimmerman) is ignoring “the science that challenges evolution”:
“I’m sorry to be so blunt, but there’s simply no way to be polite about this: [Luskin’s] claim is utter garbage. And he must know it because he doesn’t direct his readers to a single piece of scientific evidence supporting his charge.
Thousands of peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts extending, testing, and refining evolutionary theory are published each and every year, but there aren’t any calling the basic premise of the theory into question. And yet Luskin has the nerve to say that there is ‘overwhelming evidence’ of a ‘scientific controversy about the importance of evolutionary theory.'”
Zimmerman also points to the huge sums of money pouring into Disco from prominent religious fundamentalists who “want to remake both science and the United States into their religious image”:
“Luskin and his DI colleagues have created a well-funded public relations machine which they use relentlessly to mislead the public about evolution and to encourage school boards and state legislatures to take steps to destroy high-quality science education. They get what seems to be unlimited air time on Fox to promote their dangerous message.”