Field of Science

Creationists are infuriating - but not as much as we are

I haven't blogged much lately because of other things in life. Shame. Things like work and applying for a Green Card. This has taken me out of the loop of dealing with creationists for a while, too, but a couple of days ago an old online acquaintance emailed me in reply to a post from five (5!) years ago.

Just reading these helplessly clueless long emails about why evolution allegedly can't work (e.g., because there are more deleterious mutations than beneficials!!!), let alone answering them, leaves me frustrated and exhausted this time around. Not only is is frustrating that there are people out there that stubborn in their ignorance, but it is also that evolution is what I do for a living. Science is my passion, and evolutionary biology is the field I am in. So it kind of hurts when someone says that a topic I have studied intensely for 10 years is completely wrong about nature - I am either a liar or very stupid.

A few years ago, before I got my PhD, I debated online with creationists on a regular basis. I had fun with it, and found it enlightening to learn about this strange group of people. It felt good to tell them when they said something wrong and to inform them how they had misunderstood evolutionary theory (always benevolently assuming that was the true cause of disagreement). But now it is just irritating. Why this change?

The change in me from glee to despair has two causes:

1) It is now annoying to talk to creationists because the naîve childish hope that they would change is gone. I still have hope that future generations will see the light, so to speak, and not be so bogged down by their religious dogma and resistance against their world-view-from-a-book. But people who have invested their life in religious dogma are a lost cause, and it therefore makes no sense for me to have a personal dialogue with them anymore.

2) The second reason why I now get so upset is that I had forgotten a tenet that I came up with years ago: Evolutionary biologists may be exasperated with creationists, but probably not nearly as much as creationists are constantly provoked by evolutionary biologists. After all, close to but not quite a 100% of all biologists understand that evolution is the best explanation for how life on Earth has come about (save for abiogenesis, if you will) and how species continue to change.

The science is getting funded and published and winning hearts and minds. Creationism isn't getting any traction. America is a special case, with most other countries laughing their cabooses to shreds. (Next to) nobody studies life through the lens of creationism at educational and research institutions. On top of that, evolutionary theory is actually being applied in medicine, engineering, and other fields, while prayer generally isn't implemented in hospitals and R&D departments.

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