When you make enemies out of your allies


With Evolution Weekend coming up soon, it is interesting to note that not all proponents of evolution support this effort. A year ago, PZ Myers, a Minnesota biologist, wrote in his blog a critique of Evolution Sunday (which was its name prior to this year). He dismissed the effort by claiming that

a few people whose training and day-to-day practice are antithetical to science will attempt to legitimize their invalid beliefs and expand their pretense to intellectual authority by co-opting a few slogans.
Instead of allying himself strategically with others who, like himself, might wish to promote scientific evolution against the tide of creationist ignorance, Myers decided to treat anyone who doesn't think like he does on the subject of religion as an enemy to be scorned, even when there is a common cause at stake.

Clearly, the idea of people of faith promoting science doesn't jibe with his stereotypical conception of what it means to be religious, as expressed by his assertion that theological "training and day-to-day practice are antithetical to science"--something that is simply not true. One wonders if he learned everything that he thinks he knows about religion by listening to Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson. In any case, it is not hard to see how, when reality doesn't conform with dogma, the natural reaction to the resulting cognitive dissonance is just to circle the wagons and attack that which contradicts one's preconceived stereotypes. And to admit that it might actually be a good thing for people of faith to promote evolution would call into question a certain world view; it is easier just to strike out and attack one's erstwhile allies on an important issue.

This only goes to prove, once again, that militant atheists and religious fundamentalists have a great deal in common, both in their stereotypical conception of what religion is about and in their dogmatic resistance to anything that contradicts their dogmas.