Many of my fellow bloggers, and many fellow Michiganders, have noted a breath of fresh air out of (ironically) the Motor City. This quote from Real Detroit Weekly’s review of Expelled hits on an important point. By way of background, the following quote refers to the incident where biologist PZ Myers (who happens not to believe in any gods) was kicked out of a screening of the movie:
Mathis laughs before offering two reasons why he told the security guard at the screening not to let Myers in. First, Mathis says, “He has viciously attacked me personally and attacked the film.” Just to clarify, Myers did not break into Mr. Mathis’ house in a drunken rage with a bowie knife–he has simply been critical of Mathis’ arguments.
And here, my friends, is a chasm that may be too hard to cross, no matter how we frame the issue. When someone attacks, say, my belief that beta blockers prolong survival in heart failure, my response is, “Really? Prove it.” If they prove it, OK. If they don’t, OK (more or less). No hard feelings. When you tell a Creationist, “Your beliefs are not science, and should really stay out of the classroom,” they feel viciously attacked. Their “scientific” ideas aren’t scientific at all, but religious ideas to which they are emotionally attached. When you tell a Creationist that their beliefs aren’t science, you might as well be telling them that their god is dead. And that’s a problem.
Many religious people are scientists, and many scientists are religious. There is no inherent conflict. Humans are perfectly capable of holding multiple contradictory ideas simultaneously—unless they are a Creationist. For the religious extremists, there can only be one “truth” and to criticize it is to be worse than wrong, it is to be heretical, and we all know what they do to heretics…