While the atheist panic machine lumbers into action once again - after all, kids like dinosaurs, what if they go and learn not to steal and stuff while they are there? - there really isn't much to worry about if you are not in the panic business.
I grew up in a small town with no bars and four more churches than there were stop signs and never came across a Young Earth Creationist. There were lots of creationists. Heck, the whole town may have been creationist except for my family for all I know, 200 people filled 5 churches, but they never said there were no dinosaurs or that Adam and Eve rode them. It was only during a court case in the 2000s I even knew this was a movement and I spent most of my time before Science 2.0 hanging out with engineers and physicists - and you know how nuts engineers are.
There were also apparently no militant atheists in science when I was a kid, there were just scientists doing science. Maybe it is sort of a chicken and egg thing. Regardless, the framing fix is in today. Militants want to use the term 'creationist' to apply to all religious people, for example. It's technically correct, religious people do all believe in a creator, but not all religious people believe that the planet is 6,000 years old and that fossils have been planted as a test of faith. It is either unfortunate or an outright propaganda campaign that science lets people with a cultural agenda speak for them, even when they are intentionally massaging the facts to suit their ends.
All anti-vaccine kooks vote Democrat, for example, but if anyone claimed Democrats are anti-vaccine I would protest that. Anyone sane would, much like anyone sane protests claims that all Republicans are anti-science(1) because a few more Republicans than Democrats do not believe in evolution and global warming. So it goes with using the same precise language about religious people.
This child will not become anti-science visiting a religious museum. She will become anti-science if bearded militant kooks tell her she is stupid for going to church. Credit: Shutterstock.
Writing in The Atlantic, Robert Wright says militant atheists are the bigger problem today and that is why the so-called evolution debate is bigger in America; atheists need for there to be a controversy the same way Jesse Jackson needs Obama not to be re-elected and neo-cons need the Middle East to be a mess. The residual impact, he says, is that the public shocked by the tone of 'increasingly secular' scientists begins to doubt that scientists are rational in their jobs. And those jobs, at scientist insistence, have increasingly become government-controlled ones, which means not enraging politicians. In reality, scientists are not becoming increasingly secular. About 40 percent of scientists are religious, the same number as 50 years ago.
The numbers of anti-evolution people are creeping up slightly, though. Wright says that is because shrill atheists control the debate and say you either deny religion completely or you deny evolution completely. People choose religion because they can no longer say that maybe someone set off the spark of life and it evolved from there. If they try to take that middle ground, the militant kooks lump them in with the almost-as-bad Intelligent Design people.
Cameron English writing at Policy Mic doesn't say the blame can be laid at the feet of atheists but they can worry a lot less than they think they need to; there is no need to worry about Bible-toting barbarians at the gates of science because Young Earth Creationists can't even convince other Christians that they are correct. They're no threat to anyone.
Dr. Eugenie Scott, hard-working Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education (which fights against efforts to teach religion in science classes) has often made this same point; in the earliest days of the controversy, it was other religious people on the side of science. They did not want to have to undo on Saturday and Sunday a sectarian viewpoint taught in schools Monday through Friday and NCSE membership today still reflects that diversity.
How was that lesson lost on the younger, more intolerant generation of today?
(1) Oh, you don't protest about broad stereotypes and biased claims against Republicans. only about Democrats? Then you are part of the problem.