The great Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin once wrote — or, rather, sighed — that “creationism is an American institution.”
As an institution, creationism has crossed social strata as easily as it crosses decades. Despite all that science and secularism can do to explain it away, the crusade against evolution — the foundation of modern biology — is as intransigent, and strangely modern in its anti-modernism, as ever. The actor-author-documentarian-presidential speechwriter Ben Stein, with his movie Expelled, has become only the latest in the long line of its media-savvy critics. Today, around half of all Americans prefer creationism, in some form, to the scientific consensus.
Few know this better than Lauri Lebo, author of The Devil in Dover: An Insider’s Story of Dogma v. Darwin in Small-Town America. When the trial over intelligent design theory in Dover, Pennsylvania, caught the attention of the world, Lebo was the lead local reporter covering the case. For her, the controversy was personal as well as professional; as the trial unfolded, she struggled to come to terms with the impending death of her Pentacostal father, desperate for assurance that he would see her in the creationist-only hereafter. In The Devil in Dover, Lebo combines the dramas of family and courtroom into an engrossing story, trading illusions of journalistic objectivity for hard-won personal truths.
Did you hear about the state legislator who last week blasted a Lutheran minister during a committee hearing for spewing dangerous religious superstitions, and then attempted to order the minister out of the witness chair on the grounds that his Christian beliefs are “destroying what this state was built upon”?
Of course you didn’t, because it didn’t happen and would never happen. Not to a Christian, not to a Jew, not to a Muslim or to anyone who subscribes to any faith.
Such an attack would rightly be considered scandalously out of bounds in contemporary society.
But you probably also didn’t hear about what actually did happen:
Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) interrupted atheist activist Rob Sherman during his testimony Wednesday afternoon before the House State Government Administration Committee in Springfield and told him, “What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous . . . it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists!
“This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God,” Davis said. “Get out of that seat . . . You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.”
Apparently it’s still open season on some views of God.
Outside of Change of Subject, where I posted a transcript and the audio, Davis’ repellent, un-American outburst received no attention whatsoever.