When I was younger dealing with Creationists was something I had to do as a matter of course. Like many members of “Generation X” I haunted Usenet groups in the 1990s where the “evolution-creation” debate raged, always defending the consensus science from detractors. Even in the early years of this weblog, we tackled Creationists now and then. It was something you had to do.
But over the past decade or so there has been a change in the air. American society has become more secular, and religious conservatives do not wield as much power. Acceptance of evolution has been increasing, simply due to secularization. Books like The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design, seem to be artifacts of the 20th century, dealing with the concerns of a bygone age.
This is on my mind because recently I happened to read a positive review of Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design. I haven’t read a piece of apologia for Intelligent design since the 2000s, and it’s rather strange because we have so much data now due to genomics. Many of the old arguments that Intelligent Design advocates deploy ring hollow and theoretical because the data refute them. People like David Klinghoffer are beneath notice.
It is true that a minority of the population rejects evolution on cultural grounds. But as with the rejection of gay marriage, the broader society has moved on to other concerns. “Darwin’s enemies on the Left” are far more vocal and powerful than those on the Right. I can’t imagine an organ of mainstream secular conservatism such as The Weekly Standard publishing something like Evolutionary Psychology and Its True Believers today. At the time it struck me as a coalitional sop to evangelicals.