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Evolution is too cool.

So everyone’s talking about a certain recent poll purporting that 51% of Americans reject the Theory of Evolution. To provide counterpoint to this little bubble of furor (the poll only had 808 respondents–hardly a useful sample, I should think), I have to wonder: to what percentage of Americans does it actually make a noticeable difference whether the theory of evolution is correct or incorrect? The more and more I see of any side of the issue, the more I think that “evolution” is really something of a “cool code” for the inner circles of the modern scientific academy and its hangers-on, the Intelligentsia-at-large. Quoting the previous link to Lewis: There are what correspond to passwords, but they are too spontaneous and informal. A particular slang, the use of particular nicknames, an allusive manner of conversation, are the marks. And later, Exclusion is no accident; it is the essence. Scientists and Educated People are humans, let’s not forget, and the history of Science and Education is full of such cliques and groupthink.

As an alternative reading of this statistic, (in place of, “Boy, Americans sure are dumb, and boy aren’t we smart”), try this on for size. Perhaps it’s simply the case that 51% of Americans realize this sociological phenomenon at some intuitive level, and reject it out of hand because they don’t particularly care about that kind of cool. It’s like the chess club in high school lording it over the rest of the student body that they’re stupid and foolish for not knowing how to play chess or not being very good at playing chess. The members of the chess club may be very good at chess, and may go on to take the state championship, but the fact remains that chess simply does not touch upon the lives of the others. The student body simply doesn’t care.

Or maybe the problem is that most Americans simply don’t have minds geared to thinking on scales of aeons. And why should they bother, unless they’re angling for tenureship in the geology department of Big State University, or pursuing some other profession (such as the profession of being smarter-than-thou) in which voluminous scales of time become significant? Heck, I read and write stories taking place aeons in the future, and I still have trouble with the scales involved. This is probably why I’ve stopped worrying and learned to love ignorance (and stylistic device).

In the end, it’s a lousy statistic for making conclusions over. But that doesn’t seem to stop anyone, so I won’t let it stop me: I am not an evolutionist. I would say that I’m a creationist (and others have strongly insisted that the label applies, in the true sense of the word), but that term carries so much baggage and bad blood that I’d prefer to leave it off altogether. It’s such an unimportant issue to me that I feel no need to self-identify on that particular axis. Were I to take up the banner and join the crusade in either direction, I’d merely be making arguments from authority, since I have no time or inclination to become an expert in the related fields. And then there’s that whole lack of reproducible experimentation.

In the true end, I’m a humanist and a Christian–that is, I enjoy stories, and one particular story has revolutionized my life, in how I relate to myself and the Other. To me, the Theory of Evolution is a nice story, with occasionally interesting social consequences, but all in all, it’s simple, boring, and shapeless. It lacks purpose, and it’s dull and blind and rather unaware of anything else going on around it. And it’s too cool, and since when have I ever worried that much about being cool?

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