Apropos of Matt’s post just below, in a post titled “NCSE becomes BioLogos” Jerry Coyne has thrown a hissy fit over NCSE noting the upcoming Webcast on ‘Evolving Christianity’ featuring a number of theists of varying stripes speaking on how they accommodate their theism and science in general and evolution in particular.
I commented on Coyne’s site more than five hours ago but my comment is still labeled (after hard refreshes) as “Awaiting moderation” while several comments posted later than mine have appeared. So I’ll reproduce my comment below the fold, warts and all.
My comment was a reply to a comment by MadScientist that asked
What’s reasonable about promoting bullshit? Why is the NCSE even providing that link? It sounds to me like people complained and they’ve responded with a weasel excuse. Oh look - cute mustelid!
Because on the ground, where the battles are fought about what is to be taught in public schools (search on ‘Freshwater’ for an example), having the ability to say to the Christians who are the overwhelming majority “There are Christians who accept evolution” or at least accept common descent is politically critical. And I write that as one of the very few out atheists in this conservative rural community, a former administrator of Internet Infidels Discussion Board (then the largest secular discussion board on the web), and current administrator of The Secular Cafe.
NCSE’s main remit is defending the teaching of evolution in the public schools. That defense is both legal (think Kitzmiller) and political (think the Dover PA school board election after that trial but before the verdict was in). One cannot win political battles without accepting alliances with groups with whom one does not agree on all aspects of all issues. To imagine otherwise is to live in dreamland.
Further, to the extent that learning about evolution, even in watered down form, can lead to further questioning of religious teachings and to the exercise of some minimal rationality on the part of students it is actually serving Jerry Coyne’s objective of working toward a more secular society. So NCSE is working in the same direction as Coyne, only with different tactics.
Which tactics are most effective? We don’t in fact know, so let a thousand flowers bloom. There are times when I’m a gnu, times when I’m an accomodationist politician, and where on that spectrum I fall at any given time is an adaptation to the immediate circumstances. That’s not hypocritical, it’s pragmatic, and pragmatism, not dogmatism, wins political battles.
Normally for PT I’d buff and polish that some, but I wanted to reproduce it here as I submitted it to Coyne’s site. I probably could have added a snarky remark about, say, Coyne adopting the model of the Texas Department of Education when it fired Chris Comer for calling attention to a talk by Barbara Forrest, but I restrained myself.