I've been spending an exorbitant amount of time lately poking the creationists over on Ray's blog. I don't really expect to "convert" anyone, but it's interesting to see the ways that they frame their arguments and whatnot. Now, I largely believe that the issue of evolution is problematic for some breeds of Christian because it calls in to question their privileged place in the universe. Note that I say "their" rather than "ours". There is a tremendous arrogance among the "saved" that I've spoken of on here before, and I can only say that, among the followers of Ray's blog at least, my original griping on the subject was a gross understatement of the truth.
One of the most interesting things I've encountered thus far is the strange relationship some of these folks have with science, as both an institution and a methodology. Whenever science fails to support their preconceived notions it is uselessly and dogmatically naturalistic you see, but when it coincides with their beliefs it is not only correct but nearly infinite in its persuasive power. I suspect some of this comes from the ongoing debate between the skeptics and the believers on Ray's blog. Ray's brand of Christians seem incapable of grasping the idea of existing without out and out worshiping something, so when skeptics talk about science as a useful methodology for understanding the world we are naturally saying that we worship it. It's a peculiar thing to wrap your mind around, but some of their statements make more sense (more narrative sense, anyway) when you finally see that some of them have that perspective.
One thing that is of interest to me is the degree to which creationists think scientists are in (dis)agreement about evolutionary theory. Many of them seem to think that there's an enormous amount of debate within the scientific community as to whether or not evolution in the broad sense is true. Indeed, a recently Pew survey indicated that something like 54% of lay people think that scientists in general support evolution. Read that again. 54% of lay people think that scientists in general support evolution. What a weird survey. Actual surveys of scientists reveal acceptance of evolution by anywhere from 95% to 98.5% of scientists. In fact, the good ol' "Scientific Dissent From Darwinism" that the Discovery Institute is so proud of represents a minuscule number of scientists (approx. 700 out of nearly 500,000) and its numbers are likely padded by its pallid wording that "Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged." Hell, I think almost everyone would agree with that. Add to that the fact that numerous signatories on the list are either not in biological science fields or openly admit that their concerns about evolution are ideological and you have a list of names that just doesn't mean much.
Another question that never quite gets answered is what creationists make of scientists with both strong Christian and strong bio-sciences backgrounds who believe in God but also accept evolution as settled fact. The figurehead of this group is the eminent Francis Collins, whose belief in God has been manifested in public debates with atheist scientists like Richard Dawkins but whose entire professional career has been spent doing legitimate experimental work and, among other things, heading up the Human Genome Project. Here's a man whose faith is not in doubt but whose lifetime of work in the fields of biology and genetics has left him thoroughly convinced of evolution's reality. It is scientists like Collins who make it impossible for the creationists to have it both ways when it comes to science.
I've been asking the creationists over on Ray's blog what they think of Collins for weeks now and I've gotten no replies. I guess, as with the evidence of evolution, they choose to pretend that he doesn't exist.