I recently ran across the “life-dinner principle“. In evolutionary biology, two groups (whether different species, or groups within a species) are often in competition with each other. But the selection pressure may not be equal between groups: a fox that can’t catch up to a rabbit may die of starvation, though it may have time to reproduce before it dies; but a rabbit that gets caught by a fox will not reproduce. Hence, the rabbit is running for its life, but the fox is only running for its dinner.
I wonder whether something similar is going on in the meme war between science and creationism. Those of us on the science side are fighting for education, for scientific literacy, for the future of scientific research in whichever country one happens to be.
But for many people in the creationist camp, the stakes seem much higher: the Truth™, their self-worth as important beings in the eyes of the creator of the universe, basic social cohesion (the “evolutionism implies no moral standards” argument), and even the risk of genocide (see the various attempts to tie “Darwinism” to the Nazi holocaust and Stalin’s purges).
If this is so, then the creationists have much more motive to defend their position by any means, including deception.
While there are parallels between memetic and biological evolution, there are significant differences as well, so I won’t try to apply to a clash of ideas the lessons learned from biology.
I do take heart, though, in the fact that I’ve run across two threads recently on Uncommon Descent where IDists have expressed disappointment with ID: one was when PZ Myers was a guest on a Christian talk radio show and utterly trounced the other guest, a creationist who claimed that there are no transitionals in whale evolution, to which PZ was able to name several of these “nonexistent” transitional species. The rout was so complete that one commenter at Uncommon Descent suggested that “In my opinion we should just close our eyes and pretend that this debate never happened.” His wish was granted when the entire thread was deleted.
The other was in the discussion of Richard Dawkins seeing Expelled. Although many are still pushing the idea that Dawkins somehow snuck into the theater under false colors, others have realized the breathtaking hypocrisy of the situation, and fear that it’ll make their side look bad.
So maybe the solution is what people have been advocating for years: educate the public. Have scientists get out of the ivory tower and talk to the public about science (let ten thousand Carl Sagans bloom!). Show people what despicable liars the creationists are.