The Guardian: Andrew Brown’s Blog
Virginia Heffernan’s creationism is wrong but makes good sense
The tech writer understands that the biblical account is a story. It’s just one that she prefers over the stories told by science
A US writer, Virginia Heffernan, has just outed herself as a creationist. As she is currently earning a living writing on technology for Yahoo! News, this is a brave thing to do and has been greeted with obloquy, bemusement, and patronising explanations about the difference between facts and stories. Now of course evolution is true. Evolution is a fact: it happens. It’s also a predictive theory: it explains why things happen and have happened in ways that allow us to find out more about the world. It is something that I find fascinating, but there are lots of things that fascinate me, from fly fishing to philosophy, which I don’t expect the rest of the world to take an interest in.
In that respect, evolution is different. It has come to mean an explanation for everything, including all sorts of questions which were once, and rightly, treated as philosophical or ethical. Even more, it has come to be taken up as a banner in the American culture wars. In that context it is unattractive. If you want to know why an educated American might decide evolution is untrue, spend some time at the website Why evolution is true, run by the Chicago biologist Jerry Coyne. The science there is great, but the tone of voice is something else: hectoring arrogant mansplaining with sputtering outbursts of extraordinary viciousness. If you don’t much care whether the science is true, this would convince you that there must be something wrong with it.