As I've said before, it's on the question of evolution that I have the least patience with evangelicals, because it shows evangelicals at their most nakedly and willfully ignorant. But this movie in particular shows the absurdity from its very premise: Ben Stein goes around to various evolutionists and scientists (who, by the way, were lied to in order to obtain their footage, as P.Z. Meyers and Richard Dawkins have chronicled) and the repeated upshot is: If these scientists are so interested in theories, why are they so unfairly biased against the theory of intelligent design?
The most obvious question to ask such people is, "What fucking evidence do you fucking have for a single fucking element of your alleged fucking theory?" (Sorry. I told you this made me impatient.) Over and over again, in this movie (to judge from the reviews) and on innumerable websites and other writings, the pattern goes something like this:
a. evolution teaches that process x works in some specific way;
b. but here's an example of this process failing, and science can't explain it!
c. Therefore, God exists and Genesis is scientifically accurate.
I trust you can see the huge-ass leap being made here. But the creationist articles and stories (and the Creationism Museum) all tend to end with
d. Also, evolution is immoral, and that's why we have moral chaos like the Holocaust.
This is another easily dismantled argument. (if God provides morality, how come entire countries with no God--such as Buddhist Japan--are actually lower in crime than average? And if the only reason people are good is because God will punish us if we don't behave, then doesn't that mean that human beings really DON'T have any inherent value?) But it exhausts me to do so, because as I've shown in other posts, the answers aren't even the point.
What evangelicals really want in the evolution "debate" is to be able to nakedly assert the superiority of the Bible over against the knowledge we've actually amassed over the last several centuries--which is why the obvious compromise (to admit that evolution makes sense, but to assert that God set evolution in motion), which should technically satisfy evangelicals, is dropped as anathema. This isn't about science. This is a power play to try to get the rest of the world to worship the Bible the same way evangelicals do.
Of course, evangelicals don't see it this way--it's not like a conspiracy. What's happening from the evangelical perspective is that everyone seems to be adopting a scientific worldview that the evangelical finds morally uncomfortable. They shouldn't be troubled by it, but an evolution-based ethic, while not exactly hard to derive (we're all from the same stuff, we're not all that different from each other, therefore the Golden Rule is a sensible way to run things), it's still more subtle than the Bible-says-x system that evangelicals are accustomed to.
To put it another way, evolution's sin is not that it is obviously immoral. Its problem is that it introduces gray areas into our understanding of human life, and the evangelical, with her belief that humans are morally corrupt, can only assume that this gray area will be exploited to the worst possible effect. (That in many ways our life has improved--women's rights expanding everywhere, mostly no more slavery anywhere, greatly improved health and life expectancy, etc.--has little argumentative effect on people who are determined to worry.) If they had a little more faith in human decency, they'd be able to stop worrying so much--but of course, if they had faith in human decency, they'd stop being evangelicals.
I don't really have a solution to this, obviously. But I do think that the way to start is to quietly and patiently defuse the phantom fear that is animating the evangelicals' desperately wrongheaded assertions. But you can start with the facts, too. Maybe if they become rightly embarrassed about claims about a 6,000-year-old earth, an actual worldwide flood, and all the rest of the myths they helplessly literalize, we can at least have this conversation less often in public, and it'll retreat to the ghetto of the coffee-and-donuts narthex from whence it should never have escaped in the first place. Yeesh.
Sorry if this was angry. I really do have a hard time being patient with this stuff because it's all so embarrassingly weak and so obviously wrong. I want evangelicals to be worthy intellectual adversaries and proud participants in our cultural conversation. Evolution-didn't-happen is just amateur hour. Jesus deserves better from his alleged friends.