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Darwinian-Atheist Michael Ruse Gets a Makeover -- Again

With his scruffy beard, British accent and wry, grandfatherly manner, philosopher Michael Ruse has won renown as the most adorable of the prominent atheist Darwin advocates. Yet look at him now in the Chronicle of Higher Education, getting seriously bent out of shape about a state tax-credit program in Georgia that was supposed to benefit students seeking to afford a private-school education:

Here we go again. The latest news on the fighting-Creationism front is that states like Georgia have found ways to channel public funds to private schools. Some of the money goes -- Surprise! Surprise! -- to fund athletic scholarships. (And in places like Georgia, "athletics" means football.) Almost all of the money goes to institutions that teach Creationism -- young earth, miraculous creation of organisms, two and only two humans coming last, and of course a universal flood.

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I don't mean to sound like Cassandra but I am telling you, folks, Armageddon is coming and it is not the Christian one. If a challenge to this sort of thing gets up to the present Supreme Court, I can almost guarantee it will rule favorably for the fundamentalists. With its ruling on money and elections, it has destroyed the political system. It looks very much like it is going to do a number on health care. And science is down the road. I predict that in my lifetime we shall see the National Science Foundation having to dole out cash for Flood Geology.

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I have my quarrels with the New Atheists and the stands they take. But let no one misunderstand. When faced with the philistine beliefs and behaviors of American fundamentalism, I am four-square with Dawkins and Dennett and the others. When I read about what is going on in states like Georgia and my own Florida, I fear that Chicken Little may be right. The sky is falling.

Professor Ruse was more adorable when he wasn't atop his atheist soapbox, prophesying the end of the world. Nevertheless, this is priceless. Here we go again with Dr. Ruse, who seems to reinvent himself every few years. First it was the virulently atheistic Ruse. Then it was the newly packaged religion-friendly Ruse who wrote a book seeming to claim that faith and evolution are compatible. Now it's back to Ruse #1.

Perhaps that can be called Ruse Classic. Like Coke Classic, the old classic Ruse is preferable, we think. The religion-friendly Ruse was a "ruse." This is more honest.

Of course, his new sky-is-falling posture is tainted by the same kind of far-out paranoia that he attributes to Evangelicals. And if we are going to talk about extremism, what about his fellow atheists, famous for their own nutty ideas and scorched-earth rhetoric when attacking opponents? By cherry-picking a few extremists, Ruse is smearing the real views of most Darwin skeptics, and most Evangelicals.