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Where did we come from? Where are we going? Why are there so few public restrooms?

Wandering across the landscape of the "evolution controversy," it's easy to feel that we've entered a sequel to Alice in Wonderland. Everything seems topsy-turvy, and non sequiturs multiply like, well, universes. We're in a muddle. Oddly enough, it is precisely in such conditions that people are likely to dig in their heels and claim a degree of certainty they don't possess.

Consider this a brief report on some of the curious aspects of the evolution controversy.

End of Reason Narrowly Averted

Faithful readers of The New York Times will recall historian Garry Wills's op-ed, "The Day the Enlightenment Went Out," published immediately after George W. Bush's reelection in November 2004. For a time, it appeared that Wills's dire pronouncement was merely the sober truth. Attempts were being made to smuggle Intelligent Design into America's classrooms. But the forces of Enlightenment rallied. One weekly science magazine featured a cover story with this stark warning: "The End of Reason?" Wired magazine joined the fray with a cover story devoted to "The Plot to Kill Evolution." Rolling Stone chimed in with a banner headline, "Science vs. Faith: Evolution on Trial." The rest is history.

According to a recent story in the Times, Reason is resting comfortably and is expected to make a full recovery.

I'm Going to Ask You One More Time

News coverage and commentary have focused on the threat to the teaching of evolution. But except for occasional flare-ups, that's not really the problem. At this very moment, evolution is being taught all over our fair land. The real problem, as an article in Science magazine explains ("Darwin's Place on Campus Is Secure—But ...

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April 2006

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