The threat of an eruption of creationism in Polk County, Florida, is dying down. The school board hasn’t changed, it still has a number of confident creationists on it, but they’re all going to keep their religious beliefs at home and in church, and in fact, they have a “great eagerness simply to return to the day-to-day work of running a school district with 90,000 students.” It’s great news all around.
What got them to confine their interest to doing their job? As the article explains, a lot of factors contributed. The county wants tech sector jobs and expansion of a University of South Florida campus, and they got biting comments from the people behind those economically important initiatives. They had the Dover trial waved in their faces, and saw the threat of expensive litigation and even more expensive defeat. And they got ridiculed on a local and national level—bloggers and magazines mocked them, they got mail from proponents of the flying spaghetti monster, their quaintly ridiculous religious views got publicized on the front page of local newspapers.
Creationists hold some very stupid ideas, but most of them aren’t stupid people. They know deep-down that their religious beliefs are indefensible on a plane that demands evidence and results, and while they aren’t going to give up those beliefs, they’d rather be spared the embarrassment of having to lay them out and explain them in scientific terms. A good loud campaign of public ridicule can be just the thing to convince them to put their heads down and buckle into the secular work they’re supposed to be doing.