I had to think long and hard before posting this. At any given moment, I probably have 10-15 pages open in my browser. Some are things that I check often, like email, but others are just random news items and various junk that I figure I'll get around to reading eventually, so I leave them open so as not to lose them. Occasionally I go through and cull the pages that I know I'll never read or write about in order to reduce the clutter, but then there are always those pages that I just can't decide what to do with. This page sat open for about a week and half:
A Shreveport surgeon was released on bond Thursday after being accused of trying to solicit sex in a Shreveport park.
Dr. Milton Moore Slocum, of the 500 block of Waterford Drive just southeast of the city limits, was booked Tuesday night into the Caddo Correctional Center.
The sheriff's office has accused him of trying to solicit someone he thought was a 15-year-old girl over the Internet.
So far, no big deal in terms of newsworthiness. But here's the part that caught my eye:
Slocum was recently in the news for serving as a panelist during the local Darwin Day celebration at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church. Slocum, a self-described "old-Earth creationist," said he interprets the Bible to mean God created the Earth over millions of years.
This guy who was caught soliciting sex from an underage girl is a creationist. Not just any creationist, but a creationist with an M.D. who felt strongly enough about his beliefs that he showed up to a Darwin Day event to argue them in front of a panel. In other words, he was the kind of person that creationists strongly look up to and count on to be their standard bearers.
Now before anyone gets the wrong idea, the point here is not that creationism somehow causes pedophilia. The point is that creationists have a nauseating habit of loudly proclaiming their moral superiority. They roundly accuse evolutionists of being responsible for the breakdown of society's moral fiber. And as a corollary, they say that creationism is supposed to cause people to lead more virtuous lives, so therefore it needs to be taught in public schools. There is of course never any evidence given for these assertions, they are simply taken a priori. It just makes sense to the creationists that having more "godly" beliefs makes you virtuous. They can't conceive of things being otherwise.
However, what we see in real life is that being a creationist is no guarantee of good behavior. The innumerable ethical breaches that creationists commit on a routine basis are one thing, but crimes that prey on the most vulnerable members of society cannot be dismissed as mere "lapses". If creationism can't even dissuade this kind of behavior, why should we to expect it to have any positive effect on morality?
Now I don't want to overgeneralize, which is exactly why I was hesitant to post this in the first place. Slocum hasn't even had his day in court, and it's possible that he was wrongly accused. Or it may be that he's just a bad apple and is for some reason immune to the wonderful virtues of creationist belief. Or maybe he would have been even worse without his religious beliefs, which is pretty hard to believe, but not impossible. Certainly we can say with confidence that the vast majority of creationists would never commit such behavior. But the same is true with the vast majority of any given group.
What the creationists need to do is account for why there are so many examples of bad behavior among their ranks. (Admittedly, recent examples such as Kent Hovind or Ted Haggard are nowhere near as bad as this.) My own explanation is that the creationist cause has little to do with advancing morality and everything to do with advancing the cultural and political influence that right-wing Christians have over society. Otherwise we would see more emphasis on the importance of leading a moral life and less about maintaining proper theological beliefs.