The estimable Robert Farley has already said most of what needs to be said on this matter, and not to pile on PZ, but this just isn’t going to work. I mostly agree with Myers: science classes are for science. But that’s in part why there’s one specific thing here I want to argue about, though, and it’s this claim of Myers in response to ‘is there a God?’ that’s (to use a technical term) wrongheaded:

One is to accept the usual open-ended, undefined vagueness of the god entity and point out that the reason it can’t be answered is that it is a bad question — it’s not even wrong. Science doesn’t answer it, but then no discipline can, because it’s a garbage question like “what color are invisible elephants?”

Look, Myers is a scientist, so of course he’s going to like the tools of science, but this question — whether it is rational to have faith in God — is a question that has been, like, seriously investigated. By atheists and theists. By philosophers! And philosophically-minded scientists! At well-respected universities! At a level far above gotchas!.

I’m not going to pretend that the debate is settled one way or another. It’s not.

But here’s the thing. Because there’s been a lot written about this, in the academy and in the popular press, lots has trickled down. The evangelical students are getting exposed to amateur theodicies all the time. As one example, the Jack Chick-type comic books have panels pretty much designed to deal with the caricature of the evil high school biology teacher who is going to make the Christian renounce their faith and feed them to the plethiosaurs. (One was passed around in my high school biology class! It had a brave Christian student taking down the evil biology teacher who had a picture of a gorilla in a frame that said ‘Our Father.’) A high school teacher who tries to toss off a few gotcha questions to prove God doesn’t exist is going to get roasted intellectually.

So, what to do? One can raise it above the level of gotchas, but then it really starts to turn into a philosophy of religion class. Which I’d be all for if done properly. But for the high school teacher not inclined to learn philosophy just to teach about crossing pea plants and dissecting squids? Maybe take a page from Galileo: if both science and religion are true, then they’re necessarily compatible, so the job of science is to learn about the world the best we can. Also, here is what is on the test.

(If the teacher is feeling brave:

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

Probably not the most effective. But infinitely more fun that gotchas!)