Eugene Volokh (Law, UCLA) opines on evolutionary biology and religion, and Pharyngula correctly notes that most of the discussion is a tissue of confusions and mistakes. (Some of the comments at Pharyngula's site are also rather funny.)
What interests me in particular here is what this display tells us about the limited understanding of science and scientific methods even among educated people and scholars. If professional scholars in fields like law have so little understanding of the nature and structure of scientific inquiry, is it any surprise that in the population at large nonsense like creationism and its offshoots, like Intelligent Design, have considerable traction?
UPDATE: There is a priceless comment by one Bruce Anderson over at the Volokh Conspiracy site; it's worth quoting in full (he is responding to another commenter
on the same thread with the moniker "Bezuhov":
Bezuhov: "Where one could once count on the anti-evolution side for appeals to authority, peer pressure, questioning of motives, name-calling, intimidation, and whatever other non-scientific rhetorical devices they could come up with, strangely these arguments now come from those ostensibly arguing for science."
Oh, boo hoo hoo. You want sober scientific facts? Go to www.pubmed.gov. Read all the papers about evolutionary biology. Then read all the papers there that describe the evidence that mysterious alien beings interfered with the reproduction of living things on this planet.
Or visit www.talkorigins.org for plainly written answers to your questions.
The change you've noticed is simply that more and more people have taken the time to educate themselves about sleazeball creationist tactics and, yeah, a lot of us are mad as hell.
Why should I bother reciting -- over and over and over again -- basic science and universally accepted scientific facts (oh excuse me "highly confirmed theories") to people in the comment sections of blogs who (1) don't give a damn or (2) who lack the basic education to appreciate the evidence in the first place?
Let's return again to the Holocaust deniers. Imagine that a rich obnoxious anti-Semite pours millions of dollars into a public relations campaign which provides rubes with all sorts of bogus scripts to recite. So the Internet and public discourse becomes polluted with these jokers, all reciting the same tired canards, all of which have been debunked plainly and publicly a thousand times over.
How much time do we spend reciting those same facts and pointing out the same links and the same sources of information to the rubes before we are entitled to conclude: "You know what? You really aren't interested in the truth about the Holocaust. You're interested in creating confusion to increase the likelihood that a few other rubes will join your cause."
Evidently the answer to this question, in the case of creationists, is either an infinite amount of time or however much time it takes to gut the First Amendment.
"This is encouraging in that if evolution has any validity, then one would expect some correlation, if not causation, between right and might - i.e. if the bullies are choosing the pro-evolution side, it is because it is the one most likely to prevail in the survival of the fittest idea sweepstakes."
Evolution has prevailed over creationist garbage for the last 150 years in the only arena where its "fitness" is properly assessed: in the scientific arena.
The only reason we are having this discussion -- remember this -- is because creationists (i.e., conservative evangelical Christians, for the most part) want teachers to present discussions of deity-like beings in public school science classes as a serious "alternative" to the views of the overwhelming majority of scientists.
I realize that many Americans are simply incapable of understanding that not all opinions are equally valid when tested in the real world, outside of the protective bubble of their church or extreme right wing think tanks or wherever else their scripts are manufactured.
You can blame that on our nation's so-called "journalists."