Former Times Tech Writer, Heffernan, Comes Out as Creationist
Virginia Heffernan is a prominent technology reporter, which means that she’s basically a science writer, which means that certain corners of the internet exploded last week when Heffernan published an essay on Yahoo! News entitled “Why I’m a Creationist.” Gawker warned Heffernan that the article would “erode your credibility.” Slate’s Laura Helmuth tried to sympathize, but ended up delivering familiar lecture points about the overwhelming evidence for evolution. Science writer Carl Zimmer—who writes for The New York Times, as Heffernan did for years—engaged her in some Twitter sparring.
To summarize: Heffernan was not raised a creationist. And her opinion about the world’s origins owes more to postmodernism than it does to John Whitcomb and Henry Morris. Heffernan describes learning about the Big Bang as a child, and then comparing it to the Biblical stories she knew. “I was…considerably less amused and moved by the character-free Big Bang story (‘something exploded’) than by the twisted and picturesque misadventures of Eve and Adam and Cain and Abel and Abraham,” she writes. Because she doesn’t really understand evolution, and because she finds the Biblical account so much more compelling, Heffernan opts for creationism.
The outrage from science-minded writers isn’t surprising. What’s unfortunate is that there hasn’t been a greater backlash from religious folks. Heffernan’s ideas about science may be ignorant, but the way she talks about religion is downright offensive.