I firmly believe that given the way our brains work, some arguments can never be resolved. This includes political and economic issues (e.g. efficient markets) and also the debate between evolution and creationism. I think many scientists feel that the way to fight creationists is to challenge them at every level and try to win the debate using reason and overwhelming evidence. If that doesn’t work then creationists should be shut down by legal and other means because they might take over and send us back to the Dark Ages. Unfortunately, if a creationist has a prior with zero support over the possibility that the earth is 4.5 billion years old then no amount of evidence can ever change their opinion. That is why I think the Richard Dawkins strategy of equating science with atheism may not be a winning one. I think there is a different approach that may even get creationists interested in modern biology and science as a way for them to get closer to God.
What I think we should do is to sell evolution as an organizational scheme for life. We should move the debate away from whether or not we share an ancestor with chimpanzees to one about where the evolutionary events take place. The scientific view would then be a literal one (how’s that for irony) where the earth really is 4.5 billion years old and evolution actually takes place in real time, whereas creationists would believe that evolution only takes place metaphorically, or more colourfully in “God’s mind”. So they could believe that God in his infinite wisdom and generosity decided to use evolution as a guideline for organizing life so that it could be discoverable by humans someday and allow them to be able peer ever so slightly into his mind. It is also a practical gift because it gives humankind a better chance to cure diseases since genes discovered in fruit flies and chimpanzees have analogues in humans. We should even allow a sentence to be added to biology text books that says that an alternative explanation to the scientific one for the origin of life is that the earth is much younger (i.e. six to ten thousand years old) and was created all at once with all the living creatures aboard, fossils buried in various layers of the earth, planets, stars and galaxies in the heavens with photons from them streaming towards earth, and so forth. After all, if the universe is a dynamical system then the initial condition could be at any time. We, as scientists, only believe it to have started with the big bang 14 billion years ago because of Occam’s Razor. It could have started much later with initial conditions consistent with the Big Bang.
This approach will not win over all creationists but it may win over just enough so that the current animosity between science and religion is mollified. It could diminish the need for creation science and alternative museums trying to debunk evolution. Intelligent Design would be evolution. This is actually true at a practical level since one of the more popular methods for solving optimization problems is to use genetic algorithms. (I actually prefer the Markov Chain Monte Carlo method, but it is still probabilistic). All kids could then enjoy natural history museums equally. Instead of trying to prove that Dinosaurs roamed the earth 4000 years ago, creationists could take comfort that God put the fossils there for our enjoyment. (He also gave us fossil fuels to burn). Instead of fighting against modern biology, geology and cosmology, creationism could embrace it as a way of being closer to God.