Though I don't actually agree with his point here (atheists should remain intolerant of religion, not accommodating), I admire the verve and style. Rushdie's recent novels seem a little tired... why doesn't he take this up full time?
Since I was just talking about this yesterday, let me quote the passage in the column where he talks about Intelligent Design:
And in America, the battle over the teaching of intelligent design in U.S. schools is reaching crunch time, as the American Civil Liberties Union prepares to take on intelligent-design proponents in a Pennsylvania court.
It seems inconceivable that better behaviour on the part of the world's great scientists, of the sort that Ruse would prefer, would persuade these forces to back down.
Intelligent design, an idea designed backward so as to force the antique idea of a Creator upon the beauty of creation, is so thoroughly rooted in pseudoscience, so full of false logic, so easy to attack that a little rudeness seems called for.
Its advocates argue, for example, that the sheer complexity and perfection of cellular/molecular structures is inexplicable by gradual evolution.
However, the multiple parts of complex, interlocking biological systems do evolve together, gradually expanding and adapting — and, as Dawkins showed in The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design, natural selection is active at every step of this process.
But, as well as scientific arguments, there are others that are more, well, novelistic. What about bad design, for example? Was it really so intelligent to come up with the birth canal or the prostate gland?
Incidentally, is another winning Rushdie polemic about creationists in Step Across this Line. It is called "Darwin in Kansas."