There is an extensive interview with Francis Collins, author of The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief at the Pew Forum. When asked about why the conflict was so polarizing, he responds:
Perhaps today’s conflict, which seems particularly intense, is so difficult to understand because, after all, evolution has been very much on the scene for 150 years, and the science that supports Darwin’s theory has gotten stronger and stronger over those decades. That evidence is particularly strong today given the ability to study DNA and to see the way in which it undergirds Darwin’s theory in a marvelously digital fashion. And yet, we have seen an increasing polarization between the scientific and spiritual worldviews, much of it, I think, driven by those who are threatened by the alternatives and who are unwilling to consider the possibility that there might be harmony here.
What often astounds me about the people who argue against teaching evolution in the classroom is that, more often than not, they cannot properly identify what evolution is. About Creationism, Dr. Collins responds:
I take great comfort looking back through time, particularly at the writings of Augustine, who was obsessed by trying to understand Genesis and wrote no less than five books about it. Augustine ultimately concluded that no human being really was going to be able to interpret the meaning of the creation story. Certainly Augustine would have argued that the current ultra-literal interpretations that lead to young earth creationism are not required by the text, and would have warned that such a rigid interpretation, regardless of what other evidence comes to the scene, could potentially be quite dangerous to the faith, in that it would make believers out to be narrow-minded and potentially subject to ridicule. And in a certain way, that warning has come true with the battles we’re having right now.
This is a recurrent theme among practicing scientists who are self-proclaimed OECs (Old Earth Creationists), such as Davis Young, Howard Van Till, Alan Davis, among others, that the persistence of the young earth creationism movement degrades serious belief and puts Christians in a bad light. Read the whole thing.