Mr. Anger’s question is more rhetorical than substantive. Reality is not “defined” by some entity standing outside of it and determining its contents; it simply is. It is discovered, and observed, by all of us—some more skillfully and carefully than others. These people can choose to confront us with that reality. I believe that respect for people as thinking beings requires them to do so at least sometimes (this is one reason for blogging). Obviously you have no right to intrude on a person’s seclusion, and force them to confront something they don’t want to—just as you have no right to break into their seclusion and force them to do anything they don’t want to do. So obviously no, the state does not confront us in that sense. I have repeatedly stated my opposition to government-run education, so much so that I don’t think I need to do so again.
(However, the state clearly has the right to confront us with reality in some situations. For instance, if a parent believes that blood transfusions violate the will of God, and therefore refuses to get a blood transfusion for his ailing child, the state may legitimately require that the child receive a blood transfusion. If a parent believes that sexual molestation or other abuse of a child is the will of God, the state has the right to stop that. The state also has the right to say that a person cannot simply evade responsibility for torts by refusing to believe they exist. So yes, the state does have the right to confront us with reality as a side effect of its pursuits of other legitimate goals.)
My post, however, assumes that we have a government school system in place. My question is, if it is okay for people to wander around believing whatever makes them feel good, then why not abandon the attempt to teach them evolution at all (even in private schools)? Moreover, my point remains even if we abolish government schools. It is a scientist’s professional obligation—as well, I think, as an obligation of honor—to confront people with reality. Again, that does not mean intruding on their privacy, obviously. But a scientist who sits idly by while nonsense is propagated, is betraying something essential about his profession and about his mind. The same, of course, is true of lawyers, and to put it in a lawyerly way, if we are going to educate, then it is incumbent upon us to educate people reasonably—not to do so negligently. And it is negligent to tell people that they can believe in fairy tales.
I might turn Mr. Anger’s rhetoric back on him, to make my real point clearer: Who defines the myth that we are going to allow people to believe, so as to soothe their fragile little hearts? And who decides to propagate it? The state? That, at least, is what many ID proponents believe.